US physicist who discovered the antiproton. For this work he shared the 1959 Nobel Prize for Physics with Emilio Segré.
Born in San Francisco, the son of a radiologist, Chamberlain was educated at Dartmouth College and the University of Chicago. During World War II he worked under Emilio Segré (1905–89) at Los Alamos on the development of the atomic bomb. As professor of physics, Chamberlain taught at the University of California at Berkeley from 1958 to 1989.
Soon after his arrival at Berkeley, Chamberlain, in collaboration with Segré and others, began the search for the antiproton, the existence of which had been predicted in the 1920s by Paul Dirac. The discovery by C. D. Anderson (1905–91) in the 1930s of the positron convinced him that such a particle existed and could be found. The recent opening of the Bevatron, an accelerator capable of accelerating protons to very high energies, provided Chamberlain with the opportunity and finally, in 1955, he and his co-workers discovered among 40 000 mesons produced by the accelerator a particle – the antiproton – with the same mass as the proton and a negative charge.
Following this success Chamberlain continued to work in the field of high-energy physics, contributing in particular to studies of the interaction of antiprotons with hydrogen and deuterium and the scattering of pi-mesons.
Subjects: Science and Mathematics — Contemporary History (Post 1945).