An Ode to Henry Moseley


Henry Moseley in the Balliol-Trinity Laboratory, Oxford, circa 1910, Wikipedia Commons

This poem was first published on YouTube, and it was written circa 2004.

An Ode to Henry Moseley

It was in the Great War to end all wars he fell,
Amongst the rocky, godforsaken Dardanelles;

He but young lad when his death time came,
Yet one already of scientific fame.

So before Queen and Country took his soul,
Him had taught us what to know;

And if you think this all a fancy fable,
Simply peer into the periodic table.

Henry Moseley (November 23, 1887 – August 10, 1915) was an English physicist who had a major impact on our understanding of what an atom of an element is made of and how we should arrange these elements in the periodic table, and doing all of this before he was killed in action in the First World War at only 27.

After graduating from Trinity College, Oxford in 1910, he came to Ernest Rutherford’s lab in Manchester to teach and research, soon focusing only on research. Dmitri Mendeleev had created the periodic table many years ago and he had arranged the elements by their atomic mass (weight) and their chemical properties. Yet like many scientists Moseley was quite aware of the periodic table of elements and how there were some obvious inconsistencies about how the elements were arranged. He wanted to see if their arrangement could be better understood.

In 1913, Moseley began working with X-ray Spectrometry because he was aware of how some scientists had used this method to learn about the atom of an element. He thought more might be learned. And so he began working with and improving the technique of using a spectrometer to understand the atoms of an element. He eventually discovered that the X-ray —> Read More