Born: 20 October 1891, Manchester, United Kingdom
Died: 24 July 1974, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: Liverpool University, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "for the discovery of the neutron"
Field: nuclear physics
Prize share: 1/1
When Herbert Becker and Walter Bothe directed alpha particles (helium nuclei) at beryllium in 1930, a strong, penetrating radiation was emitted. One hypothesis was that this could be high-energy electromagnetic radiation. In 1932, however, James Chadwick proved that it consisted of a neutral particle with about the same mass as a proton. Ernest Rutherford had earlier proposed that such a particle might exist in atomic nuclei. Its existence now proven, it was called a "neutron".