Arthur Jeffrey Dempster

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Arthur Jeffrey Dempster
Arthur Jeffrey Dempster - Portrait.jpg
BornAugust 14, 1886
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
DiedMarch 11, 1950(1950-03-11) (aged 63)
Stuart, Florida, United States
NationalityCanadian-American
Alma materB.S. University of Toronto
M.S. University of Toronto
Ph.D. University of Chicago
Known forDeveloped the first modern mass spectrometer, discovered 235U (used in atomic bombs)
Awards Newcomb Cleveland Prize (1929)
Scientific career
FieldsPhysics
External video
Dempster mass spectrum.gif
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Michael A. Grayson, Discovery of Isotopes of Elements (Part I: Arthur Jeffrey Dempster), Profiles in Chemistry, Chemical Heritage Foundation

Arthur Jeffrey Dempster (August 14, 1886 – March 11, 1950) was a Canadian-American physicist best known for his work in mass spectrometry and his discovery in 1935 of the uranium isotope 235U. [1]

Canadians citizens of Canada

Canadians are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, several of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Canadian.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Physicist scientist who does research in physics

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.

Contents

Early life and education

Dempster's 180 degree magnetic sector mass analyzer. Dempster Mass Spectrometer.gif
Dempster's 180 degree magnetic sector mass analyzer.

Dempster was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Toronto in 1909 and 1910, respectively. He travelled to study in Germany, and then left at the outset of World War I for the United States; there he received his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Chicago.

Toronto Provincial capital city in Ontario, Canada

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada's most populous CMA. Toronto is the anchor of an urban agglomeration, known as the Golden Horseshoe in Southern Ontario, located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A global city, Toronto is a centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Bachelors degree Undergraduate academic degree

A bachelor's degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting three to seven years. In some institutions and educational systems, some bachelor's degrees can only be taken as graduate or postgraduate degrees after a first degree has been completed. In countries with qualifications frameworks, bachelor's degrees are normally one of the major levels in the framework, although some qualifications titled bachelor's degrees may be at other levels and some qualifications with non-bachelor's titles may be classified as bachelor's degrees.

A master's degree is an academic degree awarded by universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice. A master's degree normally requires previous study at the bachelor's level, either as a separate degree or as part of an integrated course. Within the area studied, master's graduates are expected to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation, or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.

Academic career

Dempster joined the physics faculty at the University of Chicago in 1916 and remained there until his death in 1950.

Physics Study of the fundamental properties of matter and energy

Physics is the natural science that studies matter and its motion and behavior through space and time and that studies the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves.

During World War II he worked on the secret Manhattan Project to develop the world's first nuclear weapons.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Manhattan Project research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs

The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory that designed the actual bombs. The Army component of the project was designated the Manhattan District; Manhattan gradually superseded the official codename, Development of Substitute Materials, for the entire project. Along the way, the project absorbed its earlier British counterpart, Tube Alloys. The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion. Over 90% of the cost was for building factories and to produce fissile material, with less than 10% for development and production of the weapons. Research and production took place at more than 30 sites across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Nuclear weapon Explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions

A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or from a combination of fission and fusion reactions. Both bomb types release large quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first test of a fission ("atomic") bomb released an amount of energy approximately equal to 20,000 tons of TNT (84 TJ). The first thermonuclear ("hydrogen") bomb test released energy approximately equal to 10 million tons of TNT (42 PJ). A thermonuclear weapon weighing little more than 2,400 pounds (1,100 kg) can release energy equal to more than 1.2 million tons of TNT (5.0 PJ). A nuclear device no larger than traditional bombs can devastate an entire city by blast, fire, and radiation. Since they are weapons of mass destruction, the proliferation of nuclear weapons is a focus of international relations policy.

From 1943 to 1946, Dempster was chief physicist of the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory or "Met Lab" which integrally related to the Manhattan Project and founded to study the materials necessary for the manufacture of atomic bombs.

Metallurgical Laboratory former laboratory at the University of Chicago, part of the Manhattan Project

The Metallurgical Laboratory was a scientific laboratory at the University of Chicago that was established in February 1942 to study and use the newly discovered chemical element plutonium. It researched plutonium's chemistry and metallurgy, designed the world's first nuclear reactors to produce it, and developed chemical processes to separate it from other elements. In August 1942 the lab's chemical section was the first to chemically separate a weighable sample of plutonium, and on 2 December 1942, the Met Lab produced the first controlled nuclear chain reaction, in the reactor Chicago Pile-1, which was constructed under the stands of the university's old football stadium, Stagg Field.

In 1946, he took a position as a division director at the Argonne National Laboratory.

Argonne National Laboratory science and engineering research national laboratory in Lamont, IL, United States

Argonne National Laboratory is a science and engineering research national laboratory operated by the University of Chicago Argonne LLC for the United States Department of Energy located in Lemont, Illinois, outside Chicago. It is the largest national laboratory by size and scope in the Midwest.

Dempster died on March 11, 1950 in Stuart, Florida at the age of 63.

Research

In 1918, Dempster developed the first modern mass spectrometer, a scientific apparatus allowing physicists to identify compounds by the mass of elements in a sample, and determine the isotopic composition of elements in a sample. [2] Dempster's mass spectrometer was over 100 times more accurate than previous versions, and established the basic theory and design of mass spectrometers that is still used to this day. Dempster's research over his career centered on the mass spectrometer and its applications, leading in 1935 to his discovery of the uranium isotope 235U. [3] [4] This isotope's ability to cause a rapidly expanding fission nuclear chain reaction allowed the development of the atom bomb and nuclear power. Dempster was also well known as an authority on positive rays.

Related Research Articles

Nuclear fission nuclear reaction or a radioactive decay process in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts

In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction or a radioactive decay process in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller, lighter nuclei. The fission process often produces free neutrons and gamma photons, and releases a very large amount of energy even by the energetic standards of radioactive decay.

Isotope separation is the process of concentrating specific isotopes of a chemical element by removing other isotopes. The use of the nuclides produced is various. The largest variety is used in research. By tonnage, separating natural uranium into enriched uranium and depleted uranium is the largest application. In the following text, mainly the uranium enrichment is considered. This process is a crucial one in the manufacture of uranium fuel for nuclear power stations, and is also required for the creation of uranium based nuclear weapons. Plutonium-based weapons use plutonium produced in a nuclear reactor, which must be operated in such a way as to produce plutonium already of suitable isotopic mix or grade. While different chemical elements can be purified through chemical processes, isotopes of the same element have nearly identical chemical properties, which makes this type of separation impractical, except for separation of deuterium.

Ernest Lawrence American nuclear physicist

Ernest Orlando Lawrence was a pioneering American nuclear scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1939 for his invention of the cyclotron. He is known for his work on uranium-isotope separation for the Manhattan Project, as well as for founding the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Edwin McMillan American physicist

Edwin Mattison McMillan was an American physicist and Nobel laureate credited with being the first-ever to produce a transuranium element, neptunium. For this, he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Glenn Seaborg in 1951.

Emilio Segrè Italian physicist and Nobel laureate

Emilio Gino Segrè was an Italian-American physicist and Nobel laureate, who discovered the elements technetium and astatine, and the antiproton, a subatomic antiparticle, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1959. From 1943 to 1946 he worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a group leader for the Manhattan Project. He found in April 1944 that Thin Man, the proposed plutonium gun-type nuclear weapon, would not work because of the presence of plutonium-240 impurities.

James Rainwater American physicist

Leo James Rainwater was an American physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1975 for his part in determining the asymmetrical shapes of certain atomic nuclei.

Spontaneous fission form of radioactive decay found in very heavy chemical elements

Spontaneous fission (SF) is a form of radioactive decay that is found only in very heavy chemical elements. The nuclear binding energy of the elements reaches its maximum at an atomic mass number of about 56; spontaneous breakdown into smaller nuclei and a few isolated nuclear particles becomes possible at greater atomic mass numbers.

George B. Pegram American physicist

George Braxton Pegram was an American physicist who played a key role in the technical administration of the Manhattan Project. He graduated from Trinity College in 1895, and taught high school before becoming a teaching assistant in physics at Columbia University in 1900. He was to spend the rest of his working life at Columbia, taking his doctorate there in 1903 and becoming a full professor in 1918. His administrative career began as early as 1913 when he became the department's executive officer. By 1918, he was Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences but he resigned in 1930 to relaunch his research activities, performing many meticulous measurements on the properties of neutrons with John R. Dunning. He was also chairman of Columbia's physics department from 1913 to 1945.

John R. Dunning American physicist

John Ray Dunning was an American physicist who played key roles in the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic bombs. He specialized in neutron physics, and did pioneering work in gaseous diffusion for isotope separation. He was Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University from 1950 to 1969.

Alfred O. C. Nier American physicist

Alfred Otto Carl Nier was an American physicist who pioneered the development of mass spectrometry. He was the first to use mass spectrometry to isolate uranium-235 which was used to demonstrate that 235U could undergo fission and developed the sector mass spectrometer configuration now known as Nier-Johnson geometry.

Calutron mass spectrometer

A calutron is a mass spectrometer originally designed and used for separating the isotopes of uranium. It was developed by Ernest Lawrence during the Manhattan Project and was based on his earlier invention, the cyclotron. Its name was derived from California University Cyclotron, in tribute to Lawrence's institution, the University of California, where it was invented. Calutrons were used in the industrial-scale Y-12 uranium enrichment plant at the Clinton Engineer Works in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The enriched uranium produced was used in the Little Boy atomic bomb that was detonated over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945.

Kenneth Bainbridge American physicist

Kenneth Tompkins Bainbridge was an American physicist at Harvard University who did work on cyclotron research. His precise measurements of mass differences between nuclear isotopes allowed him to confirm Albert Einstein's mass-energy equivalence concept. He was the Director of the Manhattan Project's Trinity nuclear test, which took place July 16, 1945. Bainbridge described the Trinity explosion as a "foul and awesome display". He remarked to J. Robert Oppenheimer immediately after the test, "Now we are all sons of bitches." This marked the beginning of his dedication to ending the testing of nuclear weapons and to efforts to maintain civilian control of future developments in that field.

Uranium (92U) is a naturally occurring radioactive element that has no stable isotopes but two primordial isotopes that have long half-lives and are found in appreciable quantity in the Earth's crust, along with the decay product uranium-234. The standard atomic weight of natural uranium is 238.02891(3). Other isotopes such as uranium-232 have been produced in breeder reactors.

History of mass spectrometry

The history of mass spectrometry has its roots in physical and chemical studies regarding the nature of matter. The study of gas discharges in the mid 19th century led to the discovery of anode and cathode rays, which turned out to be positive ions and electrons. Improved capabilities in the separation of these positive ions enabled the discovery of stable isotopes of the elements. The first such discovery was with the element neon, which was shown by mass spectrometry to have at least two stable isotopes: 20Ne and 22Ne. Mass spectrometers were used in the Manhattan Project for the separation of isotopes of uranium necessary to create the atomic bomb.

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Mark G. Inghram was an American physicist. Inghram was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Francis Goddard Slack was an American physicist. He was a physics teacher, researcher, and administrator in academia who was renowned for placing equal emphasis on teaching and on research.

Herbert L. Anderson American physicist

Herbert Lawrence Anderson was an American nuclear physicist who was Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago.

Eugene Theodore Booth, Jr. was an American nuclear physicist. He was a member of the historic Columbia University team which made the first demonstration of nuclear fission in the United States. During the Manhattan Project, he worked on gaseous diffusion for isotope separation. He was the director of the design, construction, and operation project for the 385-Mev synchrocyclotron at the Nevis Laboratories, the scientific director of the SCALANT Research Center, and dean of graduate studies at Stevens Institute of Technology.Booth was the scientific director of the SCALANT Research Center, in Italy.

William Westerfield Havens Jr. was an American physicist.

References

  1. Allison, Samuel K. (1952). "Arthur Jeffrey Dempster 1886–1950" (PDF). National Academy of Sciences . Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  2. Dempster, A. J. (April 1918). "A New Method of Positive Ray Analysis" (PDF). Phys. Rev. 11 (4): 316–325. Bibcode:1918PhRv...11..316D. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.11.316 . Retrieved 2007-11-24.
  3. "Today in Science History".
  4. Armstrong, David; Burke, Monte (December 23, 2002). "85 Innovations 1917-193". Forbes. Retrieved 13 December 2012.