Robert Hofstadter

Robert Hofstadter (February 5, 1915 – November 17, 1990[1]) was an American physicist. He was the joint winner of the 1961 Nobel Prize in Physics (together with Rudolf Mössbauer) "for his pioneering studies of electron scattering in atomic nuclei and for his consequent discoveries concerning the structure of nucleons".[2][3]

Robert Hofstadter
Robert Hofstadter
Robert Hofstadter (1961, Nobel Foundation photo)
BornFebruary 5, 1915
New York City
DiedNovember 17, 1990 (aged 75)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materCity College of New York
Princeton University
Known forElectron scattering
Atomic nuclei
Sodium iodide scintillator
Spouse(s)Nancy (Givan) Hofstadter (1920–2007) (3 children including Douglas Hofstadter)
AwardsNobel Prize in Physics (1961)
National Medal of Science (1986)
Dirac Medal (1987)
Scientific career
InstitutionsStanford University
University of Pennsylvania
Doctoral studentsCarol Jo Crannell
Robert Hofstadter


Hofstadter was born into a Jewish family[4][5] in New York City on February 5, 1915, to Polish immigrants, Louis Hofstadter, a salesman, and the former Henrietta Koenigsberg.[6] He attended elementary and high schools in New York City and entered City College of New York, graduating with a B.S. degree magna cum laude in 1935 at the age of 20, and was awarded the Kenyon Prize in Mathematics and Physics. He also received a Charles A. Coffin Foundation Fellowship from the General Electric Company, which enabled him to attend graduate school at Princeton University, where he earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at the age of 23.[7] He did his post-doctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania and was an assistant professor at Princeton before joining Stanford University. Hofstadter taught at Stanford from 1950 to 1985.

In 1942 he married Nancy Givan (1920–2007), a native of Baltimore.[8] They had three children: Laura, Molly - who was disabled and not able to communicate,[9] and Pulitzer Prize-winner Douglas Hofstadter.[10]


Thallium-activated sodium iodide gamma ray detector

In 1948 Hofstadter filed a patent on this for the detection of ionizing radiation by this crystal.[11][12] These detectors are widely used for gamma ray detection to this day

Coining of the fermi (unit) and 1961 Nobel Lecture

Robert Hofstadter coined the term fermi, symbol fm,[13] in honor of the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi (1901–1954), one of the founders of nuclear physics, in Hofstadter's 1956 paper published in the Reviews of Modern Physics journal, "Electron Scattering and Nuclear Structure".[14] The term is widely used by nuclear and particle physicists. When Hofstadter was awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize in Physics, it subsequently appears in the text of his 1961 Nobel Lecture, "The electron-scattering method and its application to the structure of nuclei and nucleons" (December 11, 1961).[15]

Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and EGRET Telescope

In his last few years, Hofstadter became interested in astrophysics and applied his knowledge of scintillators to the design of the EGRET gamma-ray telescope of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory named for fellow Nobel Laureate in Physics (1927), Arthur Holly Compton. Stanford University's Department of Physics credits Hofstadter with being "one of the principal scientists who developed the Compton Observatory."[16]

Awards and honors

See also


  1. ^ Flint, Peter B., "Obituary: Dr. Robert Hofstadter Dies at 75; Won Nobel Prize in Physics in '61", The New York Times, November 19, 1990.
  2. ^ R. W. McAllister & Robert Hofstadter, "Elastic Scattering of 188 MeV Electrons from Proton and the Alpha Particle," Physical Review, V102, p. 851 (1956).
  3. ^ Robert Hofstadter, "The Electron Scattering Method & its Application to the Structure of Nuclei and Nucleons," Nobel Lectures, Physics 1942–1962, pp. 560–581, Elsevier Pub. Co., Amsterdam-London-New York (Dec 1961).
  4. ^ "Dr. Robert Hofstadter, U.S. Jewish Scientist, Wins 1961 Nobel Prize". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. November 3, 1961. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  5. ^ "Robert Hofstadter biography". NNDB. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  6. ^ "Guide to the Robert Hofstadter Papers". Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  7. ^ "Robert Hofstadter biography". Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  8. ^ Obituary to Nancy Givan from Stanford University, 2007.
  9. ^ Doug Hofstadter's dedication to 'I am a strange loop'.
  10. ^ National Academy of Sciences biography
  11. ^ US patent 2585551, Robert Hofstadter, "Means for detecting ionizing radiations"
  12. ^ "Robert Hofstadter" Biographical Memoirs National Academy of Sciences
  13. ^ "American National Standard for Metric Practice". IEEE Standards Library. IEEE/ASTM SI 10-2010 (Revision of IEEE/ASTM SI 10-2002). IEEE: 78. April 11, 2011. doi:10.1109/IEEESTD.2011.5750142. ISBN 978-0-7381-6533-2. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
  14. ^ Hofstadter, Robert, Department of Physics, Stanford University, Stanford, California, "Electron Scattering and Nuclear Structure", Rev. Mod. Phys. 28, 214–254 (1956) © 1956 The American Physical Society
  15. ^ Hofstadter, Robert "The electron-scattering method and its application to the structure of nuclei and nucleons", Nobel Lecture (December 11, 1961)
  16. ^ "The Hofstadter Memorial Lectures". Stanford University. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  17. ^ R. W. McAllister & Robert Hofstadter, "Elastic Scattering of 188 MeV Electrons from Proton and the Alpha Particle," Physical Review, V102, p. 851 (1956).
  18. ^ Robert Hofstadter "The Electron Scattering Method & its Application to the Structure of Nuclei and Nucleons", Nobel Lectures, Physics 1942–1962, pp. 560–581, Elsevier Pub. Co., Amsterdam-London-New York (Dec 1961).

Further reading

Publication list

Technical reports:

External links


1915 (MCMXV)

was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar, the 1915th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 915th year of the 2nd millennium, the 15th year of the 20th century, and the 6th year of the 1910s decade. As of the start of 1915, the Gregorian calendar was

13 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1961 in science

The year 1961 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.

Albert Hofstadter

Albert Hofstadter (March 28, 1910 – January 26, 1989) was an American philosopher.

Arthur Leonard Schawlow

Arthur Leonard Schawlow (May 5, 1921 – April 28, 1999) was an American physicist and co-inventor of the laser with Charles Townes. His central insight, which Townes overlooked, was the use of two mirrors as the resonant cavity to take maser action from microwaves to visible wavelengths. He shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics with Nicolaas Bloembergen and Kai Siegbahn for his work using lasers to determine atomic energy levels with great precision.

Behram Kurşunoğlu

Behram Kurşunoğlu (14 March 1922 – 25 October 2003) was a Turkish physicist and the founder and the director of the Center for Theoretical Studies, University of Miami. He was best known for his works on unified field theory, energy and global issues. Moreover, he participated in the discovery of two different types of neutrinos in late 1950s. During his University of Miami career, he hosted several Nobel Prize laureates, including Paul Dirac, Lars Onsager and Robert Hofstadter. He wrote several books on diverse aspects of physics, the most notable of which is Modern Quantum Theory (1962).

Carol Jo Crannell

Carol Jo Crannell (November 15, 1938 – May 10, 2009) was a solar physicist known for her work on solar flares and on the astrophysical observation of x-rays and gamma rays. She worked for thirty years at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Dirac Medal

The Dirac Medal is the name of four awards in the field of theoretical physics, computational chemistry, and mathematics, awarded by different organizations, named in honour of Professor Paul Dirac, one of the great theoretical physicists of the 20th century.

Douglas Hofstadter

Douglas Richard Hofstadter (born February 15, 1945) is an American professor of cognitive science whose research focuses on the sense of self in relation to the external world, consciousness, analogy-making, artistic creation, literary translation, and discovery in mathematics and physics. Hofstadter's book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, first published in 1979, won both the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction

and a National Book Award (at that time called The American Book Award) for Science. His 2007 book I Am a Strange Loop won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science and Technology.

February 5

February 5 is the 36th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. 329 days remain until the end of the year (330 in leap years).


The femtometre (American spelling femtometer, symbol fm derived from the Danish and Norwegian word femten, "fifteen"+Ancient Greek: μέτρον, metrοn, "unit of measurement") is an SI unit of length equal to 10−15 metres, which means a quadrillionth of one. This distance can also be called a fermi and was so named in honour of physicist Enrico Fermi, as it is a typical length-scale of nuclear physics.

Gamma camera

A gamma camera (γ-camera), also called a scintillation camera or Anger camera, is a device used to image gamma radiation emitting radioisotopes, a technique known as scintigraphy. The applications of scintigraphy include early drug development and nuclear medical imaging to view and analyse images of the human body or the distribution of medically injected, inhaled, or ingested radionuclides emitting gamma rays.


Hofstadter is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Albert Hofstadter (1910–1989), American philosopher

Douglas Hofstadter (born 1945), American professor, author of Gödel, Escher, Bach

Richard Hofstadter (1916–1970), American historian

Robert Hofstadter (1915–1990), American Nobel Prize-winner in physics

Samuel H. Hofstadter (1894–1970), New York politician and judgeFictional characters:

Leonard Hofstadter, a character in the television series The Big Bang Theory

Humboldt Prize

The Humboldt Prize, also known as the Humboldt Research Award, is an award given by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany to internationally renowned scientists and scholars who work outside of Germany. The prize is currently valued at €60,000 with the possibility of further support during the prize winner's life. Up to one hundred such awards are granted each year. Nominations must be submitted by established academics in Germany.

The award is named after the late Prussian naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt.

KMS Fusion

KMS Fusion was the only private sector company to pursue controlled thermonuclear fusion research using laser technology. Despite limited resources and numerous business problems KMS successfully demonstrated fusion from the Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) process. They achieved compression of a deuterium-tritium pellet from laser-energy in December 1973, and on May 1, 1974 carried out the world’s first successful laser-induced fusion. Neutron-sensitive nuclear emulsion detectors, developed by Nobel Prize winner Robert Hofstadter, were used to provide evidence of this discovery.

List of Jewish American computer scientists

This is a list of notable Jewish American computer scientists. For other Jewish Americans, see Lists of Jewish Americans.

Hal Abelson, artificial intelligence

Leonard Adleman, RSA cryptography, DNA computing, Turing Award (2002)

Paul Baran, Polish-born engineer, co-invented packet switching

Daniel J. Bernstein, cryptologist, designed Salsa20, Stream cipher and Curve25519; sued the U.S. government about encryption (Bernstein v. United States) (1995)

Lenore and Manuel Blum (Turing Award (1995)), Venezuelan-American computer scientists, computational complexity; parents of Avrim Blum (Co-training)

Dan Bricklin, creator of the original spreadsheet

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google

Wendell Brown, computer scientist, co-founder of Teleo and LiveOps

Peter Elias, information theory

Robert Fano, Italian-American information theorist

Ed Feigenbaum, artificial intelligence, Turing Award (1994)

Raphael Finkel, Jargon File

William F. Friedman, cryptologist

Herbert Gelernter, artificial intelligence; father of Unabomber victim David Gelernter

Seymour Ginsburg, formal language theory

Richard D. Gitlin, co-inventor of the digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

Adele Goldberg, Smalltalk design team

Herman and Adele Goldstine (born Katz), developers of ENIAC

Shafi Goldwasser, Israeli-American cryptographer, Turing Award (2013)

Philip Greenspun, web applications

Martin Hellman, public key cryptography, co-inventor of the Diffie–Hellman key exchange protocol, Turing Award (2015)

James Hendler, semantic web

Douglas Hofstadter, academic and author (half Jewish), son of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Robert Hofstadter

Bob Kahn, co-invented TCP and IP, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Turing Award (2004)

Richard M. Karp, computational complexity, Turing Award (1985)

John Kemeny, Hungarian-born co-developer of BASIC

Leonard Kleinrock, packet switching

Joseph Kruskal, Kruskal's algorithm

Solomon Kullback, cryptographer

Ray Kurzweil, OCR, speech recognition

Jaron Lanier, virtual reality pioneer

Leonid Levin, Soviet Ukraine-born computer scientist, computational complexity; Knuth Prize (2012)

Barbara Liskov (born Huberman), first woman to be granted a doctorate in computer science in the United States, Turing Award (2008)

Herman Lukoff, helped develop ENIAC and UNIVAC

Udi Manber, Israeli-American computer scientist; agrep, GLIMPSE, suffix array, search engines

John McCarthy, artificial intelligence, LISP programming language, Turing Award (1971)

Jack Minker, database logic

Marvin Minsky, artificial intelligence, neural nets, Turing Award (1969); co-founder of MIT's AI laboratory

John von Neumann (born Neumann János Lajos), Hungarian-American computer scientist, mathematician and economist

Seymour Papert, South African-born co-inventor — with Wally Feurzeig and Cynthia Solomon — of the Logo programming language

Judea Pearl, Israeli-American AI scientist, developer of Bayesian networks; father of Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and later beheaded by rebels in Pakistan

Ken Perlin, Perlin noise

Alan J. Perlis, compilers, Turing Award (1966)

Lawrence Rabiner, Digital signal processing, Speech processing

Frank Rosenblatt, invented an artificial intelligence program called "Perceptrons" (1960)

Azriel Rosenfeld, image analysis

Bruce Schneier, cryptographer, author, founder of Counterpane Internet Security, Inc.

Ben Shneiderman, human-computer interaction, information visualization

Herbert A. Simon, cognitive and computer scientist, Turing Award (1975)

Abraham Sinkov, cryptanalyst, NSA Hall of Honor (1999)

Daniel Sleator, splay trees (Jewish mother)

Gustave Solomon, mathematician and electrical engineer who was one of the founders of the algebraic theory of error detection and correction

Ray Solomonoff, algorithmic information theory

Richard Stallman, designed the GNU operating system, founder of the Free Software Foundation (FSF)

Warren Teitelman, autocorrect, Undo/Redo, Interlisp

Jeffrey Ullman, compilers, theory of computation, data-structures, databases, awarded Knuth Prize (2000)

Peter J. Weinberger, contributed to the design of the AWK programming language (he is the "W" in AWK), and the FORTRAN compiler FORTRAN 77

Joseph Weizenbaum, German-born computer scientist; developer of ELIZA; the Weizenbaum Award is named after him

Norbert Wiener, cybernetics

Terry Winograd, SHRDLU

Jacob Wolfowitz, Polish-born information theorist

Stephen Wolfram, British-American computer scientist, designer of the Wolfram Language

Lotfi Zadeh, Azerbaijan SSR-born inventor of Fuzzy logic (Jewish mother, Azerbaijani father)

List of Jewish American physicists

This is a list of famous Jewish American physicists.

For other famous Jewish Americans, see List of Jewish Americans.

Alexei Abrikosov, condensed matter physics, Nobel Prize (2003) (Jewish mother; naturalized citizen)

Ralph Alpher, background radiation, nucleosynthesis

John N. Bahcall, astrophysicist

Hans Bethe, nuclear physicist, Nobel Prize (1967) (Jewish mother)

Felix Bloch, nuclear physicist, Nobel Prize (1952) (naturalized citizen)

David Bohm, quantum physicist, philosopher of science

Niels Bohr, physicist

Gregory Breit, physicist

Samuel T. Cohen, physicist

Mildred Dresselhaus, physicist, National Medal Of Science, Kavli Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom (Jewish)

Albert Einstein (German), theoretical physicist, Nobel Prize (1921) (naturalized citizen)

Jeremy England, biophysicist

Paul Sophus Epstein, theoretical physicist, quantum mechanics

Herman Feshbach, nuclear physicist

Richard P. Feynman, physicist, Nobel Prize (1965) (though he always refused to appear in lists such as this one and other lists or books that classified people by race)

David Finkelstein, physicist

James Franck, physicist, Nobel Prize (1925)

Edward Fredkin, digital physicist

Jerome Friedman, physicist, Nobel Prize (1990)

Murray Gell-Mann, quarks, Nobel Prize (1969)

Donald A. Glaser, bubble chamber, Nobel Prize (1960)

Sheldon Glashow, physicist, Nobel Prize (1979)

Roy Glauber, physicist, Nobel Prize (2005)

Herbert Goldstein, Columbia physicist, author of standard textbook on classical mechanics

Samuel Goudsmit, electron spin

Brian Greene, string theorist

David Gross, string theorist, Nobel Prize (2004)

Alan Guth, cosmic inflation

Eugene Guth, polymer physics, nuclear physics, solid state physics

Robert Herman, cosmology, background radiation, operations research

Robert Hofstadter, physicist, Nobel Prize (1961)

Robert Jastrow, physicist, astronomer, cosmologist

Herman Kahn, nuclear physicist

Theodore von Kármán, aeronautical engineer

Joseph B. Keller, mathematical physics, wave propagation, National Medal Of Science, Wolf Prize

Daniel Kleppner, atomic research

Walter Kohn, physicist, Nobel Prize (1998)

Rudolf Kompfner, engineer and physicist

Lawrence Krauss, theoretical physicist and cosmologist

Cornelius Lanczos, mathematical physicist

Rolf Landauer, physicist, information theory

Leon M. Lederman, physicist, Nobel Prize (1988)

David Morris Lee, superfluidity, Nobel Prize (1996)

Fritz London, quantum chemistry

Theodore Maiman, first operable laser

Albert A. Michelson, speed of light, Nobel Prize (1907)

Alexander Migdal, theoretical high energy physics (naturalized citizen)

Ben Roy Mottelson, physicist, Nobel Prize (1975)

Frank Oppenheimer, nuclear physicist (brother of Robert)

Robert Oppenheimer, nuclear physicist (brother of Frank)

Douglas D. Osheroff, superfluidity, Nobel Prize (1996)

Jeremiah P. Ostriker, astrophysicist

Abraham Pais, historian of science

Wolfgang Pauli, nuclear physicist, Nobel Prize (1945) (Jewish father, half-Jewish mother; naturalized citizen)

Arno Allan Penzias, background radiation, Nobel Prize (1978)

Martin Lewis Perl, physicist, Nobel Prize (1995)

H. David Politzer, physicist, Nobel Prize (2004)

Alexander Polyakov, theoretical high energy physics (naturalized citizen)

Martin Pope, physical chemist, Davy Medal (2006)

Isidor Isaac Rabi, physicist, Nobel Prize (1944) (naturalized citizen)

Simon Ramo, physicist, engineer

Mark G. Raizen, physicist, quantum physics

Sidney Redner, statistical physics

L. Rafael Reif, Venezuelan-born American electrical engineer, president of MIT

Frederick Reines, neutrino experiment, Nobel Prize (1995)

Burton Richter, physicist, Nobel Prize (1976)

Carl Sagan, astronomer and science popularizer

Arthur Schawlow, laser spectroscopy, Nobel Prize (1981) (Jewish father)

Melvin Schwartz, physicist, Nobel Prize (1988)

John Schwarz, string theorist

Julian Schwinger, quantum physicist, Nobel Prize (1965)

Emilio G. Segrè, anti-proton, Nobel Prize (1959) (naturalized citizen)

Mikhail Shifman, theoretical particle physics (naturalized citizen)

Michael F. Shlesinger

Lee Smolin, loop quantum gravity

Alan Sokal, Sokal affair

H. Eugene Stanley, econophysics, phase transitions, critical phenomena

Jack Steinberger, physicist, Nobel Prize (1988)

Otto Stern, physicist, Nobel Prize (1943)

Andrew Strominger, string theory

Leonard Susskind, string theory (Jewish father)

Leó Szilárd, nuclear physicist (naturalized citizen)

Edward Teller, nuclear physicist

Arkady Vainshtein, theoretical high energy physics (naturalized citizen)

Alexander Vilenkin, cosmology (naturalized citizen)

Steven Weinberg, electroweak force, Nobel Prize (1979)

Victor Frederick Weisskopf (1908–2002), physicist; during World War II, he worked at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb, and later campaigned against the proliferation of nuclear weapons

Eugene Wigner, quantum physicist, Nobel Prize (1963)

Edward Witten, mathematical physicist, Fields Medal (1990), founder of M-Theory, only physicist to win Fields Medal, and currently the driving force behind theoretical/mathematical physics

George Zweig, quarks

List of Nobel laureates

The Nobel Prizes (Swedish: Nobelpriset, Norwegian: Nobelprisen) are prizes awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Swedish Academy, the Karolinska Institutet, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee to individuals and organizations who make outstanding contributions in the fields of chemistry, physics, literature, peace, and physiology or medicine. They were established by the 1895 will of Alfred Nobel, which dictates that the awards should be administered by the Nobel Foundation. The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was established in 1968 by the Sveriges Riksbank, the central bank of Sweden, for contributions to the field of economics. Each recipient, or "laureate", receives a gold medal, a diploma, and a sum of money, which is decided annually by the Nobel Foundation.

Marshall Rosenbluth

Marshall Nicholas Rosenbluth (5 February 1927 – 28 September 2003) was an American plasma physicist and member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1997 he was awarded the National Medal of Science for discoveries in controlled thermonuclear fusion, contributions to plasma physics, and work in computational statistical mechanics. He was also a recipient of the E.O. Lawrence Prize (1964), the Albert Einstein Award (1967), the James Clerk Maxwell Prize in Plasma Physics (1976), the Enrico Fermi Award (1985), and the Hannes Alfvén Prize (2002).

November 17

November 17 is the 321st day of the year (322nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 44 days remain until the end of the year.


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