|Died||January 10, 1951(aged 60)|
|Known for||Klein–Nishina formula|
|Awards||Asahi Prize(1944) |
Order of Culture(1946)
|Notable students||Hideki Yukawa |
Yoshio Nishina (仁科 芳雄 Nishina Yoshio, December 6, 1890 – January 10, 1951) was a Japanese physicist. He was called "the founding father of modern physics research in Japan". He led the efforts of Japan to develop an atomic bomb during World War II.
Nishina was born in Satoshō, Okayama, and graduated from Tokyo Imperial University as an electrical engineer in 1918. After graduation, he became a staff member at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (now RIKEN).
In 1921, he was sent to Europe for research. He visited some European universities and institutions, including Cavendish Laboratory, Georg August University of Göttingen, and University of Copenhagen. In Copenhagen, he did research with Niels Bohr and they became good friends. In 1928, he wrote a paper on incoherent or Compton scattering with Oskar Klein in Copenhagen, from which the Klein–Nishina formula derives.
In 1929, he returned to Japan, where he endeavored to foster an environment for the study of quantum mechanics. He established Nishina Laboratory at RIKEN in 1931, and invited some Western scholars to Japan including Heisenberg, Dirac and Bohr to stimulate Japanese physicists.
His laboratory was severely damaged during World War II and most equipment had to be discarded and rebuilt after the war. The U.S. Army Occupation forces dismantled his cyclotrons on 22 November 1945 and parts were dumped into Tokyo Bay. The incident caused a huge furor in the U.S. in its aftermath. Nishina later published an article on his reaction to the cyclotron's destruction. American physicists Harry C. Kelly and Gerald Fox were recruited to the U.S. Occupation forces. Fox stayed a few months in Japan, but Kelly stayed until 1950 and became friends with Nishina, who spoke English. At one point, the US Army formulated a list of Japanese scientists to purge, which included Nishina's name. Asked to vet Nishina by US intelligence officers, Kelly took the file home and made the assessment that “He was an international scholar, respected all over the world. And he had spoken out against the war. I said it was against everyone’s interests to purge that man.” Nishina sought to restart Japanese science following the war and found an ally in Kelly. Two issues were most important for Nishina, acquiring radio isotopes for research for a variety of non-military purposes and attempting to preserve Riken as an institution for scientific research. The U.S.Army Occupation forces were seeking to dismantle it on the basis of anti-monopoly concerns. Riken owned stocks of some large companies. When an interim agreement was worked out, Nishina became head of the reorganized Riken.
Nishina died from liver cancer in 1951. Since Nishina's widow was ailing herself, help with care of Nishina's children, Yuichiro and Kojiro, came from Nishina's assistant at Riken, Sumi Yokoyama. Harry Kelly, Nishina's friend and colleague, remained close to the family after Nishina's death; his ashes were buried in a grave beside Nishina's in Tama cemetery in Tokyo, in a ceremony attended by Nishina's and Kelly's families.
The crater Nishina on the Moon is named in his honor.
Nishina co-authored the Klein–Nishina formula. His research was concerned with cosmic rays and particle accelerator development for which he constructed a few cyclotrons at RIKEN. In particular, he detected what turned out to be the muon in cosmic rays, independently of Anderson et al. He also discovered the uranium-237 isotope and pioneered the studies of symmetric fission phenomena occurring upon fast neutron irradiation of uranium (1939–1940), and narrowly missed out on the discovery of the first transuranic element, neptunium.