Historic Site Awardees

Each of these sites has been formally recognized for historical significance to the field of physics. The nomination deadline for new historic sites is January 31 of each year. If you would like to nominate a new historic site, please review the guidelines.


100-inch Telescope, Mount Wilson Observatory (Los Angeles)
Dedication Date: October 19, 2019
At this site, the innovative 100-inch telescope, realized by George Ellery Hale in 1917, empowered astronomers to discover aspects and mysteries of our Cosmos. Edwin Hubble ascertained the distance to Andromeda, proving the existence of galaxies beyond ours. Hubble and Milton Humason amassed evidence that the universe is expanding. Walter Baade identified distinct stellar populations from which to obtain better estimates of the size and age of the universe.
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The Bevatron, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley)
Dedication Date: N/A
On this site in 1955, a year after completion of the Bevatron, Chamberlain, Segrè, Wiegand, and Ypsilantis reported the discovery of the anti-proton. In the 1960s bubble chambers here revealed many new particles, evidence for SU(3) symmetry, now known to be the sign of the three lightest quarks. Later, Ghiorso conceived and Grunder built the Bevalac by merging the Bevatron and the SuperHILAC into the world’s first relativistic heavy-ion accelerator. It accelerated ions from protons to uranium, launching high-energy heavy-ion physics and clinical radiotherapy with heavy-ion beams.
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California Institute of Technology (Pasadena)
Dedication Date: October 2008
Near this site, in August 1932, Carl David Anderson photographed the track of a cosmic-ray particle in his cloud chamber. He identified this particle as the positron—the first known antiparticle.
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Hughes Research Laboratories (Malibu)
Dedication Date: May 16, 2010
At this laboratory Theodore H. Maiman and co-workers constructed the world's first working laser, on May 16, 1960. Made of synthetic ruby, it was the harbinger of a technological revolution that has forever changed the world.
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Mayer Hall (San Diego)
Dedication Date: N/A
Here Walter Kohn and Lu Jeu Sham reduced to practice the method of Density Functional Theory (DFT), whose premises had been laid by Kohn and Pierre Hohenberg. DFT allows calculation of all the properties of quantum many-body systems from the ground state density of particles, a much simpler quantity than the wave function. Today, it is the most used technique for calculating the properties of nuclei, molecules, polymers, macromolecules, surfaces and bulk materials in the chemical, biological and physical sciences. For this achievement, Kohn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
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Scripps Institution of Oceanography (La Jolla)
Dedication Date: June 17, 2011
At this location Charles David Keeling planned and led his project to measure the level of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere. The rise of the level over many decades reveals an influence of human activity.
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SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (Menlo Park)
Dedication Date: August 24, 2012
In recognition of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, formerly Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, established 1962 and home of the 2-mile Stanford Linear Accelerator and the SPEAR electron storage ring. These two accelerators played an instrumental role in the discovery of quarks, the establishment of the Standard Model of particle physics, and the invention and use of high-brightness X-ray synchrotron and laser sources for the study of solid-state materials, surfaces, and biological structures.
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University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley)
Dedication Date: December 10, 2007
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Varian Physics Building (Stanford)
Dedication Date: November 8, 2017
In laboratories near this site, several significant events in the history of physics took place. In 1946, Felix Bloch and his collaborators discovered nuclear magnetic resonance, a crucial tool of modern medicine and science. During 1954-7, Robert Hofstadter and his collaborators conducted nuclear structure experiments that established the size of the proton and neutron for the first time.
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Aspen Center for Physics (Aspen)
Dedication Date: July 2012
Founded in 1962 by George Stranahan, Michael Cohen and Robert Craig, the Aspen Center for Physics is a premier summer home for theoretical physicists worldwide. With a blend of workshops, informal discussion, and individual research, it has given birth to a wide variety of significant advances across all fields of theoretical physics.
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JILA, CU Boulder & NIST (Boulder)
Dedication Date: July 7, 2012
JILA is a unique interdisciplinary research and education institute, a partnership between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (a Federal agency) and the University of Colorado Boulder. This plaque honors its achievements since its founding in 1962 in such fields as astrophysics, atomic, molecular and optical physics, biophysics, chemical physics, nanoscience, and precision measurement science.
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Mount Evans and Echo Lake, Colorado (Idaho Springs)
Dedication Date: October 19, 2017
Near this site and at the summit of Mt. Evans, fundamental observations of cosmic rays (energetic atom fragments from space that create subatomic particles in the atmosphere) were made between 1935 and 1960 by physicists Arthur H. Compton, Bruno Rossi, and many others, among them faculty at the University of Denver. These experiments included the first measurement of the lifetime of muons, work that confirmed the time dilation effect predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.
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Old Laboratory, Yale University (New Haven)
Dedication Date: April 7, 2017
On this site, in the "Old Laboratory", Edward Alexander Bouchet (1852-1918) was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. (Yale, 1876) and one of the first six Americans to receive a Ph.D. in Physics. A native of New Haven, he made a career teaching physics and was a leader in science education for African Americans.
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Sloane Physics Laboratory, Yale University (New Haven)
Dedication Date: April 20, 2007
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District of Columbia

Carnegie Institution, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (Washington, DC)
Dedication Date: May 17, 2013
In recognition of the pioneering research of Vera C. Rubin and W. Kent Ford, Jr. of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, whose measurement of galactic rotation curves provided evidence for the existence of dark matter.
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National Bureau of Standards (NIST) (Washington, DC)
Dedication Date: November 9, 2011
In 1956, at this site, which was then on the campus of the National Bureau of Standards, physicists C-S Wu, E. Ambler, R.W. Hayward, D.D. Hoppes and R.P. Hudson performed an experiment which revealed that in certain nuclear processes pairs of events that are merely mirror images of each other occur with different probabilities. This discovery revolutionized our understanding of nature's fundamental laws.
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University of Chicago (Chicago)
Dedication Date: November 30, 2006
Robert A. Millikan (1868-1953) was a researcher and professor of physics at the University of Chicago from 1892 to 1921. Near this site, he conducted his famous oil-drop experiments that established the electrical charge of the electron. He received the Noble Prize in Physics in 1923.
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Old Physics Buidling, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Urbana)
Dedication Date: October 11, 2007
In this building, the home of the University of Illinois' Physics Department from 1909 to 1959, John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and J. Robert Schrieffer created the 'BCS' theory of superconductivity, a great achievement of theoretical physics, in 1956-1957. For their work, they were awarded the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physics.
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Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Batavia)
Dedication Date: June 10, 2015
In recognition of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) for its pivotal contributions to high-energy physics, including the discoveries of the bottom and top quarks and the tau neutrino, key components of the Standard Model. Honoring the achievements of Robert R. Wilson, who helped design and establish the lab in 1967 and served as its first director, and Nobel Laureate Leon M. Lederman, who served as its second director and helped inaugurate the Tevatron, the world's highest energy proton-antiproton collider with the pioneering use of superconducting magnets.
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Building 203, Argonne National Laboratory (Lemont)
Dedication Date: November 2, 2018
While working at Argonne National Laboratory in the late 1940s, Maria Goeppert Mayer developed the “shell” model of the atomic nucleus that is the basis for our modern understanding of nuclear structure. She determined that there are certain “magic numbers” of nucleons that constitute complete shells with maximum binding energy at different energy levels, analogous to the stability of full shells of orbital electrons.
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Adler Planetarium (Chicago)
Dedication Date: November 13, 2019
Since its opening in 1930, the Adler Planetarium has contributed immeasurably to the dissemination of exciting discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics. It is the oldest public planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. The museum houses one of the greatest collections of historic astronomical instruments in the world, spanning nine centuries of human efforts to understand the universe. Millions of visitors have enjoyed vivid sky shows, presentations on space science and interplanetary exploration, hands-on activities and inspiring educational programs.
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Chicago Pile “Site A” and Stagg Field at University of Chicago
Dedication Date:
July 14, 2023
The Chicago Pile Site “Site A” is recognized for its transformational and impactful role in the development of nuclear energy, nuclear applications such as radioisotope production for medicine, and research employing neutron scattering.
On 2 December 1942, a pivotal moment occurred at CP-1. Enrico Fermi led the world's first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, a remarkable achievement. The reactor's construction took place under Stagg Field's west viewing stands by the talented team from the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory.
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LIGO Laboratories (Livingston)
Dedication Date: June 20, 2018
On September 14, 2015, LIGO interferometers at Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, made the first direct observation of gravitational waves. The precision required to detect these tiny disturbances in space-time, caused by merging black holes, was made possible by the coordinated labor of over one thousand scientific and technical workers. This and a companion plaque at the other LIGO site recognize their contributions to this historic detection.
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Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore)
Dedication Date: March, 2006
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Morgan State University (Baltimore)
Dedication Date: N/A
On April 28, 1977, Morgan State University became the birthplace of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP). Its founders sought to promote the professional well-being of African American physicists within society at large and within the international scientific community. They have successfully mentored young Black students to increase their representation in physics and technology. Their persistent professional devotion to inclusion has produced the largest national organization that actively supports African American physicists.


Jefferson Physical Laboratory, Harvard University (Cambridge)
Dedication Date: April 27, 2009
In recognition of the Jefferson Physical Laboratory, dedicated in 1884, as the oldest university building erected in America to pursue physics research, and for the many scientific advances made by its faculty.
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MIT Radiation Laboratory (Lexington)
Dedication Date: October 5, 2007
At this location, the MIT Radiation Laboratory was established in the fall of 1940 to develop microwave radar systems. Radar quickly took its place in all arenas of World War II and played a decisive role in the Allied victory. The laboratory closed on December 31, 1945.
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University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)
Dedication Date: December 11, 2010
This plaque honors the Michigan Summer Symposium in Theoretical Physics, 1928-1941, under the leadership of Harrison Randall. During this period virtually every world-renowned physicist lectured at the symposium, which played a critical role in helping America achieve international status in theoretical physics.
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Tate Laboratory of Physics, University of Minnesota (Minneapolis)
Dedication Date: October 29, 2012
Alfred O. C. Nier and the Tate Laboratory of Physics: At this site, from 1936 to 1994, Alfred Nier designed and developed mass spectrometers with which he pioneered critical research in nuclear physics, isotopic and chemical analysis, biochemistry, geophysics, geochemistry, earth and planetary atmospheres, diagnostic devices, and industrial applications.
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Arthur Holly Compton Laboratory of Physics, Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis)
Dedication Date: December 12, 2005
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New Hampshire

Mount Washington Observatory (North Conway)
Dedication Date: September 6, 2014
Here in the early 1960s David H. Frisch and James H. Smith performed classes experiments showing that the observed lifetime of the muon (a particle 207 times more massive than the electron) traveling close to the speed of light is lengthened in percise accord with the predictions of the special theory of relativity.
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Wilder Physical Laboratory, Dartmouth College (Hanover)
Dedication Date: October 5, 2012
At this site, the Wilder Physical Laboratory, Dartmouth College, from 1900-1903 E. F. Nichols and G. F. Hull performed the first precise measurement of the radiation pressure of light on a macroscopic body, as predicted by J. C. Maxwell in 1873. The Nichols-Hull experiment provided convincing evidence for the pressure of light, and the transfer of momentum between light and matter, a phenomenon which has enabled critical developments in a wide range of fields from atomic physics to biology to astrophysics.
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New Jersey

Bell Telephone Laboratories, New Jersey (New Providence)
Dedication Date: December 14, 2006
Here at Bell Labs, on December 12, 1947, John Bardeen and Walter H. Brattain made one of the greatest inventions of all time—the transistor—which is now a part of virtually every electronic device. William Shockley further refined the transistor and, in 1950, built the fundamental atchitecture in use today. In 1956, Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley won the Nobel Prize in Physics for this work.
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Holmdel Horn Antenna (Holmdel)
Dedication Date: December 9, 2008
This unexpected discovery, offering strong evidence that the universe began with the Big Bang, ushered in experimental cosmology.
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Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton)
Dedication Date: November 9, 2016
Honoring the pivotal contributions of the Institute for Advanced Study to the development of theoretical physics, including the work of Albert Einstein and many others.
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Palmer Physical Laboratory - Frist Campus Center (Princeton)
Dedication Date: April 12, 2018
In this building, formerly The Palmer Physical Laboratory, in the late 1950s Robert Henry Dicke formed a gravity research group that pioneered tests of the physics of gravity, including precision measurements of the gravitational redshift and acceleration, the universal nature of gravitational acceleration, laser ranging of the Moon, and studies of the cosmic microwave background radiation, all of which now establish Einstein's general relativity theory of gravity.
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New Mexico

Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos)
Dedication Date: July 22, 2013
Created in response to an international crisis, Los Alamos successfully developed the atomic bomb under the leadership of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Its scientists and engineers have made numerous contributions, including discovery of the neutrino by Clyde Cowan and Frederick Reines, development of high-performance computing, large scale numerical simulations, study of material under extreme conditions, integration of physical, earth and life sciences, stewardship of the national nuclear stockpile, and leadership in the science and technology of global security and non-proliferation.
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New York

Bell Laboratories Building, New York (New York)
Dedication Date: May 2011
At this site, the original location of Bell Telephone Laboratories, D. J. Davisson and L. H. Germer in 1927 performed the first direct demonstration of the wave-like behavior of elementary particles, predicted by L. de Broglie in 1923. The Davisson- Germer experiment provided crucial empirical evidence for the validity of the then rapidly evolving theory of quantum mechanics. In those years and subsequently many important scientific and technological discoveries were made at the same laboratory.
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Brookhaven National Laboratory (Upton)
Dedication Date: September 23, 2011
At this laboratory, over many years, scientists and engineers have made numerous fundamental discoveries in the fields of nuclear and high-energy physics, the physics and chemistry of materials, energy and environment, biology and medicine. Among many landmark experiments are establishing the spin direction (helicity) of the electron neutrino, first observation of solar neutrinos, proof of more than one species of neutrinos, first observation of a lack of symmetry between matter and antimatter, and the principle of strong focusing that led to more compact and powerful accelerators.
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Cornell University (Ithaca)
Dedication Date: March 3, 2008
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IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center (Ossining)
Dedication Date: December 5, 2013
The IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center has been home to numerous physicists who have produced seminal advances in many disciplines and fields of study. Innovations discovered and developed here include dynamic random access memory (DRAM), field effect transistor scaling laws, semiconductor superlattice structures, specialized lasers and thin-film magnetic recording heads, as well as advances in optical communications and electron microscopy.
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Pupin Hall, Columbia University (New York)
Dedication Date: January 29, 2009
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Ram's Head Inn, Shelter Island (Shelter Island Heights)
Dedication Date: June 4, 2010
At this site a small meeting of theoretical physicists took place June 2-4, 1947. In a burst of pent-up creativity after the war, they attacked several of the most important problems of the time, which led to dramatic breakthroughs in fundamental areas of quantum physics.
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The Albany Academy (Albany)
Dedication Date: April 27, 2007
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The Bronx High School of Science (The Bronx)
Dedication Date: October 15, 2010
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Wardenclyffe (Shoreham)
Dedication Date: December 11, 2016
In recognition of Nikola Tesla's critical role in the development of alternating current motors and power grids and of his pioneering work in wireless communications technology. At this site, Wardenclyffe, Tesla tried to create a worldwide wireless system for communications and power transmission. He never lost faith in this grand vision, which was far ahead of its time. While long-distance wireless power transmission remains a dream, worldwide wireless communication was achieved within a century.
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Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland)
Dedication Date: November 14, 2005
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The Franklin Institute (Philadelphia)
Dedication Date: July 13, 2005
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South Carolina

Savannah River Site (Aiken)
Dedication Date: April 2014
In 1956 Clyde Cowan and Frederick Reines used the flux from P Reactor at the Savannah River site to perform the first experiment that conclusively detected the neutrino, thereby establishing the existence of the particle postulated 26 years earlier by Wolfgang Pauli to explain the apparent lack of conservation of energy in beta decay.
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South Dakota

Sanford Underground Research Facility (Lead)
Dedication Date:
From 1962 to 1994, Raymond Davis Jr. built and operated the first successful detector for solar neutrinos using John N. Bahcall’s theoretical model and working with William A. Fowler, Maurice Goldhaber, and numerous engineers and crew members on the 4850 Level of the Homestake Mine—now the Davis Campus at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. The result of Davis’s observations, just one third the theoretical expected flux, led to fundamental advances in particle physics and astrophysics. For his work, Davis received a share of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics, along with Masatoshi Koshiba for his research into the detection of cosmic neutrinos.


Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge)
Dedication Date: July 25, 2016
At this site, the Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility (HRIBF) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, researchers have conducted pioneering experiments using accelerated beams of radioactive nuclei to probe nuclear structure and investigate nuclear reactions that govern astrophysical processes. Important results have included early measurements with reaccelerated unstable beams, the first acceleration of neutron-rich fission fragments, and confirming the doubly magic nature of the heavy tin isotope 132Sn.
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LIGO Laboratories (Richland)
Dedication Date: June 20, 2018
On September 14, 2015, LIGO interferometers at Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, made the first direct observation of gravitational waves. The precision required to detect these tiny disturbances in space-time, caused by merging black holes, was made possible by the coordinated labor of over one thousand scientific and technical workers. This and a companion plaque at the other LIGO site recognize their contributions to this historic detection.
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West Virginia

Green Bank Observatory
Dedication Date: September 27, 2023
Green Bank Observatory has been a leading radio astronomy facility since its founding in 1957. Discoveries made here include the radio source at the center of the Milky Way, interstellar molecules, and the first pulsar in a supernova remnant, which confirmed the origin of these objects. It was also the site of the first systematic search for evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations.
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The Synchrotron Radiation Center (Stoughton)
Dedication Date: 13 November 2015
From 1968 to 2014 the University of Wisconsin-Madison operated the Tantalus and later Aladdin electron storage rings to produce synchrotron radiation for scientific research. Located at the Synchrotron Radiation Center, near Stoughton, WI, Tantalus was the first dedicated synchrotron light source. In 1985 it was replaced by Aladdin, which was used until 2014. Operating for nearly 50 years, the SRC was a birthplace of synchrotron radiation science, hosting thousands of researchers from all over the world and leading to fundamental scientific discoveries.
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Historic Sites Abroad

Einsteinhaus Bern (Bern, Switzerland)
Dedication Date: September 14, 2015
The apartment on the 2nd floor of this building was the home of the patent clerk Albert Einstein and his family when, between March and June 1905, in his free time, he completed his pioneering articles on the light-quantum hypothesis, the size of atoms, the Brownian motion and the special theory of relativity.
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Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering, McGill University (formerly Macdonald Physics Buidling) (Montreal, Canada)
Dedication Date: November 30, 2009
At this location, Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy, during 1901-03, correctly explained radioactivity as emission of particles from the nucleus and established the laws of the spontaneous transmutation of the elements.
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