American scientist who was a joint recipient of the Nobel Prize for
Physics in 1961 for his investigations of protons and neutrons, which
revealed the hitherto unknown structure of these particles. He shared
the prize with Rudolf Ludwig Mossbauer of Germany.
Hofstadter taught at Stanford University from 1950 to 1985. At Stanford
he used a linear electron accelerator to measure and explore the constituents
of atomic nuclei. At the time, protons, neutrons, and electrons were
all thought to be structureless particles; Hofstadter discovered that
protons and neutrons have a definite size and form. He was able to determine
the precise size of the proton and neutron and provide the first reasonably
consistent picture of the structure of the atomic nucleus. Hofstadter
found that both the proton and neutron have a central, positively charged
core surrounded by a double cloud of pi-mesons. Both clouds are positively
charged in the proton, but in the neutron the inner cloud is negatively
charged, thus giving a net zero charge for the entire particle.
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