Perspectives

Perspectives

Perspectives As Ernst Ruska discovered, having an ingenious idea like the electron microscope can occur in the blink of an eye, but overcoming the finer details to create a successfully working instrument can take years. Two incredible circles closed for in December 1986, at the age of 80. The first was that Ruska was finally…

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Perspectives

Perspectives Lawrence Bragg might have been the youngest ever Nobel Laureate, but being part of a father-and-son team meant it was years before he received true recognition for his seminal work in X-ray crystallography. Receiving a Nobel Prize at the tender age of 25 can be a mixed blessing, especially if your fellow recipient happens…

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Perspectives

Perspectives An unusual and unorthodox series of scientific discussions in a café led to Max von Laue’s ingenious experiment that unmasked the true identity of X-rays. In the years before the 1914–1918 War, Munich was one of the world’s great hubs of scientific and artistic innovation. Painting, poetry and physics flourished in the capital of…

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Perspectives

Perspectives The world first discovered the sensational news that Wilhelm Röntgen’s mysterious X-rays could penetrate clothing and human skin, not through scientists but through the press. Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was a physicist who had little time for publicity. Like all other scientists the professor from Würzburg University in Franconia always sought recognition from his peers,…

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Perspectives

Perspectives Godfrey Hounsfield’s groundbreaking concept of viewing organs from outside the body was so ambitious that it would require the most successful pop band in history and visionary doctors to help his idea reach fruition. Few bands can rightly claim to have had an impact on the history of music, and even less can claim…

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Perspectives

Perspectives Erwin Schrödinger’s idea that physics could help solve biological riddles was the spark that led many researchers to try to unlock the secrets behind our book of life, the structure of DNA. The double helix structure of DNA is arguably the most recognizable icon in biology, so it might at first appear strange that…

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Perspectives

Perspectives Richard Ernst, a self-confessed tool maker, changed the way in which we listen to the magnetic melodies within atoms to such an extent that it became the most powerful tool in chemical analysis. At the beginning of Richard Ernst’s scientific career, who he worked with mattered more to him than what he worked on.…

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Perspectives

Perspectives Dorothy Hodgkin, one of the main founders of protein crystallography, possessed a unique mixture of skills that allowed her to extend the use of X-rays to reveal the structures of compounds that were far more complex than anything attempted before. Victory in Europe Day in Oxford, 8 May 1945. The war in Europe was…

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Perspectives

Perspectives For Max Perutz, proving that X-rays could reveal the structures of complex, biologically important proteins would require a large dose of inspiration followed by an even larger amount of perspiration. It must have been one of the most embarrassing moments in life. Perutz had just presented his proposed structure for haemoglobin at a meeting…

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Perspectives

Perspectives Paul Lauterbur’s quest to develop a medical imaging tool that worked using magnetism succeeded through a mixture of accidental meetings, detours and dogged persistence. “All detours should be so productive!” cried at the end of his Nobel Lecture. Lauterbur found himself changing course from chemistry to medical imaging, but thanks to a series of…

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