Niels Henrik David Bohr

Niels Bohr is a very distinguished Danish physicist, chemist, and micro- biologist. Known for the Bohr model of the atom and his work on the Manhattan Project, Bohr worked with many renowned scientists throughout the world and even received the Nobel Peace Prize for Physics. Childhood/Family Life Niels Henrik David Bohr was born October 7, 1885, to Christian Bohr, a Physiology professor at Copenhagen University; and Ellen Adler, who came from a reputed family in the educational field. Christian and Ellen Bohr had three children: Jenny, Niels, and Harald.

The childrens home environment was considered to be a most favorable atmosphere for the development of two future geniuses. In October 1891, Niels entered the Grammelholms Grammar School and was not considered to be an outstanding student. His grades normally placed him third or forth in his class of twenty. But the more amazing feat was that this genius was also an athlete, an amazing soccer player. Toward the end of his grammar school years, Bohr specialized in physics and mathematics. He often found flaws in both his math teachers lessons and with physics books and papers published.

Educational Background Upon the completion of grammar school, Bohr studied at the University of Copenhagen starting in 1903. Physics, Bohrs main study, was taught to him by Christian Christiansen, a member of his fathers discussion group. While at the university he also studied math, chemistry, and astronomy as minor subjects. While still a student at Copenhagen, the Academy of Sciences in Copenhagen made an announcement pertaining to a prize to be awarded if one could create the solution for a specific scientific problem.

The problem pertained to the surface tension of an aqueous solution and the amount of vibrations of water jets. He experimented in his father’s laboratory and ultimately received the gold medal for his work. His paper explaining his work was published in the Transactions of the Royal Society in 1908. Bohr received his Masters degree in physics from the University of Copenhagen in 1909. In February 1911, Christian Bohr died of a heart attack. Upon receiving his doctorate in May 1911, Bohr dedicated his thesis to his father. Soon after, Niels Bohr and Margrethe Norlund were married in August 1912.

In the fall of 1911, Bohr began experimental work with Sir J. J. Thomson at Cambridge University in London, while also perusing his own theoretical studies. With all intentions of staying at Cambridge for some time, Thomson and Niels disagreed over many topics. Upon meeting Ernest Rutherford in December of that year, Bohr decided to move to Victoria University (now known as University of Manchester) in March, 1912. The arrangement of the renowned scientist, Rutherford, and the rookie proved much better than the previous arrangement with Thomson.

Bohr saw Rutherford as a person, friend, as well as a great scientific role model. Interesting or Unusual Characteristics in life Ellen Adler was born into the family of a Jewish Politician. He was a very influential man in Danish society. Toward the end of World War II, Bohr fled German-occupied Denmark in a fishing boat to Sweden because of his Jewish heritage. From Sweden, Niels moved his family to England to escape the advancing German troops, From England, Bohr, along with many other highly decorated scientists, moved to the United States to work on the Manhattan project.

Bohr and his son, Niels Aage Bohr, also helped with the project. Bohr worked actively to control nuclear arms. He wrote a letter to the United Nations and begged President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill to attain peaceful atomic policies. The element with the atomic number 107 was discovered in 1981. In 1997, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry decreed that element 107 would be named Bohrium in honor of this famous physicist. Significant Contributions to Science

In 1913, Bohr accepted a position as docent (a recognized teacher at a German university who was not on the salaried staff. It was often a post held by a young mathematician working to complete his thesis) of physics at the University of Copenhagen. Bohr was bored at this new position so he wrote to the Department of Educational Affairs to create a theoretical physics department at Copenhagen. The department was delayed until the conclusion of World War I, and in 1921, Bohr was appointed as the director of the newly created department.

He held this position until his death in 1962. While at the university, Bohr developed the Quantum Theory. It pertained to the structure of the atom using quantum numbers. He stated that electrons exist in shells or energy levels, and that electrons located in the outer-most shell are the determinant of the atoms chemical properties. For his discovery, Bohr earned the Nobel Peace Prize for Physics in 1922. Because of his Jewish heritage, Bohr was forced to move his family to the United States to escape the German aggression.

Niles and his son were asked to participate in the Manhattan Project. The project built the worlds first atomic bombs. Upon returning to the University of Copenhagen in 1945 after the war, Bohr began working on a peaceful use for the newly found atomic energy. He created the Atoms for Peace Conference and won its first annual award. Conclusion Niels Bohr died in Copenhagen on November 18, 1962. He was one of the greatest modern physicist, chemist, biologist, and professor. His ideas, theorems, and laws will always have a place in the modern physics and chemistry books.


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