1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bragg, Sir William Henry

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1922 Encyclopædia Britannica
Bragg, Sir William Henry
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BRAGG, SIR WILLIAM HENRY (1862-       ), British physicist, was born at Wigton, Cumb., on July 2 1862 and was educated at King William's College, Isle of Man. He subsequently entered Trinity College, Cambridge, being elected to a major scholarship in 1882. He was third wrangler in 1884 and in the following year obtained a first class in part III. of the mathematical tripos. In 1886 he was appointed professor of mathematics and physics in the university of Adelaide, S. Australia, where he carried out his earlier researches upon radioactivity. He took an active interest in the development of scientific enterprise in Australia, was a member of the council of the Adelaide University from 1893 to 1908, of the council of the South Australian School of Mines and Industries from 1895 to 1908 and president of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, Brisbane, 1909. In 1909 he was appointed Cavendish professor at Leeds University, where he remained until his election in 1915 to the Quain professorship of physics in the university of London. His researches upon various radioactive phenomena and his power of lucid exposition brought recognition from scientific bodies both at home and abroad; in 1906 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society; in 1915 he received the Nobel Prize for Physics and the Barnard gold medal (Columbia University), both of which distinctions he shared with his son William John Bragg (b. 1890), who in 1919 became Langworthy professor of physics in the university of Manchester. The joint work of father and son has gone far towards elucidating the arrangements of atoms in crystals, an achievement rendered possible by their development of the X-ray spectrometer. During the World War Sir William Bragg's services were placed at the disposal of the Admiralty, where he served in an advisory capacity; he was more especially associated with the problem of submarine detection. His public services of a confidential nature were acknowledged by the bestowal of the C.B.E. in 1917 and by his creation as K.B.E. in 1920. In the same year he was elected an hon. fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and served as president of the Physical Society of London.

In addition to many publications, chiefly upon radioactivity, in the Philosophical Magazine and the Proceedings of the Royal Society, he has written The World of Sound (1920), a compilation of a series of lectures given to a juvenile auditory at the Royal Institution in 1919 and, in collaboration with W. L. Bragg, X-Rays and Crystal Structure (1915).