Alfred Lauck Parson

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Alfred Lauck Parson
Born (1889-10-24)October 24, 1889
Lucknow, India
Died January 1, 1970(1970-01-01) (aged 80)
Allonby, England
Nationality Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Fields Chemist
Alma mater Oxford University
Harvard University
University of California, Berkeley
Known for Parson magneton

Alfred Lauck Parson (October 24, 1889 – January 1, 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 & 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. He died 1970 in Allonby, England.

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 (Nov 29, 1915) [reprinted Pub 2419, V65, N11 (1916)].
  2. ^ Gilbert N. Lewis, The Atom and the Molecule (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.