Ben Roy Mottelson Dies at 95; Shed Light on the Shape of Atoms

In awarding the Nobel to Drs. Mottelson, Bohr and Rainwater, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited their discovery of the connection between collective movement and particle movement in atomic nuclei and the improvement of the principle of the construction of the atomic nucleus based mostly on this connection.

Ben Roy Mottelson was born on July 9, 1926, in Chicago, the second of three youngsters of Goodman and Georgia (Blum) Mottelson. His father was an engineer. The household residence was a spot of energetic dialog about scientific, political and ethical points, Dr. Mottelson recalled in an autobiographical sketch for the Nobel Foundation.

He graduated from Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Ill., throughout World War II and, after becoming a member of the Navy, was despatched to Purdue University for officers coaching. After graduating with a bachelors diploma in 1947, he entered Harvard University for postgraduate research in nuclear physics. There he studied below Julian Schwinger, the theoretical physicist who was awarded the Nobel in 1965 for his work on quantum electrodynamics. With Dr. Schwinger as his thesis adviser, Dr. Mottelson obtained his Ph.D. in 1950.

Receiving a one-year Sheldon Traveling Fellowship from Harvard, he determined to spend the time at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen (later renamed for Niels Bohr, its founder). Dr. Bohr was nonetheless working there, as was his son Aage. It was at this time that the collaboration between Dr. Mottelson and the youthful Dr. Bohr started. (In a twist of science, the liquid drop mannequin that was ultimately made out of date by the work of Drs. Mottelson, Rainwater and Aage Bohr had been proposed by Niels Bohr.)

When the Sheldon fellowship ended, Dr. Mottelson obtained a two-year fellowship from the United States Atomic Energy Commission, which allowed him to remain in Copenhagen. He was then employed by the just lately shaped European Organization for Nuclear Research, generally known as CERN, which had been began in Copenhagen earlier than it moved to Geneva.

When the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Atomic Physics was based in Copenhagen in 1957, Dr. Mottelson was employed there as a professor. He stayed there the relaxation of his skilled life, with solely a quick stint at the University of California, Berkeley, in spring 1959. (The institute, now referred to as the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics, moved to Stockholm in 2007.)

He grew to become a naturalized Danish citizen in 1971.

The principle established by Dr. Mottelson and his colleagues on the form of atomic nuclei got here to be universally accepted. But, as typically occurs in science, it was initially met with some resistance.


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