Pierre Victor Auger


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(1899–1993) French physicist

Auger was born in Paris and educated there at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, where he obtained his doctorate in 1926. He was later appointed to the staff of the University of Paris and after serving there as professor of physics from 1937 became director of higher education for France in 1945. From 1948 until 1960 he was director of the science department of UNESCO; he left UNESCO to become president of the French Space Commission but in 1964 he took the post of director-general of the European Space and Research Organization, a post he retained until his retirement in 1967.

Auger worked mainly on nuclear physics and cosmic rays. In 1925 he discovered the Auger effect in which an excited atom emits an electron (rather than a photon) in reverting to a lower energy state. In 1938 Auger made a careful study of ‘air showers’, a cascade of particles produced by a cosmic ray entering the atmosphere and later known as an Auger shower. Auger had an interest in the popularization of science. He also published volumes of poetry.

Subjects: Science and Mathematics.

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