James Chadwick Biography

Sir James Chadwick, the winner of Nobel Prize for physics in 1935, was born in Cheshire, England, on 20th October, 1891. He graduated in Physics in 1911 from Manchester University and spent the next two years under Professor Rutherford in the Physical Laboratory in Manchester, where he worked on various radioactivity problems, gaining his M.Sc. degree in 1913. When Rutherford moved to the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, Chadwick followed him.

Chadwick was elected Fellow of Gonville and Caius College (1921-1935) and became Assistant Director of Research in the Cavendish Laboratory (1923). In 1927 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Major discoveries

In 1932, Chadwick made a fundamental discovery in the domain of nuclear science: he proved the existence of neutrons – elementary particles devoid of any electrical charge. Chadwick in this way prepared the way towards the fission of uranium 235 and towards the creation of the atomic bomb. For this epoch-making discovery he was awarded the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society in 1932, and subsequently the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1935.

He remained at Cambridge until 1935 when he was elected to the Lyon Jones Chair of Physics in the University of Liverpool. From 1943 to 1946 he worked in the United States as Head of the British Mission attached to the Manhattan Project for the development of the atomic bomb. He returned to England and, in 1948, retired from active physics. Chadwick has had many papers published on the topic of radioactivity and connected problems and, with Lord Rutherford and C. D. Ellis, he is co-author of the book Radiations from Radioactive substances (1930).

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Sir James was knighted in 1945. Apart from the Hughes Medal (Royal Society) mentioned above, he received the Copley Medal (1950) and the Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia (1951). Sir James Chadwick died in Cambridge, England, on July 24, 1974.

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