Luis W. Alvarez

National Medal of Science

Physical Sciences

For his inspiring leadership in experimental high energy physics, continuing development of the bubble chamber, discovery of many states of elementary particles, and his contributions to National defense.

For his inspiring leadership in experimental high energy physics, continuing development of the bubble chamber, discovery of many states of elementary particles, and his contributions to National defense.

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Birth
June 13, 1911
Age Awarded
52
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Theoretical Physics
Bubble Chamber
Revolutionize The Study Of Charged Particles
Manhattan Project
Awarded by
Lyndon Baines Johnson
Education
University of Chicago
Areas of Impact
Transportation
Affiliations
University of California, Berkeley
Other Prizes
Nobel Prize
National Inventors Hall of Fame
Enrico Fermi Award
A

As a boy, Luis W. Alvarez heeded the guidance of his father.
 

“He advised me to sit every few months in my reading chair for an entire evening, close my eyes and try to think of new problems to solve,” Alvarez recounts in his 1987 autobiography.

During World War II, Alvarez used this innate curiosity to design instruments that were flown over Germany to collect air that could later be tested for radioactivity, a sign of atomic research.

In 1944, he aided the Manhattan project, America’s effort to build its own nuclear weapon. But Alvarez and his quest for answers didn’t stop after the war.

Among many accomplishments, Alvarez – with his son, Walter – developed the theory that dinosaurs disappeared millions of years ago after a large object hit the Earth.


''I don't like to say bad things about paleontologists, but they're really not very good scientists,” he said in 1988. “They're more like stamp collectors.'' 

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