Alfred Lauck Parson

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Alfred Lauck Parson
Born(1889-10-24)24 October 1889
Died1 January 1970(1970-01-01) (aged 80)
Allonby, England
Nationality United Kingdom
Alma materOxford University
Harvard University
University of California, Berkeley
Known forParson magneton
Scientific career

Alfred Lauck Parson (24 October 1889 – 1 January 1970) was a British chemist and physicist, whose "magneton theory" of the atom contributed to the history of chemistry.[1]


Born in Lucknow, India to Rev. Joseph and Sarah Jane (Lauck) Parson, Alfred received his BS in chemistry from Oxford University. Between 1913 and 1915 he was a visiting graduate student at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley, where coincidentally Gilbert N. Lewis was working as the chair of the department of chemistry. During these years, Lewis read a paper by Parson, which argued that the electron, in the Bohr model, might be a ring of negative electricity spinning with a high velocity about its axis and that a chemical bond results from two electrons being shared between two atoms. Parson published the final draft of his theory in 1915.[1] Stimulated by this paper, Lewis published his famous 1916 article "The Atom and the Molecule", in which a chemical bond forms owing to the sharing of pairs of electrons.[2] Several other physicists of the time, including Arthur H. Compton, Clinton Davisson, Lars O. Grondahl, David L. Webster,[3] and H. Stanley Allen, developed Parson's ideas further using a toroidal ring model for the atom.

Parson himself returned to England, where he served in World War I. Suffering from severe shell shock, he did not pursue an academic career, but years later published papers and books on astronomy and related topics.[citation needed] He died 1970 in Allonby, England.[citation needed]

Scientific contributions[edit]

The Parson magneton, also known as the "magnetic electron," was a hypothetical object in atomic physics suggested by Parson in 1915: an electron ring that generates a magnetic field.[1] Parson's model of the atom inspired several other toroidal ring models.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Alfred L. Parson, "Magneton Theory of the Structure of the Atom," Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collection, Pub 2371, 80pp, 2 plates (29 Nov 1915) [reprinted Pub 2419, V65, N11 (1916)].
  2. ^ Gilbert N. Lewis, The Atom and the Molecule Archived 2007-09-18 at the Wayback Machine (1916).
  3. ^ David L. Webster "The Theory of Electromagnetic Mass of the Parson Magneton and other Non-Spherical Systems," Physical Review, V9, pp. 484-499.