physics

Thomas Carlyle and his Obsession with “Great Man”

Thomas Carlyle and his Obsession with “Great Man”

On December 4, 1795, Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, translator, historian, mathematician, and teacher Thomas Carlyle was born. Best known for his famous work On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History, he argued that the key role in history lies in the actions of the “Great Man“. However, Carlyle is considered one of the most important social commentators of the Victorian era. “The weakest living creature, by concentrating his powers on…
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Roman History by Theodor Mommsen

Roman History by Theodor Mommsen

On November 30, 1817, German classical scholar, historian, jurist, journalist, politician and archaeologist Theodor Mommsen was born. Mommsen was one of the greatest classicists of the 19th century. His work regarding Roman history is still of fundamental importance for contemporary research. Mommsen received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1902 for being “the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A History of…
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Johannes van der Waals –  A Pioneer in the Molecular Sciences

Johannes van der Waals – A Pioneer in the Molecular Sciences

On November 23, 1837 Dutch theoretical physicist and Nobel Laureate Johannes Diderik van der Waals was born. He is best known for his work on an equation of state for gases and liquids. Johannes van der Waals Background Johannes Diderik van der Waals was the son of a carpenter and could only receive ‘advanced primary education’, which would later on not be enough to actually enroll at a university. When he was…
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The Universe goes beyond the Milky Way – thanks to Edwin Hubble

The Universe goes beyond the Milky Way – thanks to Edwin Hubble

On November 20, 1889, American astronomer Edwin Hubble was born. He is best known for his role in establishing the field of extragalactic astronomy and is generally regarded as one of the most important observational cosmologists of the 20th century. “Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.” – Edwin Hubble (1929) Edwin Hubble – Early Years Although Edwin Hubble earned pretty good grades in…
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Maria Skłodowska Curie – Truly an Extraordinary Woman

Maria Skłodowska Curie – Truly an Extraordinary Woman

On November 7, 1867, Marie Curie was born, French-Polish physicist, chemist, pioneer in research of radioactivity.  She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, is the only woman to win the Nobel prize twice, and is the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields. “One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.” — Marie Curie, Letter to her…
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Chuck Yeager – Breaking the Sound Barrier

Chuck Yeager – Breaking the Sound Barrier

On October 14, 1947, US American test pilot Charles “Chuck” Yeager was the first to officially break the sound barrier with a rocket powered test aircraft Bell X-1, reaching a supersonic speed peak of Mach 1.06. Education and Military Career Charles Yaeger was born in 1923 and grew up as a curious child, hunting, fishing and hiking. Even though his overall achievements at school were only average, he excelled in everything that…
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Niels Bohr and the Origins of Quantum Mechanics

Niels Bohr and the Origins of Quantum Mechanics

On October 7, 1885, Danish physicist and Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr was born. Bohr made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. “Physics is to be regarded not so much as the study of something a priori given, but rather as the development of methods of ordering and surveying human experience. In this respect our task must be to account…
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Ole Rømer and the Speed of Light

Ole Rømer and the Speed of Light

On October 5, 1644 (or according to the old julian calendar September 25), Danish astronomer Ole Christensen Rømer was born. He became known by the first proof published in 1676 that the speed of light is finite and not infinite, respectively by the guidance, how the speed of light can be calculated by observation of the Jupiter moons. Ole Rømer – Early Years Ole Rømer was born in Århus, Denmark, to merchant and skipper…
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Hans Lippershey and the Telescope

Hans Lippershey and the Telescope

On October 2, 1608,  German-Dutch lensmaker Hans Lippershey applied to the States-General of the Netherlands for a patent for his instrument “for seeing things far away as if they were nearby”. Telescope History Even though scientists of the middle ages never heard of telescopes and most of them did not know specific laws of optics, they started laying the foundations for telescopes as we know them today. Before the invention of the telescope…
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Hans Geiger and the Invention of the Geiger-Müller Counter

Hans Geiger and the Invention of the Geiger-Müller Counter

On September 30, 1882, German physicist Johannes Wilhelm Geiger was born. He is best known as the co-inventor of the Geiger counter and for the Geiger–Marsden experiment which discovered the atomic nucleus. Hans Geiger – Early Years Geiger was born at Neustadt an der Haardt, Germany. He was one of five children born to the Indologist Wilhelm Ludwig Geiger, who was a professor at the University of Erlangen. In 1902, Hans Geiger…
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