Wilhelm Wien, German physicist

Wilhelm Wien, German physicist

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Credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF CONGRESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Wilhelm Wien (1864-1928), German physicist. Wien was awarded the 1911 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the radiation of heat from black bodies. In 1893 he discovered Wien's displacement law, which stated that the wavelength at which the black body emits radiation is inversely proportional to its temperature. This paved the way for Planck's quantum theory of radiation and therefore, quantum physics. Wien also worked with cathode rays, confirming Perrin's discovery that they are composed of rapidly-moving negatively- charged particles (electrons), as well as determining the electron's mass. Techniques used to do this resulted 20 years later in mass spectrometry.

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