BornLille, Nord, France, 30 September 1870
DiedNew York, New York, USA, 17 April 1942
French physico-chemist Jean Perrin was one of the early enthusiasts for nuclear (subatomic) energy sources for the Sun and stars, along the lines pursued more thoroughly by Arthur Eddington. He was the son of an army officer, who died soon after Jean’s birth. He entered the Paris École Normale Supérieure in 1891, receiving his doctoral degree in 1897 for work on cathode rays and X-rays. Perrin showed that cathode rays are deflected in magnetic fields and so must carry negative charges, part of the evidence that led J. J. Thompson to the discovery of the electron.
Perrin began teaching at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) in 1897, and he was given a chair in physical chemistry there in 1910. Perrin remained at the Sorbonne until 1940, when he emigrated to the United States. Perrin was married in 1897 to Henriette Duportal; they had two children. Although he did not die in France, Perrin was...