Luis Alvarez

Luis Alvarez was an American experimental physicist. He was most famous for the discovery of the iridium layer and his theory that the mass extinction of dinosaurs was caused by an asteroid or comet colliding with Earth. He was born on June 13, 1911, in San Francisco, California.

His father Walter Alvarez was a doctor and an author. Luis received his initial education at Madison School, then at San Francisco Polytechnic High School. He started a Bachelor of Science course at the University of Chicago in 1928.


Quick Facts: –

  • In 1932, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics, then awarded master’s degree in 1934, and a Ph.D. in physics in 1936.
  • His doctoral advisor was Arthur Compton who won the 1927 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work.
  • Luis Alvarez built an array of Geiger counters to study cosmic rays in 1932 and the following year he published a paper along with Compton.
  • He joined the faculty of the University of California in 1936, becoming professor of physics in 1945 and professor emeritus in 1978.
  • He also gave an idea known as Alvarez Hypothesis stating that the dinosaurs died out largely as a result of a massive asteroid impact about 65 million years ago.
  • Alvarez worked on radar research at MIT and invented the Microwave Phased Array Antenna.
  • He also developed the liquid hydrogen bubble chamber in which subatomic particles and their reactions are detected.
  • Luis Alvarez proved that helium-3 which had been predicted to be unstable is actually stable.