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Hughes Medal facts for kids

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Avers of Hughes Medal
J.J. Thomson, who won the first medal in 1902 "for his numerous contributions to electric science, especially in reference to the phenomena of electric discharge in gases"

The Hughes Medal is awarded by the Royal Society of London for original discoveries in electricity and magnetism or their applications.

The medal was first given to J.J. Thomson in 1902 "for his numerous contributions to electric science, especially in reference to the phenomena of electric discharge in gases". It has been awarded over a hundred times. At first it was awarded annually, now it is every two years.

Unlike some other Royal Society medals, the Hughes Medal has never been awarded to the same person more than once. Only one woman has won it: Michele Dougherty in 2008, who was awarded the medal "for innovative use of magnetic field data that led to discovery of an atmosphere around one of Saturn's moons and the way it revolutionised our view of the role of planetary moons in the Solar System".

The medal has been awarded to more than one person at once; in 1938 it was won by John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton "for their discovery that nuclei could be disintegrated by artificially produced bombarding particles", in 1981 by Peter Higgs, Thomas Walter and Tom W. B. Kibble "for their international contributions about the spontaneous breaking of fundamental symmetries in elementary-particle theory", in 1982 by Drummond Matthews and Frederick Vine for explaining the magnetic properties of the ocean floors which then led to the plate tectonic hypothesis, and in 1988 by Archibald Howie and M.J. Whelan for their work on the theory of electron diffraction and microscopy, and its use in the study of lattice defects in crystals.

List of recipients

Year Name Reason for winning Notes
1902 Thomson, Joseph JohnJoseph John Thomson for his many contributions to electric science, especially electric discharge in gases
1903 Hittorf, Johann WilhelmJohann Wilhelm Hittorf for his experiments on electric discharge in liquids and gases
1904 Swan, JosephJoseph Swan for his invention of the incandescent lamp, and his other inventions and improvements in the practical uses of electricity
1905 Righi, AugustoAugusto Righi for his research in electrical science, including electric vibrations
1906 Ayrton, HerthaHertha Ayrton for her experiments on the electric arc, and also on sand ripples
1907 Griffiths, Ernest HowardErnest Howard Griffiths for his work on exact physical measurement
1908 Goldstein, EugenEugen Goldstein for his discoveries about electric discharge in rarefied gases
1909 Glazebrook, RichardRichard Glazebrook for his research on electrical standards
1910 Fleming, John AmbroseJohn Ambrose Fleming for his research in electricity and electrical measurements
1911 Wilson, CharlesCharles Wilson "for his work on nuclei in dust-free air, and his work on ions in gases and atmospheric electricity"
1912 Duddell, WilliamWilliam Duddell for his work in technical electricity
1913 Bell, Alexander GrahamAlexander Graham Bell for his part in the invention of the telephone, and especially the construction of the telephone receiver
1914 Townsend, John SealyJohn Sealy Townsend for his research on electric induction in gases
1915 Langevin, PaulPaul Langevin for his work on electrical science
1916 Thomson, ElihuElihu Thomson for his research in experimental electricity
1917 Barkla, CharlesCharles Barkla for his research on X-ray radiation
1918 Langmuir, IrvingIrving Langmuir for his research in molecular physics
1919 Chree, CharlesCharles Chree "for his researches in terrestrial magnetism"
1920 Richardson, OwenOwen Richardson for his work in experimental physics, and thermionics
1921 Bohr, NielsNiels Bohr "for his research in theoretical physics"
1922 , Francis William AstonFrancis William Aston "for his discovery of isotopes of a large number of the elements by using positive rays"
1923 Millikan, RobertRobert Millikan for his work on the electronic charge and of other physical constants
1924 zzzzNot awarded  —
1925 Smith, Frank EdwardFrank Edward Smith for his work on fundamental electrical units and for research in technical electricity
1926 Jackson, HenryHenry Jackson for his pioneer work in the scientific investigations of radiotelegraphy and its use for navigation
1927 Coolidge, WilliamWilliam Coolidge "for his work on the X-rays and the development of highly efficient apparatus for their production"
1928 Broglie, Maurice deMaurice de Broglie "for his work on X-ray spectra"
1929 Geiger, HansHans Geiger "for his invention and development of methods of counting alpha and beta particles"
1930 Raman, Chandrasekhara VenkataChandrasekhara Venkata Raman "for his studies on the abnormal scattering of light"
1931 Bragg, William LawrenceWilliam Lawrence Bragg for his pioneer work on explaining crystal structure by using X-ray analysis
1932 Chadwick, JamesJames Chadwick for his research on radioactivity
1933 Appleton, Edward VictorEdward Victor Appleton for his research into the effect of the Heaviside layer upon sending wireless signals
1934 Siegbahn, ManneManne Siegbahn "for his work as a physicist and technician on long-wave X-rays"
1935 Davisson, ClintonClinton Davisson "for his research that resulted in the discovery of the physical existence of electron waves through long-continued investigations on the reflection of electrons from the crystal planes of nickel and other metals"
1936 Schottky, Walter H.Walter H. Schottky "for his discovery of the Schrot Effect in thermionic emission and his invention of the screen-grid tetrode and a superheterodyne method of receiving wireless signals"
1937 Lawrence, ErnestErnest Lawrence for his work on the development of the cyclotron and its use to study nuclear disintegration
1938 Cockcroft, JohnJohn Cockcroft and Walton, ErnestErnest Walton for their discovery that nuclei could be disintegrated by artificially produced bombarding particles
1939 Thomson, George PagetGeorge Paget Thomson for his important discoveries about the diffraction of electrons by matter
1940 Compton, ArthurArthur Compton "for his discovery of the Compton Effect; and for his work on cosmic rays"
1941 Mott, NevillNevill Mott for his use of quantum theory in physics, especially nuclear and collision theory, the theory of metals and in the theory of photographic emulsions
1942 Fermi, EnricoEnrico Fermi for his work on the electrical structure of matter, quantum theory, and his experimental studies of the neutron
1943 Oliphant, MarcusMarcus Oliphant for his work in nuclear physics and mastery of methods of generating and applying high potentials
1944 Finch, GeorgeGeorge Finch for his fundamental study of the structure and properties of surfaces, and for his work on the electrical ignition of gases
1945 Schonland, BasilBasil Schonland for his work on atmospheric electricity and of other physical researches
1946 Randall, JohnJohn Randall for his research into fluorescent materials and into the production of high frequency electro-magnetic radiation
1947 Joliot-Curie, FrédéricFrédéric Joliot-Curie for his work in nuclear physics, particularly the discovery of artificial radioactivity and of neutron emission in the fission process
1948 Watson-Watt, RobertRobert Watson-Watt for his work on atmospheric physics and to the development of radar
1949 Powell, CecilCecil Powell for his work on the photography of particle tracks, and the discovery of mesons and their transformation
1950 Born, MaxMax Born for his contributions to theoretical physics in general and to the development of quantum mechanics
1951 Kramers, HendrikHendrik Kramers for his work on the quantum theory, and its use in the study of optical and magnetic properties of matter
1952 Dee, PhilipPhilip Dee for his work on the disintegration of atomic nuclei, particularly those using the Wilson cloud chamber technique
1953 Bullard, EdwardEdward Bullard for his work, both theoretical and experimental, of the physics of the Earth
1954 Ryle, MartinMartin Ryle for his experiments in radio astronomy
1955 Massey, HarrieHarrie Massey for his work on atomic and molecular physics, especially collisions involving the production and recombination of ions
1956 Lindemann, FrederickFrederick Lindemann for his work in many fields: the meting point formula and theory of specific heats; ionisation of stars; meteors and temperature inversion in the stratosphere
1957 Proudman, JosephJoseph Proudman for his work on dynamical oceanography
1958 da Costa Andrade, EdwardEdward da Costa Andrade for his work in many branches of classical physics
1959 Pippard, BrianBrian Pippard for his work in the field of low temperature physics
1960 Pawsey, JosephJoseph Pawsey for his work on radio astronomy both in the study of solar and of cosmic ray emission
1961 Cottrell, AlanAlan Cottrell for his work on the physical properties of metals, particularly mechanical deformation and the effects of irradiation
1962 Bleaney, BrebisBrebis Bleaney for his study of electrical and magnetic phenomena and their link with atomic and molecular properties
1963 Williams, FredericFrederic Williams for work on early computers
1964 Salam, AbdusAbdus Salam for his work on quantum mechanics and the theory of fundamental particles
1965 Wilkinson, DenysDenys Wilkinson for his experiments and study of nuclear structure and high energy physics
1966 Kemmer, NicholasNicholas Kemmer for his many important discoveries in theoretical nuclear physics
1967 Mendelssohn, KurtKurt Mendelssohn for his work on cryophysics, and his discoveries in superconductivity and superfluidity
1968 Dyson, FreemanFreeman Dyson for his work in theoretical physics, and quantum electrodynamics
1969 Kurti, NicholasNicholas Kurti for his work in low-temperature physics and thermodynamics"
1970 Bates, DavidDavid Bates for his work on theoretical atomic and molecular physics and its use in studying atmospheric physics, plasma physics and astrophysics
1971 Brown, Robert HanburyRobert Hanbury Brown for his work in developing a new form of stellar interfrometer, and in his observations of alpha virginis
1972 Josephson, Brian DavidBrian David Josephson for his discovery of the remarkable properties of junctions between superconducting materials
1973 Hirsch, PeterPeter Hirsch for his work on the development of the electron microscope thin film technique for the study of crystal defects and its use in a wide range of problems in materials science and metallurgy
1974 Fowler, PeterPeter Fowler for his work on cosmic ray and elementary particle physics
1975 Dalitz, RichardRichard Dalitz for his work on the development of the electron microscope thin film technique for the study of crystal defects and its use to study problems in materials science and metallurgy
1976 Hawking, StephenStephen Hawking for his work on using general relativity to study astrophysics, and the behaviour of highly condensed matter
1977 Hewish, AntonyAntony Hewish for his work in radio astronomy, including the discovery and identification of pulsars
1978 Cochran, WilliamWilliam Cochran for his pioneering work in X-ray crystallography, and for his original work in lattice dynamics and its relation to phase transitions
1979 Williams, Robert Joseph PatonRobert Joseph Paton Williams for his studies of the conformations of computer molecules in solution by the use of nuclear magnetic resonance
1980 Farley, FrancisFrancis Farley for his ultra-precise measurements of the muon magnetic moment, a severe test of quantum electrodynamics and of the nature of the muon"
1981 Higgs, PeterPeter Higgs, Walter, ThomasThomas Walter and Kibble, BannermanBannerman Kibble for their work on the spontaneous breaking of fundamental symmetries in elementary-particle theory
1982 Matthews, DrummondDrummond Matthews and Vine, FrederickFrederick Vine for their explanation of the magnetic properties of the ocean floors which led to the plate tectonic hypothesis
1983 Ward, JohnJohn Ward for his important and original work on quantum field theory, the Ward identity and the Salam-Ward theory of weak interactions
1984 Kerr, RoyRoy Kerr for his work on relativity, and his important discovery of the so-called Kerr Black Hole
1985 Skyrme, TonyTony Skyrme for his work on theoretical particle and nuclear physics, and his discovery that particle-like entities simulating the properties of baryons can occur in non-linear meson field theories
1986 Woolfson, MichaelMichael Woolfson "for the creation of algorithms including MULTAN and SAYTAN which are used world-wide to solve the majority of reported crystal structures"
1987 Pepper, MichaelMichael Pepper for his many important experiments into the fundamental properties of semiconductors in low-dimensional systems, where he has explained some of their unusual properties like electron localization and the Quantum Hall effects
1988 Howie, ArchibaldArchibald Howie and Whelan, M.J.M.J. Whelan for their work on the theory of electron diffraction and microscopy, and its use to study lattice defects in crystals
1989 Bell, John StewartJohn Stewart Bell for his work on our understanding of the structure and interpretation of quantum theory, showing the unique nature of its predictions
1990 Cowling, Thomas GeorgeThomas George Cowling for his work on theoretical astrophysics including original theoretical studies of the role of electromagnetic induction in cosmic systems
1991 Moon, PhilipPhilip Moon for his work in three main areas of science — nuclear physics, the discovery of gamma-ray resonances, and the use of colliding molecular beams to study chemical reactions
1992 Seaton, MichaelMichael Seaton for his theoretical research in atomic physics and leadership of the Opacity Project
1993 Isaak, GeorgeGeorge Isaak "for his pioneering use of resonant scattering techniques to make extremely precise measures of Doppler velocity shifts in the solar photosphere"
1994 Chambers, Robert G.Robert G. Chambers for his work on solid-state physics, and his ingenious and technically demanding experiment which proved the Ahoronov-Bohm effect on the behaviour of charged particles in magnetic fields
1995 Shoenberg, DavidDavid Shoenberg for his work on the electronic structure of solids, using low temperature techniques, and the De Haas Van Alphen effect, defining the Fermi surface of many metals
1996 Buckingham, AmyandAmyand Buckingham for his work in chemical physics on long-range intermolecular forces, non-linear optics, problems related to the polarizability of the helium atom, the interpretation of NMR spectra, and the uses of ab initio computations
1997 Lang, AndrewAndrew Lang for his work on X-ray diffraction physics and for his developing techniques of X-ray topography to study defects in crystal structures
1998 Hide, RaymondRaymond Hide for his experiments and study of the hydrodynamics of rotating fluids, and the use of this study in understanding of motions in the atmosphere and interiors of the major planets
1999 Boksenberg, AlexanderAlexander Boksenberg for his landmark discoveries on the nature of active galactic nuclei, the physics of the intergalactic medium and of the interstellar gas in primordial galaxies. He is noted also for his work on the development of astronomical instrumentation including the Image Photon Counting System, a revolutionary electronic area detector for the detection of faint sources, which inspired optical astronomy in the United Kingdom
2000 Rao, ChintamaniChintamani Rao for his work on materials chemistry in the study of the electronic and magnetic properties of transition metal oxides and high temperature superconductors. His work has been an inspiration to a generation of Indian scientists
2001 Pethica, JohnJohn Pethica for his work on nanometre and atomic scale mechanics. He invented and developed the technique of nanoindentation thereby revolutionising the mechanical characterisation of ultra-small volumes of materials. This has been important for industries using thin film and coating technologies
2002 Dalgarno, AlexanderAlexander Dalgarno for his work on the theory of atomic and molecular process, and how it can be used in astrophysics. His studies of energy depositions provide the key to understanding emissions from terrestrial aurorae, planetary atmospheres and comets
2003 Edwards, PeterPeter Edwards for his work as a solid state chemist. He has made original contributions in superconductivity and the behaviour of metal nanoparticles, and has greatly advanced our understanding of the phenomenology of the metal-insulator transition
2004 Clarke, JohnJohn Clarke for his research, leading the world in the invention, building and development of innovative new Superconducting QUantum Interference Devices (SQUID), in their theory and use in many fundamental problems and their investigative tools
2005 Moffatt, KeithKeith Moffatt for his work on the understanding of magnetohydrodynamics and the mechanisms determining how magnetic fields can develop from a low background level to substantial amplitude
2006 Kelly, MichaelMichael Kelly for his work in the fundamental physics of electron transport and the creation of practical electronic devices which can be deployed in advanced systems
2007 Ekert, ArturArtur Ekert "for his pioneering work on quantum cryptography and his many important contributions to the theory of quantum computation and other branches of quantum physics"
2008 Dougherty, MicheleMichele Dougherty for innovative use of magnetic field data that led to discovery of an atmosphere around one of Saturn's moons and the way it changed our view of the role of planetary moons in the Solar System
2009 zzzzno award  —
2010 Geim, AndreAndre Geim "for his revolutionary discovery of graphene, and elucidation of its remarkable properties"
2011 Rosseinsky, MatthewMatthew Rosseinsky "for his influential discoveries in the synthetic chemistry of solid state electronic materials and novel microporous structures"
2013 Sirringhaus, HenningHenning Sirringhaus "for his pioneering development of inkjet printing processes for organic semiconductor devices, and dramatic improvement of their functioning and efficiency"
2015 Efstathiou, GeorgeGeorge Efstathiou "for many outstanding contributions to our understanding of the early Universe"
2017 Bruce, PeterPeter Bruce "for distinguished work elucidating the fundamental chemistry underpinning energy storage"
2018 Durrant, JamesJames Durrant "for his distinguished photochemical studies for the design solar energy devices"
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