Atomic Heritage Foundation

In partnership with the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Edward Purcell

Edward Purcell (1912-1997) was an American physicist who won the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance, the eventual basis for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Purcell worked on microwave radiation at the MIT Rad Lab during World War II, and was briefly involved in some of the Trinity test preparations.

He was close to J. Robert Oppenheimer after the war when both were at Harvard University, and was with him when the United States conducted its first test of a hydrogen bomb. He also had a positive relationship with Manhattan Project physicist Herbert York, whom he praised for his own efforts to chronicle the project as well as his work on the early American space program.

Edward Purcell's Timeline

  • 1943 to 1945 Worked on microwave radar at the MIT Radiation Laboratory as part of the war effort.
  • 1952 Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, the eventual basis for MRI.
  • 1997 Mar 7th Died in Cambridge, MA.
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