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Francis Perrin (1901-1992)

The son of Nobelist Jean-Baptiste Perrin, Francis Perrin held doctoral degrees from the University of Paris in mathematics (Brownian motion, 1928) and physics (emission and absorption of light, 1929). From 1933-41, he taught at his alma mater and attained the rank of full professor in 1935. His 1939 article, "Calcul relatif aux conditions éventuelles de transmutation en chaîre de l'uranium., like Flügge's article in Die Naturwissenschaft, created interest in the possibility of atomic weapons; he proposed in the piece that uranium would fission at a critical point. He served in the French army from the beginning of WWII until 1941, when he accepted a visiting professorship at Columbia University. After the war, he was a member of the board of directors of the French Atomic Energy Commission, created in 1945, and taught from 1945-72 at the College of France. In 1951, he succeeded Frédéric Joliot-Curie as high commissioner, a post he retained until 1970. Some consider Perrin the father of the French atomic bomb, although he was a pacificist and encouraged the development of atomic energy in France. He was elected a member of the French Academy in 1953.

Karen Rae Keck

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