Ernest Lawrence

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Ernest Orlando Lawrence (August 8, 1901 – August 27, 1958) was an American physicist and Nobel Laureate, known for his invention, utilization, and improvement of the cyclotron atom-smasher beginning in 1929, based on his studies of the works of Rolf Widerøe, and his later work in uranium-isotope separation for the Manhattan Project. Lawrence had a long career at the University of California, where he became a Professor of Physics. In 1939, Lawrence was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in inventing the cyclotron and developing its applications. Chemical element number 103 is named "lawrencium" in Lawrence's honor. He was also the first recipient of the Sylvanus Thayer Award.[1] His brother John H. Lawrence was known for pioneering in the field of nuclear medicine.


Early life

Ernest Orlando Lawrence was born in Canton, South Dakota. His parents, Carl Gustavus and Gunda (née Jacobson) Lawrence, were both the offspring of Norwegian immigrants who had met while teaching at the high school in Canton, South Dakota, where his father was also the superintendent of schools. Growing up, his best friend was Merle Tuve, who would also go on to become a highly accomplished nuclear physicist.

Lawrence attended St. Olaf College in Minnesota, but he transferred to the University of South Dakota after his first year. Lawrence completed his bachelor's degree in 1922. He earned his master's degree in physics from the University of Minnesota in 1923. Next, Lawrence spent a year at the University of Chicago, and then he moved on to Yale University, where he completed his Ph.D. degree in physics in 1925, making him somewhat unusual in his field—a very promising young physical scientist who had received his entire education in the United States. These were years when study at one of the great science institutions of Europe was considered to be essential for anyone who truly wished to make a significant scientific progress. Lawrence remained at Yale University as a researcher, working in the photoelectric effect, and he became an assistant professor there in 1927.

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