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Mon 19 Aug 2013 21:00 BBC Radio 4

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 13 August 2013

Melvyn Bragg looks back at the extraordinary achievements of two other famous Braggs, the father and son scientists William and Lawrence. In 1913 the Braggs discovered a method of investigating the structure of crystals using X-ray radiation. They soon proved the significance of this breakthrough by determining the internal structure of diamond. Two years later they shared a Nobel Prize for their work, which founded the discipline of X-ray crystallography. Melvyn Bragg, a distant cousin of William and Lawrence, tells the story of their groundbreaking work. He visits the laboratories in Cambridge and Leeds where the two Braggs made important discoveries, and the Royal Institution, where they lectured and conducted research. And he learns how the Braggs' technique of X-ray crystallography revolutionised chemistry and biology, from the determination of the structure of DNA to the design of new pharmaceutical drugs.

Producer: Thomas Morris.


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