'Sacrifice of a genius': Henry Moseley's role as a Signals Officer in World War One

Public history of science lecture by Dr Elizabeth Bruton

Event Details

Elizabeth Bruton is a postdoctoral researcher on the AHRC-funded project 'Innovating in Combat: Telecommunications and intellectual property in the First World War' based at the University of Leeds and the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford.

Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley (1887-1915) was one of the foremost English physicists of the early twentieth century. Probably best remembered for his immense contributions to chemistry and atomic physics in the years immediately prior to the outbreak of World War One, there is little doubt that Moseley would have been nominated for election to the Royal Society if he had survived the war. Moseley's pre-war contributions to physics and chemistry are well-known and well-documented. This talk will focus on the lesser-known period of just under a year between October 1914 and August 1915 when Moseley served as a Signals Officer in the Royal Engineers. Moseley's death in combat in Gallipoli in August 1915 was widely lamented at the time with contemporary newspaper headlines proclaiming 'Sacrifice of a Genius' and 'Too Valuable To Die'. Moseley's death and the deaths of other British scientists and engineers in combat led to an increased awareness of their military value and resulted in the British military forbidding active service for these potentially valuable assets. Moseley's service in the Royal Engineers offers up the potential for a wider consideration of wartime telecommunications and the role of the soldier-scientist.

Attending this event

This event is free to attend and open to all. No tickets are required. Doors open at 12.30pm and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

We have a limited number of spaces for wheelchair users and ten bookable seats for people with impaired mobility who are unable to queue. To book in advance, please contact the events team. Further information about accessibility is available.

Recorded audio will be available on this page a few days after the event.

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'Sacrifice of a genius': Henry Moseley's role as a Signals Officer in World War One 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK

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