Lord Rayleigh


Lord Rayleigh (John William Strutt)

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Lord Rayleigh (John William Strutt)
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1904

Born: 12 November 1842, Langford Grove, Maldon, Essex, United Kingdom

Died: 30 June 1919, United Kingdom

Affiliation at the time of the award: Royal Institution of Great Britain, London, United Kingdom

Prize motivation: “for his investigations of the densities of the most important gases and for his discovery of argon in connection with these studies”

Prize share: 1/1


The air around us consists of several different gases, mostly nitrogen gas and oxygen. Lord Rayleigh developed methods for studying the physical properties of gases in the atmosphere. When he compared nitrogen extracted from air with nitrogen extracted from chemical compounds, he found that the nitrogen from air was heavier. He concluded that the air must contain another, previously unknown substance. In 1894 he, along with William Ramsay, succeeded in extracting the previously unknown element, argon, in pure form and in analyzing its properties.

To cite this section
MLA style: Lord Rayleigh – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Sun. 23 Jun 2024. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1904/strutt/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.