L. James Rainwater and the Atomic Nucleus

Resources with Additional Information

James Rainwater
Courtesy AIP Emilio Segre
Visual Archives, W. F. Meggers
Gallery of Nobel Laureates

"During W.W. II, I [James Rainwater] worked ... [on the] Manhattan Project, mainly doing pulsed neutron spectroscopy using the small Columbia cyclotron. ...

[Maria Geoppert-Mayer] shell model suggestion in 1949 was a great triumph and fitted my belief that a nuclear shell model should represent a proper approach to understanding nuclear structure. Combined with developments of Weizsaker's semi-empirical explanation of nuclear binding, and the Bohr-Wheeler 1939 paper on nuclear fission, emphasizing distorted nuclear shapes, I was prepared to see an explanation of large nuclear quadrupole moments. The full concept came to me in late 1949 when attending a colloquium by Prof. C.H. Townes who described the experimental situation for nuclear quadrupole moments. It was a fortuitous situation made even more so by the fact that I was sharing an office with Aage Bohr that year. We had many discussions of the implications, subsequently very successfully exploited by Bohr, [Ben] Mottelson, and others of the Copenhagen Institute."1

Rainwater, Mottelson, and Bohr received the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of the connection between collective motion and particle motion in atomic nuclei and the development of the theory of the structure of the atomic nucleus based on this connection".

1Edited excerpts from James Rainwater – Autobiography


Resources with Additional Information

Additional information about Leo James Rainwater and his research about atomic nucleus is available in electronic documents and on the Web.


Improved Technique of Hydrogen Content Analysis by Slow Neutron Scattering; DOE Technical Report; February 29, 1945

Nuclear Energy Level Argument for a Spheroidal Nuclear Model; Physical Review, Vol. 79 Issue 3: 432-434, August 1, 1950

Higher Resolution Neutron Velocity Spectrometer Measurements of Enriched Uranium; DOE Technical Report; August 9, 1950

Slow Neutron Velocity Spectrometer Transmission Studies Of Pu; DOE Technical Report; May 28, 1951

Theory of Multiple Coulomb Scattering from Extended Nuclei; DOE Technical Report; August 1954

Background for the Spheroidal Nuclear Model Proposal [Nobel Lecture]; Review of Modern Physics, Vol. 48, Issue 3: 385-391, July 1976

Research in Neutron Velocity Spectroscopy. Final Report; DOE Technical Report; 1976


Additional Web Pages:

1963 Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award

James Rainwater  1917-1986, National Academy of Sciences

L. James Rainwater, American Institute of Physics (AIP)

The Rainwater Memorial Calibration Facility (RaMCaF) for X-ray Optics, Columbia University

US 2,643,343  BALANCED DOUBLE IONIZATION CHAMBER X-RAY MONITOR -- Rainwater, L. J.; June 23, 1953 (to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission)
This invention relates to an apparatus for monitoring x-ray peak voltage.  The apparatus is adapted to measure deviation from a certain intensity of x rays and is provided with means which facilitate readjustment of the x-ray intensity at a given value after a lapse of time.


Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.