Subatomic Discoveries

Subatomic Discoveries

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Luis Alvarez was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, probably most famous for the discovery of the iridium layer (subatomic particles) and his theory that the mass extinction of dinosaurs was caused by an asteroid or comet colliding with Earth. Besides doing the normal work you might expect of a physics professor, Alvarez took on more unusual projects, like making use of cosmic rays to search for hidden chambers in an Egyptian pyramid.

His grandfather, Luis F. Álvarez, was a physician who lived in Spain, Cuba, and eventually the United States. In 1926, his father became a researcher at the Mayo Clinic, and the family moved to Rochester, Minnesota, where Alvarez attended Rochester High School. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago in 1932, his master's degree in 1934, and his PhD in 1936.


The American Journal of Physics commented, "Luis Alvarez was one of the most brilliant and productive experimental physicists of the twentieth century."


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