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J W Beams and E O Lawrence

In this picture, taken in 1927, Dr. Beams is seen with E. O. Lawrence, who later was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Beams and Lawrence worked together while they were National Research Council Fellows at Yale University. They studied the photo-electric effect, which is the ejection of electrons from a metal surface when it is struck by light. Albert Einstein has theorized that the light acts as a particle in knocking the electrons out of the metal. [This theory of “quantized” radiation earned Einstein his nobel prize.] The experiment by Beams and Lawrence showed that electrons would be knocked out of a metal immediately even if only a very small amount of light was used. This confirmed that light could act as a particle and helped Schrodinger and Heisenberg develop the theory of quantum mechanics.