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Early Days of X-ray Crystallography$
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André Authier

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199659845

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199659845.001.0001

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The Nature of X‐Rays: Waves or Corpuscles?

The Nature of X‐Rays: Waves or Corpuscles?

(p.63) 5 The Nature of X‐Rays: Waves or Corpuscles?
Early Days of X-ray Crystallography

André Authier

Oxford University Press

This chapter relates the discussions which took place before the discovery of X-ray diffraction as to the real nature, wave or corpuscular, of X-rays. Similar discussions as to the nature of electrons are first reviewed. A pulse theory was proposed independently by Wiechert, Stokes, and Thomson for the nature of X-rays. The observation of secondary radiation by various authors is then recounted, and Thomson’s theory of X-ray scattering is summarized. The next steps were the observations by Barkla of the polarization of X-rays, and of characteristic X-rays. At the same time came W. H. Bragg’s suggestion that X-rays were in fact neutral pairs constituted by a positive and a negative particle. A sharp controversy between Bragg and Barkla ensued. In order to test the validity of the pulse theory, attempts were made to observe the diffraction of X-rays by a slit. From the results, Sommerfeld made an estimate of X-ray wavelengths. These were also estimated by Wien and Stark using the Planck—Einstein relation. Stark went further and elaborated a corpuscular theory for X-rays, about which he entered into a controversy with Sommerfeld.

Keywords:   Barkla, Bragg, characteristic X-rays, corpuscular theory, polarization, pulse theory, secondary X-rays, Stark, Sommerfeld, Thomson

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