EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES / AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES / AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Edward Mills Purcell (1912-1997), US physicist and Nobel laureate. Purcell was educated at Harvard University, worked at MIT during World War II, and then returned to Harvard. Purcell shared the 1952 Nobel Prize for Physics with Felix Bloch. The share of the Nobel was awarded for Purcell's development of new methods of measuring nuclear magnetism. Purcell's work included the development of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy after World War II. Medical MRI scanning is based on the same principles. In 1951 Purcell was the first to detect microwave emission at the wavelength of 21 centimetres from interstellar hydrogen atoms. This discovery allowed the mapping of much of our Galaxy.
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