John C. Slater

National Medal of Science

Physical Sciences

For wide-ranging contributions to the basic theory of atoms, molecules, and matter in the solid form.

For wide-ranging contributions to the basic theory of atoms, molecules, and matter in the solid form.

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Birth
December 22, 1900
Age Awarded
70
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Theory Of The Electronic Structure Of Atoms
Awarded by
Richard Milhous Nixon
Education
University of Rochester
Harvard University
Areas of Impact
Theory & Foundations
Affiliations
University of Florida
I

In the 1930s, scientists in the United States felt a certain inferiority about the advancements of their European peers. As a result, many young physicists often traveled abroad to finish their educations.

While serving as chair of MIT’s department of physics, John C. Slater reversed this trend, recasting the school’s curriculum to compete with foreign universities.

Between 1933 and 1968, he wrote 14 books. Among those texts, “Microwave Transmission” was regarded as a bible for designers of radar during World War II.

After the war, Slater built MIT’s post-war department, preparing for an influx of aspiring physicists.

“The war had physics to the attention of the public, of industry and government, as had never happened before,” he wrote in a memoir.

In a world focused on nuclear and high energy physics, Slater – while continuing his own research in molecular structure – began some of the best programs in the country for electronics, X-rays, optics and acoustics.

By John Slater

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