TheInfoList

J. J. Thomson

Born
Joseph John Thomson

18 December 1856
Died30 August 1940 (aged 83)
Cambridge, England
NationalityEnglish
CitizenshipBritish
Alma materOwens College (now the University of Manchester)
Trinity College, Cambridge (BA)
Known forPlum pudding model
Discovery of electron
Discovery of isotopes
Mass spectrometer invention
First m/e measurement
Proposed first waveguide
Thomson scattering
Thomson problem
Coining term 'delta ray'
Thomson (unit)
ChildrenGeorge Paget Thomson, Joan Paget Thomson
AwardsSmith's Prize (1880)
Royal Medal (1894)
Hughes Medal (1902)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1906)
Elliott Cresson Medal (1910)
Copley Medal (1914)
Albert Medal (1915)
Franklin Medal (1922)
Dalton Medal (1931)
Scientific career
FieldsPhysics
InstitutionsTrinity College, Cambridge
Edward John Routh
Notable studentsCharles Glover Barkla
Charles T. R. Wilson
Ernest Rutherford
Francis William Aston
John Townsend
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Owen Richardson
William Henry Bragg
H. Stanley Allen
John Zeleny
Daniel Frost Comstock
Max Born
T. H. Laby
Paul Langevin
Balthasar van der Pol
Geoffrey Ingram Taylor
Niels Bohr
George Paget Thomson
Debendra Mohan Bose
Lawrence Bragg
Signature
External video
OM PRS[1] (18 December 1856 – 30 August 1940) was a British physicist and Nobel Laureate in Physics, credited with the discovery of the electron, the first subatomic particle to be discovered.

In 1897, Thomson showed that cathode rays were composed of previously unknown negatively charged particles (now called electrons), which he calculated must have bodies much smaller than atoms and a very large charge-to-mass ratio.[2] Thomson is also credited with finding the first evidence for isotopes of a stable (non-radioactive) element in 1913, as part of his exploration into the composition of canal rays (positive ions). His experiments to determine the nature of positively charged particles, with Francis William Aston, were the first use of mass spectrometry and led to the development of the mass spectrograph.[2][3]

Thomson was awarded the 1906 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the conduction of electricity in gases.[4]

## Education and personal life

Joseph John Thomson was born on 18 December 1856 in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, Lancashire, England. His mother, Emma Swindells, came from a local textile family. His father, Joseph James Thomson, ran an antiquarian bookshop founded by Thomson’s great-grandfather. He had a brother, Frederick Vernon Thomson, who was two years younger than he was.[5] J. J. Thomson was a reserved yet devout Anglican.[6][7][8]

His early education was in small private schools where he demonstrated outstanding talent and interest in science. In 1870, he was admitted to Owens College in Manchester (now University of Manchester) at the unusually young age of 14. His parents planned to enroll him as an apprentice engineer to Sharp-Stewart & Co, a locomotive manufacturer, but these plans were cut short when his father died in 1873.[5]

He moved on to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1876. In 1880, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics (Second Wrangler in the Tripos[9] and 2nd Smith's Prize).[10] He applied for and became a Fellow of Trinity College in 1881.[11] Thomson received his Master of Arts degree (with Adams Prize) in 1883.[10]

## Family

In 1890, Thomson married Rose Elisabeth Paget. Beginning in 1882, women could attend demonstrations and lectures at the University of Cambridge. Rose Paget, daughter of Sir George Edward Paget, a physician and then Regius Professor of Physic at Cambridge at the church of St. Mary the Less, was interested in physics. She attended demonstrations and lectures, among them Thomson's. Their relationship developed from there.[12] They had two children: George Paget Thomson, who was also awarded a Nobel Prize for his work on the wave properties of the electron, and Joan Paget Thomson (later Charnock),[13] who became an author, writing children's books, non-fiction and biographies.[14]