London: [various], 1921-42. FIRST EDITIONS. Most with original printed wrappers. All stapled as issued. Item #10841
We are pleased to offer the following collection of original offprints by SIR WILLIAM HENRY BRAGG (1862-1942), pioneer British scientist in solid-state physics who was a joint winner (with his son Sir Lawrence Bragg) of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915 for his research on the determination of crystal structures. He studied physics in the Cavendish Laboratory during part of 1885, and at the end of that year was elected to the Professorship of Mathematics and Physics in the University of Adelaide, South Australia. Subsequently he became successively Cavendish Professor of Physics at Leeds (1909-1915), Quain Professor of Physics at University College London (1915-1925), and Fullerian Professor of Chemistry in the Royal Institution. In 1923, William H. Bragg (1826-1942) was appointed director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain; under him the Davy-Faraday Laboratory became a world-famous center of research, particularly into problems of crystal structure. He was also president of the Royal Society of London. He was an honorary doctor of some sixteen universities, and a member of the leading foreign societies. Many other medals and awards were bestowed upon him, including the Rumford Medal in 1916 and the Copley Medal in 1930.
His research interests embraced a great many topics and he was an adept at picking up a subject, almost casually, making an important contribution, then dropping it again. However, the work of Bragg and his son Lawrence in 1913-1914 founded a new branch of science of the greatest importance and significance, the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays. It was while Bragg was Cavendish Professor at Leeds that von Laue announced his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals. Bragg immediately became interested, but it was his son William Lawrence (1890-1971), then still a student at Cambridge, who took the first step in their epoch-making investigations.
In 1915, both father and son published their famous X-Rays and Crystal Structure. They jointly received the Nobel Prize in physics that same year "for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays." In the years that followed, the study of crystallography was revolutionized, making it possible to determine with the greatest accuracy the arrangement of atoms in a crystal, and also to determine the crystal structure of a variety of substances. As evidenced in these papers, his interest in engineering and materials strength well complimented his work in crystal structure.