Patrick Blackett

Patrick Blackett

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett (1897-1974), British physicist, in 1933. Blackett was the first person to photograph nuclear collisions involving one element changing into another (in this case nitrogen to oxygen), a process known as atomic transmutation. With Occhialini, he adapted a Wilson cloud chamber, a device that allows the path of ions formed by ionizing radiation to be seen, to study cosmic rays from space. The Geiger counters he added to the chamber triggered a camera when they detected cosmic rays. With this device he took the first photograph of a positron. For this work he shared the 1948 Nobel Prize for physics. He was made a baron in 1965.

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