Sir Lawrence Bragg 1890 - 1971

Australian-born; British
born in:
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

William Lawrence Bragg was born and spent his early life in Adelaide, Australia. His British father, William Henry Bragg, had relocated to Australia in 1886 to take up the chair in Mathematics and Physics at the University of Adelaide. His father was the first to make an x-ray tube in Australia, and had a great influence on his son's educational interests, as did his mother, Gwendoline Todd, an artist.

In 1909 the Bragg family relocated to England. A few years later, the father and son duo co-developed x-ray crystallography, which applied x-rays to crystals in order to reveal the atomic structure of molecules. The new field would become known as x-ray crystallogaphy, and would transform science and medicine, ushering in a new era of molecular biology. In 1915 the Braggs shared the Nobel Prize in 1915. At the age of 25, Lawrence Bragg remains the youngest Nobel Laureate in science. Together, they helped establish Britain's as leaders in x-ray crystallograpy.

Following his Nobel prize-winning work, Lawrence Bragg had an eminent career as a scientist and public figure, leading the scientific reserach at Cambridge's famous Cavendish Laboratory, which included overseeing the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953. Bragg appeared on many radio and television programmes as a broadcaster. He followed in his father's footsteps in becoming the Director of the Royal Institution, where he concentrated on the public promotion of science. Like his mother, he became a keen painter, especially watercolour. In his later years, one of his aims was to encourage the bridging of the so-called 'two cultures' of science and the arts, one of the concerns of his protégé C. P. Snow.