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Robert Hofstadter

Born February 5, 1915(1915-02-05)
New York City, New York
Died November 17, 1990 (aged 75)
Nationality United States
Fields Physics
Institutions Stanford University
Alma mater City College of New York
Princeton University
Known for Electron scattering
Atomic nuclei
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physics (1961)

Robert Hofstadter (February 5, 1915 – November 17, 1990) was an American physicist. He was the winner of the 1961 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his pioneering studies of electron scattering in atomic nuclei and for his consequent discoveries concerning the structure of nucleons."[1][2]


Born in New York City, he entered City College of New York, and graduated with a B.S. degree magna cum laude in 1935 at the age of 20, and was awarded the Kenyon Prize in Mathematics and Physics. He also received a Charles A. Coffin Foundation Fellowship from the General Electric Company, which enabled him to attend graduate school at Princeton University, where he earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 1938. Hofstadter taught at Stanford University from 1950 to 1985. In his last few years he became interested in astrophysics and applied his knowledge of scintillators to the design of the EGRET gamma-ray telescope of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

Hofstadter's Erdős number is 5.[3] He was the father of Pulitzer Prize-winner Douglas Hofstadter.[4]

Stanford University has an annual lecture series named after Hofstadter, the Robert Hofstadter Memorial Lectures, which consists of two lectures each year, one oriented toward the general public and the other oriented toward scientists.


  1. ^ R. W. McAllister & Robert Hofstadter, "Elastic Scattering of 188 MeV Electrons from Proton and the Alpha Particle," Physical Review, V102, p. 851 (1956).
  2. ^ Robert Hofstadter, "The Electron Scattering Method & its Application to the Structure of Nuclei and Nucleons," Nobel Lectures, Physics 1942-1962, pp. 560-581, Elsevier Pub. Co., Amsterdam-London-New York (Dec 1961).
  3. ^ Some Famous People with Finite Erdös Numbers
  4. ^ National Academy of Sciences biography

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