Nobel Prize Award for Physics 1901 - 1910

About the winners of the Nobel Prize for physics from 1901 to 1910 including Roentgen and x-rays, Curie and radium, and von Lenard and cathodes, as well as behind the scenes information on the decision.

1901 Wilhelm C. Roentgen (1845-1923), German. Work: The discovery of X rays.

Behind the Award--Roentgen was chosen by a relatively large majority of the Nobel Prize Physics Committee to receive the 1st prize. It was a good choice, one that has withstood the test of time. Roentgen was the 1st human being to see inside the human body through the magic of X rays. His discovery was not without controversy. The newspapers expressed fear that X rays would allow men to see women naked beneath their clothes, and the New Jersey legislature forbade the use of the X ray in opera glasses.

1902 Hendrik A. Lorentz (1853-1928), Dutch.

Pieter Zeeman (1865-1943), Dutch. Work: Research into the effects of magnetism upon radiation.

1903 Antoine H. Becquerel (1852-1908), French.

Pierre Curie (1859-1906), French.

Marie S. Curie (1867-1934), French. (b. Poland). Work: Study of the radiation phenomena, which were discovered by Becquerel.

Behind the Award--"The only human being ever to win 2 Nobel Prizes was Madame Marie Curie," said the director of the Nobel Foundation when Mme. Curie won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1911. (Since then, others have won 2 prizes, but it is still rare.) Mme. Curie put in a modern bathroom and changed the wallpaper in their Paris house with part of the prize money.

1904 John W. S. Rayleigh (1842-1919), British. Work: The discovery of argon.

1905 Philipp E. A. von Lenard (1862-1947), German (b. Hungary). Work: The cathode-ray experiments.

Behind the Award--Von Lenard was one of the men who kept Einstein from getting the Nobel Prize in the early days. An anti-Semite, he claimed that Einstein's theory of relativity was useless, not proven, not even a discovery. When Einstein did get the prize in 1921, Von Lenard wrote a blistering letter to the Swedish Academy of Science in protest.

1906 Joseph J. Thompson (1856-1940), British. Work: Research into the ways in which gases conduct electricity.

1907 Albert A. Michelson (1852-1931), American (b. Germany). Work: Making optical measuring instruments and investigating spectroscopic and meteorological phenomena. Behind the Award--The only American citizen to be given the physics prize in the 1st 20 years was Michelson, and what helped him was that he was born in Germany.

1908 Gabriel Lippmann (1845-1921), French (b. Luxembourg). Work: Development of color photography.

Behind the Award--Lippmann ended his Nobel lecture with, "Perhaps progress will continue. Life is short and progress is slow."

1909 Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), Italian.

Carl F. Braun (1850-1918), German. Work: Developing the wireless telegraph.

Behind the Award--In his Nobel lecture, Marconi said that he had never had formal university training in physics or electrical engineering. However, he did attend a course of physics lectures at Leghorn.

1910 Johannes D. van der Waals (1837-1923), Dutch. Work: The mathematical relations between gases and liquids.

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