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October 23: Felix Bloch and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

October 23, 2013
bloch_postcardFelix Bloch, who shared the 1952 Nobel Prize for Physics for developing the nuclear magnetic resonance method of measuring the magnetic field of atoms, was born in Zurich, Switzerland on this date in 1905. He obtained his PhD under Werner Heisenberg (his 1928 doctoral dissertation became the basis for the quantum theory of electrical conduction), and taught in Germany until Hitler’s ascent in 1933, when he left Europe for the United States. Bloch became the first professor of theoretical physics at Stanford University, and worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory during World War II, before resigning to do radar research at Harvard. In 1954, Bloch became the first director of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. He died in 1983. “They called me from Associated Press at 4 o’clock in the morning, I think, and I got up and I was so sleepy. When they told me [about the Nobel Prize], my reaction was ‘Nonsense, I must be dreaming.’ But then very soon the telegrams started coming in.” —Felix Bloch
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