Niels Bohr came up with a revolutionary theory on radiation emission and atomic structure, earning him one of them renowned Nobel Prizes.
He was one of the scientists who worked on the first atomic bomb. But much like Albert Einstein, Niels was big on promoting the peaceful application of nuclear energy world wide.
Niels Bohr’s achievements aren’t overly surprising as he was raised in a highly educated family that got him interested in physics earlier than most. Later he was introduced to Ernest Rutherford, a Nobel Prize winner himself, who taught Niels about the properties of atoms.
While doing research for his doctoral thesis, Bohr came across Max Planck’s quantum theory; which proposed that energy is made up of tiny particles called quanta.
The smart guy that Niels Bohr was, he combined Rutherford’s knowledge with Planck’s theory allowing him to picture the structure of atoms. This picture of atomic structure allowed him to explain what happens inside an atom.
1. Why is Niels Bohr important?
Niels Bohr is important because he introduced various concepts into the field of science, which revolutionized our understanding of what’s what. He’s best known for the Atomic Model, his Liquid Droplet Theory, and of course, Quantum Theory.
And even though both the Atomic Model and Liquid Droplet Theory have been quite helpful in the scientific world, Quantum Theory is what made its way into mainstream understanding. It’s even talked about in some Hollywood movies.
1.1 Atomic Model
Niels Bohr’s atomic model shows that the atom is a tiny positively charged nucleus with electrons orbiting around it.
Kindda like planets orbit the Sun.
Good ol’ Niels theorized that when atoms jump from one orbit to another they emit electromagnetic radiation. He also observed that the properties of an element are determined by the number of electrons in the outer most orbit.
Niels Bohr’s work on the atomic model earned him his own element in Periodic Table of elements. Bohrium (Bh) is named after him.
1.2 Liquid Droplet Theory
Niels Bohr also came up with liquid droplet theory, which states that a liquid drop can accurately represent the nucleus of an atom. This theory helped clarify scientific understanding of what happens when an atom splits into two parts; a process known as nuclear fission.
1.3 Quantum Theory
Quantum theory is probably Niels Bohr’s most noted achievement, which evolved into what is now known as Quantum Mechanics.. also referred to as Quantum Physics. This relatively new field of science is quite different from Classical Physics. And it seems that a whole bunch of scientists are still trying to make sense of it all.
Unlike classical physics, quantum mechanics talks about probabilities rather than certainties.
It even goes as far as saying what we perceive as the physical world is not so physical after all.
What was once thought of as physical matter is now looked at as non-physical waves of energy, which can take on physical forms.
2. What did Niels Bohr conclude?
Niels Bohr observed that electrons can be viewed in two ways, either as particles or waves. His theory states that an electron can only be one of the two, but never both.
To understand the properties of an electron, Niels relied on empirical measurement. And this is where the quantum world gets tricky.
Niels Bohr found that the mere measurement of an electron’s properties affects the result. It turns out electrons take on the specific state of being a particle or a wave only after their properties are measured.
Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.
– Niels Bohr