Henry Moseley

23 Nov 1887
10 Aug 1915
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Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley known as Harry Moseley (23 November 1887 – 10 August 1915) was an English physicist. Moseley’s contribution to the science of physics was the justification from physical laws of the previous empirical and chemical concept of the atomic number.

This stemmed from his development of Moseley’s law in X-ray spectra. Moseley’s Law justified many concepts in chemistry by sorting the chemical elements of the periodic table of the elements in a logical order based on their physics.

Moseley’s law advanced atomic physics by providing the first experimental evidence in favour of Niels Bohr’s theory, aside from the hydrogen atom spectrum which the Bohr theory was designed to reproduce.

That theory refined Ernest Rutherford’s and Antonius van den Broek’s model, which proposed that the atom contains in its nucleus a number of positive nuclear charges that is equal to its (atomic) number in the periodic table. This remains the accepted model today.

When World War I broke out in Western Europe, Moseley left his research work at the University of Oxford behind to volunteer for the Royal Engineers of the British Army. Moseley was assigned to the force of British Empire soldiers that invaded the region of Gallipoli, Turkey, in April 1915, as a telecommunications officer.

Moseley was shot and killed during the Battle of Gallipoli on 10 August 1915, at the age of 27.

Experts have speculated that Moseley could have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1916, had he not been killed.As a consequence, the British government instituted new policies for eligibility for combat duty.

Henry G. J. Moseley was born in Weymouth, Dorset, on the south coast of England in 1887.

His father Henry Nottidge Moseley (1844–91), who died when Henry Moseley was quite young, was a biologist and also a professor of anatomy and physiology at the University of Oxford, who had been a member of the Challenger Expedition.

Moseley’s mother was Anabel Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley, the daughter of the Welsh biologist and conchologist John Gwyn Jeffreys.

Henry Moseley had been a very promising schoolboy at Summer Fields School (where one of the four ‘leagues’ is named after him), and he was awarded a King’s scholarship to attend Eton College.

In 1906 he won the chemistry and physics prizes at Eton. In 1906, Moseley entered Trinity College of the University of Oxford, where he earned his bachelor’s degree.

Immediately after graduation from Oxford in 1910, Moseley became a demonstrator in physics at the University of Manchester under the supervision of Sir Ernest Rutherford.

During Moseley’s first year at Manchester, he had a teaching load as a graduate teaching assistant, but following that first year, he was reassigned from his teaching duties to work as a graduate research assistant. He declined a fellowship offered by Rutherford, preferring to move back to Oxford, in November 1913, where he was given laboratory facilities but no support.

Sometime in the first half of 1914, Moseley resigned from his position at Manchester, with plans to return to Oxford and continue his physics research there. However, World War I broke out in August 1914, and Moseley turned down this job offer to instead enlist with the Royal Engineers of the British Army.

Moseley served as a technical officer in communications during the Battle of Gallipoli, in Turkey, beginning in April 1915, where he was killed in action on 10 August 1915. Moseley was shot in the head by a Turkish sniper while in the act of telephoning a military order.

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