London, South Kensington
23 April 2008
LAUE, Max von (1879-1960), Walter FRIEDRICH (1883-1968) and Paul KNIPPING (1883-1935). Interferenz-Erscheinungen bei Röntgenstrahlen ... Eine quantitative Prüfung der Theorie für die Interferenz-Erscheinungen bei Röntgenstrahlen, offprint from: Sitzungberichte der Königlich Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften Mathematisch-physikalische Klasse (1912). Munich: F. Straub for Königlich Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1812. Large 12° (221 x 141mm). 5 collotype plates, stapled in original printed wrappers, recessed into a modern green quarter morocco folding box.
VERY RARE FIRST EDITION, OFFPRINT ISSUE of Laue's Nobel prize-winning report of 'one of the most beautiful discoveries in physics' (Einstein). X-rays had been in use for years before their exact nature was elucidated by Laue, Max Planck's principal assistant and close colleague. 'In the spring of 1912 Laue had the crucial idea of sending X-rays through crystals. At the time scientists were very far from having proven the supposition that the radiation that Roentgen had discovered in 1895 actually consisted of very short electomagnetic waves. Similarly, the physical composition of crystals was in dispute, although it was frequently stated that a regular structure of atoms was the characteristic property of crystals. Laue argued that if these suppositions were correct, then the behavior of X-radiation upon penetrating a crystal should be approximately the same as that of light upon striking a diffraction grating' (DSB), an instrument used for calculating the wavelengths of light, inapplicable to X-rays because their wavelength is too short. An associate, Walter Friedrich, and Laue's student Paul Knipping began experimenting along these lines on April 12, and succeeded in producing a regular pattern of dark points on a photographic plate placed behind a copper sulphate crystal which had been bombarded with X-rays. Laue's second paper contains his complicated mathematical explanation of the effect, later known as the Laue-Friedrich-Knipping phenomenon and his discoveries earned him the Nobel Prize for physics in 1914. Gedeon pp.390-91; PMM 406a; Norman 1283.
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