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William and Lawrence Bragg, Father and Son: The Most Extraordinary Collaboration in Science

Biography / Memoir

By: John Jenkin

400 pages, 19 b&w line drawings and 38 b&w halftones

Oxford University Press

Paperback | Apr 2011 | #189012 | ISBN-13: 9780199606702
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £35.99 $47/€41 approx
Hardback | Nov 2007 | #168292 | ISBN-13: 9780199235209
Availability: Usually dispatched within 2-3 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £45.00 $59/€51 approx

About this book

In 1912 Lawrence Bragg explained the interaction of X-rays with crystals, and he and his father (William) thereby pioneered X-ray spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography. They then led the latter field internationally for 50 years, when most areas of science were transformed by the knowledge created: physics, chemistry, geology, materials science, electronics, and most recently biology and medical science.

This book charts how this humble pair (William English, his son Australian) rose from obscurity to international prominence and then back to current, undeserved obscurity. Attention is also given to the crucial roles of both father and son during the dreadful years of the First World War, and to William's early and unshakeable belief in the dual wave and particle natures of radiation and his eventual vindication.

Unlike earlier studies, the book highlights the intimate interactions between father and son that made their project possible, emphasizes personal, family, and wider human relationships, and offers new insights into teaching and research in a British colonial setting.


1. Stoneraise Place; 2. Market Harborough; 3. King William's College; 4. Cambridge University; 5. Adelaide: early years; 6. Consolidation and marriage; 7. Growth and maturity; 8. Towards research; 9. Leave-of-absence; 10. Aftermath; 11. Front-rank research: alpha-particles; 12. Willie and Bob's Australian education; 13. Further research: X- and gamma rays; 14. Goodbye Australia!; 15. Hello England!; 16. X-ray waves and crystals; 17. The Great War; 18. Post-war separation: London and Manchester; 19. Epilogue

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