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Joseph John “J.J.” Thomson , (Manchester, England, December 18, 1856 – Cambridge, England, August 30, 1940) was a British scientist, discoverer of the electron, the isotopes and inventor of the mass spectrometer. In 1906 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Joseph Thomson’s Biography
Thomson was born on December 18, 1856 in Cheetham Hill, a district of Manchester in England, and had Scottish ancestry. In 1870 he studied engineering at Owens College, now part of the University of Manchester, and moved to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1876. In 1880, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics (Second Wrangler and Smith 2nd Prize) and MA (earning the Prize Adams) in 1883. In 1884 he became Professor of Physics at Cavendish. One of his students was Ernest Rutherford, who would later be his successor in the position.
In 1890 he married Rose Elizabeth Paget, daughter of Sir Edward George Paget, a physician, then Regius Professor of Medicine (Regius Professor of Physic) in Cambridge. With her, he was the father of a son, George Paget Thomson, and a daughter, Joan Paget Thomson. His son became a leading physicist, who in turn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1937 for demonstrating the undulatory properties of electrons.
J.J. Thomson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1906, “in recognition of the great merits of his theoretical and experimental investigations in the conduction of electricity generated by gases.” He was knighted in 1908 and named in the Order of Merit in 1912. In 1914 he gave the Romanes Lecture in Oxford on the atomic theory. In 1918 he was appointed rector of Trinity College, Cambridge, where he met Niels Bohr, where he remained until his death. He died on August 30, 1940 and was buried in the Abbey of Westminster, near Sir Isaac Newton.
Thomson was elected to the Royal Society on June 12, 1884, and later became its president from 1915 to 1920. In 1887 he discovered the electron and proposed a model in which the atom had a positive charge.
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