Famous Scientists


James Chadwick

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James Chadwick

Early Life:

James Chadwick was English and he was a Physicist by profession. He was born on October 20, 1891 in Manchester. His parents Anne Mary Knowles Chadwick and John Joseph had him as their eldest son. Chadwick got admitted in Victoria University, Manchester. He was more interested in studying mathematics but instead he was admitted in the field of physics mistakenly. Chadwick was pretty bashful as a person so he did not make any attempt to amend the error. In 1911, he passed out of the Honors School of Physics as a Graduate. He further continued his studies at the same school in the laboratory of Ernest Rutherford.


Rutherford gave his atom’s planetary theory at the same place. Chadwick was acquainted to Niels Bohr and Hans Geiger at the department off Physics. In 1913, a degree of Master’s was received by Chadwick after which he was honored with the Exhibition Scholarship of 1851. He used that scholarship to finance his education at Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt which was the first institution of research in Germany in Charlottenburg near to Berlin. The institute worked under Geiger. One of his early works included the development of beta particles’ energy range. This gave helped Wolfgang Pauli to suggest the existence of neutrino.

Discovery of Neutron and Other Contributions:

Chadwick served many years in a civilian camp in World War I in Ruhleben. His fellowship was used by him at Caius College and Gonville after he returned to England to work at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge with Rutherford. He was the pioneer at using the direct method to determine nucleus’s electric charge. He gained a position as research director in 1922 as Rutherford’s subordinate. They spent a lot of time together experimenting of element alteration and also attempted to split up nucleus of a certain element to form other elements.

There was a certain irregularity faced by both of them and they found out that every element had an atomic mass and an atomic number. And in all cases the atomic masses were more than the atomic numbers. Rutherford said this might be due to the existence of proton mass particles but with impartial charge. But they were unable to find any such particle. Later, Chadwick found out in Joliot-Curies’ work that after beryllium is kept open to alpha particles it becomes radioactive. Chadwick showed in an experiment that when a nitrogen particle is exposed to radiations then it makes then recoil with a large amount of energy and that such thing could happen only by the collision of particles that are uncharged and have the approximate protons’ mass. In 1935, he received a Nobel Prize by proving that the neutron existed.

Chadwick held Lyon Jones’s position at the Liverpool University from the year 1935 to 1948. Then from 1943 to 1946, he provided services to the British Mission as the Head of Project of Manhattan. He was also present at the first atomic test in the desert of New Mexico.

Later Life:

In 1945 he got knighted and also got elected as the Caius and Gonville College Master in 1948. He retired from this position somewhere in 1959. It was after three years that he retired from his post at the Atomic Energy Authority of United Kingdom where he had worked since 1957. He passed away on July 24, 1974 in Cambridge.


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