Beobachtungen der durchdringenden Strahlung bei sieben Freiballonfahrten. Offprint from: Sitzungsberichte der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Mathematisch-naturwissenschaftliche Klasse, Band CXXI, Abtheilung IIa, (Mitteilungen aus dem Institut für Radiumforschung XXX), November 1912.

Vienna: Aus der Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1912.

First edition, extremely rare separately-paginated offprint, of the discovery of cosmic radiation, here bound with 49 other offprints from the same journal from 1911 to 1913, including three further offprints by Hess on cosmic rays. “The 1912 discovery of cosmic rays by physicist Victor Franz Hess showed that radiation of extraterrestrial origin permeates the Earth’s atmosphere. After determining that ground-based radiation would fade to negligible amounts of measurable ionization at about 500 feet above the Earth’s surface, Hess conducted his experiments by ascending into the sky tethered to a helium balloon” (NNDB). “From April to August 1912 [Hess] had the opportunity of undertaking seven balloon flights up to 5,200m above ground, about which he reported in a detailed paper communicated to the Vienna academy meeting of 17 October 1912 [the offered work] … As a result of his measurements Hess stated: ‘(i) Immediately above ground the total radiation decreases a little … (ii) At altitudes of 1,000 to 2,000 m there occurs again a noticeable growth of penetrating radiation. (iii) The increase reaches, at altitudes of 3,000 to 4,000 m, already 50 per cent of the total radiation observed on the ground. (iv) At 4,000 to 5,200 m the radiation is stronger by [producing] 15 to 18 [more] ions [that is, more than 100 per cent] than on the ground’ (pp. 26-27). These results seemed to him ‘most easy to explain by the assumption that radiation of very high penetrating power enters the atmosphere from above and creates, even in the lowest layers [of the atmosphere], a part of the ionization observed in closed vessels’ (p. 25)” (Mehra & Rechenberg, The Historical Development of Quantum Theory, Vol. 5 (1987), pp. 160-161). “Most experts in the field scoffed at his findings until after World War I, when additional research backed Hess’s conclusions. In a 1925 paper written by Robert A. Millikan, the radiation Hess had discovered was given its present name, cosmic rays” (NNDB). “As it turned out much later, [cosmic radiation] consists of protons and heavier atomic nuclei with a wide range of energies. Some have energy very much larger than can be achieved by modern particle accelerators. Because of that, many important discoveries could be made with cosmic rays … In 1932, [Carl D.] Anderson discovered the positron in a cloud chamber exposed to cosmic radiation on a mountain” (Brandt, The Harvest of a Century (2009), pp. 77-79). The study of cosmic rays is still an essential part of high-energy particle physics: although particle collisions are now studied mainly through the use of giant particle accelerators, the only window into the behaviour of the very highest-energy particles comes from examining cosmic rays. The 1936 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly to Hess “for his discovery of cosmic radiation” and Anderson “for his discovery of the positron”. No copies located in auction records. We have located two institutional copies (Manchester and Paris).

Provenance: Peder Oluf Pedersen (ink stamp dated 1941 on front paste-down). Pedersen (1874-1941), Danish physicist and engineer, worked in the field of electrophysics and electrotechnics. In 1907, Pedersen was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Danish Society of Sciences of Copenhagen. In 1909, he was appointed Assistant Professor in Telegraphy, Telephony and Radio at the Royal Technical College at Copenhagen, becoming Professor in 1912 and principal of the college in 1922. He was awarded the H. C. Oersted Medal in 1927.

“Today we take it for granted that Earth’s atmosphere is constantly bombarded by high-energy cosmic rays originating far outside our solar system. But such was not always the case. It was a 29-year-old Austrian physicist named Victor Hess who officially ‘discovered’ cosmic rays, and went on to devote an illustrious scientific career to studying the effects of radiation on the human body.

“Born in Austria in June 1883, Hess was the son of the chief forester for the estate of Prince Oettingen-Wallerstein. He attended the University of Graz in 1901 and earned his PhD at 23. Hess initially planned to study optics under famed physicist Paul Drude, the man who gave physics the symbol c for the speed of light. Tragically, Drude committed suicide weeks before Hess was due to arrive.

“The young Victor wound up accepting a position at the University of Vienna instead, studying under Franz Exner, an early pioneer in the study of radiation. Under Exner’s tutelage, Hess began studying radioactivity and atmospheric electricity. It was during his work as an assistant at the Institute for Radium Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences that Hess became intrigued by frequent reports of electrical charges being detected inside electroscopes – no matter how well those containers were insulated. Most scientists at the time believed the source of the ionization to be terrestrial in nature – radioactivity from ground minerals – and postulated that the ionization measured in the atmosphere therefore would decrease the further one got from the ground.

“Prior experiments with electroscopes gave rough estimates of ionization levels in the atmosphere, but those results seemed to indicate that the levels might actually increase beyond a certain altitude. For instance, in 1910, Theodore Wulf measured ionization at both the bottom and top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and found that there was far more ionization at 300 feet (the top) than one would expect if this effect were solely attributable to ground radiation. Other scientists mounted their instruments on balloons to record ionization at higher levels, but their results were inconclusive due to instrumentation defects” (APS News).

“Hess now embarked upon systematic and quantitative investigations of the radioactive substances contained in the air, refining and intensifying the methods of previous and contemporary authors. He devoted special interest to the phenomenon of penetrating radiation … Hess started his programme by comparing Wulf’s results with the theoretical description which Arthur Eve had presented in his paper ‘On the ionization of the atmosphere due to radioactive matter,’ published in the recent January 1911 issue of Philosophical Magazine. If one assumed a uniform distribution of Ra C [a decay product of radium, namely the radioactive isotope 214Bi of bismuth] on the surface and in the uppermost layers of the earth, ‘an elevation to 100 m should reduce the effect [i.e., the intensity of the penetrating radiation] to 36 per cent of the ground value,’ concluded Hess and added: ‘This is such a serious discrepancy [with Wulf’s results] that its resolution appears to be of the highest importance for the radioactive theory of atmospheric electricity [article no. 4 in the contents list below, p. 3] … Since the existing intensity data at higher altitudes were still poor and uncertain, Hess concluded: ‘A clarification can only be expected from further measurements of the penetrating radiation in balloon ascents’ [ibid., p. 8].

“Hess continued his programme quickly by his own balloon observations. ‘On 28 August [1911] at 8 a.m. the balloon ‘Radetzky’ of the Austrian Aeroclub ([having a volume of] 1,100 m3) with Oberleutnant S. Heller as pilot and me as sole passenger was lifted by the crew of the Militāraeronautische Anstalt under the command of Hauptmann W. Hoffory’ (article no. 9, p. 4). It took Hess up to a height of 1,070 m above ground and allowed measurements during the four hours of flight. A second ride in another balloon (‘Austria’) during the night of 12 to 13 October 1911 took him to an altitude of 360 m above ground. During both balloon rides he observed that the intensity of the penetrating radiation remained practically constant, independent of height. He concluded the report on the two rides by suggesting two improvements: first, ‘it will be necessary to perform parallel measurements with a thick-walled and a very thin-walled apparatus in the balloon’ in order to enable one ‘to study separately the behaviour of β- and γ-radiation’; second, one had to extend the observations to ‘very great altitudes up to 7,000 m’ (ibid., p. 10).

“From April to August 1912 he had the opportunity of undertaking seven balloon flights up to 5,200 m above ground, about which he reported in a detailed paper communicated to the Vienna academy meeting of 17 October 1912 (article no. 30). During all these rides he used three apparatuses, two with thick walls and two with thin walls (which also allowed him to register the effect of β-rays). As a results of his measurements Hess stated:

(i) Immediately above ground the total radiation decreases a little … (ii) At altitudes of 1,000 to 2,000 m there occurs again a noticeable growth of penetrating radiation. (iii) The increase reaches, at altitudes of 3,000 to 4,000 m, already 50 per cent of the total radiation observed on the ground. (iv) At 4,000 to 5,200 m the radiation is stronger by [producing] 15 to 18 [more] ions [that is, more than 100 per cent] than on the ground’ (no. 30, pp. 26-27).

“These results seemed to him ‘most easy to explain by the assumption that radiation of very high penetrating power enters the atmosphere from above and creates, even in the lowest layers [of the atmosphere], a part of the ionization observed in closed vessels’ (ibid, p. 25). Hess further found time variations of radiation intensity, but excluded ‘the sun as the direct source of this hypothetical penetrating radiation,’ due to the fact that he observed on his balloon flights ‘neither during the night nor during a solar eclipse any weakening of the radiation’ (ibid., p. 29).

“Hess’ observations of 1912, which yielded an increase in intensity of the penetrating radiation with increasing height, could hardly be accounted for by the hitherto suggested assumptions that it was caused by the radioactive substances contained in the ground and the air above the ground. Irregular changes of the high altitude component, independent of any meteorological considerations, also pointed to an extra-terrestrial origin. In a paper ‘Über den Ursprung der durchdringenden Strahlung’ (‘On the origin of the penetrating radiation’) (article no. 46), which Hess submitted in June 1913 to the Vienna Academy of Sciences, he carefully analysed all possible sources of error in his measurements; especially, he again gauges his apparatus (for observing the ionization of air) and he determined as accurately as possible the radiation emerging from its walls (ibid.). The results of this analysis supported his previous conclusion, namely, ‘that a large part of the total penetrating radiation does not emerge from the known radioactive substances of the earth and of the atmosphere’ (ibid., p. 25) … This result may be taken as a definitive statement of the existence of a hitherto unexplained type of penetrating radiation” (Mehra & Rechenberg, pp. 159-161).

“Two years after Hess received the Nobel Prize, the Nazis invaded Austria and Hess was abruptly dismissed from his post as professor of physics at the University of Graz, in part because his wife was Jewish, and in part because he had been a scientific representative in the independent government of Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg. Warned by a sympathetic Gestapo officer that he and his wife would be sent to a concentration camp if they stayed in Austria, the couple fled to Switzerland.

“Hess immigrated to the US to become a professor at Fordham University. He participated in the first tests for radioactive fallout less than a year after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, many conducted from the 87th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City. The following year found Hess in the bowels of Manhattan, measuring the radioactivity of granite in the 190th Street subway station near Fort Tryon.

“Along with William T. McNiff, Hess developed ‘an integrating gamma ray method’ for detecting minute traces of radium in the human body, thereby making it possible to determine if someone was suffering from radium poisoning before it became critical.

“Even after retiring from Fordham, Hess continued to do research. He was keenly interested in creating a more accurate scale of how much radioactivity the human body could tolerate–a difficult thing to determine, since individuals could tolerate different levels, and because the effects were often cumulative, taking as along as 50 years to fully present. He strongly opposed nuclear testing, claiming, ‘We know too little about radioactivity at this time to state definitely that testing underground or above the atmosphere will have no effect on the human body.’

“Hess died on December 17, 1964, but his legacy lives on. In 2004, an observatory opened in the deserts of Namibia to detect gamma rays from cosmic sources. It was named the High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) telescope, in homage to the man who discovered cosmic rays” (APS News).

An abbreviated announcement of Hess’s discovery was published simultaneously, under the same title as no. 30, in Physikalische Zeitschrift, Band 13, pp. 1084-1091 – both papers appeared in the November 1912 issues of their respective journals. An English translation of the Sitzungberichte version of no. 30 is available (arxiv.org/pdf/1808.02927.pdf). The PZ version is digitized here: inspirehep.net/record/1623161/files/HessArticle.pdf. A similarly abbreviated version of no. 46 also appeared in PZ 14 (1913), 612-617.

‘This Month in Physics History. April 17, 1912: Victor Hess’s balloon flight during total eclipse to measure cosmic rays.’ APS News, Vol. 19, No. 4, April 2010 (aps.org/publications/apsnews/201004/physicshistory.cfm). On Pedersen, see: https://ethw.org/Peder_Pedersen

CONTENTS (all articles from the same journal)

  1. EXNER, F. & HASCHEK, E. [Radiologischer Teil von Stefan MEYER]. Über das Bogen und Funkenspektrum des Radiums. Bd. CXX, Abt. IIa, June 1911, pp. [1], 2-5, [3, blank]
  2. MEYER, S. & HESS, Über die Erreichung der Sättigungswerte bei Ionisation durch α-Strahlen, Bd. CXX, Abt. IIa, July 1911, pp. [1], 2-12
  3. HAITINGER, L. & PETERS, K. Über Radium und Mesothor aus Monazitsand, Bd. CXX, Abt. IIa, July 1911, pp. [1], 2-6, [2, blank]
  4. HESS. Über direkte Messungen der Absorption der γ-Strahlen von Radium C, Bd. CXX, Abt. IIa, July 1911, pp. [1], 2-8
  5. KAILAN, A. Über die chemischen Wirkungen der durchdringenden Radiumstrahlung. 1. Der Einfluss der durchdringenden Strahlen auf Wasserstoffsuperoxyd in neutraler Lösung. Bd. CXX, Abt. IIa, July 1911, pp. [1], 2-16
  6. CONGDON, E. D. Die Beeinflussung des Wachstums von Samen durch β-Strahlen. Bd. CXX, Abt. IIa, October 1911, pp. [1], 2-10
  7. KAILAN, A. Über die chemischen Wirkungen der durchdringenden Radiumstrahlung. 2. Der Einfluss der durchdringenden Strahlen auf Alkalijodide in wässeriger Lösung. Bd. CXX, Abt. IIa, October 1911, pp. [1], 2-28
  8. HÖNIGSCHMID, O. Revision des Atomgewichtes des Radiums und Herstellung von Radium-standardpräparaten. Bd. CXX, Abt. IIa, November 1911, pp. [1], 2-36
  9. HESS. Messungen der durchdringenden Strahlung bei zwei Freiballonfahrten. Bd. CXX, Abt. IIa, November 1911, pp. [1], 2-11, [1, blank]
  10. SIRK, H. Zur Frage nach der Existenz eines aktiven Elementes zwischen Uran und Uran X. Bd. CXX, Abt. IIa, November 1911, pp. [1], 2-6, [2, blank]
  11. LIND, S. C. Ozonisierung des Sauerstoffes durch α-Strahlen. Bd. CXX, Abt. IIa, December 1911, pp. [1], 2-16, with one folding plate
  12. PRZIBRAM, K. Ein einfacher Versuch zur Demonstration der Reichweite (Range) der α-Strahlen. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, February 1912, pp. [1], 2-6, [2, blanl]
  13. FLAMM, L. & MACHE, H. Über die quantitative Messung der Radiumemanation im Schutzring-plattenkondensator. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, February 1912, pp. [1], 2-20
  14. PRZIBRAM, K. Über den Phosphorgehalt der Phosphornebelteilchen. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, February 1912, pp. [1], 2-8
  15. KNAFFL-LENZ, E. v. & WIECHOWSKI, W. Über die Wirkung von Radiumemanation auf Mononatiumurat. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, February 1912, pp. [1], 2-9, [3, blank]
  16. MOLISCH, H. Über das Treiben von Pflanzen mittels Radium. Bd. CXXI, Abt. I, March 1912, pp. [1], 2-19, [1, blank], with two plates
  17. MEYER, S. & HESS. Zur Definition der Wiener Radiumstandardprāparate. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, April 1912, pp. [1], 2-29, [3, blank]
  18. BROMMER, A. Luftelektrische Messungen während der partiellen Sonnenfinsternis am 17. April 1912. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, June 1912, pp. [1], 2-11, [1, blank]
  19. EXNER, F. & HASCHEK, Ed. Spektroskopische Untersuchung des Joniums. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, June 1912, pp. [1], 2-3, [1, blank]
  20. KAILAN, A. Über die Einwirkung von ultraviolettem Licht auf o-, m- und p-Nitro-benzaldehyd sowie auf Benzaldehyd selbst. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, July 1912, pp. [1], 2-23, [1, blank]
  21. KAILAN, A. Über die chemischen wirkungen der durchdringenden Radiumstrahlung. 3. Der Einfluss der durchdringenden Strahlen auf einige anorganische Verbindungen. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, July 1912, pp. [1], 2-32
  22. KAILAN, A. Über die chemischen wirkungen der durchdringenden Radiumstrahlung. 4. Der Einfluss der durchdringenden Strahlen auf einige Verbindungen und Reaktionen. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, July 1912, pp. [1], 2-17, [1, blank]
  23. MEYER, S. & PANETH, F. Über die Intensitätder α-Strahlungvon Uran. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, July 1912, pp. [1], 2-10, [2, blank]
  24. MEYER, S. & PRZIBRAM, K. Über einige neue Erscheinungen bei der Beeinflussung von Gläsern und Mineralien durch Becquerelstrahlung. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, July 1912, pp. [1], 2-6, [2, blank]
  25. HESS. Die Wärmeproduktion des von seinen Zerfallsprodukten befreiten Radiums. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, July 1912, pp. [1], 2-9, [3, blank]
  26. MOLISCH, H. Über den Einfluss der Radiumemanation auf die höhere Pflanze. Bd. CXXI, Abt. I, October 1912, pp. [1], 2-25, [1, blank], with 3 plates
  27. BROMMER, A. Über die Absorption der γ-Strahlen des Radiums C. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, October 1912, pp. [1], 2-26, with one plate
  28. ALTBERG, W. Anwendung des Luftwiderstandes zur Messung der Gasgeschwindigkeiten. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, October 1912, pp. [1], 2-6, [2, blank]
  29. HÖNIGSCHMID, O. Revision des Atomgewichtes des Radiums durch Analyse des Radiumbromids. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, November 1912, pp. [1], 2-27, [1, blank]
  30. HESS. Beobachtungen der durchdringenden Strahlung bei sieben Freiballonfahrten. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, November 1912, pp. [1], 2-32
  31. HASCHEK, E. & HÖNIGSCHMID, O. Zur Frage der Reinheit des internationalen Radiumstandards, Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, December 1912, pp. [1], 2-7, [1, blank]
  32. PANETH, F. Über eine neue Methode zur Konzentrierung von Polonium. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, December 1912, pp. [1], 2
  33. KAILAN, A. Über die chemischen Wirkungen der durchdringenden Radiumstrahlung. 5. Der Einfluss der durchdringenden Strahlen auf sterilisierte wässerige Rohrzuckerlösungen. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, December 1912, pp. [1], 2-6, [2, blank]
  34. KOFLER, M. Die Löslichkeit der Ra-Emanation in Wasser in ihrer Abhängigkeit von der Temperatur. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, December 1912, pp. [1], 2-12
  35. PRZIBRAM, K. Über die Brown’sche Bewegung nicht kugelförmiger Teilchen. Bd. CXXI, Abt. IIa, December 1912, pp. [1], 2-12
  36. MACHE, H. & SUESS, E. Über die Aufnahme von Radiumemanation in das menschliche Blut bei der Inhalations- und Trinkkur. Bd. CXXI, Abt. III, October-November 1912, pp. [1], 2-14, [2, blank]
  37. SIRK, H. Ein Druckgefälle im Glimmstrom bei Einwirkung eines transversalen Magnetfeldes. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, February 1913, pp. [1], 2-59, [1, blank]
  38. FLAMM, L. & MACHE, H. Über die quantitative Messung der Radiumemanation im Schutzringplattenkondensator. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, March 1913, pp. [1], 2-8
  39. KAILAN, A. Über einige Zersetzungen im ultravioletten Lichte. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, April 1913, pp. [1], 2-36
  40. KAILAN, A. Über die chemischen Wirkungen der durchdringenden Radiumstrahlung. 6. Der Einfluss der durchdringenden Strahlen auf die Jodide der alkalischen Erden. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, April 1913, pp. [1], 2-24
  41. KAILAN, A. Über die chemischen Wirkungen der durchdringenden Radiumstrahlung. 7. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, April 1913, pp. [1], 2-21, [3, blank]
  42. PANETH, F. & HEVESY, G. v. Über Versuche zur Trennung des Radium D von Biel. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, May 1913, pp. [1], 2-8
  43. PANETH, F. & HEVESY, G. v. Über Radioelemente als Indikatoren in der analytischen Chemie. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, May 1913, pp. [1], 2-7, [1, blank]
  44. PANETH, F. & HEVESY, G. v. Über die elektrochemische Vertretbarkeit von Radioelementen. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, June 1913, pp. [1], 2-11, [1, blank]
  45. PANETH, F. & HEVESY, G. v. Über die Gewinnung von Polonium. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, June 1913, pp. [1], 2-4
  46. HESS. Über den Ursprung der durchdringenden Strahlung. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, June 1913, pp. [1], 2-25, [1, blank]
  47. PANETH, F. Über kolloide Lösungen radioaktiver Substanzen. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, June 1913, pp. [1], 2-6, [2, blank]
  48. MEYER, S. Über die Lebensdauer von Uran und Radium. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, June 1913, pp. [1], 2-10
  49. FRIEDMANN, F. Experimentelle Bestimmung der Schwankungen in der Reichweite bei den einzelnen α-Teilchen. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, July 1913, pp. [1], 2-12
  50. MEYER, S. Bemerkungen über die Löslichkeit von Radiumemanation und anderen Gasen in Flüssigkeiten. Bd. CXXII, Abt. IIa, July 1913, pp. [1], 2-14, [2, blank]


Fifty offprints bound in one vol., 8vo (221 x 150 mm), original front and back printed wrappers of each offprint bound in. Half-cloth and marbled boards, green leather lettering-piece on spine (ca. 1941).

Item #5157

Price: $12,500.00

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