Richard Davisson

Physicist, Deceased Person

1922 – 2004


Who was Richard Davisson?

Richard Joseph "Dick" Davisson was an American physicist.

Davisson was the son of Clinton Davisson, a Nobel laureate, and his wife Charlotte. His maternal uncle, Sir Owen Richardson, was also a Nobel laureate.

During World War II he worked on the Manhattan Project as part of the Special Engineer Detachment. At Los Alamos, he met Professor Robert Williams, who later recruited him to teach at the University of Washington.

As a graduate student at Cornell after World War II, Davisson built a cosmic ray machine that would do everything but write a grad student's thesis. He acquired a huge magnet from Navy surplus, built a cloud chamber and a set of Geiger counters and designed a universal-focus camera to record cosmic ray events. Then he designed and built an early electronic computer to record and sort the events according to energy, mass, charge, direction and frequency. Davisson received great praise from the Cornell faculty, after he mounted his machine in a trailer that could be towed up in the mountains or lowered down into abandoned mines. With such success, Davisson went on to the University of Washington without a PhD.

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Dec 29, 1922
  • United States of America
Jun 15, 2004

on July 23, 2013


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