Van de Graaff and Karl Compton

Van de Graaff and Karl Compton

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Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum and Smithsonian Institution, courtesy AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives /SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: US physicist Robert Van de Graaff (1901-1967) explaining his electrostatic generator to fellow US physicist Karl Taylor Compton. Van de Graaff is best known for his design and construction of the Van de Graaff generator - an electrostatic generator that creates very high voltages by using a moving belt to accumulate electric charge on a metal sphere. Compton studied areas such as passage of photoelectrons through metals, ionisation, the motion of electrons in gases, fluorescence, theory of the electric arc, absorption and emission spectra of mercury vapour, and collisions of electrons and atoms. In 1930 he was made president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. Photographed in 1931.

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