William Lawrence Bragg – Underage High Achiever

Day 328 of Colourisation Project – March 31

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

In 2014 Malala Yousafzai created history when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.” At the age of 17 she became the youngest ever recipient of the Prize.

Before Malala, that distinction was held by Australian-born, William Lawrence Bragg, who in 1915 at the age of 25 became a Nobel Laureate in Physics for “services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-ray.”

William L Bragg

Photographer: Unknown  ~  William Lawrence Bragg c 1907 ~ Coloured by Loredana Crupi

A couple of years earlier, during World War I, Bragg who had volunteered for service, was awarded the Military Cross for his work developing technology to pinpoint the position of enemy artillery by analyzing the sound of their weapons firing.

Born in North Adelaide, South Australia, on this day, March 31 in 1890, Bragg was only fifteen years old when he was admitted to the University of Adelaide, graduating with a first-class honours degree in mathematics in 1908. The following year, Bragg entered Trinity College, Cambridge where he received a major scholarship in mathematics, despite taking the exam while in bed with pneumonia. Again he graduated with first class honours in 1911.

Bragg who went by the name of Lawrence to avoid confusion with his father, William Henry Bragg, was a joint Nobel Prize winner with his father, and together they combined their intellect and research skills to construct the first X-ray spectroscope, and establish a new field of science in X-ray crystallography. Bragg’s X-ray crystallography technology has since become an important tool for chemists and mineralogists and was the key process in the research of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) structure. In 1953 under the aegis of Bragg, who was then director of the Cavendish Laboratory, in Cambridge, James D. Watson and Francis Crick reported the discovery of the structure of DNA using technology largely built on x-ray methodology developed by Bragg and his father.

Bragg’s legacy has had a profound effect in a number of areas, including chemistry, mineralogy, metallurgy, and molecular biology.

A keen and serious collector of shells, Bragg had a personal collection of specimens from some 500 different species; all personally collected from South Australian beaches. He even had a new species of cuttlefish which he discovered named after him – Sepia braggi.

Knighted by King George VI in 1941, he was also later appointed Companion of Honour by Queen Elizabeth II in 1967.

William Lawrence Bragg died in 1971 aged 81 in Ipswich, Suffolk and was laid to rest in Trinity College, Cambridge.

Since 1992, the Australian Institute of Physics has awarded the Bragg Gold Medal for Excellence in Physics to commemorate Lawrence Bragg and his father, William Bragg, for the best PhD thesis by a student at an Australian university.


“You either have nasty physics and nice mathematics, or nice physics and nasty mathematics.”   ~   William Lawrence Bragg

This entry was posted in Australia, Colorization, Colourisation, History, Photography, Science, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to William Lawrence Bragg – Underage High Achiever

  1. What a top fellow! He looks very serious, but kind too. Love job with the colouring as always.


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