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The Nobel Prize in Physics 1952
Felix Bloch, E. M. Purcell

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E. M. Purcell - Facts

Edward Mills Purcell

Edward Mills Purcell

Born: 30 August 1912, Taylorville, IL, USA

Died: 7 March 1997, Cambridge, MA, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Prize motivation: "for their development of new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements and discoveries in connection therewith"

Field: nuclear physics

Prize share: 1/2

Discovered How to Measure Nuclear Resonance Frequency and Magnetism

Protons and neutrons in nuclei act as small rotating, spinning magnets. Atoms and molecules therefore align in a magnetic field. When exposed to radio waves, they can change direction, but only in certain steps according to quantum mechanics. When returning to the ground, state atoms emit electromagnetic radio waves with frequencies characteristic for different elements and isotopes. Edward Purcell and Felix Bloch developed in 1946 methods for precision measurements used to study the composition of different materials.

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