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Tubes of this type were used by William and Lawrence Bragg as an X-ray source. Using X-rays the Braggs were able to determine the atomic structure of crystals in 1912. They won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1915 for their discovery and, at age 25, Lawrence Bragg remains the youngest ever Nobel prize winner.
While the crystals they looked at first were very simple and regular, their method was later used to determine the structure of much more complex molecules such as DNA.
oil on linen
H 25 x W 45.4 cm
gift from Dr Mary Joyce Pickersgill, 2010