Nobel Prize Award for Physics 1921 - 1930

About the winners of the Nobel Prize for physics from 1921 to 1930 including Einstein, Bohr, and Broglie, what they won for, as well as behind the scenes information on the decision.


1921 Albert Einstein (1879-1955), American (b. Germany). Work: General contributions to theoretical physics, especially for discovering the law of photoelectric effect.

Behind the Award--Einstein should have got the prize 7 years earlier for his general theory of relativity. But from Germany, a former Nobel Prize winner in physics, Philipp von Lenard, an anti-Semite and a follower of Hitler, lobbied against Einstein. Because Von Lenard hated Einstein as a Jew, he convinced the Swedish Academy of Science that Einstein's theory of relativity was not a discovery, had not been proven, and was of no benefit to mankind. So in every vote after 1916, the judges ignored Einstein. But at last Einstein's fame became so great that the judges gave him a consolation prize for a minor discovery.

1922 Niels H. D. Bohr (1885-1962), Danish. Work: Research into atomic structure and radiation.

1923 Robert A. Millikan (1868-1953), American. Work: Studies of electrons of the photoelectric effect.

Behind the Award--Millikan, who did not go to Sweden until the year after he won the award, said that the Swedes gave him 2 medals--"One was solid gold, to put in the vault for safekeeping. The other was a brass replica, just to keep around the house to show people."

1924 Karl M. G. Siegbahn (1886- ), Swedish. Work: Work in X-ray spectroscopy.

1925 James Franck (1882-1964), German.

Gustav Hertz (1887- ), German. Work: Discoveries of laws relating to electrons.

1926 Jean B. Perrin (1870-1942), French. Work: Research on the discontinuous structure of matter and the discovery of sedimentation equilibrium.

1927 Arthur H. Compton (1892-1962), American. Work: Discovering the Compton effect, which has to do with the change in the wavelength of X rays when they collide with electrons.

Charles T. R. Wilson (1869-1959), British. Work: Discovery of the cloud chamber, a way of tracking electrically charged particles.

1928 Owen W. Richardson (1879-1959), British. Work: Research into electron emission from heated bodies.

1929 Louis-Victor de Broglie (1892- ), French. Work: Discovery of the wave nature of electrons.

1930 Chandrasekhara V. Raman (1888-1970), Indian. Work: Research into light diffusion.

Behind the Award--During the awarding of the prize, Raman, from the University of Calcutta, sat on the platform listening to a speech about himself and "could not keep back" his tears.

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