George E. Uhlenbeck

National Medal of Science

Physical Sciences

For the major discovery, together with Samuel A. Goudsmit, of the electron spin as a source of a new quantum number.

For the major discovery, together with Samuel A. Goudsmit, of the electron spin as a source of a new quantum number.

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Birth
December 6, 1900
Age Awarded
76
Country of Birth
Netherlands
Key Contributions
Discovery Of Electron Spin As Source Of New Quantum Number
Awarded by
Gerald R. Ford
Education
University of Lieden
Areas of Impact
Theory & Foundations
Affiliations
Rockefeller University
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George E. Uhlenbeck was physics expert and one of two researchers that helped discover electron spin, a major scientific advancement in 1925 involving angular momentum of subatomic particles.

The revelation was discovered through spectroscopy, which is the science of light absorption and emission by matter to learn about radiation, and more recently it has established a greater understanding of the interactions between electrons, protons and ions particles. Along with researcher Samuel A. Goudsmit, Uhlenbeck helped explain electron spin through the spectral lines produced by hydrogen.

Uhlenbeck, originally from the Netherlands, moved to the University of Michigan in 1927 to continue his research and teach physics. He returned to his home country in 1935 to teach at the State University in Utrecht. He later returned to the University of Michigan, then helped developed radar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before returning to the Netherland after World War II. In 1959, Uhlenbeck crossed the pond one more time to serve as president of the American Physical Society and teach at Rockefeller University until 1974.

By Christine Ayala

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