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Luis Alvarez, Nobel Prize-winning Physicist and Inventor
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Luis Alvarez, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and inventor

Alvarez in MIT lab, 1943

Luis Alvarez, Physicist and Inventor

Luis Alvarez’s curiosity, persistence, and knowledge of physics drove his work as a scientist and inventor.

Alvarez carried his childhood interest in mechanics to college, where he became infatuated with physics. As a student at the University of Chicago in the 1930s, Alvarez would disappear into the library for days. The physics he absorbed from his time spent reading helped him understand the results his experiments yielded and gave him ideas for future experiments.

Later, Alvarez put his skills to work as one of several young scientists recruited to help the military during World War II. He designed a radar system that helped pilots land in bad weather. And he designed a device that fired the atomic bomb.

After the war, Alvarez’s intellectual curiosity and talent for experimentation led him to develop an important tool for physicists. He spent several years building a “bubble chamber,” which enabled physicists to see tiny particles of matter inside an atom’s nucleus for the first time.

“I had now learned my trade and noticed things I hadn’t expected to see which is essential to scientific discovery.”

Next: Persistence Pays Off for Luis Alvarez ›

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