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Louis De Broglie
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Scientist
    (August 15, 1892-March 19, 1987)
    Born in Dieppe, France
    7th duc de Broglie
    Postulated that electrons can behave as waves rather than particles (1924)
    (Technically, he postulated that all objects can exhibit wave-like behavior, but above the atomic level, the wavelengths are so small the effect can be ignored)
    His formula relating the wavelength of a particle to its momentum was used by Erwin Schrodinger to develop the wave equation in quantum mechanics
    Won the Nobel Prize in Physics (1929)
    Founding member of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (1954)
    His full name was the unwieldy Louis-Victor-Pierre-Raymond, duc de Broglie.
    He came from the nobility.
    He originally majored in history and law, planning to follow the family tradition of entering government/diplomatic service, before taking up physics.
    Although his ideas served as a basis for quantum mechanics, he rejected quantum mechanics' treatment of subatomic particles as probabilistic functions.
    During World War I, he served in the army's radio division, stationed at the Eiffel Tower.
    His major contribution to physics was based on a burst of inspiration: Since Einstein's explanation of the photoelectric effect treated light, previously though of as a wave, as being composed of particles, why couldn't matter, always thought of being made of particles, behave like a wave?
    When he described the idea of electron waves in his doctoral thesis, his examiners, unsure what to make of the concept, sent a copy of the thesis to Einstein, who endorsed it enthusiastically.
    Physicists Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer proved de Broglie's theory experimentally by showing that a beam of electrons passing through a crystal were scattered in the same way that light was (1927).
    He was the first recipient of UNESCO's Kalinga Prize for explaining scientific ideas to the public (1952).
    He was named a Knight of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor (1961).

Credit: C. Fishel


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