HomeScientistNiels Bohr: The Architect of Quantum Mechanic

Niels Bohr: The Architect of Quantum Mechanic

One of the pioneers of contemporary physics is Niels Bohr. The international scientific community awarded the Dane a Nobel Prize in 1922. More than twenty international academies, including the USSR Academy of Sciences, regarded the awarding of a membership card to the renowned physicist as an honor.

Bohr is credited for developing the fundamental ideas of quantum mechanics and discovering the quantum theory of the atom. It is difficult to exaggerate his importance to the development of nuclear reactions. In addition, Niels Bohr rose to prominence as a philosopher and thinker who looked to the phenomena of the surrounding physical world for answers to age-old concerns. He understood the threat of nuclear war from his involvement in the atomic bomb project and, to the end of his life, pushed for the outlawing of lethal weapons.

Childhood and youth

In the late fall of 1885, Niels Henrik David Bohr was born in the Danish capital. The future scientist’s family was regarded as part of Copenhagen’s elite. Christian Bohr, the organization’s leader, was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine. Bohr Sr. held the position of professor, the highest academic title, while teaching at the University of Copenhagen.

Niels Bohr’s mother, Ellen Adler, was the daughter of Jewish banker and member of parliament David Adler and Jenny Raphael, who belonged to a powerful Jewish banking family in Britain. The family had two other children growing up in addition to Niels. Niels is shown in numerous family photos from when he was a little child.

Political and cultural circles, in addition to banking circles, held the Bohr family in high regard. Christian and Ellen were friendly, outgoing individuals who were also highly intelligent. Niels was raised in a home frequently frequented by the local elite, the scientific intelligentsia. Discussions of scientific breakthroughs, philosophical arguments, and lively discussions were all part of the upbringing of the future scientist.

It is hardly unexpected that Niels Bohr had a preference for the exact sciences and philosophy in school given that his father’s closest friends and frequent visitors were the physicist Christian Christiansen and theologian Harald Höffding.

In addition to their interest in science, Nils and his brother Harald—who went on to excel in mathematics—also demonstrated a passion for football as youngsters. Nils was a goalkeeper and his brother was a midfielder for the city football team. Bohr had a childhood interest in sailing and skiing.

Niels Henrik David joined the university fraternity in 1903, following in his father’s footsteps. The foundation the scientist obtained at Denmark’s oldest institution played a pivotal role in his biography. Here, Bohr focused on chemistry and astronomy while studying physics and mathematics in great detail.


Bohr’s name was linked to exceptional expertise in 1907. The young researcher’s teachers foresaw a bright future for him, and his graduation work on water’s surface tension earned him a gold medal. The Royal Academy of Sciences gave it to Niels. He was made a master of the institution two years later, and his doctoral dissertation was hailed by his peers as a model and a precursor to significant discoveries. Niels Bohr explained how electrons behaved and how magnetic oscillations occurred in metals in it. The scientist found “blank spots” in classical electrodynamics while completing his dissertation.

The Dane proceeded to Cambridge in 1911 with a scholarship as a trainee and a doctorate. He had an ambition of working in the fabled Cavendish Laboratory at the oldest university in England, under the tutelage of Nobel laureate Sir Joseph Thomson. However, Thomson had moved on to other projects at the time and was uninterested in the subject of the Danish scientist’s dissertation.

Niels soon experienced a creative rush after meeting Ernest Rutherford, another Nobel laureate, which quickly replaced his disappointment. After leaving Cambridge, Bohr moved to northwest Britain to teach at the University of Manchester, where he became known as the “father of nuclear physics”. The Danish physicist devoted himself into studying elemental radioactivity and creating a nuclear model of the atom at the beginning of 1912.

The scientist’s collaboration with Rutherford led him to develop his own model of atomic structure. In the summer of 1912, Bohr went back to Copenhagen and was hired as an assistant professor at his old university. He labored for two years to find solutions to issues pertaining to the quantum theory of the atom’s structure and the nuclear model of the atom.

Bohr’s postulates were published in 1913. These are the fundamental hypotheses that the scientist developed to support the quantum nature of light and the regularity of the hydrogen spectral series. The creation of quantum physics was made possible by the scientist’s research. Rutherford and Albert Einstein were very appreciative of the Dane’s contribution to science. The latter referred to Bohr as “a man with a brilliant intuition” and said that his studies were crucial to the advancement of chemistry.

The Danish physicist was invited to Manchester in the spring of 1914, where he gave lectures to students on mathematical physics. He went back to his native country two years later and carried on with his studies of the atomic structure. Niels Bohr was given a professorship by the university.

The famous physicist established the Institute of Theoretical Physics in the Danish capital in 1920, and he served as its director until his passing. It is hard to overstate the institute’s contributions to the advancement of quantum physics. Based on the studies of Niels’ pupils, a more intricate quantum mechanical model superseded Bohr’s atomic model in the 1920s.

The scientist received the Nobel Prize in 1922 in recognition of his contributions to the understanding of atoms’ structures and radiation. The master quickly developed the complementarity and correspondence principles, which are essential to the advancement of quantum mechanics.

He started studying nuclear physics in the 1930s and shortly after presented a fission-assumed liquid-drop model of the nucleus with colleagues. Prior to the outbreak of World War II, scientists were able to gain a deeper understanding of nuclear fission thanks to the discoveries made in the late 1930s. Niels Bohr discovered that uranium-235 had the ability to split, unleashing hitherto unheard-of energy during his investigation. This revelation was the catalyst for the creation of the atomic bomb.

Bohr worked under German control during the early years of the war, but he was compelled to flee to Sweden and then to Britain due to his “half-Jewish” ethnicity and a warning that he would be arrested. Although he thought it was impossible to build an atomic bomb, he was aware that America was already developing a lethal weapon. The scientist and his son Aage came in the United States to work on the Manhattan Project after the United States turned to him for assistance.

Among the scientists involved, Bohr Sr. was considered a “elder” and was responsible for several innovations. However, as the war came to an end, the idea of utilizing weapons with such lethal and destructive power frightened the Dane more and more. Though his attempts to convince the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt to impose control over the armaments race were unsuccessful, he was able to arrange a meeting with both men.

When Niels Bohr reached the obligatory retirement age of 70 in 1955, he resigned from his position but continued to lead the institute he had founded and work on the advancement of quantum physics. The scientist expressed a strong interest in molecular biology towards the end of his life.

The seminal work “Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge” by Niels Bohr was released in 1961, one year before to the renowned scientist’s passing. The scientist frequently addressed the media, pleading for the use of atoms and the energy they generate for peaceful purposes while cautioning against the possibility of nuclear weapons. Additionally, he wrote to the UN in 1950 to advocate for global control over lethal weapons. The physicist was the first person to receive the Ford Prize “For Peaceful Atoms” seven years later.

Bohr’s superb sense of humor and humanism won him a lot of admiration from his colleagues. Within the team at the institute he formed, Niels’s interactions were like to those of a family; he was really interested in his employees’ lives and was incredibly amiable and welcoming. Despite being a Nobel laureate and holding degrees from prestigious universities such as Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford, Edinburgh, Sorbonne, Princeton, Harvard, and others, the celebrity did not suffer from star fever.

Individual life

Niels Bohr wed the sister of Niels Erik Nörlund, his closest friend at the institute, in the summer of 1912. Margaret developed into a lovely wife, providing her husband with six children, comfort, and a firm upbringing. Aage Bohr, one of the sons, succeeded in physics by following in his father’s footsteps and was recognized with a Nobel Prize in the middle of the 1970s.

Early in the 1930s, the Carlsberg brewery sent Niels Bohr a gift: the house “House of Honour,” which was constructed specifically for him, in recognition of his contributions to science and the nation. Bohr received visits from Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, prime ministers, celebrities, and chiefs of state from all over the world.

Niels Bohr, the scientist, lost his oldest son Christian in 1934, yet he lived to tell the tale. During a storm, the 19-year-old teenager washed overboard from a yacht. Bohr’s remains were never located.

For many years, the Rutherford family was close acquaintances with the family of the well-known physicist. Ernest was dubbed a second father by Niels.


According to Bohr’s biographers, the scientist developed his religious beliefs when he was just 16 years old. Niels denied the spiritual claims of religion, but he maintained a reverent attitude toward God.

Towards the end of his life, he lectured, worked in social work, and produced papers on philosophical subjects.

The scientist passed away from a heart attack. Bohr passed away at 77 years old. His ashes were deposited in an urn and interred in the family burial at the Copenhagen cemetery.


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