Edwin McMillan

Edwin McMillan
Edwin McMillan Nobel.jpg
BornEdwin Mattison McMillan
(1907-09-18)September 18, 1907
Redondo Beach, California, U.S.
DiedSeptember 7, 1991(1991-09-07) (aged 83)
El Cerrito, California, U.S.
Alma materCalifornia Institute of Technology
Princeton University
Known forDiscovery of neptunium, the first transuranium element
AwardsNobel Prize in Chemistry (1951)
Atoms for Peace Award (1963)
National Medal of Science (1990)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Berkeley
Berkeley Radiation Laboratory
ThesisDeflection of a Beam of HCI Molecules in a Non-Homogeneous Electric Field (1933)
Doctoral advisorEdward Condon

Edwin Mattison McMillan (September 18, 1907 – September 7, 1991) was an American physicist and Nobel laureate credited with being the first-ever to produce a transuranium element, neptunium. For this, he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Glenn Seaborg in 1951.

A graduate of California Institute of Technology, he earned his doctorate from Princeton University in 1933, and joined the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory, where he discovered oxygen-15 and beryllium-10. During World War II, he worked on microwave radar at the MIT Radiation Laboratory, and on sonar at the Navy Radio and Sound Laboratory. In 1942 he joined the Manhattan Project, the wartime effort to create atomic bombs, and helped establish the project's Los Alamos Laboratory where the bombs were designed. He led teams working on the gun-type nuclear weapon design, and also participated in the development of the implosion-type nuclear weapon.

McMillan co-invented the synchrotron with Vladimir Veksler. He returned to the Radiation Laboratory after the war, and built them. In 1954 he was appointed associate director of the Radiation Laboratory, being promoted to deputy director in 1958. On the death of Lawrence that year, he became director, and he stayed in that position until his retirement in 1973.

Early life

McMillan was born in Redondo Beach, California, on September 18, 1907, the son of Edwin Harbaugh McMillan and his wife Anna Marie McMillan née Mattison.[1] He had a younger sister, Catherine Helen. His father was a physician, as was his father's twin brother, and three of his mother's brothers. On October 18, 1908, the family moved to Pasadena, California, where he attended McKinley Elementary School from 1913 to 1918, Grant School from 1918 to 1920, and then Pasadena High School, from which he graduated in 1924.[2]

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) was only a mile from his home, and he attended some of the public lectures there.[3] He entered Caltech in 1924. He did a research project with Linus Pauling as an undergraduate and received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1928 and his Master of Science degree in 1929,[1] writing an unpublished thesis on "An improved method for the determination of the radium content of rocks".[4] He then took his Doctor of Philosophy from Princeton University in 1933, writing his thesis on the "Deflection of a Beam of HCI Molecules in a Non-Homogeneous Electric Field" under the supervision of Edward Condon.[5]

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