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Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory Science Support Center

Dr. Arthur Holly Compton

Dr. Arthur Holly Compton


American physicist Arthur Holly Compton was one of the pioneers of high-energy physics. In 1927 he received the Nobel prize in physics for his definitive study of the scattering of high-energy photons by electrons which became known as the Compton Effect. This work was recognized as an experimental proof that electromagnetic radiation possessed both wave-like and particle-like properties and laid a foundation for the new "quantum" physics. All the experiments onboard the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory rely on the detailed knowledge of the interaction of high-energy gamma-rays with matter that Compton first described.

Compton's work in the early 1920's on the scattering of high-energy photons was carried out while he was head of the Department of Physics at Washington University in St. Louis. He later went to the University of Chicago where he eventually switched to the study of cosmic rays. During the Second World War he played a major role in the atomic bomb project as director of the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago. At the end of the war, he returned to Washington University as Chancellor and retired in 1953.


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This page was last modified on Monday, 01-Aug-2005 13:41:42 EDT.

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