Ernest Walton Autograph

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(1903-1995) Irish physicist, Nobel Prize in Physics (1951).


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AI generated biography of Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton

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Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton was an Irish physicist and Nobel laureate for his work with John Cockcroft on the splitting of the atom by artificial means. He was born in Dungarvan, County Waterford, Ireland, on October 6, 1903. He was the youngest of five children and attended school in Waterford before studying mathematics and physics at Trinity College in Dublin. After graduating, he went to England where he was offered a post at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University. He worked there from 1932 to 1934, and then moved to the Department of Natural Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. While there, he worked on experiments that led to the splitting of the atom by artificial means.

In 1932, Walton and Cockcroft used a particle accelerator to bombard a lithium nucleus with protons, resulting in the first ever artificial transmutation of an atom. This experiment proved that it was possible to break down the nucleus of an atom, a process that had been theorized but not yet achieved. Walton and Cockcroft were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1951 for their work.

Walton continued to work at the University of Aberdeen until his retirement in 1974. He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1934, and was awarded the Hughes Medal in 1941 and the Copley Medal in 1956. He was also awarded honorary degrees from several universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin, and St. Andrews.

Walton was an avid sailor, and enjoyed sailing his boat, the "Walterina", around the world. He was also an accomplished musician, playing the violin, piano, and pipe organ. He was an active member of the Royal Dublin Society, and served as its president from 1961 to 1964.

Walton's life was marked by a commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. He was passionate about his research, and made significant contributions to the field of physics. He was a brilliant scientist, a talented musician, and a generous and kind person who was admired by all who knew him.

Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton died in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 25, 1995, at the age of 92. He was survived by his wife, daughter, son, and four grandchildren. His legacy lives on in the form of the Ernest Walton Memorial Lecture, which is held annually at Trinity College Dublin in his honor.

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