Saturday Science Lecture with Erik Henriksen on the Compton Effect at 100
In 1922, Arthur Compton carried out seminal x-ray scattering experiments in the basement of Eads Hall at Washington University in St. Louis. The results of this work were groundbreaking: light was clearly shown to have particle-like aspects, providing the first firm experimental basis for “wave-particle duality”. These observations rescued Einstein’s until-then-unpalatable “lightquantum” idea (now the “photon”) from near-obscurity, and motivated Louis de Broglie to propose that matter, too, might have wave aspects, which led in turn to the development of quantum mechanics during the 1920s. We will review the events surrounding Compton’s discovery: the status and development of x-ray science, Compton’s scientific education and accomplishments, and amusing anecdotes along the way.
This lecture is being presented as part of the Compton Centennial Celebration honoring 100 years since Arthur Holly Compton discovered the dual particle/wave nature of X-rays.
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