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Prof. Max von Laue


THE election of Max von Laue to foreign membership of the Royal Society will give the greatest pleasure to his many friends in Great Britain and abroad. It is a fitting recorgnition of his life-time of scientifi work, and in particular of his discovery of the diffractial of X-rays by a crystal lattice. In the year 1912 Laue made the suggestion that if X-rays were in reality electromagnetic waves like light,the regularly spaced arrangement of atoms in a crystal might be expected to provide a grating of suitable scale to yield diffraction effects. The crucial experiment was carried out by two young research workers in the Physics Laboratory at the University of Munich, and its result was the first 'Laue photograph'. Two new branches of science have been founded on this original experiment. X-ray spectroscopy has played an important part in all investigations into the structure of the atom. Crystal analysis has led to an immense advance in our knowledge of the structure of matter of all kinds, and has profoundly modified many of our views in physics, chemistry, metallurgy and mineralogy. It may soon be possible to add biochemistry to this list. This deserved recognition of Laue's great scientific work will be universally welcomed ; but to his personal friends it will afford an even deeper pleasure because of their affection for a brave, courteous and kindly man. The reception accorded to Laue when he was a guest at the meeting of the X-ray Analysis Group of the Institute of Physics soon after the end of the War was an index of the regard in which he is held by all who know him. It is hard to think of an election which could give more general satisfaction.

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Prof. Max von Laue. Nature 163, 794 (1949).

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