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date: 04 March 2021

Burgess, George Kimballlocked

(04 January 1874–02 July 1932)
  • David Cahan


Burgess, George Kimball (04 January 1874–02 July 1932), physicist and director of the National Bureau of Standards, was born in Newton, Massachusetts, the son of Charles A. Burgess and Addie Louise Kimball. Burgess attended the public schools of Newton, graduating from Newton High School in 1892, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), graduating in 1896 with a B.S. degree in physics. He remained at MIT for two additional years as an assistant instructor in physics and won an MIT traveling fellowship to do graduate study abroad. He chose the Sorbonne, a choice that had two major consequences for him. First, as a student of physics there (1898–1900) he came to know such leading French scientists as Henri Le Chatelier, Gabriel Lippmann, and Henri Poincaré. During his two years in Paris, Burgess completed his course work, performed high-temperature measurements, and translated Le Chatelier’s book on temperature measurement into English. After spending the academic year 1900–1901 as an instructor in physics at the University of Michigan, Burgess returned to Paris to defend his doctoral thesis, a redetermination of the gravitational constant by means of a redesigned torsion balance. The second major consequence of his Paris sojourn was that he met Suzanne Babut, whom he married in 1901; they had no children....

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