George Paget Thomson

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George Paget Thomson, 1937

Sir George Paget Thomson (born May 3, 1892 in Cambridge , † September 10, 1975 ibid) was an English physicist and Nobel Prize winner .


Thomson came from a family of scientists. His father Joseph John Thomson was a physicist and a Nobel Prize winner in 1906 for showing that electrons are particles. His mother was Rose Elisabeth Paget, the daughter of a professor of medicine at Cambridge University . Thomson went to the Perse School in Cambridge and studied mathematics and physics with his father at Trinity College, Cambridge University until he entered the service of the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment at the outbreak of World War I. After a short period of service in France , he investigated the aerodynamics of aircraft in Farnborough, among other places . In 1920 he retired from military service as a captain.

In 1924 Thomson married Kathleen Buchanan Smith, daughter of theologian Sir George Adam Smith. They had four children, two boys and two girls.

After military service, Thomson got a job at Cambridge University and then moved to Aberdeen University . In 1927, he discovered there independently of the Americans Clinton Joseph Davisson the electron diffraction at the crystal lattice , a proof that the particles of the matter wave theory of de Broglie also have properties of waves. For this they both received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1937.

1930 Thomson became the former chair of Hugh Longbourne Callendar at Imperial College in London called. In the late 1930s and during World War II , Thomson specialized in nuclear physics and focused on practical military applications. In particular, Thomson was chairman of the British MAUD commission from 1940 to 1941 , which decided that an atomic bomb was possible. During the Second World War he was temporarily a liaison officer between American and British scientists and was thus directly involved in the atomic bomb project. In 1941 his wife Kathleen died.

After the war, Thomson studied theoretical problems in the use of atomic energy , but also wrote papers on aerodynamics and the value of science in society. In 1952 Thomson moved from London to Cambridge , where he was a Master (head) of Corpus Christi College until 1962. In 1964 the college honored him with the George Thomson Building, a building on the college's Leckhampton campus.

Awards and memberships

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Fellows Directory. Biographical Index: Former RSE Fellows 1783–2002. (PDF file) Royal Society of Edinburgh, accessed April 16, 2020 .
  2. ^ Members of the American Academy. Listed by election year, 1900-1949 ( PDF ). Retrieved October 11, 2015