William Alfred Fowler

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Willy Fowler
William Alfred Fowler.jpg
Born (1911-08-09)August 9, 1911
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died March 14, 1995(1995-03-14) (aged 83)
Pasadena, California
Alma mater Caltech (PhD)
Awards Barnard Medal for Meritorious Service to Science (1965)
Tom W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics (1970)
Vetlesen Prize (1973)
National Medal of Science (1974)
Eddington Medal (1978)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1983)
Scientific career
Doctoral advisor Charles Christian Lauritsen
Doctoral students J. Richard Bond, Donald Clayton, F. Curtis Michel, Arthur B. McDonald

William Alfred "Willy" Fowler (/ˈflər/; August 9, 1911 – March 14, 1995) was an American nuclear physicist, later astrophysicist, who, with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar won the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics.


Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Fowler moved with his family to Lima, Ohio, a steam railroad town, at the age of two. He graduated from the Ohio State University, where he was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and received a Ph.D. in nuclear physics at the California Institute of Technology. Although an experimental nuclear physicist, Fowler's most famous paper was "Synthesis of the Elements in Stars", coauthored with Cambridge cosmologist Fred Hoyle and in collaboration with two young Cambridge astronomers, E. Margaret Burbidge and Geoffrey Burbidge. That 1957 paper in Reviews of Modern Physics[1] categorized most nuclear processes for origin of all but the lightest chemical elements in stars. It is widely known as the B2FH paper.

Fowler's succeeded Charles Lauritsen as director of the Kellogg Radiation Laboratory at Caltech, and was himself later succeeded by Steven E. Koonin. Fowler was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Gerald Ford.[2]

Fowler won the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship of the American Astronomical Society in 1963, the Vetlesen Prize in 1973, the Eddington Medal in 1978, the Bruce Medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in 1979, and the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 for his theoretical and experimental studies of the nuclear reactions of importance in the formation of the chemical elements in the universe (shared with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar).[citation needed]

Fowler was the doctoral advisor at Caltech for Arthur B. McDonald, who would later go on to win the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics, and for Donald D. Clayton, who became the leader of the next generation of nuclear astrophysics and who in 2000 was elected Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[citation needed]

A lifelong fan of steam locomotives, Fowler owned several working models of various sizes, one pictured here.[3] He died in Pasadena, California.[citation needed]




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