Norman F. Ramsey

National Medal of Science

Physical Sciences

For his seminal investigations in broad areas of atomic, molecular, and nuclear physics, and for his dedicated service to the Nation and to the scientific community.

For his seminal investigations in broad areas of atomic, molecular, and nuclear physics, and for his dedicated service to the Nation and to the scientific community.

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Birth
August 27, 1915
Age Awarded
73
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Invented Separation Oscillary Fields Method Used In Atomic Clocks
Awarded by
Ronald Wilson Reagan
Education
Cambridge University
Columbia University
Areas of Impact
Communication & Information
Affiliations
Harvard University
Other Prizes
Nobel Prize
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Physicist Norman F. Ramsey spent his career researching atoms and what makes them “tick.”

Ramsey’s work in the field of physics led to the development of the atomic clock, the most accurate timekeeping device in the world. Today, the atomic clock is used to synchronize wired power grids, Global Positioning Systems and even clocks on smartphones.

In 1930s and 40s, Ramsey began experimenting with existing techniques of studying atoms in an effort to improve their accuracy. By 1949, he discovered a new way exposing atoms and molecules to magnetic fields, a technique which is now called the Ramsey Method.

Ramsey’s interest in science extended beyond the laboratory. The physicist was the first science advisor to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In 1982, while working for NATO, he headed up a National Research Council committee which disproved previous theories that there was more than one gunman in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

By Rachel Warren

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