Walther Gerlach, German physicist

Walther Gerlach, German physicist

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Credit: NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION/EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Walther Gerlach (1889-1979), German physicist. Gerlach is best known for his work on molecular beams with Otto Stern. In 1920, Gerlach and Stern demonstrated that silver atoms placed in a magnetic field only existed in two spatial orientations. This work was an important confirmation of predictions made by quantum theory. Gerlach also made contributions to the fields of radiology and spectroscopy. He was professor of physics at Tubingen University from 1925-1929 and Munich University from 1929-1957. Gerlach was one of ten German scientists who were detained at Farm Hall, England, by the Allies after World War II in an attempt to discover the extent of the German nuclear program.

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