Victor Franz Hess’ 1936 Nobel Prize for the discovery of cosmic radiation is set to auction at Bonhams New York.
It will headline a fine books and manuscripts sale on June 7.
Victor Hess discovered cosmic radiation
Hess (1883-1964) received the medal for work he carried out between 1911 and 1913.
He became fascinated by the origin of radiation, which was initially believed to be coming from the Earth rather than space.
If this was so, he reasoned, then the level of radiation should decrease the further from Earth you get.
Hess tested this hypothesis using a hot air balloon, which he flew to 17,500 feet (that’s around half the altitude of a cruising 747).
He discovered the level of radiation increased with altitude. Just to be sure the Sun wasn’t affecting the results, on one occasion he went up during a total eclipse.
There has been an increase in sales of Nobel Prizes in recent years.
The top price is $4.8m, paid for the one awarded to DNA co-discoverer James Watson. That sum reflects the level of awareness among the general public.
While Hess' discovery was hugely significant, it’s less well known and understood by the populace – hence its lower valuation of $300,000-500,000.
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