Niels Bohr

Niels Bohr was a Danish physicist that greatly contributed the world of physics with his research of atomic structure and quantum mechanics.

Early life

Neils Henrik David Bohr was born on October 7th, 1885 in Copenhagen. Neils also had a brother, Harald Bohr who was a mathematician and a passionate football player, a passion two brothers shared. His father Christian Bohr was a professor at University of Copenhagen and his mother Ellen Adler Bohr came from a high class Jewish family who was engaged in banking business.


In 1903 Neils Bohr enrolled at University of Copenhagen as an undergraduate with an intention to study philosophy and mathematics. In 1905 Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters organized a physics competition that got Neils attention. He signed up and eventually his essay won the first place. It is then that Neils focus shifted from psychology to physics. After deciding to stay at University of Copenhagen for graduate course, Neils earned his doctorate under physicist Christian Christiansen in 1911.


In 1922, Bohr received the Nobel Prize for his accomplishments in the field of physics, or more specifically his research of atomic structure. The award recognized his early leading work in the emerging field of quantum mechanics. Leading to this was his model of atomic structure that was published in 1913. In this model he brought up a theory explaining that electrons orbit the atom’s nucleus and that properties of each element are in tight relation with the number of electron that travel around its atom’s nucleus. Bohr also explained the phenomenon of electrons shifting from higher-energy orbits to a lower ones which leads to photon emission. This became the foundation of quantum theory. Due to his credentials in the field of physics, Bohr was invited to participate in project “Manhattan” designed to create a nuclear bomb.

Later life

In 1910 Bohr was introduced to Margrethe Nørlund, sister of the mathematician Niels Erik Nørlund.

Neils and Margrethe engaged in romantic relationship that eventually led to them getting married.

During that marriage they had six children, but lost two of them to boating accident and sickness.

After the beginning of second world war, Bohr escaped to UK and eventually to US since there was a threat that could get arrested by invading Nazis. Following the end of second world war, Niels returned to Copenhagen where he died of heart failure in 1962.

Niels Bohr quotes

  • “A physicist is just an atom’s way of looking at itself.”
  • “An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.”
  • “An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes, which can be made, in a very narrow field.”
  • “Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.”

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