Sir George P. Thomson, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1937

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Sir George Paget Thomson, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1937

Birthplace: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
Death: September 10, 1975 (83)
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir J.J. Thomson, OM PRS, Nobel Prize in Physics 1906 and Rose Elizabeth Paget
Husband of Isabel Kathleen Thomson
Father of Private; Private; Private and Private
Brother of Joan Paget

Managed by: James Emslie (Graaff)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Sir George P. Thomson, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1937

Born 3 May 1892 Cambridge, England

Died 10 September 1975 (aged 83) Cambridge, England

Nationality British

Fields Physics


University of Aberdeen

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Imperial College London

Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

Academic advisors J. J. Thomson

Doctoral students Ishrat Hussain Usmani

Known for Electron diffraction

Notable awards

  1. Howard N. Potts Medal (1932)
  2. Nobel Prize in Physics (1937)
  3. Hughes Medal (1939)
  4. Royal Medal (1949
  5. Faraday Medal (1960)

Spouse Kathleen Buchanan Smith

Children 2 sons, 2 daughters

Sir George Paget Thomson, FRS (3 May 1892 – 10 September 1975) was an English physicist and Nobel laureate in physics recognised for his discovery with Clinton Davisson of the wave properties of the electron by electron diffraction.

After briefly serving in the First World War Thomson became a Fellow at Cambridge and then moved to the University of Aberdeen. George Thomson was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1937 for his work in Aberdeen in discovering the wave-like properties of the electron. The prize was shared with Clinton Joseph Davisson who had made the same discovery independently. Whereas his father had seen the electron as a particle (and won his Nobel Prize in the process), Thomson demonstrated that it could be diffracted like a wave, a discovery proving the principle of wave-particle duality which had first been posited by Louis-Victor de Broglie in the 1920s as what is often dubbed the de Broglie hypothesis.

In 1930 he was appointed Professor at Imperial College. In the late 1930s and during the Second World War Thomson specialised in nuclear physics, concentrating on practical military applications. In particular Thomson was the chairman of the crucial MAUD Committee in 1940-1941 that concluded that an atomic bomb was feasible. In later life he continued this work on nuclear energy but also wrote works on aerodynamics and the value of science in society.

Thomson stayed at Imperial College until 1952, when he became Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. In 1964, the college honoured his tenure with the George Thomson Building, an outstanding work of modernist architecture on the college's Leckhampton campus.

Thomson was knighted in 1943.

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Sir George P. Thomson, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1937's Timeline

May 3, 1892
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
September 10, 1975
Age 83
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom