George Gamow


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Gamow, George

(găm`ŏf), 1904–68, Russian-American theoretical physicist and author, b. Odessa. A nuclear physicist, Gamow is better known to the public for his excellent books popularizing abstract physical theories. He did his earlier research at the universities of Copenhagen, Cambridge, and Leningrad, where he was professor (1931–33). He then came to the United States, where he taught at George Washington Univ. (1934–56) and the Univ. of Colorado (from 1956) and served with U.S. government agencies. He formulated (1928) a theory of radioactive decay and worked on the application of nuclear physics to problems of stellar evolution. He was one of the first proponents of the "big bang" theory of cosmologycosmology,
area of science that aims at a comprehensive theory of the structure and evolution of the entire physical universe. Modern Cosmological Theories
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. In 1954 he proposed an important theory concerning the organization of genetic information in the living cell. His writings include Constitution of Atomic Nuclei (1931; 3d ed., with C. L. Critchfield, Theory of Atomic Nucleus, 1949), Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland (1939), One, Two, Three … Infinity (1947, rev. ed. 1961), The Creation of the Universe (1952, rev. ed. 1961), Mr. Tompkins Learns the Facts of Life (1953), The Atom and Its Nucleus (1961), and Gravity (1962).

Bibliography

See his autobiography, My World Line (1970).

Gamow, George

(1904–68) physicist; born in Odessa, Russia. His European research on radioactivity and atomic fission gained him an international reputation that preceded his arrival at George Washington University (1934–56). He and Edward Teller formulated their rule for beta decay in 1936. He postulated that primordial matter existed prior to the origin of the universe (1948), he developed the theory of red giant stars, and he was a major proponent of the "big bang" theory of the origin of the universe. He correctly theorized that DNA structure forms a code that directs protein synthesis. He became a professor at Colorado (1956–68), where he wrote and illustrated most of his many books for nonscientists.
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At George Washington University, he would begin a very productive collaboration with Russian emigre George Gamow in nuclear physics.
He realised that he had little future as a Jew in Hitler's Germany,and in 1934 he was given a Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship which took him to Copenhagen, where he met George Gamow,a Russian patriot.