George Gamow bigraphy, stories - Russian-American physicist and science writer

George Gamow : biography

04 March 1904 - 19 August 1968

George Gamow ( February 20 (March 4) 1904August 19, 1968), born Georgiy Antonovich Gamov (Russian: Гео́ргий Анто́нович Га́мов), was a theoretical physicist and cosmologist – notably an early advocate and developer of Lemaître's Big Bang theory. He discovered a theoretical explanation of alpha decay via quantum tunneling, and worked on radioactive decay of the atomic nucleus, star formation, stellar nucleosynthesis and Big Bang nucleosynthesis (which he collectively called nucleocosmogenesis), and molecular genetics.

In his middle and late career, Gamow focused more on teaching, and became well known as an author of popular books on science, including One Two Three ... Infinity, and the Mr. Tompkins ... series of books (1939–1967). Some of his books are still in print more than a half-century after their original publication, and have become classic but still-relevant introductions to fundamental principles of mathematics and science.

Early life and career

Gamow was born in the city of Odessa, Russian Empire (now in Ukraine) to mixed Russian-Ukrainian parents. His father taught Russian language and literature in high school, and his mother taught geography and history at a school for girls. In addition to Russian, Gamow learned to speak some French from his mother, and German from a tutor. Gamow did not learn fluent English until his college years and later. Most of his early publications were in German or Russian, but he later switched to writing in English for both technical papers and for the lay audience.

He was educated at the Novorossiya University in Odessa (1922–23) and at the University of Leningrad (1923–1929). Gamow studied under Alexander Friedmann for some time in Leningrad, until Friedmann's early death in 1925. He aspired to do his doctoral thesis under Friedmann, but had to change dissertation advisors. At the University, Gamow made friends with three other students of theoretical physics, Lev Landau, Dmitri Ivanenko, and Matvey Bronshtein (who was later arrested in 1937 and executed in 1938 by the Soviet regime). The four formed a group known as the Three Musketeers which met to discuss and analyze the ground-breaking papers on quantum mechanics published during those years. He later used the same phrase to describe the Alpher, Herman, and Gamow "group."

On graduation, he worked on quantum theory in Göttingen, where his research into the atomic nucleus provided the basis for his doctorate. He then worked at the Theoretical Physics Institute of the University of Copenhagen, from 1928 to 1931, with a break to work with Ernest Rutherford at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge. He continued to study the atomic nucleus (proposing the "liquid drop" model), but also worked on stellar physics with Robert Atkinson and Fritz Houtermans.

In 1931 Gamow was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR at age 28 – one of the youngest in the history of this organization.He was expelled from the Academy in 1938, but his membership was restored posthumously in 1990.The youngest corresponding member elected to the Academy of Sciences of the USSR was the Armenian mathematician Sergey Mergelyan, elected at age 24. During the period 1931–1933, George Gamow worked in the Physical Department of the Radium Institute (Leningrad) headed by . Under the guidance and direct participation of Igor Kurchatov, Lev Mysovskii and George Gamow, Europe's first cyclotron was designed. In 1932, George Gamow and Lev Mysovskii submitted a draft design for consideration by the Academic Council of the Radium Institute, which approved it. The cyclotron was not completed until 1937.V.G. Khlopin Radium Institute. and . Retrieved 25 February 2012.

Late career and life

Gamow worked at George Washington University from 1934 until 1954, when he became a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1956, he moved to the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he remained for the rest of his career. In 1956, Gamow became one of the founding members of the Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC), which later reformed teaching of high school physics in the post-Sputnik years. Also in 1956, he divorced his first wife. Gamow later married Barbara Perkins (an editor for one of his publishers) in 1958.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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