19th Century Physicists

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century Physicists, including Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Nikola Tesla, Erwin Schrödinger and Niels Bohr.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 C.V. Raman

C.V. Raman.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: November 7, 1888
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tiruchirappalli, Madras Province
Died: November 21, 1970
Indian physicist C.V. Raman earned the Nobel Prize in Physics after discovering the Raman effect. He was the first director of the IISc and founded the Indian Academy of Sciences and the Raman Research Institute. He destroyed his Bharat Ratna medal in protest against Jawaharlal Nehru’s policies on science.

 2 Niels Bohr

Niels Bohr.
Famous As: Nobel Prize Winning Physicist
Birthdate: October 7, 1885
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: November 18, 1962
Nobel Prize-winning Danish physicist Niels Bohr is remembered for his work on the atomic structure and quantum theory. He laid down the Bohr model of the atom and established the Niels Bohr Institute. The element Bohrium has been named after him. He was also part of the British nuclear project.
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 3 Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford.
Famous As: Physicist, Chemist
Birthdate: August 30, 1871
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brightwater, New Zealand
Died: October 19, 1937

New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford is remembered as the father of nuclear physics. His discovery of radioactive half-life and of radon, and his differentiation of alpha and beta radiation, won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908. Element 104 was named rutherfordium in his honor.

 4 Erwin Schrödinger

Erwin Schrödinger.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 12, 1887
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: January 4, 1961
Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, is best known for the "Schrödinger's cat" experiment, or the Schrodinger equation. His book What Is Life? explored genetics through physics. The Nobel Prize winner also wrote on a variety of topics, such as color theory and thermodynamics, and tried to create a unified field theory.

 5 Jagadish Chandra Bose

Jagadish Chandra Bose.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: November 30, 1858
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bikrampur, Bengal Presidency, British India (Now Munshiganj District of Bangladesh)
Died: November 23, 1937

Indian physicist, biologist, and plant physiologist Jagadish Chandra Bose revolutionized science with his research on how plants and animals react to external stimuli. He founded the Bose Institute, made pioneering contribution to the field of radio and microwave optics, and also penned one of the first works of Bengali science fiction.

 6 Carl F. Gauss

Carl F. Gauss.
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist
Birthdate: April 30, 1777
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brunswick, Germany
Died: February 23, 1855

German mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss is remembered for his work in math and science. Known as the Princeps mathematicorum, he laid down tenets such as the Gauss's Law. He had exhibited his talent since an early age and had completed writing Disquisitiones Arithmeticae by 21.

 7 Max Planck

Max Planck.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: April 23, 1858
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kiel
Died: October 4, 1947

German theoretical physicist Max Planck is remembered for originating the quantum theory of physics, which earned him the 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics. He laid down concepts such as the Planck constant and the Planck postulate. The Kaiser Wilhelm Society was later renamed Max Planck Society in his honor.

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 8 J. J. Thomson

J. J. Thomson.
Famous As: Physicist, Nobel Prize Winner
Birthdate: December 18, 1856
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Manchester, Lancashire, UK
Died: August 30, 1940

J. J. Thomson was a British physicist credited with the discovery of the electron, the first subatomic particle to be discovered. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1906 for his work on the conduction of electricity in gases. In 1884, he was appointed Cavendish Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge. 

 9 Satyendra Nath Bose

Satyendra Nath Bose.
Birthdate: January 1, 1894
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kolkata, India
Died: February 4, 1974

Best known for working with Albert Einstein to form Bose–Einstein statistics, Indian scientist Satyendra Nath Bose was a master of quantum mechanics. He played the esraj, loved poetry, and had mastered quite a few languages. The Padma Vibhushan winner was also made a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 10 Wilhelm Rontgen

Wilhelm Rontgen.
Famous As: Winner of First Nobel Prize in Physics
Birthdate: March 27, 1845
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lennep, Rhine Province, Germany
Died: February 10, 1923

Wilhelm Rontgen was a German physicist and mechanical engineer. He is best remembered for producing and detecting X-rays for which he was honored with the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. His discovery of X-rays remains one of the greatest achievements in the field of medical science.

 11 Max Born

Max Born.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: December 11, 1882
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wrocław
Died: January 5, 1970
From being home-schooled for being too sickly to attend school, Max Born went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contribution to quantum mechanics. Being a Jew, with the rise of the Nazi power, he lost his professorship at the University of Göttingen, and moved to Cambridge.

 12 Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi.
Famous As: Inventor & Physicist
Birthdate: April 25, 1874
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bologna, Italy
Died: July 20, 1937

Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian electrical engineer and inventor best remembered for his work on long-distance radio transmission. Marconi, who is credited with inventing the radio, was honored with the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in the field of wireless telegraphy. Also a businessman, Marconi founded the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company in 1897. 

 13 Lord Kelvin

Lord Kelvin.
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist
Birthdate: June 26, 1824
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Belfast
Died: December 17, 1907

Lord Kelvin was a British mathematical physicist and engineer. He studied at the Glasgow University and proceeded to teach there as well. Besides his academic career, he also had a career as an electric telegraph engineer and inventor. He received the Royal Society's Copley Medal in 1883. Absolute temperatures are stated in units of kelvin in his honor.

 14 Heinrich Hertz

Heinrich Hertz.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: February 22, 1857
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hamburg
Died: January 1, 1894

Heinrich Hertz was a German physicist best remembered for proving the existence of electromagnetic waves with conclusive evidence. For his contributions, Hertz has been honored around the world by a number of countries, including Japan, Russia, and Germany. In 1930, the International Electrotechnical Commission established hertz (Hz) as the SI unit for frequency.

 15 James Chadwick

James Chadwick.
Famous As: Discoverer of Neutron
Birthdate: October 20, 1891
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bollington
Died: July 24, 1974

Best remembered as a Nobel laureate who discovered neutron, Sir James Chadwick began his career at Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, where he worked with Ernest Rutherford to investigate the nature of atomic nucleus, a work that led to the epoch-making discovery. Credited with writing the final draft of the MAUD Report, he also headed the British team at the Manhattan Project

 16 Henry Moseley

Henry Moseley.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: November 23, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Weymouth, Dorset, England
Died: August 10, 1915

Henry Moseley was an English physicist best known for his development of Moseley's law in X-ray spectra. He made major contributions to the fields of atomic physics, nuclear physics, and quantum physics. He was working at the University of Oxford when World War I broke out, following which he went to volunteer for the Royal Engineers of the British Army. 

 17 Louis de Broglie

Louis de Broglie.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dieppe
Died: March 19, 1987

Louis de Broglie was a French aristocrat and physicist who made important contributions to quantum theory. His de Broglie hypothesis, which suggests that all matter has wave properties, is one of the most important features in the theory of quantum mechanics. In 1929, de Broglie was honored with the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work.

 18 James Prescott Joule

James Prescott Joule.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: December 24, 1818
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Salford, Lancashire, England, UK
Died: October 11, 1889

English physicist, and mathematician, James Prescott Joule primarily worked on the nature of heat, in course of which he established that all forms of energy are fundamentally same and therefore inter-convertible. His findings resulted in the development of the first law of thermodynamics and negation of calorie theory. The SI derived unit of energy, the joule, is named after him.

 19 Henri Becquerel

Henri Becquerel.
Famous As: Physicist, Discoverer of Radioactivity
Birthdate: December 15, 1852
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 25, 1908

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Henri Becquerel is known for his chance discovery of spontaneous radioactivity. Born into a family of scientists, Becquerel had been an engineer and a physics professor earlier. Marie Curie, who shared the Nobel with him and her husband, Pierre, was one of his doctoral students.

 20 Hermann von Helmholtz

Hermann von Helmholtz.
Famous As: Physicist and Physician
Birthdate: August 31, 1821
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Potsdam
Died: September 8, 1894

A descendant of Pennsylvania founder William Penn through his mother, Hermann von Helmholtz studied medicine, pushed by his father, in spite of being interested in the natural sciences. Best known for his law of conservation of energy, he coalesced the fields of medicine, physiology, math, and physics in his studies.

 21 Gustav Kirchhoff

Gustav Kirchhoff.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: March 12, 1824
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Königsberg, Kingdom of Prussia
Died: October 17, 1887

Gustav Kirchhoff was a German physicist who is credited with coining the term black-body radiation. He is best remembered for his contribution to the basic understanding of spectroscopy, electrical circuits, and the emanation of black-body radiation. In 1862, he received the prestigious Rumford Medal. The Bunsen-Kirchhoff Award is named after Gustav Kirchhoff and German chemist Robert Bunsen.

 22 James Maxwell

James Maxwell.
Famous As: Mathematician & Physicist
Birthdate: June 13, 1831
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: November 5, 1879

Scottish physicist James Maxwell’s contributions included the formulation of the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation and the production of the first light-fast color photograph. His Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution explored the kinetic theory of gases. He has also written poems and was an Elder of the Church of Scotland.

 23 Meghnad Saha

Meghnad Saha.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 6, 1893
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Shaoratoli, Dhaka, Bangladesh, British India
Died: February 16, 1956

Indian astrophysicist Meghnad Saha is best remembered for developing the thermal ionization equation. A grocer’s son, he relied on merit alone to excel in academics and eventually became a professor at the universities of Allahabad and Calcutta. He was also a Lok Sabha MP and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

 24 Mileva Marić

Mileva Marić.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: December 19, 1875
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Titel
Died: August 4, 1948
Serbian physicist/mathematician Mileva Marić was the first wife of Albert Einstein and the second lady to complete the full program at the mathematics and physics department of Zürich Polytechnic. Experts still debate over whether she had helped Einstein in his initial research. Einstein transferred his Nobel Prize money to her.

 25 Hendrik Lorentz

Hendrik Lorentz.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: July 18, 1853
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Arnhem
Died: February 4, 1928

Nobel Prize-winning Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz, a major figure of the Second Dutch Golden Age, is remembered for his discovery of the Zeeman effect, along with his former student Pieter Zeeman, who shared the Nobel with Lorentz. His research on electromagnetic radiation prepared ground for Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

 26 Pierre Curie

Pierre Curie.
Famous As: Nobel Laureate in Physics
Birthdate: May 15, 1859
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 19, 1906

A pioneer in crystallography, radioactivity, piezoelectricity, and magnetism, Pierre Curie was a French physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics along with Henri Becquerel and Marie Curie. Despite being an atheist, Pierre Curie was fascinated by spiritualism as he believed that spiritual questions deal with physics. 

 27 Georges Lemaître

Georges Lemaître.
Famous As: Scientist & Priest
Birthdate: July 17, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Charleroi, Belgium
Died: June 20, 1966

Georges Lemaître was a mathematician, astronomer, and professor of physics. Lemaître was the first person to theorize that the expansion of the universe can be used to explain the recession of nearby galaxies. In 1927, Lemaître published the first estimation of the Hubble constant. He also came up with the Big Bang theory to explain the origin of the universe.

 28 Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: November 7, 1878
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: October 27, 1968

Lise Meitner was an Austrian-Swedish physicist best remembered for her contributions that led to the discoveries of nuclear fission and the element protactinium. Nicknamed the German Marie Curie by Albert Einstein, Lise Meitner became the second woman in the world to receive a doctorate in physics in 1905. In 1997, chemical element 109 meitnerium was named in her honor.

 29 Arthur Compton

Arthur Compton.
Famous As: Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics
Birthdate: September 10, 1892
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wooster, Ohio, USA
Died: March 15, 1962

American physicist Arthur Compton is best-known for introducing Compton wavelength, discovering Compton scattering, first identifying the Compton–Getting effect in the intensity of cosmic rays along with Ivan A. Getting, and for the Compton generator. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1927 for discovering Compton effect. He also remained a prominent figure during the Manhattan Project.

 30 Andre Marie Ampere

Andre Marie Ampere.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: January 20, 1775
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Parish of St. Nizier, Lyon, France
Died: June 10, 1836

Andre Marie Ampere was a French physicist and mathematician. He is best known for being one of the founders of the science of classical electromagnetism. He was a professor at the École Polytechnique and the Collège de France and a member of the French Academy of Sciences. The base SI unit of electric current, the ampere, is named after him. 

 31 Ludwig Boltzmann

Ludwig Boltzmann.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: February 20, 1844
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: September 5, 1906

Austrian physicist and philosopher, Ludwig Boltzmann, played a key role in the development of statistical mechanics. As a young man, he was appointed a professor of mathematical physics at the University of Graz. He worked extensively with other physicists over the course of his brilliant academic career. He suffered from bipolar disorder and died by suicide in 1906. 

 32 Joseph Plateau

Joseph Plateau
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Scientist
Birthdate: October 14, 1801
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brussels
Died: September 15, 1883

 33 George Paget Thomson

George Paget Thomson.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 3, 1892
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cambridge
Died: September 10, 1975

George Paget Thomson was a British physicist best remembered for his discovery of the wave properties of the electron by electron diffraction. The son of physicist and Nobel laureate J. J. Thomson, he himself went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1937. He spent several years of his career at Imperial College London. 

 34 Joseph Fourier

Joseph Fourier.
Famous As: Mathematician & Physicist
Birthdate: March 21, 1768
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Auxerre, Burgundy, Kingdom of France (now in Yonne, France)
Died: May 16, 1830

Joseph Fourier was a French physicist and mathematician best remembered for commencing the investigation of the Fourier series, which is used widely to solve problems of heat transfer and vibrations. Fourier's law of conduction and Fourier transform are named in his honor. Fourier is also said to have discovered the greenhouse effect.

 35 Lord Rayleigh

Lord Rayleigh.
Famous As: Discoverer of Argon
Birthdate: November 12, 1842
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Langford Grove, Maldon, Essex, England
Died: June 30, 1919

Although John William Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh, received the Nobel Prize for his discovery and isolation of the inert gas argon, his contributions to Physics is not limited to that. Known to make extensive contributions to theoretical and practical physics, especially in the fields of acoustics and optics, his works are now considered to mark the beginning of modern acoustics.

 36 William Henry Bragg

William Henry Bragg.
Famous As: Nobel Prize Winner in Physics
Birthdate: July 2, 1862
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wigton
Died: March 10, 1942

William Henry Bragg was an English physicist, chemist, and mathematician. He is best known for sharing the  1915 Nobel Prize in Physics with his son Lawrence Bragg for their work in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays. William Henry Bragg had an illustrious academic career and was elected president of the Royal Society in 1935. 

 37 Arthur Eddington

Arthur Eddington.
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 28, 1882
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kendal
Died: November 22, 1944

Arthur Eddington was an English physicist, astronomer, and mathematician. He wrote numerous articles that explained Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity to the English-speaking world. He began his career in academics and eventually shifted to astronomy, becoming the chief assistant to the Astronomer Royal at the Royal Greenwich Observatory. He was a recipient of the Henry Draper Medal. 

 38 Robert Andrews Millikan

Robert Andrews Millikan.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: March 22, 1868
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Morrison
Died: December 19, 1953

Nobel Prize-winning experimental physicist Robert Andrews Millikan had begun his career as a faculty member at the University of Chicago and penned countless physics books. He later devoted himself to his research on elementary electronic charge and the photoelectric effect. His famous oil-drop experiment is known to all physics enthusiasts.

 39 Sir William Rowan Hamilton

Sir William Rowan Hamilton.
Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer and Mathematician
Birthdate: August 4, 1805
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Died: September 2, 1865

Son of a Dublin solicitor, Sir William Rowan Hamilton was raised and educated by his priest uncle from age 3. Initially a master of languages such as Latin, Greek, and Persian, Hamilton began deviating to math at 16. He is remembered for his contribution to optics, Hamiltonian mechanics, and algebra.

 40 Johannes van der Waals

Johannes van der Waals.
Famous As: Theoretical Physicist
Birthdate: November 23, 1837
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Leiden, Netherlands
Died: March 8, 1923
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Johannes Diderik van der Waals, born to a carpenter, was largely self-taught in his early days. His pathbreaking research on the gaseous and liquid states of matter influenced later studies on molecular dynamics. He was the man behind the van der Waals equation.

 41 Ernst Mach

Ernst Mach.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: February 18, 1838
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brno, Czech Republic
Died: February 19, 1916

Austrian physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach is remembered for his contributions to the study of shock waves. He is also credited for discovering a non-acoustic function of the inner ear that helps control human balance. As a philosopher of science, he is considered a major influence on logical positivism and American pragmatism. 

 42 Leó Szilárd

Leó Szilárd.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: February 11, 1898
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Budapest
Died: May 30, 1964

Physicist Leó Szilárd, one of the "Martians," or eminent scientists who had migrated from Hungary to the U.S., was the first to initiate a controlled nuclear chain reaction and was closely associated with the Manhattan Project, meant to develop the atomic bomb. He later advocated for responsible use of nuclear powers.

 43 Joseph Swan

Joseph Swan
Famous As: Chemist, Physicist, Inventor
Birthdate: October 31, 1828
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sunderland
Died: May 27, 1914

Joseph Swan was an English chemist, physicist, and inventor known for being an independent early developer of a successful incandescent light bulb. He developed and supplied the first batch of incandescent lights used for illuminating houses and public buildings. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1894 and knighted by King Edward VII in 1904. 

 44 Karl Schwarzschild

Karl Schwarzschild
Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist, University teacher, Mathematician
Birthdate: October 9, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: May 11, 1916

Karl Schwarzschild was a German astronomer and physicist. He is remembered for his contributions to the general theory of relativity; Schwarzschild came up with the first exact solution to the Albert Einstein field equations. He also contributed immensely to the theory of black holes.

 45 Oliver Heaviside

Oliver Heaviside
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Engineer, Telegraphy
Birthdate: May 18, 1850
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Camden Town
Died: February 3, 1925

Oliver Heaviside was an English mathematician and physicist. He invented a new technique for solving differential equations and independently developed vector calculus. He is also credited with rewriting Maxwell's equations in the form commonly used today. He formulated the telegrapher’s equations and invented the Heaviside step function as well. In 1922, he received the Faraday Medal.

 46 Arnold Sommerfeld

Arnold Sommerfeld.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: December 5, 1868
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Königsberg
Died: April 26, 1951

German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld initially taught math and theoretical physics and later came to be known for his groundbreaking work on atomic and quantum physics and wave mechanics. He also laid down the magnetic quantum number. Many of the doctoral and post-doctoral students he supervised later won the Nobel Prize.

 47 Wilhelm Wien

Wilhelm Wien.
Famous As: Nobel Laureate in Physics
Birthdate: January 13, 1864
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gaffken near Fischhausen, Province of Prussia
Died: August 30, 1928

Wilhelm Wien was a German physicist famous for deducing what became known as Wien's displacement law. He is also credited with formulating an expression for the black-body radiation He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1911 for his work on heat radiation.

 48 Johannes Stark

Johannes Stark.
Famous As: Nobel Prize Winner in Physics
Birthdate: April 15, 1874
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Freihung
Died: June 21, 1957

Johannes Stark was a German physicist who discovered the phenomenon that came to be known as the Stark effect. For this work, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1919. A supporter of Adolf Hitler, he was a main figure in the anti-Semitic Deutsche Physik movement. He was found guilty by a denazification court in 1947.

 49 John Tyndall

John Tyndall.
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 2, 1820
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, Ireland
Died: December 4, 1893

Born into a poor Protestant family, Irish physicist John Tyndall was a self-made man who funded his own doctoral education. His contributions include his research on the greenhouse effect and the discovery of the Tyndall effect. Not known to many, he was also an avid mountaineer and glaciologist.

 50 Sir William Lawrence Bragg

Sir William Lawrence Bragg.
Famous As: Nobel Laureate in Physics
Birthdate: March 31, 1890
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: North Adelaide, South Australia
Died: July 1, 1971

Born to a math and physics professor in Australia, Sir William Lawrence Bragg later moved to England, where his father was posted for work. He and his father jointly won the Nobel Prize for Physics for their research on X-ray diffraction through crystals. Bragg was an avid shell collector, too.