Sir Lawrence Bragg

Sir Lawrence Bragg

Birth
Adelaide, Adelaide City, South Australia, Australia
Death 1 Jul 1971 (aged 81)
Waldringfield, Suffolk Coastal District, Suffolk, England
Burial Cambridge, City of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Plot Chapel
Memorial ID 21202 · View Source
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Nobel Prize in Physics Recipient. Lawrence Bragg received notoriety after being awarded the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics, according to the Nobel Prize Committee, "for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays." Jointly, he shared the award with his father Sir William Henry Bragg. At the age of 25, he is the youngest Nobel Prize recipient as of 2020, and in 1915, he received 2 nominations for his candidacy for this coveted award. In light of World War I, the 1915 Nobel Prize was not presented until 1920; he and his father did not attend, but in 1922 he attended the ceremony and as the first Nobel guest speaker, he attended the 50th Anniversary of the Nobel Prize. He discovered in 1912 the Bragg Law of X-ray diffraction, which is basic for the determination of crystal structure. In 1914 he and his father were jointly awarded the Barnard Gold Medal of the U.S. Academy of Sciences, and in 1915 he and his father each received the Matteucci Medal, an Italian award for physics. Born William Lawrence, he used his middle name to differentiate between himself and his father and the many other Williams in his family. When, as a boy, he fell off his bike injuring his arm, his father diagnosed his fractured elbow with an X-ray, hence he had the first X-ray examination in Australia. The arm healed but was always shorter and stiff. After finishing his early education at St. Peter’s College, he attended Adelaide University receiving a mathematics degree with high honors in 1908. Following his family, he came to England in 1909 entering Trinity College at Cambridge, as an Allen Scholar, receiving honors in Natural Science in 1912. At this point, he turned from mathematics and began to study physics. In the autumn of that year, he published his first paper in the November issue of “Proceedings of Cambridge Philosophical Society.” In 1914 he was appointed as Fellow and Lecturer in Natural Sciences at Trinity College. Working with his father from 1912 to 1914, the two published in an abridged form the scientific paper, “X-rays and Crystal Structure” in 1915, which earned them jointly the Nobel Prize. During World War I, he was deployed to France with the Royal Engineers, attempting to develop a device for locating the enemy’s artillery, and was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and the Military Cross in 1918 and mentioned three times during the war in dispatches. His younger brother, Robert, was killed in action in September of 1915 at Gallipoli, and this tragedy happen a few weeks before his Nobel Prize announcement. After the war from 1919 to 1936, he held the position of Langworthy Professor of Physics at Manchester University. He disliked the managerial aspects of this position, such as working on a committee, but enjoyed research and teaching. In January of 1954 Bragg became director of the Royal Institution, London, as his father had been before 1940, here he started his third research team, and he retired in 1965. He made a point of teaching school-aged children and supported science teachers in their efforts. Since he was an excellent lecturer, he was a great demand for radio and television appearances. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1921; Director of the National Physical Laboratory from 1937 to 1938; Cavendish Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge from 1938 to 1953; and Chairman of the Frequency Advisory Committee from 1958 to 1960. From the British Royal Society, he was awarded the Hughes Medal in 1931 and the Royal Medal in 1946. He was awarded the Roebling Medal of the Mineral Society of America in 1948. He was Knighted in 1941. From around the world, he holds honorary degrees from ten universities and membership of six scientific societies. Australia awards annually since 1992 the Bragg Gold Medal of Excellence in Physics to the best PhD thesis; the medal has the image of the father embossed on one side and the son on the other. Several buildings on college campuses in England and Australia bear the name of Bragg in their honor. A bust of Sir Lawrence Bragg was unveiled on North Terrace in Adelaide, outside of the Government House in 2012, and his father’s bust is next to his. He married and the couple had two sons and two daughters.

Bio by: Linda Davis


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 9 Apr 2001
  • Find a Grave Memorial 21202
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Sir Lawrence Bragg (31 Mar 1890–1 Jul 1971), Find a Grave Memorial no. 21202, citing Trinity College, Cambridge, City of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .