Gamow, George

Gamow, George găm´ŏf [key], 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 cosmology . 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).

See his autobiography, My World Line (1970).

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