William Alfred Fowler

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Willie Fowler
William Alfred Fowler.jpg
Born (1911-08-09)August 9, 1911
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died March 14, 1995(1995-03-14) (aged 83)
Pasadena, California
Doctoral advisor Charles Christian Lauritsen
Doctoral students J. Richard Bond, Donald Clayton, George M. Fuller, F. Curtis Michel
Influences Fred Hoyle
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physics (1983)

William Alfred "Willy" Fowler (/ˈflər/; August 9, 1911 – March 14, 1995) was an American astrophysicist who, with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar won the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics; (he is not to be confused with the British astronomer Alfred Fowler).


Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Fowler moved with his family to Lima, Ohio at the age of two. He graduated from the Ohio State University, where he was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and went on to receive a Ph.D. in nuclear physics at the California Institute of Technology. His seminal paper, entitled "Synthesis of the Elements in Stars", coauthored with E. Margaret Burbidge, Geoffrey Burbidge, and Fred Hoyle, was published in 1957.[1] The paper explained how the abundances of essentially all but the lightest chemical elements could be explained by the process of nucleosynthesis in stars. It is widely known as the B2FH paper.

Fowler succeeded Charles Lauritsen as director of the Kellogg Radiation Laboratory at Caltech, and was himself later succeeded by Steven E. Koonin.

Fowler won the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship of the American Astronomical Society in 1963, the Vetlesen Prize in 1973, the Eddington Medal in 1978, the Bruce Medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in 1979, and the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 for his theoretical and experimental studies of the nuclear reactions of importance in the formation of the chemical elements in the universe (shared with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar).

A lifelong fan of steam locomotives, he owned several working models of various sizes. He died in Pasadena, California.




  1. ^ Burbidge, E. M.; Burbidge, G. R.; Fowler, W. A.; Hoyle, F. (1957). "Synthesis of the Elements in Stars". Reviews of Modern Physics 29 (4): 547–650. Bibcode:1957RvMP...29..547B. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.29.547. 

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