The Solvay Conference

In 1911, Ernest Solvay, the Belgian chemist and industrialist founded Conseil Solvay, the world’s first physics conference. Initially aimed at solving problems in physics and chemistry, the conferences are held every three years.

The above group photo was taken at the end of the October 1927 Fifth Solvay International Conference. The tensions were high: Einstein sparred with Heisenberg over the latter’s Uncertainty Principle. The attendees disagreed on the Copenhagen interpretation of atom, was promoted by a faction led by Niels Bohr, and opposed by more conservative faction lead by Albert Einstein. By the end of the conference, Bohr’s faction had prevailed.

First Row (l to r): Irving Langmuir, Max Planck, Marie Curie, Hendrik Lorentz, Albert Einstein, Pierre Langevin, Charles Eugene Guye, C. T. R. Wilson, Owen W. Richardson

Second Row (l to r): Peter Debye, Martin Knudson, W. Lawrence Bragg, Hans Kramer, Paul Dirac, Arthur Compton, Louis de Broglie, Max Born, Niels Bohr

Third Row (l to r): Auguste Piccard, Émile Henriot, Paul Ehrenfest, Edouard Herzen,Théophile de Donder, Erwin Schrodinger, Jules-Emile Vershaffelt, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Ralph Howard Fowler, Leon Brillouin.

Seventeen of the twenty-nine attendees were or became Nobel Prize winners.

31 thoughts on “The Solvay Conference”

  1. I had never seen this picture before, thanks for sharing it 🙂 And I’m very glad for Marie Curie, the only woman in the picture!!!

  2. This is really great photograph.We are lucky to see many Great Scientist together :)Special Thanks to Photographer 🙂

  3. A breath-taking group photo which should be a dream possession for any chemist or physicist worth his salt. This photo and details of this conference were published in the lead article under the name “75 years of Quantum Physics” in one issue of the monthly magazine “Science Today” sometime in the 70’s/80’s.I have misplaced the issue. I would be beholden to anybody who could help me in getting a copy of this particular issue or any lead on how to find it on the net. Very many thanks –

  4. It is said that “Thinking is good business … there is little competition” Here are the competitors!!

  5. Great scientists succeeded to establish the great theories to the mankind, which they can visualize and imagine, which made them great scientific celebrities.

  6. For years I didn’t realize that factory called “Solvey Factory” was linked to so many famous scientist!!!
    Nowadays there is a shopping center called Zakopianka in Cracow(Poland)

    1. Meh, no Rutherford? And Born is Olivia Newton John’s grandfather but that somehow she doesn’t get in the picture It’s basically, Planck, Curie and Schrodinger and a bunch of theoretical whiners. Einstein??? Y’know why he’s quoted so much? He never shut up.

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