Sir Lawrence BraggPrint Page Print this page

04-March-2021 (Stephen Warren)
04-March-2021 (Stephen Warren)

Photographs supplied by Bryan Cole / Stephen Warren

The portrait bust commemorates Sir Lawrence Bragg (1890 - 1971).

William Lawrence Bragg was born in Adelaide on 31 March 1890 and educated at the Collegiate School of St Peter and the University of Adelaide (B.A., 1908). He graduated also at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow and lecturer in natural science.

In 1912 Max von Laue showed that X-rays could be diffracted by crystals and established their wave nature. During that summer Bragg and his father William Henry Bragg  discussed this development. While William Henry Bragg , with his experience of ionization measurements, went on to construct an X-ray spectrometer for the further study of the properties of X-rays, William Lawrence Bragg found a brilliant simplification of Laue's diffraction problem and formulated Bragg's Law, relating the location of maxima of the diffraction pattern to the wavelength of the radiation and the distance between the appropriate planes of atoms in the crystal. He also realized that analysis of X-ray diffraction patterns provided a means of locating the atoms in crystals. From Laue patterns W. L. Bragg derived the structures of ZnS and the alkali halides, and then, joining forces with his father who now had a superior experimental method, they together initiated the whole subject of X-ray crystallography, for which they received the Nobel prize for physics in 1915. William Lawrence Bragg was then 25.

Following the period of collaboration with his father, and after World War One, he was in 1919 appointed Langworthy professor of physics at Victoria University, Manchester, where he fostered a school of X-ray crystallography devoted mainly to the study of inorganic structures, notably silicates, metals and alloys.

In 1937 Bragg became director of the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, but a year later succeeded Rutherford as Cavendish professor of experimental physics at Cambridge. Here he joined in the attack upon the structures of the proteins, haemoglobin and myoglobin. In 1954 he was appointed to the positions earlier held by his father at the Royal Institution. At his retirement in 1966 he had seen the subject of X-ray crystallography, pioneered by his father and himself, grow from the elucidation of the structures of the simplest crystals to that of enormously complicated molecules containing thousands of atoms. He visited Australia in 1960 and spoke at the University of Adelaide of the latest triumphs of crystallography.

Sir Lawrence Bragg was widely honoured: he had been the youngest-ever Nobel laureate. His war service earned him the O.B.E. and M.C.; he was elected F.R.S. (1921), knighted (1941) and appointed C.H. (1967), and received the Hughes, Royal and Copley medals of the Royal Society. He died on 1 July 1971. 


Address:North Terrace, Near National War Memorial, Adelaide, 5000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.921263
Long: 138.600669
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 3rd October, 2007
Front Inscription

Sir Lawrence Bragg CH OBE MC FRS

First Australian Nobel Laureate
Physics 1915

Born Adelaide, Australia 1890
Died Ipswich, United Kingdom 1971

The donation of this bust to the City of Adelaide was made possible by the generosity of his daughters, Margaret Heath and Patience Thomson, the University of Adelaide and the efforts of RiAus and friends.


Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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