Neils Henrick David Bohr was born on October 17, 1885 in Copenhagen, Denmark. His mother and father were Christian and Ellen Bohr. He had one brother, Harold, and one sister, Jenny. His father, a physiology professor, was mostly responsible for Bohr's early interest in physics. In October 1891 he was enrolled in Grammelholm Grammar School, which he attended until his acceptance into the University of Copenhagen in 1903. .
There he majored in physics but also took classes in mathematics, astronomy, and chemistry. While at the University, he received an award from the Academy of Sciences in Copenhagen for his experiments on surface tension using oscillating fluid jets. The work for this experiment was done in his father's laboratory and his results were published in "Transactions of the Royal Society" in1908. From that point, his studies became more theoretical. His thesis was an entirely theoretical paper on the properties of metals using electron theory entitled "Studies on the electron theory of metals". That paper is still considered a classic on the subject. .
In 1911, Bohr went to Cambridge, England, to work in the Cavendish Laboratory under Sir John Joseph Thomson. The focus there was mainly on experimental problems but Bohr did his own theoretical work on the side. In 1912, he went to work with Sir Earnest Rutherford in Manchester, England. There, Bohr wrote a piece on absorption of alpha rays, which was published in "Philosophical Magazine" in 1913, after his piece on alpha rays, he began to focus on the structure of atoms, which led to his greatest contribution to theoretical physics. .
Rutherford had developed an atomic model in which the electrons orbited the nucleus much like planets in the solar system, but Rutherford's model could not explain discrete atomic emissions, or the emission by atoms of electromagnetic radiation in only certain wavelengths as opposed to a continuous spectrum.