Samuel Goudsmit

Samuel Abraham Goudsmit (July 11, 1902 – December 4, 1978) was a Dutch-American physicist famous for jointly proposing the concept of electron spin with George Eugene Uhlenbeck in 1925.[1][2]

Samuel Goudsmit
UhlenbeckKramersGoudsmit (cropped)
Samuel Goudsmit around 1928
Samuel Abraham Goudsmit

July 11, 1902
DiedDecember 4, 1978 (aged 76)
Alma materUniversity of Leiden (Ph.D) (1927)
Known forElectron spin
Operation Alsos
AwardsNational Medal of Science (1976)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Michigan
Doctoral studentsRobert Bacher

Life and career

Goudsmit was born in The Hague, Netherlands, of Dutch Jewish descent. He was the son of Isaac Goudsmit, a manufacturer of water-closets, and Marianne Goudsmit-Gompers, who ran a millinery shop. In 1943 his parents were deported to a concentration camp by the German occupiers of the Netherlands and were murdered there.[3]

Visualization of electron spin on a wall in Leiden

Goudsmit studied physics at the University of Leiden under Paul Ehrenfest,[4] where he obtained his PhD in 1927.[5] After receiving his PhD, Goudsmit served as a Professor at the University of Michigan between 1927 and 1946. In 1930 he co-authored a text with Linus Pauling titled The Structure of Line Spectra.

During World War II he worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[6] He was also the scientific head of the Alsos Mission and successfully reached the German group of nuclear physicists around Werner Heisenberg and Otto Hahn at Hechingen (then French zone) in advance of the French physicist Yves Rocard, who had previously succeeded in recruiting German scientists to come to France.

Alsos Members
Alsos Members

Alsos, part of the Manhattan Project, was designed to assess the progress of the Nazi atomic bomb project. In the book Alsos, published in 1947, Goudsmit concludes that the Germans did not get close to creating a weapon. He attributed this to the inability of science to function under a totalitarian state and the German scientists' lack of understanding how to make an atomic bomb. Both of these conclusions have been disputed by later historians (see Heisenberg) and contradicted by the fact that the totalitarian Soviet state produced the bomb shortly after the book's release.

Samuel Goudsmit in Uruguay
Samuel Goudsmit and Wolfgang Pauli in Uruguay, 1942, Rio Negro Hydro site works, when the nazis german engineers were deported

After the war he was briefly a professor at Northwestern University, and from 1948-1970 was a senior scientist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, chairing the Physics Department 1952-1960. He meanwhile became well known as the Editor-in-chief of the leading physics journal Physical Review, published by the American Physical Society. In July 1958 he started the journal Physical Review Letters.[7] On his retirement as editor in 1974, Goudsmit moved to the faculty of the University of Nevada in Reno, where he remained until his death four years later.

He also made some scholarly contributions to Egyptology published in Expedition, Summer 1972, pp. 13–16 ; American Journal of Archaeology 78, 1974 p. 78; and Journal of Near Eastern Studies 40, 1981 pp. 43–46. The Samuel A. Goudsmit Collection of Egyptian Antiquities resides at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[8]

Goudsmit became a corresponding member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1939, though he resigned the next year. He was readmitted in 1950.[9]


  • Goudsmit, Samuel A. (1947). Alsos. eBook published by Plunkett Lake Press in 2017. ASIN B075WCCQBN
  • Goudsmit, Samuel A.; Claiborne, Robert (1966). Time. Time-Life Science Library.
  • Goudsmit, S.; Saunderson, J. L. (1940). "Multiple Scattering of Electrons". Phys. Rev. 57: 24. Bibcode:1940PhRv...57...24G. doi:10.1103/physrev.57.24.


  1. ^ G.E. Uhlenbeck and S. Goudsmit, Naturwissenschaften 13(47) (1925) 953.
  2. ^ Goldhaber, Maurice (April 1979). "Obituary: Samuel A. Goudsmit". Physics Today. 32 (4): 71–72. Bibcode:1979PhT....32d..71G. doi:10.1063/1.2995511. Archived from the original on 2013-09-27.
  3. ^ Benjamin Bederson, 2008, Samuel Abraham Goudsmit 1902 — 1978, Biographical Memoir, National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC, 29 pp
  4. ^ Samuel Goudsmit at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. ^ Samuel Goudsmit (1927). "Atoommodel en structuur der spectra" (PDF).
  6. ^ Asimov. Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology (2nd revised ed.).
  7. ^ "Samuel A. Goudsmit Papers, 1921-1979". Archived from the original on October 31, 2014. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  8. ^ Description of Goudsmit's contribution to the museum
  9. ^ "S.A. Goudsmit (1902 - 1978)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 24 January 2016.

External links

Alsos Mission

The Alsos Mission was an organized effort by a team of United States military, scientific, and intelligence personnel to discover enemy scientific developments during World War II. Its chief focus was on the German nuclear energy project, but it also investigated both chemical and biological weapons and the means to deliver them.

The Alsos Mission was created following the September 1943 Allied invasion of Italy with a twofold assignment: search for personnel, records, material, and sites to evaluate the above programs and prevent their capture by the Soviet Union. It was established as part of the Manhattan Project's mission to coordinate foreign intelligence related to enemy nuclear activity. Alsos personnel followed close behind the front lines in Italy, France, and Germany, occasionally crossing into enemy-held territory to secure valuable resources before they could be destroyed or scientists escape or fall into rival hands.

The Alsos Mission was commanded by Colonel Boris Pash, a former Manhattan Project security officer, with Samuel Goudsmit as chief scientific advisor. It was jointly staffed by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), the Manhattan Project, and Army Intelligence (G-2), with field assistance from combat engineers assigned to specific task forces.

Alsos teams were successful in locating and removing a substantial portion of the German research effort's surviving records and equipment. They also took most of the senior German research personnel into custody, including Otto Hahn, Max von Laue, Werner Heisenberg and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker.

David M. Dennison

David Mathias Dennison (April 26, 1900 in Oberlin, Ohio – April 3, 1976) was an American physicist who made contributions to quantum mechanics, spectroscopy, and the physics of molecular structure.

Edward Henry Kraus

Edward Henry Kraus (1875–1973) was a Professor of Mineralogy at the University of Michigan and also served as Dean of the Summer Session, 1915–1933, Dean of the College of Pharmacy, 1923–1933, and Dean of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, 1933–1945.

Epistemological Letters

Epistemological Letters was a hand-typed, mimeographed "underground" newsletter about quantum physics that was distributed to a private mailing list, described by the physicist John Clauser as a "quantum subculture", between 1973 and 1984.Distributed by a Swiss foundation, the newsletter was created because mainstream academic journals were reluctant to publish articles about the philosophy of quantum mechanics, especially anything that implied support for ideas such as action at a distance. Thirty-six or thirty-seven issues of Epistemological Letters appeared, each between four and eighty-nine pages long. Several well-known scientists published their work there, including the physicist John Bell, the originator of Bell's theorem. According to Clauser, much of the early work on Bell's theorem was published only in Epistemological Letters.

George Uhlenbeck

George Eugene Uhlenbeck (December 6, 1900 – October 31, 1988) was a Dutch-American theoretical physicist.


Goudsmit may refer to:

9688 Goudsmit, a meteor

Samuel Goudsmit, Dutch-American physicist

Lex Goudsmit, Dutch actor

Jaap Goudsmit, Dutch scientist

Harrison M. Randall

Harrison McAllister Randall (December 17, 1870 – November 10, 1969) was an American physicist whose leadership from 1915 to 1941 brought the University of Michigan to international prominence in experimental and theoretical physics.

Helmut Hönl

Helmut Hönl (February 10, 1903 in Mannheim, Germany – March 29, 1981 in Freiburg im Breisgau) was a German theoretical physicist who made contributions to quantum mechanics and the understanding of atomic and molecular structure.

From 1921 to circa 1923, Hönl studied at the University of Heidelberg and the University of Göttingen, followed by the University of Munich, where he studied under Arnold Sommerfeld. He was granted his doctor of philosophy in 1926. In 1929, he became assistant to Paul Peter Ewald at the Stuttgart Technische Hochschule until 1933, after which he was a Privatdozent. 1940 he became extraordinary professor at the University of Erlangen and 1943 ordinary professor for theoretical physics at the University of Freiburg, where he emerited 1971.

Even before acquiring his doctorate at Munich, Hönl had done seminal work which contributed to the advancement of quantum mechanics and the understanding of atomic and molecular structure and spectra. Some of his work was done in collaboration with Fritz London. As is the case in any fast developing field with a high level of interest, others independently make similar findings. This was the case with his work on the intensity of Zeeman effect spectral lines. Both Hönl and Samuel Goudsmit and Ralph de Laer Kronig published results in 1925. Their work was promptly put into use. In the first paper of the trilogy which launched the matrix mechanics formulation of quantum theory in 1925, Werner Heisenberg, a former student of Sommerfeld, working with Max Born at the University of Göttingen, used the work of Hönl, Kronig, and Goudsmit, referring to it as the “Goudsmit-Kronig-Hönl formula.”At this time, there were three centers of development for quantum mechanics and the interpretation of atomic and molecular structure, based on atomic and molecular spectroscopy, especially the Sommerfeld-Bohr model: the Theoretical Physics Institute at the University of Munich, under Arnold Sommerfeld, the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Göttingen, under Max Born, and the Institute of Theoretical Physics, under Niels Bohr. These three institutes effectively formed a consortium for the exchange of assistants and researchers. Furthermore, with Sommerfeld educating such capable physicists, when they were called to other facilities, they effectively became extensions of Sommerfeld’s Institute of Theoretical Physics.This was the case with Hönl when he went to the Stuttgart Technische Hochschule to work with Paul Peter Ewald, who received his Ph.D. under Sommerfeld and became ordinarius professor of theoretical physics at Stuttgart Technische Hochschule in 1921. At Stuttgart, Ewald and Hönl worked on the quantum theory atomic and molecular structure and solid-state physics. They developed a theoretical model of electron densities and the atomic scattering factor in solids. Their work has been referenced in the literature as the Ewald-Hönl-Brill model (after the German physicist Rudolf Brill).

Ingelfinger rule

In scientific publishing, the 1969 Ingelfinger rule originally stipulated that The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) would not publish findings that had been published elsewhere, in other media or in other journals. The rule was subsequently adopted by several other scientific journals, and has shaped scientific publishing ever since. Historically it has also helped to ensure that the journal's content is fresh and does not duplicate content previously reported elsewhere, and seeks to protect the scientific embargo system.The Ingelfinger rule has been seen as having the aim of preventing authors from performing duplicate publications which would unduly inflate their publication record. On the other hand, it has also been stated that the real reason for the Ingelfinger rule is to protect the journals' revenue stream, and with the increase in popularity of preprint servers such as arXiv, figshare, bioRxiv, and PeerJPrePrints many journals have loosened their requirements concerning the Ingelfinger rule. In a defense of the policy, the journal said in an editorial that the practice discouraged scientists from talking to the media before their work was peer reviewed.The rule is named for Franz J. Ingelfinger, the NEJM editor-in-chief who enunciated it in 1969. An earlier version of the policy had been expressed in 1960 by Samuel Goudsmit, editor of the Physical Review Letters, but did not become as well known.

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 Leiden University people

This is a list of people associated to Leiden University, including alumni as well as people who have taught or studied at Leiden University.

Max Planck Medal

The Max Planck medal is the highest award of the German Physical Society (Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft), the world's largest organization of physicists, for extraordinary achievements in theoretical physics. The prize has been awarded annually since 1929, with few exceptions, and usually to a single person. The winner is awarded with a gold medal and hand-written parchment.

Paul Ehrenfest

Paul Ehrenfest (18 January 1880 – 25 September 1933) was an Austrian and Dutch theoretical physicist, who made major contributions to the field of statistical mechanics and its relations with quantum mechanics, including the theory of phase transition and the Ehrenfest theorem.

Physical Review

Physical Review is an American peer-reviewed scientific journal established in 1893 by Edward Nichols. It publishes original research as well as scientific and literature reviews on all aspects of physics. It is published by the American Physical Society (APS). The journal is in its third series, and is split in several sub-journals each covering a particular field of physics. It has a sister journal, Physical Review Letters, which publishes shorter articles of broader interest.

Robert Bacher

Robert Fox Bacher (August 31, 1905 – November 18, 2004) was an American nuclear physicist and one of the leaders of the Manhattan Project. Born in Loudonville, Ohio, Bacher obtained his undergraduate degree and doctorate from the University of Michigan, writing his 1930 doctoral thesis under the supervision of Samuel Goudsmit on the Zeeman effect of the hyperfine structure of atomic levels. After graduate work at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he accepted a job at Columbia University. In 1935 he accepted an offer from Hans Bethe to work with him at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, It was there that Bacher collaborated with Bethe on his book Nuclear Physics. A: Stationary States of Nuclei (1936), the first of three books that would become known as the "Bethe Bible".

In December 1940, Bacher joined the Radiation Laboratory at MIT, although he did not immediately cease his research at Cornell into the neutron cross section of cadmium. The Radiation Laboratory was organized into two sections, one for incoming radar signals, and one for outgoing radar signals. Bacher was appointed to handle the incoming signals section. Here he gained valuable experience in administration, coordinating not just the efforts of his scientists, but also those of General Electric and RCA. In 1942, Bacher was approached by Robert Oppenheimer to join the Manhattan Project at its new laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico. It was at Bacher's insistence that Los Alamos became a civilian rather than a military laboratory. At Los Alamos, Bacher headed the project's P (Physics) Division, and later its G (Gadget) Division. Bacher worked closely with Oppenheimer, and the two men discussed the project's progress on a daily basis.

After the war, Bacher became director of the Laboratory of Nuclear Studies at Cornell. He also served on the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, the civilian agency that replaced the wartime Manhattan Project, and in 1947 he became one of its inaugural commissioners. He left in 1949 to become head Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy at Caltech. He was appointed a member of the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) in 1958. In 1962, he became Caltech's vice president and provost. He stepped down from the post of provost in 1970, and became a professor emeritus in 1976. He died in 2004 at the age of 99.

Rudolf Fleischmann

Rudolf Fleischmann (1 May 1903 – 3 February 2002) was a German experimental nuclear physicist from Erlangen, Bavaria. He worked for Walther Bothe at the Physics Institute of the University of Heidelberg and then at the Institute for Physics of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medical Research. Through his association with Bothe, he became involved in the German nuclear energy project, also known as the Uranium Club; one of Fleischmann’s areas of interest was isotope separation techniques. In 1941 he was appointed associate professor of experimental physics at the newly established Reichsuniversität Straßburg, in France. Late in 1944, he was arrested under the American Operation Alsos and sent to the United States. After he returned to Germany 1946, he became Director of the State Physical Institute at the University of Hamburg and developed it as a center of nuclear research. In 1953, he took a position at the University of Erlangen and achieved emeritus status in 1969. He was a signatory of the Göttingen Manifesto in 1957.

Spin (physics)

In quantum mechanics and particle physics, spin is an intrinsic form of angular momentum carried by elementary particles, composite particles (hadrons), and atomic nuclei.Spin is one of two types of angular momentum in quantum mechanics, the other being orbital angular momentum. The orbital angular momentum operator is the quantum-mechanical counterpart to the classical angular momentum of orbital revolution and appears when there is periodic structure to its wavefunction as the angle varies. The existence of spin angular momentum is inferred from experiments, such as the Stern–Gerlach experiment, in which silver atoms were observed to possess two possible discrete angular momenta despite having no orbital angular momentum.In some ways, spin is like a vector quantity; it has a definite magnitude, and it has a "direction" (but quantization makes this "direction" different from the direction of an ordinary vector). All elementary particles of a given kind have the same magnitude of spin angular momentum, which is indicated by assigning the particle a spin quantum number.The SI unit of spin is the (N·m·s) or (kg·m2·s−1), just as with classical angular momentum. In practice, spin is given as a dimensionless spin quantum number by dividing the spin angular momentum by the reduced Planck constant ħ, which has the same units of angular momentum, although this is not the full computation of this value. Very often, the "spin quantum number" is simply called "spin", leaving its meaning as the unitless "spin quantum number" to be inferred from context.

When combined with the spin-statistics theorem, the spin of electrons results in the Pauli exclusion principle, which in turn underlies the periodic table of chemical elements.

Wolfgang Pauli in 1924 was the first to propose a doubling of electron states due to a two-valued non-classical "hidden rotation". In 1925, George Uhlenbeck and Samuel Goudsmit at Leiden University suggested the simple physical interpretation of a particle spinning around its own axis, in the spirit of the old quantum theory of Bohr and Sommerfeld. Ralph Kronig anticipated the Uhlenbeck-Goudsmit model in discussion with Hendrik Kramers several months earlier in Copenhagen, but did not publish. The mathematical theory was worked out in depth by Pauli in 1927. When Paul Dirac derived his relativistic quantum mechanics in 1928, electron spin was an essential part of it.

The Catcher Was a Spy (film)

The Catcher Was a Spy is a 2018 American biographical spy film directed by Ben Lewin and written by Robert Rodat, based on the book of the same name by Nicholas Dawidoff. It stars Paul Rudd as Moe Berg, a former baseball player who joined the war effort during World War II and partook in espionage for the U.S. Government. Mark Strong, Sienna Miller, Jeff Daniels, Tom Wilkinson, Giancarlo Giannini, Hiroyuki Sanada, Guy Pearce, and Paul Giamatti also star. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and was released on June 22, 2018, by IFC Films.

Wang Ming-chen

Wang Ming-chen (simplified Chinese: 王明贞; traditional Chinese: 王明貞; November 18, 1906 – August 28, 2010) was a Chinese theoretical physicist and a professor of physics at Tsinghua University, Beijing. As one of the first few Chinese female students studying science abroad, she was best known for her work on stochastic process and Brownian motion with George Uhlenbeck as well as the first female professor of Tsinghua University according to some source.Wang Ming-chen and her cousin He Zehui were sometimes separately credited as "The Chinese Madame Curie".

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.