Norman Foster Ramsey, Jr.
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Norman Foster Ramsey, Jr.

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Norman Foster Ramsey, Jr. 

Name: Norman Foster Ramsey, Jr. (1915—)

Occupation: Deputy Director - Project Alberta

Sites: Los Alamos; Tinian Island

Years on Project: 1943-1945

Norman Foster Ramsey, Jr. was born August 27, 1915 in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Columbia University in 1935 with a degree in mathematics, then received a second bachelor's degree in physics from Cambridge University in 1937. While working toward his physics Ph.D. at Columbia, which he received in 1940, he worked under Isidor Rabi on magnetic resonance.

In 1940 Ramsey went to the Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he led the group researching radar with a 3-centimeter wavelength. He left for Los Alamos in 1943, where he served under William S. Parsons in Project Alberta to determine how the atomic bomb could be delivered to its target. He determined that the B-29 was the only United States aircraft that would be feasible to carry the bomb, and even so would require extensive modification to do so (via a program known as Silverplate). Ramsey also planned atomic bomb test drops that used replicas of the Fat Man plutonium bomb known as "pumpkin bombs" for their orange color.

After World War II, Ramsey moved to Harvard University in 1947 and taught there for 40 years. He helped to found Brookhaven National Laboratory and served as the first chairman of its physics department. He also served as chairman of the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission and played a vital role in the creation of Fermilab. Ramsey retired from Harvard in 1986, but has continued his activity in physics, receiving the 1988 National Medal of Science. He shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physics with Hans G. Dehmelt and Wolfgang Paul for the invention of the separated oscillatory field method, which led to the development of the hydrogen maser and the cesium atomic clock.

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