Samuel Goudsmit, together with George E. Uhlenbeck, discovered electron spin in 1925, when both were still doctoral students at the Universities of Leiden and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. This discovery was a significant contribution to the theory of theoretical physics. Although Goudsmit made significant other contributions to the field of theoretical physics during his life long career, the electron spin discovery was apparently the most important and most significant.
Goudsmit was born in The Hague, the Netherlands on July 11, 1902. His parents were both merchants. His mother ran a millinery shop and his father was a wholesale merchant of bathroom fixtures. Goudsmit’s interests were in theoretical physics. He enrolled in the University of Leiden in 1919, and studied there and at the University of Amsterdam until 1927, when he was awarded the Ph.D. degree in theoretical physics by the University of Leiden.
In 1932, he moved to the United States and accepted a position in the physics department of the University of Michigan. He remained there until World War II, when he joined the staff at the Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [ MIT]. From 1944 to 1946, he was chief of intelligence with the Department of Defense and was given the task of assessing the ability of the Nazis to develop the atomic bomb. His conclusion was that the Nazi totalitarian regime’s environment was not conducive to the research intensity required to develop an atomic bomb. Fortunately, the war ended and we were never to find out if Goudsmit’s conclusions were correct or not.
Goudsmit was a professor of physics at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, from 1946 to 1948. He moved from Northwestern to become a senior scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He remained at Brookhaven until his retirement in 1970. From 1970 until his death he was a Visiting Professor of Physics at the University of Nevada at Reno.
The groundbreaking discovery of electron spin by Goudsmit and Uhlenbeck led to a number of awards for the two scientists. They received the Research Corporation Awards in 1953, Max Planck Medals in 1964, U. S. National Medals of Science in 1976, and were made Commanders in the Royal Netherlands Order of Orange-Nassau in 1977.
Goudsmit’s other contributions to the field of theoretical physics consist of: 1. the first measurement of nuclear spin and its Zeeman effect with Ernst Back in 1926-1927; 2. development of a theory of hyperfine structure of spectral lines; 3. the first spectroscopic determination of nuclear magnetic moments in 1931-1933; 4. contributed to the theory of complex atoms and the theory of multiple scattering of electrons; 5. introduced statistical random sampling in 1940; and 6.invented the magnetic time-of-flight mass spectrometer in 1948. For those contributions, Goudsmit received numerous awards and recognitions.
During his long academic career, Goudsmit was also a visiting professor at Harvard University and a visiting professor at Rockefeller University. In 1952, Goudsmit was a member of a distinguished group of scientists who formed a Scientific Advisory Panel on Unidentified Flying Objects.
During his scientific career, Goudsmit published numerous scientific papers in scientific journals. He also was the editor of the prestigious journal of the American Physical Society, entitled “Physical Review’ from 1951 to 1962. He also founded another journal entitled, “Physical Review Letters” in 1958. One of the co-authors of one of his book publications was Linus Pauling. The book they co-authored was entitled, ‘The Study of Line Spectra’, published in 1930.
Goudsmit married Jaantje Logher in 1927, the year in which both immigrated to the United States. The couple had one daughter, named Esther Marianne. Goudsmit married Irene Bejach in 1960. Samuel Goudsmit passed away in 1978.
Samuel Abraham Goudsmit, Wikipedia
Goudsmit, Samuel Abraham [1902-1978], www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/G/Goudsmit.html
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