Henry Moseley: Science’s Lost Hero

Henry Moseley is regarded as one of the world’s most important scientific heroes, but whose bright star burned far too briefly. At the age of 26 he solved one of chemistry’s greatest conundrums, determining what distinguishes elements from one another and developing a means of identifying elements based on their atomic characteristics. Moseley’s work revolutionised chemistry and spawned a vital and widely-used technique: spectroscopy. Scientists now had a way of identifying any element based on the wavelengths it emitted when exposed to X-rays. This technique continues to thrive today, and is used at synchrotrons like Diamond to study everything from dinosaur bones to cancer treatments. However Moseley’s story is a tragic one. He lost his life during fighting at Gallipoli in World War One; he was just 27. But despite his short career, Moseley left behind a rich legacy of scientific accomplishment and laid the ground for the evolution of modern chemistry.

Diamond’s latest film, Henry Moseley: Science’s Lost Hero, highlights the astonishing work of the young scientist and recalls his tragic end, exploring the impact of his research on modern science.