physics

Evangelista Torricelli and the Barometer

Evangelista Torricelli and the Barometer

On October 15, 1608, Italian physicist and mathematician Evangelista Torricelli was born, best known for his invention of the barometer, but is also known for his advances in Optics. Evangelista Torricelli Background Evangelista Torricelli was born in Rome, the firstborn child of Gaspare Ruberti, a poor textile worker, and Giacoma Torricelli. His family was from Faenza in the Province of Ravenna, then part of the Papal States. His parents sent Evangelista to…
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Peter Barlow and the Barlow Lenses

Peter Barlow and the Barlow Lenses

On October 13, 1776, British mathematician and physicist Peter Barlow was born. He is still reknown today for his development of two varieties of achromatic (non-colour-distorting) telescope lenses, the so-called Barlow lenses. Opinions derived from long experience are exceedingly valuable, and outweigh all others, while they are consistent with facts and with each other; but they are worse than useless when they lead, as in this instance, to directly opposite opinions. – Peter…
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Henry Cavendish and the Weight of the Earth

Henry Cavendish and the Weight of the Earth

On October 10, 1731, British natural philosopher Henry Cavendish was born. A scientist as well as an important experimental and theoretical chemist and physicist, Cavendish is noted for his discovery of hydrogen or what he called “inflammable air“. Most notably, he determined the mass and density of the Earth. Henry Cavendish Henry Cavendish was born in Nice and attended a private school near London. He enrolled the University of Cambridge, but left without…
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Max von Laue and the Diffraction of X-Rays in Crystals

Max von Laue and the Diffraction of X-Rays in Crystals

On October 9, 1879, German physicist Max von Laue was born. Von Laue received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1914 for his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals. “In the beginning was mechanics.” – Max von Laue (1950). History of physics Max von Laue – Early Years Max von Laue was born in Pfaffendorf, near Koblenz, Germany. His parents were Julius Laue (1848-1927), a Prussian real secret war councilor…
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Hippolyte Fizeau and the Speed of Light

Hippolyte Fizeau and the Speed of Light

On September 23, 1819, French physicist Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau was born. He is well known for his calculation of the speed of light and his suggestion to use length of a light wave be used as a length standard.[4] Hippolyte Fizeau – Early Years Hippolyte Fizeau was born in Paris as the eldest son of Béatrice and Louis Fizeau, who was professor of Pathology at the Paris Medical School. He attended the prestigious…
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James Dewar and the Liquefaction of Gases

James Dewar and the Liquefaction of Gases

On September 1842, Scottish chemist and physicist Sir James Dewar was born. He is probably best-known today for his invention of the Dewar flask, which he used in conjunction with extensive research into the liquefaction of gases. James Dewar Background James Dewar was born in Kincardine, Fife, Scotland, in 1842, the youngest of six boys. He lost his parents at the age of 15. He was educated at Dollar Academy and the…
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John Dalton and the Origins of the Atomic Theory

John Dalton and the Origins of the Atomic Theory

On September 6, 1766, English chemist, meteorologist and physicist John Dalton was born. He is best known for his pioneering work in the development of modern atomic theory, and his research into colour blindness. He also recognised that the aurora borealis was an electrical phenomenon. “Philosophers are generally persuaded, that the sensations of heat and cold are occasioned by the presence or absence, in degree, of certain principle or quality denominated fire or…
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Baroness Dorothea von Rodde-Schlözer – Philosopher and Salonnière

Baroness Dorothea von Rodde-Schlözer – Philosopher and Salonnière

On August 10, 1770, German philosopher and salonnière Baroness Dorothea von Rodde-Schlözer was born. She belonged to the group of 18th century Göttingen scholar-daughters known as “university mamselles” and was the second women in Germany to officially earn a doctorate. Dorothea Schlözer – Youth and Education Dorothea Schlözer was the daughter of August Ludwig von Schlözer, a Göttingen professor of constitutional law and history, and Caroline Friederike von Schlözer (née Roederer), a painter…
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Paul Dirac and the Quantum Mechanics

Paul Dirac and the Quantum Mechanics

On August 8, 1902, English theoretical physicist Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac was born. Dirac is best known for his fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. “The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible.” — Paul Dirac Paul Dirac Background Paul Dirac was born…
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Victor Franz Hess and the Cosmic Radiation

Victor Franz Hess and the Cosmic Radiation

On August 7, 1912, Austrian physicist Victor Franz Hess provided evidence of a high-altitude radiation in one of his balloon rides, which later was called cosmic radiation. Together with Carl Anderson, he received the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of cosmic radiation. What causes Ionization of the Air? Victor Franz Hess was educated in Graz, Austria. There, he attended the grammar school and the University of Graz. At the Physical…
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