Mr. Lawson 12/14/12
Niels Henrik David Bohr was born in Copenhagen on October 7, 1885, as the son of Christian Bohr, Professor of Physiology at Copenhagen University, and his wife Ellen, née Adler. Niels, together with his younger brother Harald (the future Professor in Mathematics), grew up in an atmosphere most favourable to the development of his genius - his father was an eminent physiologist and was largely responsible for awakening his interest in physics while still at school, his mother came from a family distinguished in the field of education.
After matriculation at the Gammelholm Grammar School in 1903, he entered Copenhagen University where he came under the guidance of Professor C. Christiansen, a profoundly original and highly endowed physicist, and took his Master's degree in Physics in 1909 and his Doctor's degree in 1911.
While still a student, the announcement by the Academy of Sciences in Copenhagen of a prize to be awarded for the solution of a certain scientific problem, caused him to take up an experimental and theoretical investigation of the surface tension by means of oscillating fluid jets. This work, which he carried out in his father's laboratory and for which he received the prize offered (a gold medal), was published in the Transactions of the Royal Society, 1908.
Bohr's subsequent studies, however, became more and more theoretical in character, his doctor's disputation being a purely theoretical piece of work on the explanation of the properties of the metals with the aid of the electron theory, which remains to this day a classic on the subject. It was in this work that Bohr was first confronted with the implications of Planck's quantum theory of radiation.
In the autumn of 1911 he made a stay at Cambridge, where he profited by following the experimental work going on in the Cavendish Laboratory under Sir J.J. Thompson’s guidance, at the same time as he pursued own theoretical studies. In the spring of 1912 he was at work in Professor Rutherford's laboratory in Manchester, where just in those years such an intensive scientific life and activity prevailed as a consequence of that investigator's fundamental inquiries into the radioactive phenomena. Having there carried out a theoretical piece of work on the absorption of alpha rays which was published in the Philosophical Magazine, 1913, he passed on to a study of the structure of atoms on the basis of Rutherford's discovery of the atomic nucleus. By introducing conceptions borrowed from the Quantum Theory as established by Planck, which had gradually come to occupy a prominent position in the science of theoretical physics, he succeeded in working out and presenting a picture of atomic structure that, with later improvements (mainly as a result of Heisenberg's ideas in 1925), still fitly serves as an elucidation of the physical and chemical properties of the elements.
In 1913-1914 Bohr held a Lectureship in Physics at Copenhagen University and in 1914- 1916 a similar appointment at the Victoria University in Manchester. In 1916 he was appointed Professor of Theoretical Physics at Copenhagen University, and since 1920 (until his death in 1962) he was at the head of the Institute for Theoretical Physics, established for him at that university.
Recognition of his work on the structure of atoms came with the award of the Nobel Prize for 1922.
Bohr's activities in his Institute were since 1930 more and more directed to research on the constitution of the atomic nuclei, and of their transmutations and disintegrations. In 1936 he pointed out that in nuclear processes the smallness of the region in which interactions take place, as well as the strength of these interactions, justify the transition processes to be described more in a classical way than in the case of atoms (Cf. »Neutron...