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The 1927 Solvay Conference

Written by: George Chittenden : 15 Nov 2019

This photo was taken in Oct, 1927 at the Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons and features some of the most famous names in the history of science gathered in one place. The Solvay Conference is held at the International Solvay Institutes for Physics and Chemistry in Brussels, usually every three years. The Institute was founded by the Belgian industrialist Ernest Solvay in 1912. The 1927 conference provided the world’s best scientists with the opportunity to discuss the newly discovered phenomenon of quantum physics. So who is in the photo?

The Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons, 1927.

The Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons, 1927.

The most famous, and easiest to spot is Albert Einstein, in the front row, fifth from the right. Also in the front row we have Marie Curie, the third person from the left. Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and she is also one of the very few people to win a prize in two disciplines, chemistry and physics. In the middle row, first from the right is Niels Bohr who was part of the infamous Manhattan Project that resulted in the development of the atomic bomb.

In the back row sixth from the right, stands Erwin Schrodinger famous for his popular paradox known as Schrodinger’s Cat, which he formulated in 1935. The combined contribution to science of the people who feature in this single photo is astounding. Seventeen of the twenty-nine scientists who attended the conference were or became Nobel Prize winners.

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