|Perrin, Jean Baptiste (1870-1942)|
Baptiste Perrin was born in Lille, September 30,1870, where he was educated
at the Ecole Normal Supérieure, becoming an assistant in physics during
1894-1897, when he began his researches on cathode rays and X-rays. He
received the degree of "docteur ès sciences" in 1897 for a thesis on cathode
and Rantgen rays and was appointed, in the same year, to a readership
in physical chemistry at the Sorbonne, University of Paris. He became
Professor here in 1910; a post which he held till 1940, when the Germans
invaded his country.
He held honorary doctorates of the Universities of Brussels, Liege, Ghent, Calcutta, New York, Princeton, Manchester, and Oxford. He was twice appointed a member of the Solvay Committee at Brussels in 1911 and in 1921. He held memberships of the Royal Society (London) and of the Academies of Sciences of Belgium, Sweden, Turin, Prague, Rumania, and China. In 1923 he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences. He became a Commander of the Legion of Honour in 1926, and was also made Commander of the British Empire and of the Order of Leopold (Belgium).
Perrin was the creator of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, an organization offering to most promising French scientists - whose scientific talents would otherwise be lost - a career outside the University. It was due to this institute that Frédéric Joliot could carry out his magnificent investigations. In addition to this, he founded the Palais de la Découverte (Palace of discovery); he was also responsible for the establishment of the Institut d'Astrophysique, in Paris, and for the construction of the large Observatoire de Haute Provence; without his prestige and his power of persuasion the Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique would never have come into being.
Perrin was an officer in the engineer corps during the 1914-1918 War. When the Germans invaded his country in 1940 he escaped to the U.S.A., where he died on the 7th of April, 1942. After the War, in 1948, his remains were transferred to his fatherland by the battleship Jeanne d'Arc, and buried in the Panthéon.
From Nobel Lectures, Physics 1922-1941.