Felix Bloch

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This article is about the Swiss physicist. For the man accused of espionage, see Felix Bloch (diplomatic officer).
Felix Bloch
Felix Bloch, Stanford University.jpg
Born (1905-10-23)23 October 1905
Zürich, Switzerland
Died 10 September 1983(1983-09-10) (aged 77)
Zürich, Switzerland
Citizenship Swiss, American
Nationality Swiss
Fields Physics
Institutions University of California, Berkeley
Stanford University
Alma mater ETH Zürich and University of Leipzig
Doctoral advisor Werner Heisenberg
Doctoral students Carson D. Jeffries
Known for NMR
Bloch wall
Bloch's Theorem
Bloch Function (Wave)
Bloch sphere
Notable awards Nobel Prize for Physics (1952)

Felix Bloch (23 October 1905 – 10 September 1983) was a Swiss physicist, working mainly in the U.S.[1] He and Edward Mills Purcell were awarded the 1952 Nobel Prize for "their development of new ways and methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements."[2] In 1954–1955, he served for one year as the first Director-General of CERN.

Life and work[edit]

Felix Bloch in the lab, 1950s

Bloch was born in Zürich, Switzerland to Jewish[3] parents Gustav and Agnes Bloch.

He was educated at the Cantonal Gymnasium in Zurich and at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETHZ), also in Zürich. Initially studying engineering he soon changed to physics. During this time he attended lectures and seminars given by Peter Debye and Hermann Weyl at ETH Zürich and Erwin Schrödinger at the neighboring University of Zürich. A fellow student in these seminars was John von Neumann. Graduating in 1927 he continued his physics studies at the University of Leipzig with Werner Heisenberg, gaining his doctorate in 1928. His doctoral thesis established the quantum theory of solids, using Bloch waves to describe the electrons.

In 1940 he married Lore Misch.[4]

He remained in European academia, studying with Wolfgang Pauli in Zürich, Niels Bohr in Copenhagen and Enrico Fermi in Rome before he went back to Leipzig assuming a position as privatdozent (lecturer). In 1933, immediately after Hitler came to power, he left Germany because he was Jewish.[5] He emigrated to work at Stanford University in 1934. In the fall of 1938, Bloch began working with the University of California at Berkeley 37" cyclotron to determine the magnetic moment of the neutron.[6] Bloch went on to become the first professor for theoretical physics at Stanford. In 1939, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. During WW II he worked on nuclear power at Los Alamos National Laboratory, before resigning to join the radar project at Harvard University.

After the war he concentrated on investigations into nuclear induction and nuclear magnetic resonance, which are the underlying principles of MRI.[7] In 1946 he proposed the Bloch equations which determine the time evolution of nuclear magnetization. In 1961, he was made Max Stein Professor of Physics at Stanford University.

At Stanford, he was the advisor of Carson D. Jeffries, who became a professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley.

He died in Zurich.[4]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Hofstadter, Robert (March 1984). "Obituary: Felix Bloch". Physics Today 37 (3): 115–116. Bibcode:1984PhT....37c.115H. doi:10.1063/1.2916128. 
  2. ^ Sohlman, M (Ed.) Nobel Foundation directory 2003. Vastervik, Sweden: AB CO Ekblad; 2003.
  3. ^ Fraser, Gordon (2012). "Chapter 7". The Quantum Exodus. Oxford University Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-19-959215-9. 
  4. ^ a b Former Fellows of The Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783 – 2002. royalsoced.org.uk
  5. ^ "Bloch, Felix", Current Biography, H. W. Wilson Company, 1954. Accessed 24 February 2013. "Because of his Jewish faith, his position soon became uncomfortable and he went to Paris, where he lectured at the Institut Henri Poincaré."
  6. ^ Felix Bloch, Nuclear Induction, Bloch Equations, Bloch Theorem, Bloch States. Osti.gov. Retrieved on 26 June 2015.
  7. ^ Shampo, M A; Kyle R A (September 1995). "Felix Bloch—developer of magnetic resonance imaging". Mayo Clin. Proc. 70 (9): 889. doi:10.4065/70.9.889. PMID 7643644. 

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