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Ivar Giaever

Ivar GiaeverAKA Ivar GiŠver

Born: 5-Apr-1929
Birthplace: Bergen, Norway

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Tunneling through superconductors

Military service: Norwegian Army (1952-53, to Corporal)

In college Ivar Giaever earned less than stellar grades, and showed more interest in games like billiards and bridge than in his studies. After graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering he served a mandatory stint in the Norwegian military, then worked as a patent examiner before relocating to Canada and eventually the United States, where he worked for General Electric. He began with GE as a mechanical engineer, but earned a PhD in Physics at night school and was eventually transferred into related work.

He is remembered for his contributions to a physics phenomenon called tunneling in solids, a special quantum effect in which elementary particles such as electrons can sometimes break the rules of classical physics and pass through obstacles. In accordance with the laws of quantum physics, electrons can occasionally pass or "tunnel" through barriers because in some ways they behave like waves, instead of the more static behavior expected of particles. Building on the work of Leo Esaki, Giaever spent the early 1960s studying the importance of this effect in superconductors, taking advantage of this newly discovered effect to design new spectroscopic methods for analyzing the properties of superconductivity (the reduction and disappearance of electrical resistance temperatures drop toward absolute zero).

For this work Giaever shared the 1973 Nobel Prize for Physics with Esaki and Brian D. Josephson. Since retiring from General Electric in 1988, he has taught and studied advanced physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Oslo. His more recent work concerns antibody-antigen reactions.

Father: John A. Giaever (pharmacist)
Mother: Gudrun M. Skaarud
Wife: Inger Skramstad (m. 1952, one son, three daughters)

    High School: Hamar Katedralskole, Hamar, Norway (1947)
    University: BS Mechanical Engineering, Norwegian Institute of Technology, Trondheim (1952)
    University: PhD Physics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1964)
    Scholar: Biophysics, Cambridge University (1969-70)
    Professor: Institute Professor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1988-)
    Professor: Physics, University of Oslo (1988-)

    APS Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize 1965
    Guggenheim Fellowship 1969-70
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1973 (with Leo Esaki and Brian D. Josephson)
    IEEE Vladimir K. Zworykin Award 1974
    Applied BioPhysics, Inc Founder and President (1991-)
    General Electric Mechanical Engineer, etc. (1954-88)
    Norwegian Official Patent Examiner (1952-54)
    Raufoss Munition Factories Worker (1947-48)
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Physical Society
    Biophysical Society
    Korean Academy of Science and Technology Foreign Member
    National Academy of Engineering
    National Academy of Sciences
    Norwegian Academy of Engineering
    Norwegian Academy of Science
    Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Foreign Member
    Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society
    Norwegian Ancestry
    Naturalized US Citizen 1964

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