Years 1875-1900

Wilhelm Röntgen c. 1845 – 1923

"I did not think I investigated"

external image roentgen-wilhelm.jpg xray.jpg
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen 27 March 1845 – 10 February 1923
  • He had a wicked Beard even Dr. Reich would be jealous of.
  • Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was born on March 27, 1845, at Lennep in the Lower Rhine Province of Germany.
  • As a child he did not show any special aptitude, but showed a love of nature and was fond of roaming in the open country and forests.
  • In 1862 he entered a technical school at Utrecht, where he was however unfairly expelled, accused of having produced a caricature of one of the teachers, which was in fact done by someone else.
  • He then entered the University of Utrecht in 1865 to study physics.
  • He taught at several German universities, including those at Würzburg (1888-99) and Munich (1899-1920).
  • Röntgen's first work was published in 1870
  • For the Roentgen ray, or X ray, he received the first Nobel Prize in Physics (1901).
  • A private man, Röntgen seems to have been deeply religious, describing friends who aided him after his wife's death as having been "selected by God".

  • Röntgen's name, however, is chiefly associated with his discovery of the rays that he called X-rays. In 1895 he was studying the phenomena accompanying the passage of an electric current through a gas of extremely low pressure.
  • Röntgen's work on cathode rays led him, however, to the discovery of a new and different kind of rays.
  • Because of the rays nature was then unknown, he gave them the name X-rays.
  • His notable research in many fields of physics, especially thermology, mechanics, and electricity

Henri Becquerel c.1852-1908

"Decisiveness is often the art of timely cruelty."

Antoine Henri Becquerel 15 December 1852 – 25 August 1908
  • A physicist born in France on December 15, 1852.
  • His father, physicist Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel (1820-1891), invented the phosphoroscope (a device allowing the precise measurement of exposure to light). His grandfather, scientist Antoine César Becquerel (1788-1878) was the discoverer of piezoelectricity (electricity produced by mechanical pressure on certain crystals). His son, physicist Jean Becquerel (1878-1953), explained the rotation of the plane of polarization by a magnetic field. His nephew, biologist Paul Becquerel, (1879-1955), conducted important research in seed protection and naturally-occurring suspended animation.

  • After Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen's discovery of x-rays, Henri Becquerel noted an unknown energy that was emitted from uranium salts. He left a rock and a well-wrapped photographic plate in his desk drawer and found later that the plate, though unexposed to light, had developed patterns which would ordinarily indicate exposure.
  • Announced in 1896, he had accidentally discovered a new "penetrating ray" that came to be called radioactivity.
  • In 1900 Becquerel isolated electrons in radiation, and in 1902 he presented the first evidence of radioactive transformation.
  • Almost immediately thereafter, his student Marie Curie and her husband Pierre Curie showed that thorium also emitted what were then called Becquerel rays. Becquerel and the Curies shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903.

Marie Curie c. 1867-1934

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have

perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must

believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing

must be attained. "

Marie Skłodowska Curie 7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934
  • She was born November 7, 1867 Warsaw, Poland
  • She received two Noble Prizes one in Physics (1903) [together with Henri Becquerel and her husband, Pierre Curie]
    and in Chemistry (1911)
  • She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.
  • She received a general education in local schools and some scientific training from her father. She became involved in a students' revolutionary organization and found it prudent to leave Warsaw, then in the part of Poland dominated by Russia.
  • In 1891, she went to Paris to continue her studies at the Sorbonne where she obtained Licenciateships in Physics and the Mathematical Sciences.
  • She met Pierre Curie her future husband during her studies.
  • Marie Curie was the first female professor at the Sorbonne.

  • She studied radioactive materials, like pitchblende (the ore from which uranium is extracted.)
  • These studies led to Curie and Becquerel releasing an article proclaiming their discovery of the element Polonium.
  • In late December of 1898, Curie announced the existence of a second element, Radium.
  • "Polonium" was named for Curie's native country, Poland, and "radium" was named for its intense radioactivity

J.J. Thomson

"research in applied science leads to reforms, research in

pure science leads to revolutions, and revolutions, whether

political or industrial, are exceedingly profitable things if you

are on the winning side."

Sir Joseph John "J. J." Thomson 18 December 1856 – 30 August 1940
  • Joseph John Thomson was born in 1856 in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, England
  • His early education took place in small private schools where he demonstrated great talent and interest in science. In 1870 he was admitted to Owens College. Being only 14 years old at the time, he was unusually young.
  • In 1880, he obtained his degree in mathematics in 1883. In 1884 he became Cavendish Professor of Physics. One of his students was Ernest Rutherford, who would later succeed him in the post.
  • One of Thomson's greatest contributions to modern science was in his role as a highly gifted teacher, as seven of his research assistants and his aforementioned son won Nobel Prizes in physics. His son won the Nobel Prize in 1937 for proving the wavelike properties of electrons.

  • Until 1897, scientists believed atoms were indivisible, the ultimate particles of matter, but Thomson proved them wrong when he discovered that atoms contained particles known as electrons.
  • Thomson discovered this through his explorations on the properties of cathode rays. Thomson found that the rays could be deflected by an electric field (in addition to magnetic fields, which was already known). By comparing the deflection of a beam of cathode rays by electric and magnetic fields he was able to measure the particle's mass.
  • Thomson is credited for the discovery of the electron and of isotopes, the proposition of the plum pudding model of the atom, and the invention of the mass spectrometer.

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