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James Franck

James Franck was born on August 26, 1882 in Hamburg, Germany. He studied chemistry at the University of Heidleburg and then physics at the University of Berlin. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Berlin in 1906. From 1911-1918, he lectured at the University of Berlin. After World War I, he became the head of the Physics Division at Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. In 1925 Franck and Gustav Ludwig Hertz received the Nobel Prize in Physics for joint work investigating the behavior of free electrons in various gases and the inelastic impacts of electrons on atoms. Their investigations resulted in experimental proof of some of the basic concepts of Bohr's atomic theory.

After the Nazi regime assumed power in Germany, Franck moved his family to Baltimore, Maryland and became a professor at Johns Hopkins University. In 1938, he became a professor at the University of Chicago.

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Franck headed a group of atomic scientists in preparing the "Franck Report" for the US War Department. The report urged an open demonstration of the atomic bomb in an uninhabited place as an alternative to using the weapon without warning on Japan.

In 1951, Franck received the Max Planck Medal of the German Physical Society. In 1955, he received the Rumford Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for his work on photosynthesis. He died in Germany on May 21, 1964 on a visit to Göttingen.