THE DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RAYSHESS, VICTOR FRANZ. 1883-1964.  THE 1936 NOBEL PRIZE MEDAL FOR PHYSICS, PRESENTED TO VICTOR FRANZ HESS FOR HIS DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RADIATION. Nobel medal, in gold, 65.8 mm diameter, 206.2 grams.  Designed by Erik Lundberg and struck by the Kungliga Mynt och Justeringsverkey (Swedish Royal Mint).  Marked on edge "GULD 1936."

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Lot 182
THE DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RAYS
HESS, VICTOR FRANZ. 1883-1964.
THE 1936 NOBEL PRIZE MEDAL FOR PHYSICS, PRESENTED TO VICTOR FRANZ HESS FOR HIS DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RADIATION. Nobel medal, in gold, 65.8 mm diameter, 206.2 grams. Designed by Erik Lundberg and struck by the Kungliga Mynt och Justeringsverkey (Swedish Royal Mint). Marked on edge "GULD 1936."

US$ 300,000 - 500,000
£ 240,000 - 400,000
THE DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RAYS
HESS, VICTOR FRANZ. 1883-1964.
THE 1936 NOBEL PRIZE MEDAL FOR PHYSICS, PRESENTED TO VICTOR FRANZ HESS FOR HIS DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RADIATION. Nobel medal, in gold, 65.8 mm diameter, 206.2 grams. Designed by Erik Lundberg and struck by the Kungliga Mynt och Justeringsverkey (Swedish Royal Mint). Marked on edge "GULD 1936." Obverse with bust of Alfred Nobel facing left, "ALFR. / NOBEL to left of bust, "NAT. / MDCCC / XXXIII / OB. / MDCCC / XCVI" to right of bust, signed "LINDBERG" at the lower left edge. Reverse features allegorical vignette of Nature in the form of a goddess emerging from the clouds and holding a cornucopia. Her veil is held up by a figure representing the Genius of Science. Legend above the vignette reads "INVENTAS VITAM IUVAT EXCOLUISSE PER ARTES", plaque below vignette reads "V.F. HESS / MCMXXXVI," motto to either side of plaque reads "REG. ACAD. / SCIENT. SUEC." (Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences). Housed in the original diced maroon morocco case, decorated in gilt and lined in velvet and satin. Some shallow surface scratches and scuff marks, one indentation on edge.

WITH: Nobel Prize Diploma, two leaves (each 265 x 366 mm) with calligraphic inscriptions in Swedish in blue and gold, surrounded by a design of columns in white supporting an entablature on either leaf with central medallions bearing the symbols of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science: a star radiating light, in blue and gold on the right leaf, and a farmer planting a sapling below the motto "FÖR EFTERKOMMANDE" (FOR POSTERITY) on the right; both medallions encircled by green wreaths of laurel. Below the text panels are garlands of laurel in green, the whole on a background of crosshatched gold. Signed on the right leaf ("Carl Benedicks") by the President of the Royal Academy, with the signature of the Secretary of the Royal Academy ("Henning Pleyel") lower right. Bound in a navy blue leather portfolio with gilt laurel border decoration and highly stylized initials "VFH" in the center, and "AN (for Alfred Nobel) at each corner. Contained in flannel-lined clamshell case, 310 x 405 mm overall. Light foxing to document; clamshell case with cover detached and missing board on one edge.


Victor Franz Hess was awarded the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work conducted between 1911 and 1913 leading to the discovery of cosmic rays. Prevailing thought was that radiation in the atmosphere was being generated from the earth, and would therefore decrease with altitude, but the use of an electroscope at high altitude indicated the exact opposite: radiation was higher in the upper atmosphere. Hess developed more precise equipment to measure the radiation and then ascended in a balloon himself to altitudes as high as 17,500 feet, to take measurements of ionization levels caused by radiation. These observations showed the level of ionization to be twice as high at 5 kilometers than at sea level, indicating that the radiation was coming from outside the earth's atmosphere. One of these ascents was conducted during a total eclipse of the sun, as well as at night, further proving that the radiation he was measuring was not solar, but originating from the expanse of space. The discovery led to further developments in particle physics, including the discovery of the positron and muon by American physicist Carl David Anderson, shared the 1936 Nobel Prize with Hess. Only in recent years have scientists begun to understand the origin of cosmic radiation, aided in part by NASA's Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope.

Hess was born near Peggau, Austria in 1883, and was educated in Graz, where he graduated from Graz University with a doctorate degree in 1910. At the time of his studies measuring radiation in the atmosphere, he was working at the Vienna Academy of Sciences. He also worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, during the early 1920s. He returned to Austria in 1923, but as his first wife Berta was Jewish, he was dismissed from his position after the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938. The couple fled to the United States, where Hess joined the faculty of Fordham University in New York. He died in 1964 in Mount Vernon, NY.

Footnotes

  • THE DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RAYS.
Contacts
THE DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RAYSHESS, VICTOR FRANZ. 1883-1964.  THE 1936 NOBEL PRIZE MEDAL FOR PHYSICS, PRESENTED TO VICTOR FRANZ HESS FOR HIS DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RADIATION. Nobel medal, in gold, 65.8 mm diameter, 206.2 grams.  Designed by Erik Lundberg and struck by the Kungliga Mynt och Justeringsverkey (Swedish Royal Mint).  Marked on edge "GULD 1936."
THE DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RAYSHESS, VICTOR FRANZ. 1883-1964.  THE 1936 NOBEL PRIZE MEDAL FOR PHYSICS, PRESENTED TO VICTOR FRANZ HESS FOR HIS DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RADIATION. Nobel medal, in gold, 65.8 mm diameter, 206.2 grams.  Designed by Erik Lundberg and struck by the Kungliga Mynt och Justeringsverkey (Swedish Royal Mint).  Marked on edge "GULD 1936."
THE DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RAYSHESS, VICTOR FRANZ. 1883-1964.  THE 1936 NOBEL PRIZE MEDAL FOR PHYSICS, PRESENTED TO VICTOR FRANZ HESS FOR HIS DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RADIATION. Nobel medal, in gold, 65.8 mm diameter, 206.2 grams.  Designed by Erik Lundberg and struck by the Kungliga Mynt och Justeringsverkey (Swedish Royal Mint).  Marked on edge "GULD 1936."
THE DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RAYSHESS, VICTOR FRANZ. 1883-1964.  THE 1936 NOBEL PRIZE MEDAL FOR PHYSICS, PRESENTED TO VICTOR FRANZ HESS FOR HIS DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RADIATION. Nobel medal, in gold, 65.8 mm diameter, 206.2 grams.  Designed by Erik Lundberg and struck by the Kungliga Mynt och Justeringsverkey (Swedish Royal Mint).  Marked on edge "GULD 1936."
THE DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RAYSHESS, VICTOR FRANZ. 1883-1964.  THE 1936 NOBEL PRIZE MEDAL FOR PHYSICS, PRESENTED TO VICTOR FRANZ HESS FOR HIS DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RADIATION. Nobel medal, in gold, 65.8 mm diameter, 206.2 grams.  Designed by Erik Lundberg and struck by the Kungliga Mynt och Justeringsverkey (Swedish Royal Mint).  Marked on edge "GULD 1936."
THE DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RAYSHESS, VICTOR FRANZ. 1883-1964.  THE 1936 NOBEL PRIZE MEDAL FOR PHYSICS, PRESENTED TO VICTOR FRANZ HESS FOR HIS DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RADIATION. Nobel medal, in gold, 65.8 mm diameter, 206.2 grams.  Designed by Erik Lundberg and struck by the Kungliga Mynt och Justeringsverkey (Swedish Royal Mint).  Marked on edge "GULD 1936."
THE DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RAYSHESS, VICTOR FRANZ. 1883-1964.  THE 1936 NOBEL PRIZE MEDAL FOR PHYSICS, PRESENTED TO VICTOR FRANZ HESS FOR HIS DISCOVERY OF COSMIC RADIATION. Nobel medal, in gold, 65.8 mm diameter, 206.2 grams.  Designed by Erik Lundberg and struck by the Kungliga Mynt och Justeringsverkey (Swedish Royal Mint).  Marked on edge "GULD 1936."
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