Arthur Holly Compton

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    Washington University in St. Louis │ St. Louis, Missouri

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    For proving properties of X-rays and the discovery of the Compton effect.

Arthur Holly Compton was one of the pioneers of high-energy physics. In 1927, he received the Nobel prize in physics for his definitive study of the scattering of high-energy photons by electrons which became known as the Compton effect. This work was recognized as an experimental proof that electromagnetic radiation possessed both wave-like and particle-like properties and laid a foundation for the new "quantum" physics.

Compton was born in 1892, in Wooster, Ohio. He received his undergraduate degree from the College of Wooster in 1913 and went on the study at Princeton University to obtain his M.A. and Ph.D. in 1914 and 1916, respectively.

Compton's work in the early 1920's on the scattering of high-energy photons was carried out while he was head of the Department of Physics at Washington University in St. Louis. He later went to the University of Chicago where he eventually switched to the study of cosmic rays. During the Second World War he played a major role in the atomic bomb project as director of the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago. At the end of the war, he returned to Washington University as Chancellor and retired in 1953.

Information as of 1940