Luis Walter Alvarez was an experimental physicist who was known for finding resonance particles. In 1968, he won the Nobel Prize for his work. His father and grandfather, both of whom were doctors, might have influenced him to be interested in science. He went to school in San Francisco and then went to Rochester High School after moving there. Alvarez got all of his degrees, up to and including his Ph.D., from the University of Chicago. During college, he looked into what cosmic rays did to things. He then started working at the Radiation Laboratory, which was the start of his long relationship with the University of Berkeley. During this time, he also got engaged to Geraldine, who would become his first wife. He would later divorce her and marry someone else. Luis did research on microwave radar at MIT during World War II. Over the next few years, he also helped make progress on the atomic bomb. After the war, he worked on a hydrogen bubble chamber at the Radiation Laboratory, which was the second time he was there. The Nobel Prize Committee took into account his long history with Physics. In his later years, he and his son Walter worked together to come up with a theory about why dinosaurs died out. Learn more about his life and works by reading on.
Early years and childhood
Luis Alvarez was born in San Francisco, California, on June 13, 1911. His grandfather gave him the name Luis, so he was named after him. Both of his parents were doctors, and his grandfather spent a lot of time in Spain, Cuba, and the United States.
Alvarez was the oldest of Walter C. Alvarez and Harriet’s two sons. He was the second child in the family. He had a sister named Gladys, a sister named Bernice, and a brother named Bob, who was the youngest.
Luis has always been good with machines, tools, and technology in general. Luis built his own radio with the help of his father when he was 11. He had read in a magazine about how to make a radio.
From 1918 to 24 years old, Luis went to school in San Francisco at the “Madison School” and the “San Francisco Polytechnic School.”
In 1926, his father went to work as a researcher at the “Mayo Clinic” in Rochester, Minnesota, and Luis was accepted to “Rochester High School.”
At the age of 18, he went to the “University of Chicago” to study math and chemistry.
His first love was always physics, and in 1932, when he was an undergraduate, he played around with machines. The result was the Geiger counter, which helps measure radiation.
In Mexico City, he did an experiment to find out what happened when cosmic rays came from the east and went west. The results of this experiment were written up in a journal called “Physical Review.”
In the same year, he got his Bachelor of Science from the University of Chicago. In 1934, he got his Master of Science, and two years after that, he got his Ph.D.
Luis Alvarez’s Career
In 1936, Alvarez joined the University of California’s “Radiation Laboratory.” Ernest Lawrence was one of the best nuclear physicists in the lab. His sister Gladys, who worked as a part-time secretary for Lawrence, introduced her brother to Lawrence.
Alvarez was supposed to take care of the cyclotron, a machine that helps scientists study atoms. Luis, who was very interested in atoms, found out a lot of new things about them himself.
In 1938, Alvarez found that orbital-electron capture is how radioactive elements break down. The following year, he worked with Felix Bloch to measure the neutron’s magnetic moment.
Between 1940 and 1943, Alvarez worked at MIT to study microwave radar. This radar system was made so that planes could be guided through darkness or fog. This was a very important skill when World War II started.
In 1945 and 1946, he worked on one of the government’s most secret projects: the development of the atomic bomb at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory.
But the atomic bomb in Hiroshima killed a lot of people and caused a lot of damage, which broke Alvarez’s heart. He later told his son about this in a letter.
After the war, he used what he had learned to build a hydrogen bubble chamber at the “Radiation Laboratory.”
In 1965, when a US-Egyptian team was trying to find the hidden chambers of Giza, Alvarez used his knowledge of both physics and archaeology. This was the first time he worked with his son Walter, who was a geology teacher.
Alvarez kept working in different areas of physics, and in 1968, he won the Nobel Prize.
In 1980, the smart physicist and his son Walter came up with the idea that a giant asteroid killed all the dinosaurs on Earth. This idea was supported by geological evidence, but it is still being debated today.
A Big Job
The smart scientist has done a lot to move physics forward, but his most important contributions were the atom bomb and the liquid hydrogen bubble chamber, which led to the discovery of new resonance states in particle physics. For his work on particle physics, he even got the Nobel Prize.
Awards & Achievements
In 1946, the “National Aeronautical Association” gave him the “Collier Trophy” for creating the “Ground Control Approach.”
He got the “John Scott Medal and Prize” in 1953 for his work on the “Ground Control Approach.”
In 1960, for his groundbreaking work in Physics, he was named “California Scientist of the Year.” The next year, he got the “Einstein Medal” for all the work he had done in science.
For his work in high-energy physics, he was given the “National Medal of Science” in 1964. The next year, Alvarez won the Michelson Award.
In 1968, this smart physicist was given the prestigious “Nobel Prize in Physics.”
Personal History and Legacies
Alvarez was engaged to Geraldine Smithwick in 1936, the same year he started working at Radiation Laboratory. They had two children: Walter and Jean.
They got a divorce in 1957, and on December 28, 1958, this scientist married Janet L. Landis. He had another son named Donald and a daughter named Helen from his second marriage.
On September 1, 1988, this pioneering physicist died after a long battle with cancer. His ashes were scattered in the Monterey Bay after he was burned.
Estimated Net worth
Luis is one of the wealthiest and most well-known physicists. Based on what we found on Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Luis Walter Alvarez has a net worth of about $1.5 million.