Arthur Holly Compton (September 10, 1892 – March 15, 1962) was an American physicist and Nobel laureate in physics for his discovery of the Compton effect. He served as Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis from 1945 to 1953.
Arthur Holly Compton was born in Wooster, Ohio in 1892 to Elias and Otelia Compton. They were an academic family; his father Elias Compton was dean of The University of Wooster (later The College of Wooster), which Arthur attended. His eldest brother Karl Taylor Compton also attended The University of Wooster, became a physicist, and was later president of MIT; his second brother Wilson M. Compton became a diplomat and president of the State College of Washington, later Washington State University. Around 1913, Compton devised a demonstration method for the Earth's rotation.
In 1918, Compton began studying X-ray scattering. In 1922, Compton found that X-ray wavelengths increase due to scattering of the radiant energy by "free electrons". The scattered quanta have less energy than the quanta of the original ray. This discovery, known as the "Compton effect," or "Compton scattering" demonstrates the "particle" concept of electromagnetic radiation and earned Compton the Nobel Prize in physics in 1927. Compton developed the method for observing at the same instant individual scattered X-ray photons and the recoil electrons (developed with Alfred W. Simon). In Germany, Walther Bothe and Hans Geiger independently developed a similar method.