A retrospective: Niels Bohr

Niels Henrik David Bohr was born in Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen in 1885, and was a son of Danish professor, Christian Bohr, who studied under Carl Ludwig, and gained a Doctor of philosophy (Ph.D) in physiology. Bohr studies at the Latin school Gammelholm, before enrolling at Copenhagen University to study physics, astronomy, mathematics and philosophy. With his father being a professor he had access to his laboratory, which he used to experiment in physics, and was awarded his masters and doctorate in 1911.

At the end of 1911 he decided to move to Cambridge, England, where he followed the work of Sir Joseph John Thompson, who was a Nobelprize winner due to his discovery of the electron, (a sub atomic particle). This is where Bohr’s fascination with Max Planck‘s theories of quantum mechanics began, which is the study of nature at the smallest scale (atomic and sub atomic). Bohr’s research formed the basis of future atomic discovery and research.

He remained as a teacher in England for several years before he returned to work at Copenhagen University where he set up the institute of theoretical physics, which he’d continue to run until his death.

Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.” – Niels Bohr

His work of the structure of atoms gained his the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922, and he’d spend the remainder of his career studying atomic nuclei, and their transmutations and disintegrations, which would lead to further discovery in the field of nuclear fission (liquid droplet theory) which is essentially the splitting of an atom, which releases a large amount of energy, and led the way to splitting uranium atoms and the development of the atom bomb. .

“Liquiddrop model, in nuclear physics, a description of atomic nuclei in which the nucleons (neutrons and protons) behave like the molecules in a drop of liquid.” – Britannica

Towards the twilight years of his life, Bohr found a new interest in molecular biology, and his later work involved the thoughts on his problems of life, and upon his death in 1962 he was a published author of over 115 works. After the war had ended, despite his research being partially responsible for the destructive force of the atom bomb, he called for it to be used for purpose of peace, not war. He helped put together the Atoms for Peace conference where he won the award Atoms for Peace himself, for his efforts in the area of physics.