Arthur Holly Compton (1892 - 1962)
Arthur Holly Compton was born on September 10,1892 in Wooster, Ohio. After graduating from Wooster College, Compton attended Princeton University and received his Ph.D. in 1916.
Compton served as head of the physics department at Washington University from 1920 until 1923. In 1923, Compton joined the faculty at the University of Chicago and resumed his work on X-rays. His research focused on the changes that take place in the wavelength of X-rays when they collide with electrons in metals. The "Compton Effect" provided proof that electromagnetic radiation possesses properties of both waves and particles. This work earned Compton the 1927 Nobel Prize for Physics, which he shared with Charles T.R. Wilson.
In 1941, Compton became chairman of the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee to Study the Military Potential of Atomic Energy. The committee’ws work contributed to the development of the Manhattan Project. In 1942, Compton was asked to direct the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago, where the first self-sustaining atomic chain reaction occurred.
At the end of the war, Compton became chancellor of Washington University. He retired from this position in 1953, and remained at the school as a professor of natural history until 1961.
Arthur Compton died on March 15, 1962.