4 October 2002
LAUE, Max von (1879-1960), Walter FRIEDRICH (b. 1883), Paul KNIPPING (b. 1883). Interferenz-Erscheinungen bei Röntgenstrahlen. - Eine quantitative Prüfung der Theorie für den Interferenz-Erscheinungen bei Röntgenstrahlen. Offprint from: Sitzungsberichte der Königlich Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften Mathematisch-physikalische Klasse. Munich: Verlag der Königlich Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1912.
8o. 5 collotype plates. Original printed wrappers; half morocco folding case. Provenance: Theodore von Kármán (1881-1963) (presentation inscription on front wrapper).
FIRST EDITION, offprint issue, PRESENTATION COPY inscribed: "Herrn Dr. v. Kármán überreicht von M. Laue." Laue's Nobel Prize-winning report of "one of the most beautiful discoveries in physics" (Einstein). X-rays had been in wide 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 this time scientists were very far from having proven the supposition that the radiation that Roentgen had discovered in 1895 actually consisted of very short electromagnetic 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, 1912, and succeeded in producing a regular pattern of dark points on a photographic plate placed behind a copper sulfate cyrstal 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. His discoveries earned Laue the Nobel Prize in physics for 1914. The discovery was of dual importance: it allowed the subsequent investigation of x-radiation by means of wavelenth determination, and it provided the means for Braggs' structural analysis of crystals, for which they received the Nobel Prize in 1915. Norman 1283; PMM 406a.
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