Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Nobel Prize as a family affair

Joseph James (‘JJ’) Thomson was awarded the 1906 Nobel Physics Prize for his discovery of the electron, a negatively-charged sub-atomic particle of mass 1/1840 of the mass of a hydrogen atom. His son, George Paget Thomson also won the Nobel Prize (in 1937, shared with Clinton Davisson) for showing that a beam of electrons could be diffracted. Diffraction is the spreading out of a beam as is passes through a small gap and is a property of a wave, not a particle.

William Henry Bragg (father) and William Lawrence Bragg (son) shared the 1915 Physics Prize for their discovery of X-ray diffraction.

Niels Bohr took the 1922 Physics Prize for his model of the structure of the atom and his son Aage the 1975 prize for work on the structure of the nucleus.

Marie Curie won two NobelPrizes (1903 Physics and 1911 Chemistry) and her daughter Irène Joliot –Curie won the 1935 Physics Prize. (The Curies were a remarkable family for scientific honours – Marie shared her first prize with husband Pierre, and Irène shared hers with her husband Frédéric. All the Curies’ prizes were for work on radioactivity).

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