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Lord Rayleigh

Lord RayleighAKA John William Strutt

Born: 12-Nov-1842
Birthplace: Langford Grove, Maldon, Essex, England
Died: 30-Jun-1919
Location of death: Terling Place, Witham, Essex, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Churchyard of the family estate at Terling Place, Witham, Essex, England

Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist, Mathematician

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Why the sky is blue

British physicist and mathematician Lord Rayleigh discovered the inert gas argon (Ar) in 1895, which earned him the 1904 Nobel Prize in Physics. His colleague in this research, Sir William Ramsay, won the same year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Born John William Strutt, he became Lord Rayleigh the Third Baron of Terling Place at the death of his father in 1873, and did much of his research in a private laboratory on the family estate. His 1871 Theory of Scattering was the first scientific work to correctly explain why the sky is blue, and his two-volume The Theory of Sound clarified the mechanics of vibration and acoustic wave propagation.

He studied under George Gabriel Stokes, was a distant relative of Robert Boyle, and his students included George Paget Thomson and J. J. Thomson. His brother-in-law, Arthur Balfour, was Prime Minister of England from 1902-05. Lord Rayleigh succeeded James Clerk Maxwell as Cavendish Professor of Physics at Cambridge in 1879 but remained at this post for only five years before returning to his mansion and secluded lab. He also worked to establish absolute standards for the ohm and other scientific measurements, and served as President of the paranormal research group Society for Psychical Research.

Father: John James Strutt (2nd Baron Rayleigh, b. 30-Jan-1796, d. 14-Jun-1873)
Mother: Clara Elizabeth La Touche Vicars (m. 3-Feb-1842, d. 4-Mar-1900)
Brother: Joseph Henry Strutt (b. 1844, d. 1845)
Sister: Clara Emily Charlotte Strutt Paley (b. 1845, d. 23-Dec-1912)
Brother: Richard Strutt (b. 29-Feb-1848, d. 14-Oct-1927)
Brother: Charles Hedley Strutt (b. 18-Apr-1849, d. 19-Dec-1926)
Brother: Edward Gerald Strutt (b. 10-Apr-1854)
Brother: Hedley Vicars Strutt (military officer, b. 17-Jul-1864, d. 22-Jan-1891)
Wife: Evelyn Balfour (m. 19-Jul-1871, d. 7-Apr-1934, four sons)
Son: Robert John Strutt (4th Baron Rayleigh, physicist, b. 28-Aug-1875, d. 13-Dec-1947)
Son: Arthur Charles Strutt (British Naval Vice Admiral, b. 2-Oct-1878, d. 10-Feb-1973)
Son: Julian Balfour Strutt (b. 16-Aug-1880, d. 4-Sep-1886)
Son: William Maitland Strutt (b. 20-Jul-1886, d. 22-Nov-1912)

    High School: Eton College, Windsor, Berkshire, England (attended)
    High School: Harrow School, London, England (1861)
    University: BA, Trinity College, Cambridge University (1865)
    University: MA, Trinity College, Cambridge University (1868)
    Professor: Cavendish Professor of Physics, Cambridge University (1879-84)
    Professor: Natural Philosophy, Royal Institution of Great Britain (1897-1905)
    Administrator: Chancellor, Cambridge University (1908-19)

    Royal Medal 1882
    Matteucci Medal 1894
    Copley Medal 1899
    French Legion of Honor
    LMS De Morgan Medal 1900
    Order of Merit 1902
    Prussian Order Pour le Mérite 1903
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1904
    Rumford Medal 1920
    Athenaeum Club (London)
    British Association for the Advancement of Science
    London Mathematical Society President (1876-78)
    Royal Institution of Great Britain
    Royal Society 1873
    Royal Society Secretary (1885-96)
    Royal Society President (1905-08)
    Royal Society of Edinburgh
    Society for Psychical Research President (1919)
    Nature
    Lunar Crater Rayleigh (29.0° N 189.2° E, 107 km. diameter)
    Martian Crater Rayleigh (75.6° S 240.9° W, 149 km. diameter)

Author of books:
The Theory of Sound (1877-78, physics; two volumes)
The Becquerel Rays and the Properties of Radium (1904, physics)


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