Charles Glover Barkla

Charles Glover Barkla

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Charles Glover Barkla was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 physicist
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, and the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

 in 1917 for his work in X-ray spectroscopy
X-ray spectroscopy
X-ray spectroscopy is a gathering name for several spectroscopic techniques for characterization of materials by using x-ray excitation.-Characteristic X-ray Spectroscopy:...

 and related areas in the study of X-ray
X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

s (Roentgen rays).

Biography


Barkla was born in Widnes
Widnes
Widnes is an industrial town within the borough of Halton, in Cheshire, England, with an urban area population of 57,663 in 2004. It is located on the northern bank of the River Mersey where the estuary narrows to form the Runcorn Gap. Directly to the south across the Mersey is the town of Runcorn...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, and he studied at the Liverpool Institute
Liverpool Institute for Boys
The Liverpool Institute High School for Boys was an all-boys grammar school in the English port city of Liverpool.The school had its origins in 1825 but occupied different premises while the money was found to build a dedicated building on Mount Street. The Institute was first known as the...

 and at Liverpool University. In 1899, Barkla went to Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Trinity has more members than any other college in Cambridge or Oxford, with around 700 undergraduates, 430 graduates, and over 170 Fellows...

, as an Exhibition Scholar to work in the Cavendish Laboratory
Cavendish Laboratory
The Cavendish Laboratory is the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge, and is part of the university's School of Physical Sciences. It was opened in 1874 as a teaching laboratory....

 under the physicist J. J. Thomson
J. J. Thomson
Sir Joseph John "J. J." Thomson, OM, FRS was a British physicist and Nobel laureate. He is credited for the discovery of the electron and of isotopes, and the invention of the mass spectrometer...

. At the end of a year and a half, his love of music led him to move on to King's College, Cambridge
King's College, Cambridge
King's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. The college's full name is "The King's College of our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge", but it is usually referred to simply as "King's" within the University....

, where he joined its chapel choir
Choir
A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

. He completed his bachelor of arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 degree in 1903, and then his Master of Arts
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

 degree in 1907. No information seems to be available about when or where he earned a Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 (Ph.D.) degree, but it is known that the great physicists J.J. Thompson (the discoverer of the electron
Electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

) and Oliver Lodge were his doctoral advisors.

In 1913, after having worked at the Universities of Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

 and Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, and King's College, London, Barkla was appointed as a professor of natural philosophy
Natural philosophy
Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature , is a term applied to the study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science...

 at the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

, a position that he held until his death. Barkla married Mary Esther Cowell in 1907.

Barkla made significant progress in developing and refining the laws of X-ray scattering, X-ray spectroscopy
X-ray spectroscopy
X-ray spectroscopy is a gathering name for several spectroscopic techniques for characterization of materials by using x-ray excitation.-Characteristic X-ray Spectroscopy:...

, the principles governing the transmission of X-rays through matter, and especially the principles of the excitation of secondary X-rays. For his discovery of the characteristic X-rays of elements, Barkla was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

 in 1917. He was also awarded the Hughes Medal
Hughes Medal
The Hughes Medal is awarded by the Royal Society of London "in recognition of an original discovery in the physical sciences, particularly electricity and magnetism or their applications". Named after David E. Hughes, the medal is awarded with a gift of £1000. The medal was first awarded in 1902 to...

 of the British Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 that same year.

Little more seems to have been recorded about the life of Charles Barkla.

Memorials to Barkla


The lunar crater Barkla
Barkla (crater)
Barkla is a lunar impact crater that lies near the eastern limb of the Moon. It is located to the east of the prominent crater Langrenus, and was formerly designated Langrenus A before being renamed by the IAU. Due east of Barkla is Kapteyn, a formation only slightly larger with a similar size...

 was named in the honor of Charles Barkla. Also a commemorative plaque has been installed in the vicinity of the Canongate, near the Faculty of Education Buildings, at the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

. Additionally, a lecture theatre at the University of Liverpool
University of Liverpool
The University of Liverpool is a teaching and research university in the city of Liverpool, England. It is a member of the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities and the N8 Group for research collaboration. Founded in 1881 , it is also one of the six original "red brick" civic...

's Physics department is named after him.

External links