Monthly Archives: May 2017

Chien-Shiung Wu and the Conservation of Parity

Chien-Shiung Wu and the Conservation of Parity

On May 31, 1912, Chinese-American experimental physicist Chien-Shiung Wu was born. Wu is best known for conducting the Wu experiment, which contradicted the hypothetical law of conservation of parity. This discovery resulted in her colleagues Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang winning the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics, and also earned Wu the inaugural Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978. Her expertise in experimental physics evoked comparisons to Marie Curie. Chien-Shiung…
Hannes Alfvén – the Father of Plasma Physics

Hannes Alfvén – the Father of Plasma Physics

On May 30, 1908. Swedish electrical engineer, plasma physicist, and Nobel laureate Hannes Alfvén was born. Alfvén won the 1970 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on magnetohydrodynamics (MHD). He described the class of MHD waves now known as Alfvén waves. Alfvén made many contributions to plasma physics, including theories describing the behavior of aurorae, the Van Allen radiation belts, the effect of magnetic storms on the Earth’s magnetic field, the terrestrial magnetosphere, and…
Sir David Bruce and the Malta Fever

Sir David Bruce and the Malta Fever

On May 29, 1855, Scottish pathologist and microbiologist Sir David Bruce was born. Bruce investigated Malta fever (later called brucellosis in his honour) and African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in animals). He discovered the first protozoan parasite transmitted by insects, which was later named Trypanosoma brucei after him. David Bruce was born in Melbourne, Australia, to David Bruce, a Scottish engineer and his wife Jane Russell Hamilton,…
Alfred Nier and Mass Spectroscopy

Alfred Nier and Mass Spectroscopy

On May 28, 1911, American physicist Alfred Otto Carl Nier was born. Nier pioneered the development of mass spectrometry. He was the first to use mass spectrometry to isolate uranium-235 which was used to demonstrate that 235U could undergo fission and developed the sector mass spectrometer configuration now known as Nier-Johnson geometry. Alfred Otto Carl Nier attended the University of Minnesota and graduated in electrical engineering in 1931. Nier decided…
Sir Francis Beaufort and the Wind Scale

Sir Francis Beaufort and the Wind Scale

On May 27, 1774, Irish hydrographer and officer in the Royal Navy Sir Francis Beaufort was born. Beaufort was the creator of the Beaufort Scale for indicating wind force. In 1806, British Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort devised a simple scale that coastal observers could use to report the state of the sea to the Admiralty. Francis Beaufort was born at Navan, County Meath, Ireland, the son of Daniel Augustus Beaufort,…
Robert Yerkes and Psychobiology

Robert Yerkes and Psychobiology

On May 26, 1876, American psychologist, ethologist, eugenicist and primatologist Robert Mearns Yerkes was born. Yerkes is known for his work in intelligence testing and in the field of comparative psychology. He is refered to as a principal developer of comparative (animal) psychology in the U.S. and pioneered in the study both of human and primate intelligence and of the social behavior of gorillas and chimpanzees. Robert Yerkes first attended…
The Case of the Chief of the General Staff Alfred Redl

The Case of the Chief of the General Staff Alfred Redl

On May 25, 1913, officer of the Imperial Austrian army Alfred Redl passed away. Redl, who rose to head the counter-intelligence efforts of Austria-Hungary, was one of the leading figures of pre-World War I espionage. His term in office was marked by innovation, and he used advanced technology, for the time, to ensnare foreign intelligence agents. But he was himself a paid spy for the Russians. Claims that Redl also…
Helen B. Taussig and Pediatric Cardiology

Helen B. Taussig and Pediatric Cardiology

On May 24, 1898, American cardiologist Helen Brooke Taussig was born. Taussig is often referred to as the founder of the field of pediatric cardiology. Notably, she is credited with developing the concept for a procedure that would extend the lives of children born with Tetralogy of Fallot (the most common cause of blue baby syndrome). This concept was applied in practice as a procedure known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt.…
John Bardeen and his two Nobel Prizes in Physics

John Bardeen and his two Nobel Prizes in Physics

On May 23, 1908, American physicist and electrical engineer John Bardeen was born. Bardeen is the only person to have won the Nobel Prize in Physics twice: first in 1956 with William Shockley and Walter Brattain for the invention of the transistor; and again in 1972 with Leon N Cooper and John Robert Schrieffer for a fundamental theory of conventional superconductivity known as the BCS theory theory. John Bardeen attended the University…
The Writings of Victor Hugo

The Writings of Victor Hugo

On May 22, 1854, French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement Victor Hugo passed away. Hugo is considered one of the greatest and best-known French writers. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, 1831. In France, Hugo is known primarily for his poetry collections. Victor Hugo was born in 1802 in Besançon in the eastern region of Franche-Comté, the…
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