Lauritsen, Thomas, 1915-1973
Professor of nuclear physics, California Institute of Technology, 1941-1973.
From the description of Papers, 1922-1974, (bulk: 1952-1973) (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78006848
Thomas Lauritsen--or Tommy, as he was always called--was the son of Charles Christian Lauritsen, one of Caltech's most prominent nuclear physicists. Tommy Lauritsen's forty-one year association with Caltech began in 1932 when he entered the Institute to pursue his undergraduate degree. Following the award of his PhD in 1939, he left Caltech for postdoctoral study at what is now the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. He returned to Caltech in 1941 and was appointed to the physics faculty in 1946. He served Caltech continuously until his untimely death from cancer at the age of fifty-seven in October, 1973.
Aside from the war period, during which he was closely involved in the Caltech rocket project for the U.S. Navy, Lauritsen's research activity was directed principally to experimental investigations of the structure of atomic nuclei, with particular emphasis on the nuclides in the first row of the periodic table, the light nuclei. Beginning in 1948, in collaboration with Fay Ajzenberg-Selove, Lauritsen authored fourteen review papers which summarized current knowledge about the light nuclei. He was much admired as a teacher of physics at Caltech and co-authored with Richtmyer and Kennard the textbook Introduction to Modern Physics (5th ed., 1955).
In the last years of his career Lauritsen served the whole nuclear physics community. He played a major role in writing the report of the Weneser Panel of the Physics Survey Committee of the National Academy of Sciences. The Weneser report provided the first reliable and detailed information on the level of funding, facilities, and trained workers in nuclear physics in the United States. During the last two years of his life he was elected and served as Chairman of the Division of Nuclear Physics of the American Physical Society, a fitting honor to one who had worked to found the division.
From the guide to the Thomas Lauritsen papers, 1922-1974, (California Institute of Technology. Archives.)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Nuclear shell theory|
|Federal aid to research|
|Nuclear physics--Study and teaching|
|World War, 1939-1945--War work--United States|