Sir James Chadwick (1891 - 1974)

Sir James Chadwick
Sir James Chadwick

James Chadwick was born on October 20, 1891, in Cheshire, England. He graduated from Manchester University's Honours School of Physics in 1911 and spent the next two years working on various radioactivity problems in the Physical Laboratory in Manchester, earning a M.Sc. degree in 1913 as well as the 1851 Exhibition Scholarship, which allowed him to continue his research and move to Berlin to work with Professor Hans Geiger.

Chadwick was elected Fellow of Gonville and Caius College (1921-1935) and became assistant director of research in the Cavendish Laboratory in 1923. In 1927, he was elected a Fellow at the Royal Society.

In 1932, Chadwick proved the existence of neutrons, preparing the way towards the fission of Uranium 235 and the creation of the atomic bomb. He was awarded the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society in 1932, and subsequently the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1935. In that same year, he was elected to the Lyon Jones Chair of Physics at the University of Liverpool.

From 1943 to 1946, Chadwick worked in the United States as Head of the British Mission collaborating with the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos and became a leading advocate for developing the atomic bomb in Britain, the predominant scientist associated with the effort. He returned to Cambridge in 1948, serving as Master of Gonville and Caius College until he retired in 1959. He acted as part-time member of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority from 1957 to 1962.

Knighted by King George VI in 1945, Chadwick had many papers published on the topic of radioactivity and connected problems. Along with Lord Rutherford and C.D. Ellis, he is co-author of the book Radiations from Radioactive Substances (1930). He died in 1974.