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Coolidge Tube

© the artist. Photo credit: The Royal Institution

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This painting is part of a series depicting scientific apparatus on display in the Royal Institution’s museum. The apparatus shown is a Coolidge Tube, which creates X-rays by sending an electrical current through a vacuum.

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.

The Royal Institution





oil on linen


H 25 x W 45.4 cm

Accession number

EN 31

Acquisition method

gift from Dr Mary Joyce Pickersgill, 2010

Work type



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Normally on display at

The Royal Institution

21 Albermarle Street, London, Greater London W1S 4BS England

Not all locations are open to the public. Please contact the gallery or collection for more information
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