Willis Lamb

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Willis Lamb
Willis Lamb 1955.jpg
Lamb in 1955
Born
Willis Eugene Lamb Jr.

(1913-07-12)July 12, 1913
DiedMay 15, 2008(2008-05-15) (aged 94)
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
NationalityUnited States
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
Known for Lamb shift
Laser Theory
Quantum Optics
Awards Nobel Prize in Physics (1955)
Scientific career
Fields Physics
Institutions University of Arizona
University of Oxford
Yale
Columbia
Stanford
Doctoral advisor J. Robert Oppenheimer
Doctoral students Bernard Feld (1945)
Robert Retherford (1947)
Norman Kroll (1948)
Theodore Maiman (1955)
Marlan Scully (1966)
Balázs László Győrffy (1966)

Willis Eugene Lamb Jr. ( /læm/ ; July 12, 1913 – May 15, 2008) was an American physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1955 "for his discoveries concerning the fine structure of the hydrogen spectrum." The Nobel Committee that year awarded half the prize to Lamb and the other half to Polykarp Kusch, who won "for his precision determination of the magnetic moment of the electron." Lamb was able to determine precisely a surprising shift in electron energies in a hydrogen atom (see Lamb shift). Lamb was a professor at the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences.

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.

Nobel Prize in Physics One of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Physics is a yearly award given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for those who have made the most outstanding contributions for humankind in the field of physics. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others being the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Polykarp Kusch German physicist

Polykarp Kusch was a German-born American physicist. In 1955, the Nobel Committee gave a divided Nobel Prize for Physics, with one half to going to Kusch for his accurate determination that the magnetic moment of the electron was greater than its theoretical value, thus leading to reconsideration of—and innovations in—quantum electrodynamics.

Contents

Biography

Lamb was born in Los Angeles, California, United States and attended Los Angeles High School. First admitted in 1930, he received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1934. For theoretical work on scattering of neutrons by a crystal, guided by J. Robert Oppenheimer, he received the Ph.D. in physics in 1938. [1] Because of limited computational methods available at the time, this research narrowly missed revealing the Mössbauer Effect, 19 years before its recognition by Mössbauer. [2] He worked on nuclear theory, laser physics, and verifying quantum mechanics.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 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.

Los Angeles High School public magnet secondary school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., founded in 1873

Los Angeles High School is the oldest public high school in the Southern California Region and in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Its colors are royal blue and white and the teams are called the Romans.

Lamb was the Wykeham Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford from 1956 to 1962, and also taught at Yale, Columbia, Stanford and the University of Arizona. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963. [3]

The University of Oxford has three statutory professorships named after William of Wykeham, who founded New College.

University of Oxford University in Oxford, United Kingdom

The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's second-oldest university in continuous operation. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two 'ancient universities' are frequently jointly called 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Oxford has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Columbia University Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.

Lamb is remembered as a "rare theorist turned experimentalist" by D. Kaiser. [4]

Quantum physics

In addition to his crucial and famous contribution to quantum electrodynamics via the Lamb shift, in the latter part of his career he paid increasing attention to the field of quantum measurements. [5] [6] [7] In one of his writings Lamb stated that "most people who use quantum mechanics have little need to know much about the interpretation of the subject." [7] Lamb was also openly critical of many of the interpretational trends on quantum mechanics. [8]

Quantum electrodynamics Relativistic field theory of electromagnetism

In particle physics, quantum electrodynamics (QED) is the relativistic quantum field theory of electrodynamics. In essence, it describes how light and matter interact and is the first theory where full agreement between quantum mechanics and special relativity is achieved. QED mathematically describes all phenomena involving electrically charged particles interacting by means of exchange of photons and represents the quantum counterpart of classical electromagnetism giving a complete account of matter and light interaction.

Lamb shift Difference in energy of hydrogenic atom electron states not predicted by the Dirac equation

In physics, the Lamb shift, named after Willis Lamb, is a difference in energy between two energy levels 2S1/2 and 2P1/2 of the hydrogen atom which was not predicted by the Dirac equation, according to which these states should have the same energy.

The framework of quantum mechanics requires a careful definition of measurement. The issue of measurement lies at the heart of the problem of the interpretation of quantum mechanics, for which there is currently no consensus. The question of how the operational process measurement affects the ontological state of the observed system is unresolved, and called the measurement problem.

Personal

In 1939 Lamb married his first wife, Ursula Schaefer, a German student, who became a distinguished historian of Latin America. [9] After her death in 1996 he married physicist Bruria Kaufman in 1996, whom he later divorced. In 2008 he married Elsie Wattson.

Bruria Kaufman physicist

Bruria Kaufman was an American theoretical physicist. She is known for contributions to Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, to statistical physics, where she used applied spinor analysis to rederive the result of Lars Onsager on the partition function of the two-dimensional Ising Model, and to the study of the Mössbauer effect, on which she collaborated with John von Neumann and Harry Lipkin.

Lamb died on May 15, 2008, at the age of 94, [2] due to complications of a gallstone disorder.

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References

  1. Stiles, Lori (May 16, 2008). "Willis E. Lamb Jr., 1955 Nobel Laureate in Physics, Dies at 94". The University of Arizona News. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  2. 1 2 Holley, Joe (May 19, 2008). "Willis E. Lamb Jr., 94; Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist". The Washington Post . Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  3. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter L" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences . Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  4. D. Kaiser, Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams (University of Chicago, Chicago, 2005).
  5. Lamb, Jr, W. E.; Retherford, R. C. (1947). "Fine Structure of the Hydrogen Atom by a Microwave Method". Physical Review. 72: 241. Bibcode:1947PhRv...72..241R. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.72.241.
  6. W. E. Lamb, Quantum theory of measurement, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences480, 407-416 (1986).
  7. 1 2 W. E. Lamb, Quantum theory of measurement, in Noise and Chaos in Nonlinear Dynamical Systems (Cambridge University, Cambridge, 1990) pp. 1-14.
  8. W. E. Lamb, Super classical quantum mechanics: the best interpretation of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics, Am. J. Phys.69, 413-421 (2001).
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-05. Retrieved 2015-03-22. accessed 5 July 2016.