Fowler, William A.

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Fowler died in 1995.

From the description of Phyphty years of phun and physics in the W. K. Kellogg Radiation Laboratory at Caltech, by Willy Phowler, 1982. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82576561

(William A. Fowler 1911-1995). Physicist (nuclear physics, astrophysics). On the physics faculty at California Institute of Technology (1939-1982); received the Nobel Prize in Physics with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekher in 1983 for his "theoretical and experimental studies of the nuclear reactions of importance in the formation of the chemical elements in the universe."

From the description of Papers, 1917-1995. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78440445

Physicist (nuclear physics, astrophysics). Died 1995.

From the description of Oral history interview with William Alfred Fowler, 1972 June 8, 1973 Feb. 5, 1974 May 30. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 154306382

Physicist (nuclear physics, astrophysics). On physics faculty at California Institute of Technology, 1939-1982; received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983. Died in 1995.

From the description of Papers, 1929-1972. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78961643

Biography

Physicist William A. Fowler received the Nobel Prize in Physics with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar in 1983 for his "theoretical and experimental studies of the nuclear reactions of importance in the formation of the chemical elements in the universe." For most of his scientific career, he was the acknowledged leader of the discipline of nuclear astrophysics and the driving force behind the theory of nucleosynthesis that the elements and their isotopes were generated in stellar furnaces.

Fowler was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on August 9, 1911, and grew up in Lima, Ohio. He graduated in engineering physics from Ohio State University in 1933, then moved to the California Institute of Technology, where he began his graduate studies under the supervision of Charles C. Lauritsen at Caltech's Kellogg Radiation Laboratory. He received his PhD in 1936 for his thesis on radioactive elements of low atomic number. Fowler spent his entire scientific career at Caltech, where in 1970 he was named the first Institute Professor of Physics, a position he held until his retirement in 1982.

Early nuclear studies at the Kellogg Radiation Laboratory established the basis for quantitative determinations of reaction rates of interest in stellar processes. In the late 1930s reactions in the C-N (carbon-nitrogen) cycle were being studied at Kellogg, but World War II intervened, and the laboratory staff was engaged in defense research throughout the war. Fowler and his colleagues worked on a variety of defense projects, first on the invention of the proximity fuze for anti-aircraft rockets, and later on the development of rocket ordnance for the US navy. For that work, he received the Medal of Merit in 1948. After the war Fowler and his colleagues at Kellogg returned to the field of low-energy light-element nuclear physics, aiming a major fraction of their research at nuclear reactions in stars. Fowler continued his defense work after the war, dealing with the study of strategic nuclear weapons as the scientific director of Project Vista.

Fowler's interest in nuclear astrophysics was stimulated by Fred Hoyle's visit to Caltech in the 1950s. Fowler spent his sabbatical year of 1954-55 at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, England, where he started a collaboration with Fred Hoyle and with Margaret and Geoffrey Burbidge, which culminated in their 1957 seminal paper, "Synthesis of the Elements in Stars." Subsequently, Fowler and Hoyle studied the nuclear processes of supernovae and extended their research to dating the synthesis of chemical elements from the abundance of their isotopes—a field of research which later became known as nuclear chronology.

In 1967, Fowler, Hoyle, and Robert B. Wagoner produced a comprehensive study regarding the dynamics of expansion of the universe and the resulting nucleosynthesis, known as Big Bang nucleosynthesis. That same year, Fowler's collaboration with Georgeanne Caughlan and Barbara Zimmerman led to the publication of the first of a series of reviews evaluating experimental nuclear reaction rates. This series of reviews continued with a variety of co-authors until 1988 and provided a foundation for the study of stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis.

Throughout his scientific career, Fowler was also very active in a variety of societies and professional organizations. He served terms as an officer and then as president of the American Physical Society (1976) and was a member of the Governing Board and Executive Committee of the American Institute of Physics (1974-1980). He also served on the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation (1968-1974), the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences (1970-1973, 1977-1980), and as member and then chairman of the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NUSAC) of the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy (1977-1981).

Fowler received many honors in addition to the Nobel Prize. These included the Vetlesen Prize (1973), the National Medal of Science awarded by President Gerald Ford in 1974, the Eddington Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1978), the Bruce Gold Medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (1979), and the Legion of Honor awarded by President François Mitterand in 1989.

Fowler continued his scientific research and his lecturing activities until his death due to kidney failure on March 14, 1995.

From the guide to the William A. Fowler papers, 1917-1994, (California Institute of Technology. Archives.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn DuBridge, Lee A. (Lee Alvin), 1901-1994. Papers, 1932-1986. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Panofsky, Wolfgang Kurt Hermann, 1919-. Oral history interview with Wolfgang Kurt Hermann Panofsky, 1973 May 15 to 1974 June 3. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Alvarez, Luis W., 1911-1988. Niels Bohr Library : oral history transcripts, 1924-1978. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Winch, Ralph P. (Ralph Philip), 1905-. Student notebooks, 1927-1931. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Hans Bethe papers, [ca. 1931]-1995 Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Charles Christian Lauritsen papers, 1927-1977 California Institute of Technology. Archives.
creatorOf American Physical Society. Meeting (1987 : Arlington, Va.). Joint symposium of the Division of Astrophysics and the Forum for History of Physics [sound recording] / 1987 April 21 & 22. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Lee A. DuBridge papers, 1932-1986 California Institute of Technology. Archives.
referencedIn Clayton, Donald D. Response to 1988 History of Nuclear Physics Survey, 1988. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Serber, R. (Robert). Oral history interview with Robert Serber, 1983 December 19. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Davis, Nathaniel Hart, 1815-1893. Davis, Nathaniel Hart, Papers, 1835-1918, 1941 University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
creatorOf Fowler, William A. Oral history interview with William Alfred Fowler, 1972 June 8, 1973 Feb. 5, 1974 May 30. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf American Physical Society. Annual Meeting (1974 : Chicago, Ill.). General interest session of the Division of Nuclear Physics [sound recording] / 1974 February 7. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Greenstein, Jesse L. (Jesse Leonard), 1909-2002. Oral history interview with Jesse Leonard Greenstein, 1974 July 31. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Arp, Halton C. Oral history interview with Halton Christian Arp, 1975 July 29. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf William A. Fowler papers, 1917-1994 California Institute of Technology. Archives.
creatorOf American Physical Society. Annual Meeting (1977 : Chicago, Ill.). Joint ceremonial session of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers [sound recording] / 1977 February 8. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Fowler, William A. Deuteronomy [sound recording] : the synthesis of deuterons and the light nuclei during the early history of the solar system \ The 20th Richtmyer Memorial Lecture at a joint ceremonial session of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers, 1961 February 2. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Lauritsen, Thomas, 1915-1973. Papers, 1922-1974, (bulk: 1952-1973) American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Oppenheimer, Frank, 1912-1985. Oral history interview with Frank Oppenheimer, 1984 November 16. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Burbidge, Geoffrey R. Oral history interview with Geoffrey R. Burbidge, 1974 November 15. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Wilson, Robert R., 1914-2000. Robert R. Wilson papers, 1936-2000. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Fowler, William A. Phyphty years of phun and physics in the W. K. Kellogg Radiation Laboratory at Caltech, by Willy Phowler, 1982. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf American Physical Society. Meeting (1974: Washington, D.C.). Symposium of the Division of Nuclear Physics [sound recording] : Thomas Lauritsen Memorial Session / 1974 April 24. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Lauritsen, Thomas, 1915-1973. Oral history interview with Thomas Lauritsen, 1967 February 16. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Robert F. Bacher Papers, 1924-1994 California Institute of Technology. Caltech Archives.
referencedIn American Astronomical Society. Historical Astronomy Division. Addition to records: obituary files, 1995-1998. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf American Physical Society. Meeting (1976 : Washington, D.C.). Distinguished Speaker Session [sound recording] 1976 April 28. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Hutchisson, Elmer, 1902-. Papers, 1919-1982. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Strand, K. Aage (Kaj Aage), 1907-2000. K. Aage Strand papers, 1875-1999 (bulk 1947-1977). Library of Congress
referencedIn John Archibald Wheeler Papers, 1880-2008, 1880-2008 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Thomas Lauritsen papers, 1922-1974 California Institute of Technology. Archives.
referencedIn Robert R. Wilson papers, 1936-2000. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
creatorOf Fowler, William A. Papers, 1929-1972. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Fraser, Lorence. Oral History interview with Lorence Fraser, 1983 March 9. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Salpeter, Edwin E. Oral history interview with Edwin Ernest Salpeter, 1978 March 30. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Caughlan, Georgeanne Robertson, 1916-1994. Response to 1988 History of Nuclear Physics Survey, 1988. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Fowler, William A. Papers, 1917-1995. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Lauritsen, Charles Christian, 1892-1968. Papers, 1927-1977 (Bulk 1946-1973) American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn William B. Provine collection of evolutionary biology reprints, 20th century. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Crane, H. R. (Horace Richard), 1907-2007. Oral history interview with H. R. Crane, 1973 March 28 and 18 June 1974. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Bethe, Hans A. (Hans Albrecht), 1906-2005. Hans Bethe papers, [ca. 1931]-1992. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Serber, R. (Robert). Oral history interview with Robert Serber, 1967 February 10. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Fowler, William A. Oral history interview with William A. Fowler, 1983 May 3 - May 31, 1984. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alvarez, Luis W., 1911-1988. person
associatedWith American Astronomical Society. Historical Astronomy Division. corporateBody
associatedWith American Institute of Physics. corporateBody
associatedWith American Physical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith American Physical Society. Annual Meeting (1974 : Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
associatedWith American Physical Society. Annual Meeting (1977 : Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
associatedWith American Physical Society. Meeting (1974: Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith American Physical Society. Meeting (1976 : Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith American Physical Society. Meeting (1987 : Arlington, Va.) corporateBody
associatedWith Arp, Halton C. person
associatedWith Bacher, Robert F. (Robert Fox) 1905-2004 person
associatedWith Bethe, Hans A. (Hans Albrecht), 1906-2005. person
associatedWith Bonner, Tom W. person
associatedWith Bowen, Ira Sprague. person
associatedWith Burbidge, Geoffrey R. person
associatedWith California Institute of Technology. corporateBody
associatedWith California Institute of Technology. Dept. of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy. corporateBody
associatedWith California Institute of Technology. Division of Physics, Mathmetics and Astronomy corporateBody
associatedWith California Institute of Technology. Rocket Project corporateBody
associatedWith California Institute of Technology. Rocket Project. corporateBody
associatedWith California Institute of Technology. W. K. Kellogg Radiation Laboratory corporateBody
associatedWith California Institute of Technology. W. K. Kellog Radiation Laboratory corporateBody
associatedWith California Institute of Technology. W. K. Kellog Radiation Laboratory. corporateBody
associatedWith Caughlan, Georgeanne Robertson, 1916-1994. person
associatedWith Cavendish Laboratory (Cambridge, England) corporateBody
associatedWith Clayton, Donald D. person
associatedWith Crane, H. R. (Horace Richard), 1907-2007. person
associatedWith Davis, Nathaniel Hart, 1815-1893. person
associatedWith DuBridge, Lee A. (Lee Alvin), 1901-1994. person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
associatedWith Feynman, Richard Phillips. person
associatedWith Fraser, Lorence. person
associatedWith Gamow, George, 1904-1968. person
associatedWith Greenberg, John Leonard, 1945- person
associatedWith Greenstein, Jesse L. (Jesse Leonard), 1909-2002. person
associatedWith Hoyle, Fred, Sir. person
associatedWith Hutchisson, Elmer, 1902- person
associatedWith Lauritsen, Charles Christian, 1892-1968. person
associatedWith Lauritsen, Thomas, 1915-1973. person
associatedWith Millikan, Robert Andrews, 1868-1953. person
associatedWith National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith National Science Board (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith National Science Foundation (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith National Science Foundation (U.S.). Nuclear Science Advisory Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Ohio State University. corporateBody
associatedWith Oppenheimer, Frank, 1912-1985. person
associatedWith Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967. person
associatedWith Panofsky, Wolfgang Kurt Hermann, 1919- person
correspondedWith Provine, William B. person
associatedWith Rochester Conference on High Energy Nuclear Physics. corporateBody
associatedWith Salpeter, Edwin E. person
associatedWith Schmidt, Maarten, 1929- person
associatedWith Serber, R. (Robert) person
correspondedWith Strand, K. Aage (Kaj Aage), 1907-2000. person
associatedWith Tolman, Richard C. (Richard Chace), 1881-1948. person
associatedWith Tuve, Merle Antony, 1901-1982. person
associatedWith United States. Office of Naval Research corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Office of Scientific Research and Development. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Cambridge. corporateBody
associatedWith Urey, Harold Clayton, 1893-1981. person
associatedWith Weiner, Charles. person
associatedWith Wheeler, John Archibald, 1911-2008 person
associatedWith Wilson, Robert R., 1914-2000. person
associatedWith Winch, Ralph P. (Ralph Philip), 1905- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States--California
United States
Subject
Rockets--Research
Science--Social aspects--20th century
Radiation--Research--History
Radio astronomy
Strategic weapons systems
Nuclear astrophysics
Nuclear physics--Research
Astronomy--Archival resources
Structural stability
Astrophysicists--Archives
Science--Social aspects--United States--20th century
Stars
Supernovae
Cosmology
Physical laboratories--History
Cosmochronology
Physics--Congresses
Nobel prizes
Physical laboratories--Administration
Astrophysics--Archival resources
Nuclear reactors--Stability
Cloud chamber
Radioactivity
Science and state--20th century
Physics--Military aspects
Physicists--United States--20th century
Gamma rays
Project Vista
Carbon
Nuclear physics
Astronomy
Solar neutrinos--Research
Nuclear physicists--Archives
Deuterons
Nuclear reactions
Radiation
Science and state--United States--20th century
Science consultants
Quasars
Physics--Study and teaching
World War, 1939-1945--Science
Federal aid to research
Universities and colleges--History
Astronomical observations
Big bang theory
Astrophysics
Occupation
Nuclear physicsts--Archives
Physicists
Physicists--20th century.--United States
Astrophysicists--Archives
Function

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Birth 1911-08-09

Death 1995-03-14

Americans

English

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