Peter Armbruster [1931-]

Peter Armbruster [1931-]

He was born in Dachau (Bavaria) in 1931. He studied physics at the Technical University of Stuttgart and Munchen, and obtained his Ph.D. in 1961 under H. Maier-Leibniz, Technical University Munchen. His major research fields were fission, interaction of heavy ions in matter and atomic physics with fission product beams at the Research Center of Julich (1965 - 1970).

From 1989 - 1992 he was research Director of the European Institute Laue-Langevin (ILL), Grenoble. He was Senior Scientist at the Gesellschaft fur Schwerionenforschung Darmstadt, GSI, from 1971 - 1996. He developed recoil separators equipped with new detector systems during most of his scientific career. His main research activities were: synthesis and production of new elements and isotopes, studies of reaction mechanisms, studies of characteristic X-rays produced in ion-atom collisions - among others X-ray emission from transient superheavy collision systems, studies on track formation of heavy ions in solids by neutron and X-ray small angle scattering. He also directed experiments on isotope production in fission by relativistic reactions of 238U. Since 1996 he is involved in a project on incineration of nuclear waste by spallation and fission reactions.

He has received many awards for his work, to mention a few: the Max-Born Medal awarded by the Institute of Physics London and the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft in 1988, and the Stern-Gerlach Medal awarded by the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft in 1997.
Philip Hauge Abelson [1913-]

Philip Hauge Abelson [1913-]

Abelson, who was born in Tacoma, was educated at Washington State College and at the University of California at Berkeley, where he obtained his PhD in 1939. Apart from the war years at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, he spent most of his career at the Carnegie Institution, Washington, serving as the director of the geophysics laboratory from 1953, and as president from 1971 to 1978. He subsequently became the editor of a number of scientific journals including the important periodical Science, which he edited from 1962 to 1985.

In 1940 he assisted Edwin McMillan in creating the first transuranic element, neptunium, by bombardment of uranium with neutrons in the Berkeley cyclotron. Abelson next worked on separating the isotopes of uranium. It was clear that a nuclear explosion was possible only if sufficient quantities of the rare isotope uranium-235 (only 7 out of every 1000 uranium atoms) could be obtained. The method Abelson chose was that of thermal diffusion. This involved circulating uranium hexafluoride vapour in a narrow space between a hot and a cold pipe; the lighter isotope tended to accumulate nearer the hot surface. Collecting sufficient uranium-235 involved Abelson in one of those massive research and engineering projects only possible in war time. In the Philadelphia Navy Yard, he constructed a hundred or so 48-foot (15-meter) precision- engineered pipes through which steam was pumped. From this Abelson was able to obtain uranium enriched to 14 U-235 atoms per 1000.

Although this was still too weak a mixture for a bomb, it was sufficiently enriched to use in other separation processes. Consequently a bigger plant, consisting of over 2000 towers, was constructed at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and provided enriched material for the separation process from which came the fuel for the first atom bomb.

After the war Abelson extended the important work of Stanley Miller on the origin of vital biological molecules. He found that amino acids could be produced from a variety of gases if carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen were present. He was also able to show (1955) the great stability of amino acids by identifying them in 300-million-year-old fossils and later (1956) identified the presence of fatty acids in rocks.


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