© The Nobel Foundation
Felix Bloch

American Jewish Recipients of the Nobel Prize

Felix Bloch: Nobel Prize in
Physics Recipient-1952

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Felix Bloch was an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, in 1952, which he shared with Edward Mills Purcell, for their development of new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements and discoveries in connection therewith.

He was born on October 23, 1905, in Zurich, Switzerland. His parents were Agnes, nee Mayer, and Gustav Bloch. He went through public primary school and then through the Gymnasium when he passed his final exam.

Bloch entered the Federal Institute of Technology, in 1924, expecting to become an engineer. After one year, he changed his direction and decided on getting a degree in physics. By the time he finished, he decided on studying theoretical physics. He continued his studies at the University of Leipzig and received his Ph.D., in 1928.

In the following few years he worked with many great scholars of theoretical physics. When Hitler came to power, he left Germany and went to the University of Stanford. Here he was able to do experimental research. In 1936, he published a paper regarding the production and observation of polarized neutron beams.

During World War II, he was involved in the early stages of work on atomic energy at Stanford University. In collaboration with others, he developed a new method of nuclear induction, a purely electromagnetic procedure for the study of nuclear moments in solids, liquids, or gases. After a few successful experiments, he learned that the same discovery was made independently simultaneously by Edward Mills Purcell.

In 1954, he took a leave of absence to serve as the first Director General of CERN, in Geneva. A year later, he returned to Sanford University to continue with his experiments.

Felix Bloch married Dr. Lore Misch, in 1940, a physicist and a refugee from Germany. They had three sons, George, Daniel and Frank, and one daughter, Ruth.

Professor Felix Bloch received many honors and awards:
● He became a naturalized citizen of the United States, 1939
● He was involved in the Manhattan Atomic Project, World War II
● A member of the National Academy of Sciences
● He received an endowed Chair as the Max Stein Professor of Physics at Stanford University, 1961, until he retired in 1971.
● He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
● He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society

He died of a heart attack on September10, 1983, in Zurich, Switzerland.

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