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Niels Bohr

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Atomic Physicist.

Niels Henrik David Bohr (7 October 1885 – 18 November 1962) was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. He developed the model of the atom with the nucleus at the center and electrons in orbit around it, which he compared to the planets orbiting the sun. He worked on the idea in quantum mechanics that electrons move from one energy level to another in discrete steps, not continuously. Bohr mentored and collaborated with many of the top physicists of the century at his institute in Copenhagen. He was part of the British team of physicists working on the Manhattan Project. Bohr married Margrethe Nørlund in 1912, and one of their sons, Aage Bohr, was also a physicist and in 1975 also received the Nobel Prize.

Despite having a religious background, he later resigned his membership from the Lutheran Church and became an atheist.


1.) Simmons, John (1996). The Scientific 100: a rankings of the most influential scientists, past and present.. Carol Publishing Group. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-8065-1749-0. "His mother was warm and intelligent, and his father, as Bohr himself later recalled, recognized "that something was expected of me." The family was not at all devout, and Bohr became an atheist who regarded religious thought as harmful and misguided."

2.) J. Faye, H. Folse, ed. (2010). Niels Bohr and Contemporary Philosophy. Springer. p. 88. ISBN 9789048142996. "Planck was religious and had a firm belief in God; Bohr was not, but his objection to Planck's view had no anti-religious motive."

3.) Niels Bohr: Atomic Theorist (2 ed.). Infobase Publishing. 2008. p. 37. ISBN 9780816061785. "Niels had quietly resigned his membership in the Lutheran Church the previous April. Although he had sought out religion as a child, by the time of their marriage he no longer “was taken” by it, as he put it. “And for me it was exactly the same,” Margrethe later explained. “[Interest in religion] disappeared completely,” although at the time of their wedding, she was still a member of the Lutheran Church. (Niels's parents were also married in a civil, not a religious, ceremony, and Harald also resigned his membership in the Lutheran Church just before his wedding, a few years later.)"

4.) Larry Witham (2006). The Measure of God: History's Greatest Minds Wrestle with Reconciling Science and Religion. HarperCollins. pp. 138-139. ISBN 9780060858339. ""Bohr's atheism, the counterpiece of Einstein's monotheism, ... was more affined to traditional Far Eastern philosophy,” according to Stent. ...The young Bohr thus lived in two worlds, but mostly the cultural Christianity of the Danish middle class. As a young man, he had read Søren Kierkegaard, a fellow Dane and a Christian existentialist from the nineteenth century, with some enthusiasm. But he finally faced a religious crisis, and by the time he went to England to study physics, the idea of God had lost its appeal. The aim of life was happiness, he wrote his fiancée, making it impossible “that a person must beg from and bargain with fancied powers infinitely stronger than himself." ... In his only published paper on the topic of religion, Bohr spoke not of deities and doctrines but of psychological experience."

5.) Science and Religion in Dialogue, Two Volume Set. John Wiley & Sons. p. 416. ISBN 9781405189217. "On the other hand Bohr wrote of his admiration for the writing and presentation of Kierkegaard – at the same time stating he could not accept some of it. Part of this may have followed from Kierkegaard being a very avowed, yet rather circuitous proponent of a costly Christian faith, while after a youth of confirming faith Bohr himself was a non-believer."

6.) "Part 2. Nascent Science". Love, Literature and the Quantum Atom: Niels Bohr's 1913 Trilogy Revisited. Oxford University Press. 2013. p. 110. ISBN 9780199680283. "Bohr's sort of humor, use of parables and stories, tolerance, dependence on family, feelings of indebtedness, obligation, and guilt, and his sense of responsibility for science, community, and, ultimately, humankind in general, are common traits of the Jewish intellectual. So too is a well-fortified atheism. Bohr ended with no religious belief and a dislike of all religions that claimed to base their teachings on revelations."