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Louis de Broglie: An Overview
''The actual state of our knowledge is always provisional and... there must be, beyond what is actually known, immense new regions to discover.'' -Louis de Broglie
Louis de Broglie is a famous physicist, mostly known for his contributions to the field of quantum mechanics in physics. Quantum mechanics is the study of the physics of the behavior of particles at the atomic and subatomic level. Since its birth in the early 20th century, quantum mechanics has been one of the most mysterious and exciting branches in physics in which its study and research has produced some of our modern inventions, such as the computer, personal electronics, and the laser, among other things. This lesson will examine the experiments and theories of Louis de Broglie that led to his groundbreaking contributions while also exploring his personal life.
Childhood and Early Life
Louis de Broglie was born on the 15th of August 1892 in Dieppe, France to an aristocratic French family. Louis obtained a degree in history at the distinguished Sorbonne University in France in 1910 but soon his attention turned to the natural sciences, obtaining a degree in physics in 1913. Louis de Broglie's brother Maurice was also a physicist who undertook experimental atomic physics experiments in a homemade laboratory at their family's mansion.
However, Louis was more drawn to the theoretical side of physics and gravitated to the field of atomic physics after hearing from his brother about the work being done by the German physicists Max Planck and Albert Einstein. Louis de Broglie served during World War I under the French army in 1914 at the radio tower in the Eiffel Tower. It was there that he took a strong interest in the technicality of physics.
Career and Scientific Contributions
After occasionally working with his brother Maurice in his atomic physics laboratory, Louis de Broglie shattered the world of physics and quantum mechanics when he published his doctorate thesis, Recherches sur la théorie des quanta (Research on the Theory of the Quanta) in 1924. In this thesis, de Broglie postulated the wave nature of electrons and the proposal of wave-particle duality.
Up until his findings, the electrons were seen as only behaving like particles. His research found that in terms of physical properties, particles sometimes acted like particles and sometimes they acted like waves; thus, the 'duality'.
Louis de Broglie's theory suggested that any particle or object that was moving also has an associated wave. Albert Einstein supported de Broglie's theory, even though de Broglie had developed this theory without any backing from experiments. It wasn't until 1927 that de Broglie's theory was experimentally proven by scientists Lester Germer and Clinton Davisson, only a few years after de Broglie published this radical theory. What became known as the de Broglie hypothesis led to the birth of wave mechanics, which became an essential branch in physics.
Due to this discovery, Louis de Broglie was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1929. After earning his doctorate of physics at the Sorbonne, he was appointed to professor of theoretical physics there. Louis de Broglie stayed at that position until his retirement in 1962.
Later Life & Death
''The history of science shows that the progress of science has constantly been hampered by the tyrannical influence of certain conceptions that finally came to be considered as dogma. For this reason, it is proper to submit periodically to a very searching examination, principles that we have come to assume without any more discussion.'' -Louis de Broglie
Louis de Broglie would spend the later parts of his life and career devoted to the study of wave mechanics, a field that he founded after his revolutionary theory in 1924. Additionally, he went on to serve in a variety of other important roles in the scientific community in France. He was appointed as the mathematical sciences' permanent secretary for France's Academy of Sciences in 1942 and acted as an adviser to the French Atomic Energy Commissariat after 1945.
In addition to the role de Broglie played in the science and physics community, he was very interested in science's role and its philosophical implications in modern society. Due to this interest in the philosophical implications of science, he wrote numerous articles about science for the general public and was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization who awarded him the Kalinga Prize in 1952. Louis de Broglie died on March 19, 1987 in France at the age of 94.
Louis de Broglie is a famous physicist, mostly known for his contributions to the field of quantum mechanics. He revolutionized that field by introducing the idea of the wave nature of electrons and particle-wave duality. This theory started the branch of wave mechanics and Louis de Broglie received the Nobel Prize in Physics for this work in 1929. Louis de Broglie spent the latter part of his life and career working on perfecting the field of wave mechanics and also developing a significant amount of time to the philosophical implications that science has on modern society. Louis de Broglie died in France in 1987 at the age of 94.
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