Society: Arts and Science – July 1


The Nobel Prize is bestowed annually in categories as selected by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Sir William Lawrence Bragg CH OBE MC FRS died on this date in 1971. He was an Australian-born British physicist and X-ray crystallographer, discoverer (1912) of the Bragg law of X-ray diffraction, which is basic for the determination of crystal structure. He was joint winner (with his father, Sir William Henry Bragg) of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915: “For their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-ray.” This was an important step in the development of X-ray crystallography. He was knighted in 1941. To date, Lawrence Bragg is the youngest Nobel Laureate, having received the award at the age of 25. He was the director of the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, when the discovery of the structure of DNA was reported by James D. Watson and Francis Crick in February 1953.
Léon Jouhaux was born on this date in 1879. He was a French trade union leader who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1951. Jouhaux was born in Pantin, Seine-Saint-Denis, France. Jouhaux’s father worked in a match factory in Aubervilliers. His secondary schooling ended when his father’s earnings were stopped by a strike. He gained employment at the factory at age sixteen and immediately became an important part of the union. In 1900, Jouhaux joined a strike against the use of the white phosphorus that blinded his father, was dismissed, and worked at a succession of jobs until union influence saw him reinstated. In 1906, he was elected by the local union as a representative to the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), where his abilities saw him quickly rise through the ranks of organized labour. By 1909 he became interim treasurer, and shortly afterwards became secretary-general of the organization, which he held until 1947. His goals as a trade unionist were the familiar ones of the early labour movement — the eight hour day, the right to union representation and collective bargaining, and paid holidays. During the Popular Front, the 1936 Matignon Agreement, to which he was a signatory, awarded many of these rights to French workers. In the years before World War II, Jouhaux organised several mass protests, and the organization he led protested against the war. However, once the war started, Jouhaux supported his country and believed that a Nazi Germany victory would led to the destruction of democracy in Europe. During the war, he was arrested and imprisoned in Buchenwald concentration camp. After the war, Jouhaux split from the CGT to form the social-democrat Workers’ Force (CGT-FO). In 1951, he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. In an international context, his work was instrumental in the setting up of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and was elected to high positions in international trade union bodies, including the International Federation of Trade Unions and its postwar kin the World Federation of Trade Unions until that body split. On his passing in 1954, Léon Jouhaux was interred in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Nikolay Gennadiyevich Basov died on this date in 2001. He was a Soviet physicist and educator. For his fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics that led to the development of laser and maser, Basov shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics with Alexander Prokhorov and Charles Hard Townes.