Pierre Victor Auger

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Pierre Victor Auger
Pierre Victor Auger.jpg
Pierre Victor Auger
Born(1899-05-14)14 May 1899
Paris, France
Died24 December 1993(1993-12-24) (aged 94)
Paris, France
Alma materUniversity of Paris
Known forAir shower
Cosmic rays
Auger effect
Auger electron spectroscopy
Auger recombination
AwardsKalinga Prize (1971)
Three Physicists Prize (1967)
Scientific career
InstitutionsAcadémie des sciences (France)

Pierre Victor Auger (French pronunciation: ​[oʒe]; 14 May 1899 – 24 December 1993) was a French physicist, born in Paris. He worked in the fields of atomic physics, nuclear physics, and cosmic ray physics.[1] He is famous for being one of the discoverers of the Auger effect, named after him.

Early life[edit]

Pierre's father was chemistry professor Victor Auger. Pierre Auger was a student at the École normale supérieure in Paris from 1919 to 1922, the year when he passed the agrégation of physics. He then joined the physical chemistry laboratory of the faculté des sciences of the University of Paris under the direction of Jean Perrin to work there on the photoelectric effect.


In 1926 he obtained his doctorate in physics from the University of Paris. In 1927, he was named assistant to the faculté des sciences of Paris and, at the same time, adjoint chief of service to l'Institut de biologie physico-chimique. Chief of work to faculty in 1934 and general secretary of the annual tables of the constants in 1936, he was named university lecturer in physics to the faculty on the first of November 1937. He was charged with, until 1940, the course on the experimental bases of the quantum theory within the chair of theoretical physics and astrophysics. He was also adjoint director of the laboratory of physical chemistry. He then occupied the chair of quantum physics and relativity of the faculté des sciences of Paris.

At the end of World War II, he was named director of higher education from 1945 to 1948, which permitted him to introduce the first chair of genetics at the Sorbonne, conferred upon Boris Ephrussi.

The process where Auger electrons are emitted from atoms is used in Auger electron spectroscopy to study the elements on the surface of materials.[1] This method was named after him, independently from Lise Meitner who discovered the process one year before in 1922, albeit in a different, and then controversial, context about the nature of the beta-rays versus Charles Drummond Ellis.[2][3]


In his work with cosmic rays, he found that the cosmic radiation events were coincident in time meaning that they were associated with a single event, an air shower. He estimated that the energy of the incoming particle that creates large air showers must be at least 1015 electronvolts (eV) = 106 particles of 108 eV (critical energy in air) and a factor of ten for energy loss from traversing the atmosphere.[1][4]

Honors and achievements[edit]

  • He was president of the Centre international de calcul (Rome). From 1948 to 1959, he directed at UNESCO the department of mathematical and natural sciences.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Lars Persson (1996). "Pierre Auger-A Life in the Service of Science". Acta Oncologica. 35 (7): 785–787. doi:10.3109/02841869609104027. PMID 9004753.
  2. ^ Controversy and Consensus: Nuclear Beta Decay 1911–1934. doi:10.1007/978-3-0348-8444-0.
  3. ^ Hardouin Duparc, Olivier (2009-09-01). "Pierre Auger – Lise Meitner: Comparative contributions to the Auger effect". International Journal of Materials Research. 100 (9): 1162–1166. doi:10.3139/146.110163. ISSN 2195-8556.
  4. ^ P. Auger; et al. (1939). "Extensive Cosmic-Ray Showers". Rev. Mod. Phys. 11 (3–4): 288–291. Bibcode:1939RvMP...11..288A. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.11.288.
  5. ^ Watson, Alan (July 2006). "The future's bright for the Pierre Auger Observatory". CERN Courier. 46 (6): 12–14.
  6. ^ "Auger observatorycelebrates progress". CERN Courier. 46 (1): 8. February 2006.

External links[edit]