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Goudsmit, Samuel Abraham

spin found alsos atomic

[gowd smit] (1902–78) Dutch–US physicist; first suggested that electrons possess spin.

After attending university at Amsterdam and Leiden, Goudsmit obtained his PhD in 1927 and emigrated to the USA, holding a post at Brookhaven National Laboratory from 1948–70.

At the age of 23, with fellow-student , he developed the idea that electrons possess intrinsic quantized angular momentum (known as spin), with an associated magnetic moment, and used this to explain many features of atomic spectra. Spin later emerged as a natural consequence of relativistic quantum mechanics in theory of the electron (1928) and was found to be a property of most elementary particles, including the proton and neutron.

After first working on radar during the Second World War, Goudsmit was appointed head of the Alsos mission in 1944. This was to accompany and even to precede front-line Allied troops, seeking indications of the development of a German atomic bomb. He found that there was little danger of the Germans possessing such a weapon before the war ended. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom for this work, and later published an account in his book Alsos (1947).

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