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Bertram N. Brockhouse, Nobel Prize laureate

Bertram N. Brockhouse's work in physics led to advances that earned Nobel Prizes for others before it earned him his own. His colleagues felt he was long overdue by the time he received the stunning news that in his 76th year he was himself to become a Nobel Laureate. This 1994 Prime Time News item captures his surprise, pleasure and modesty.
• Brockhouse shared the 1994 Nobel Prize in Physics with Clifford G. Schull. Both men were honoured for their "pioneering contributions to the development of neutron scattering techniques for studies of condensed matter." The award recognized Brockhouse's development of neutron spectroscopy and Shull's development of the neutron diffraction technique.
 

• Brockhouse was born in 1918 in Lethbridge, Alta. and moved to Vancouver at the age of eight. He described himself in his early twenties as "profoundly anti-totalitarian" and joined the military early in the Second World War. In return, his education was paid for by the Department of Veterans' Affairs and he studied physics and mathematics at the University of British Columbia. He went on to earn his master's degree and PhD at the University of Toronto.

• The work for which he was later recognized began in the 1950s in Atomic Energy of Canada's Chalk River Nuclear Laboratory. He went on to become a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton from 1962 until he retired in 1984.

• In 1999 the Canadian Association of Physicists and the Division of Condensed Matter and Materials Physics created the Brockhouse Medal. It is awarded to recognize and encourage outstanding experimental or theoretical contributions to condensed matter and materials physics.

• In his first press conference after receiving the big news, Brockhouse modestly said, "What we did is just add some more information, some more insight, into what this world, this physical world, is."

Medium: Television
Guest(s): Bertram Brockhouse, Malcolm Collins, Eric Svensson
Reporter: Eve Savory
Duration: 2:01

Last updated: February 8, 2012

Page consulted on August 21, 2012

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