Physicist, Deceased Person
1922 – 2004
Who was Richard Davisson?
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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