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The Solvay Conference

with 31 comments

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.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

January 28, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Posted in Industries

Tagged with , ,

31 Responses

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  1. What an incredible photo. It’s a veritable Who’s Who of Science!


    January 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm

  2. Yes, I’ve always loved that picture. So many great minds in one shot.


    Dave Gill

    January 31, 2010 at 8:21 pm

  3. […] photo of attendees at the 1927 Fifth Solvay International Conference. Seventeen out of the twenty-nine conference […]

  4. A great photograph on many counts.

    Did anyone film the talks? 🙂


    February 1, 2010 at 7:01 pm

  5. […] And two links which put a smile on my face: here and here. […]

  6. See the guy on the very left of the photo in the second row, Peter Debye?? looks like Hitler?????

    phani Kuamar

    February 7, 2010 at 2:09 am

    • Yaa ..he is Hitler 😉

      Sachin J Malvi

      March 12, 2010 at 5:36 am

  7. At least 5 are Jews:
    Einstein, Born, Pauli, Ehrenfest, Bohr.


    February 18, 2010 at 8:28 pm

  8. 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!!!


    March 8, 2010 at 4:08 pm

  9. wonderful

    kaz maslanka

    March 9, 2010 at 3:05 am

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


    March 11, 2010 at 8:56 am

  11. Really very good to see gr8 scientist captured in one photo 🙂 wonderful 🙂

    Mahesh H

    March 12, 2010 at 4:21 am

  12. What a great photo !
    Really its an amazing moment to see all the great scientist at one place 🙂

    Amit Chouhan

    March 17, 2010 at 9:24 am

  13. 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 –

    Dr P R Chakraborty

    April 26, 2010 at 11:41 am

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

    F Kone

    May 8, 2010 at 9:42 am

  15. How can I purchase a print of the 1927 Solvey conference?


    May 23, 2010 at 4:37 pm

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

    Kishore Kumar

    September 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm

  17. I absolutely love this picture. Would you get that today?


    October 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm

  18. What a great photo. Isn’t Marie Curie the only one to win two Nobel Prizes?


    January 18, 2011 at 6:12 pm

  19. baldness = intelligence then ?

    Tony Cooper

    January 19, 2011 at 4:17 am

    • haha…cant believe some guys thumbed it down!!..which god do they trust??

      Sunny Rays

      January 19, 2011 at 11:22 pm

  20. […] which is one of my favorite pictures of scientists.  The participants aren’t identified, but Iconic Images tells you who they are (see below photo).  Perhaps no other photograph contains so much human […]

  21. Does anyone know where to purchase a print of this photo?

    Breegan Jane

    November 14, 2011 at 10:55 pm

  22. 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)

    Krzysztof kuc

    January 29, 2012 at 9:32 pm

  23. Reblogged this on e comentado:
    EPIC photo.

    Esdras Menezes

    June 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm

  24. best photo of my life

    apoorv tyagi

    July 5, 2012 at 6:22 am

  25. […] The Solvay Conference « Iconic PhotosJan 28, 2010 … Second Row (l to r): Peter Debye, Martin Knudson, W. Lawrence Bragg, Hans Kramer, Paul Dirac, Arthur Compton, Louis de Broglie, Max Born, … […]

  26. […] View full list of names here: https://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/the-solvay-conference/ […]

    • 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.

      Dave Koh

      March 6, 2013 at 5:20 am

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