John Rayleigh

  • From:

    The Royal Institution of Great Britain │ London, England

  • Year:

    1913

  • Subject:

    Physics

  • Award:

    Cresson

  • Citation:

    For extended researches in physical science.

John William Strutt, third Baron Rayleigh, was born in 1842 at Langford Grove, Maldon, Essex, UK. He suffered from poor health throughout his childhood and youth, and it was necessary for him to be withdrawn from both Eton and Harrow. In 1857, he began four years of private study under a tutor. In 1861, Strutt entered Trinity College, Cambridge, from which he was graduated with a B.A. in 1865.

Lord Rayleigh made fundamental discoveries in the fields of acoustics and optics that are basic to the theory of wave propagation in fluids. His early papers deal with such subjects as electromagnetism, colour, acoustics, and diffraction gratings. Perhaps his most significant early work was his theory explaining the blue colour of the sky as the result of scattering of sunlight by small particles in the atmosphere. The Rayleigh scattering law, which evolved from this theory, has since become classic in the study of all kinds of wave propagation.

He received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1904 for his successful isolation of argon, an inert atmospheric gas.

Information as of 1913