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John C. Slater
John Clark Slater (1900-1976) was a noted American physicist and theoretical chemist.
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Slater studied at the University of Rochester, earning his B.S. in 1920. He went on to receive his Ph. D. in physics from Harvard University in 1923, then went on to study at Cambridge University and again at Harvard. In 1924, he collaborated with Niels Bohr and Hendrik Kramers on the BKS (Bohr, Kramers, Slater) theory which served as the impetus for Werner Heisenberg's full quantum theory. He served from 1930 to 1966 as a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, being recruited by MIT President Karl T. Compton to be head of the department as the latter attempted to re-make MIT as a full-fledged research university. He then went to the University of Florida where he served from 1966 to 1976 as research professor in physics and chemistry. In 1929 he gave a convenient way of expressing antisymmetric wave functions for fermions in the form of determinants. These determinantal functions are now known as Slater determinants. Further Slater is recognized for introducing (in 1930) exponential functions which describe atomic orbitals. The functions became known as Slater-type orbitals (STOs). He formulated rules for the values of the exponents in these functions, which he saw as nuclear charges partly shielded by electrons.
Prof. Slater can be credited for discouraging Richard Feynman from attending graduate school at MIT, suggesting that he apply elsewhere "for his own good." Despite Feynman's talents as a scientist, he had to contend with institutional anti-semitism when he was applying to graduate school; Slater's recommendations were vital for Feynman's acceptance into Princeton.
Slater's papers were bequeathed to the American Philosophical Society by his widow, Rose Mooney Slater, in 1980 and 1982. In August 2003, Alfred Switendick donated a collection of Quarterly Reports of the MIT Solid State and Molecular Theory Group, dating from 1951 to 1970.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "John_C._Slater". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|