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

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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 fifty years, when most areas of science were transformed by the knowledge they 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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199606702
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/26/2011
  • Pages: 500
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr John Jenkin Honorary Associate, Philosophy Program, La Trobe University, Australia John Jenkin was born, raised, and educated in Adelaide, South Australia, and graduated B.Sc. with first-class honours in physics from the University of Adelaide in 1960. He then completed a Ph.D. in low-energy nuclear physics at the Australian National University in Canberra, and held post-doctoral appointments at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell, England, and the University of Minnesota, USA. The remainder of his career has been spent at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, where he became Reader and Head of the Department of Physics (1968-1992), and then joined the history-and-philosophy-of-science program in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (1993-1999). His research at La Trobe has concerned the electronic properties of materials (in Physics) and the history of the physical sciences in Australia (in Humanities). He retired in 2000 and is currently a Research Associate in the Philosophy Program at La Trobe.

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Table of Contents

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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