Niels Bohr Essay

1299 words - 6 pages

Niels Bohr and Atomic Physics Many looked upon Niels Bohr as inspiration for atomic physics. Not only is Niels Bohr credited with the establishment of the structure of the atom, but he also helped to explain the process of nuclear fusion. (Abbott, 1984) Because of his contribution to atomic physics, Niels Bohr is unquestionably one of the most influential people of the twentieth century.Niels Bohr was born in Copenhagen, Denmark on October 7, 1885. (Abbott, 1984) Niels' father was a professor of physiology at the University of Copenhagen, and this gave Niels a scientific environment to live in that he would remember for the rest of his life. (Hudson, 1992) Niels' very first research project, ...view middle of the document...

In 1913 Bohr returned to his hometown of Copenhagen to start a family with his wife of one year. (Boorse, Motz, Weaver, 1989) When he had returned to Copenhagen in 1913, not many knew who he was and what he was in the process of. Only a sparse number of physicists knew about him, and many of them weren't even interested in his theory. (Boorse, Motz, Weaver, 1989) In the same year, Bohr developed his theory of the atomic structure. He combined some of the principles of the quantum theory to what he saw when the atoms gave off radiation. (Abbott, 1984) He also determined that the electron in the hydrogen atom could take on any number of orbits at different distances from the nucleus. (Asimov, 1991) There was no precedent for Bohr's quantized states of electrons in the atom. In the classical planetary model, the accelerated electrons had to radiate energy. But in Bohr's quantum atom, electrons do not radiate in their stationary states. Clearly, the electrons in Bohr's model were not little particles revolving around the nucleus. In fact, Bohr immediately recognized the inconsistency between his quantum model and any classical picture of electrons in the atom. Even at this early stage, Bohr was beginning to advocate a view of quantum theory devoid of pictures and interpretation. We may talk of quantized orbits, but this should not lull us into thinking of orbiting particles. It's better to speak of electrons existing in a nonpicturable quantized state, and not to think of electrons as particles in that state. (Jones, 1992, pages 148-149) In 1920 Bohr became the director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen, built especially for him by the authorities of Denmark. (Abbott, 1984) The Institute rapidly became a center for theoretical physicists from throughout the world, many developed Bohr's work there, resulting in the theories of quantum and wave mechanics that more fully explain the behavior of electrons within atoms. (Abbott, 1984, page 25) In 1922 was a year full of accomplishments for Bohr. He won the Nobel Prize for physics. He won this by showing that a person couldn't work out the structure of the atom according to classic physics, but instead by using the quantum theory. (Asimov, 1991) Another thing that had happened was the Institution had discovered a new element called hafnium. (Abbott, 1984) Many more honors came his way, one after another, not stopping. Back at home in Denmark, people appreciated and acknowledged him for all of the work he had done. (Boorse, Motz, Weaver, 1989) In the 1930's, Bohr concentrated more on...

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