Definitions

Gamow

Gamow

[gam-awf, -of]
Gamow, George, 1904-68, Russian-American theoretical physicist and author, b. Odessa. A nuclear physicist, Gamow is better known to the public for his excellent books popularizing abstract physical theories. He did his earlier research at the universities of Copenhagen, Cambridge, and Leningrad, where he was professor (1931-33). He then came to the United States, where he taught at George Washington Univ. (1934-56) and the Univ. of Colorado (from 1956) and served with U.S. government agencies. He formulated (1928) a theory of radioactive decay and worked on the application of nuclear physics to problems of stellar evolution. He was one of the first proponents of the "big bang" theory of cosmology. In 1954 he proposed an important theory concerning the organization of genetic information in the living cell. His writings include Constitution of Atomic Nuclei (1931; 3d ed., with C. L. Critchfield, Theory of Atomic Nucleus, 1949), Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland (1939), One, Two, Three … Infinity (1947, rev. ed. 1961), The Creation of the Universe (1952, rev. ed. 1961), Mr. Tompkins Learns the Facts of Life (1953), The Atom and Its Nucleus (1961), and Gravity (1962).

See his autobiography, My World Line (1970).

orig. Georgy Antonovich Gamov

(born March 4, 1904, Odessa, Russian Empire—died Aug. 19, 1968, Boulder, Colo., U.S.) Russian-born U.S. nuclear physicist and cosmologist. After studying at Leningrad University with Aleksandr Friedmann (1888–1925), he subsequently developed his quantum theory of radioactivity, the first successful explanation of the behaviour of radioactive elements. His “liquid drop” model of atomic nuclei served as the basis for modern theories of nuclear fission and fusion. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1934, he collaborated with Edward Teller in researching beta decay (1936) and developing a theory of the internal structures of red giant stars (1942). In the 1950s he became interested in biochemistry, proposing theories of genetic code structure that were later found to be true. Throughout his career he also wrote popular works on such difficult subjects as relativity and cosmology.

Learn more about Gamow, George with a free trial on Britannica.com.

orig. Georgy Antonovich Gamov

(born March 4, 1904, Odessa, Russian Empire—died Aug. 19, 1968, Boulder, Colo., U.S.) Russian-born U.S. nuclear physicist and cosmologist. After studying at Leningrad University with Aleksandr Friedmann (1888–1925), he subsequently developed his quantum theory of radioactivity, the first successful explanation of the behaviour of radioactive elements. His “liquid drop” model of atomic nuclei served as the basis for modern theories of nuclear fission and fusion. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1934, he collaborated with Edward Teller in researching beta decay (1936) and developing a theory of the internal structures of red giant stars (1942). In the 1950s he became interested in biochemistry, proposing theories of genetic code structure that were later found to be true. Throughout his career he also wrote popular works on such difficult subjects as relativity and cosmology.

Learn more about Gamow, George with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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