Public lecture: Life of a brilliant physicist killed at Gallipoli

04 March 2015

A young English soldier and brilliant physicist killed at Gallipoli while acting as Signals Officer in support of Allied troops during the ANZAC Breakout operation will be the subject of a public lecture at the University of Auckland this month.

The lecture, part of the Centenary celebrations of the School of Chemical Sciences, will be given by Professor Russell Egdell of Oxford University’s Department of Chemistry. Professor Egdell is both a Professor of Chemistry and a science historian who has studied the life and work of Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley, who died on 10th August 1915 at the age of 27 with a research career already behind him that had changed science forever.

Moseley was widely regarded as the leading physicist of his generation and was nominated for the 1916 Nobel Prizes in both chemistry and physics. His death came before the Committees completed their deliberations. He was however awarded the Italian Matteucci Medal posthumously in 1919 - the next recipient, in 1921, was Albert Einstein.

In a brief but mercurial research career lasting between October 1910 and June 1914, he devised and completed experimental work which established the concept of atomic number as the charge on the nucleus of the atom. He worked first under New Zealand’s famous scientist Ernest Rutherford and later as an independent researcher in Oxford.

Moseley’s work underpinned almost all subsequent developments in chemistry and physics. In particular it provided the framework for putting the periodic table into its modern form and established X-ray spectroscopy as a wide ranging analytical technique.

Professor Egdell’s lecture will explore Moseley’s role in the ill-fated Gallipoli expedition and the circumstances of his death during one of the pivotal battles of the August Offensive. It will also consider the huge impact Moseley’s work has had on chemistry and physics in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Henry Moseley: the Life and Legacy of a Lost Nobel Laureate by Professor Egdell will be held on Saturday 14 March.

For details go to:

The 100th Anniversary of the School of Chemical Sciences at the University of Auckland is being celebrated with a range of public events and distinguished visitor lectures.

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