physics

Elmer Sperry and the Gyrocompass

Elmer Sperry and the Gyrocompass

On October 12, 1860, American inventor and entrepreneur Elmer Ambrose Sperry was born. Sperry is best known for his significant role in the development of the gyrocompass, a type of non-magnetic compass which is based on a fast-spinning disc and rotation of the Earth to automatically find geographical direction. Elmer Sperry attended Cornell University starting from 1878 and became interested in dynamos during his time there. Sperry then moved to Chicago, Illinois and founded the…
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Christiaan Huygens and the Pocket Watch

Christiaan Huygens and the Pocket Watch

On October 4, 1675, prominent Dutch mathematician and scientist Christiaan Huygens patented a pocket watch. Huygens was a leading scientist of his time, who established the wave theory of light and made outstanding astronomical discoveries. He also patented the first pendulum clock in 1656, which he has developed to meet his need for exact time measurement while observing the heavens. Youth and Education Christiaan Huygens was born on 14 April 1629 in…
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The Kyshtim Disaster

The Kyshtim Disaster

On September 29, 1957, near the Russian town of Kyshtim a major radiological contamination accident happened, which is referred to as the Kyshtim disaster. The failure of the cooling system for a tank storing tens of thousands of tons of dissolved nuclear waste resulted in a chemical (non-nuclear) explosion having an energy estimated at about 75 tons of TNT. The Soviet Union did not release news of the accident and denied it…
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Irène Joliot-Curie and Artificial Radioactivity

Irène Joliot-Curie and Artificial Radioactivity

On September 12, 1897, French Physicist and Nobel Laureate Irène Joliot-Curie was born. She was the daughter of Marie Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie and the wife of Frédéric Joliot-Curie, with whoom she jointly was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 for their discovery of artificial radioactivity. Irene Curie was born in Paris and received a decent and classical education before her parents noticed her talents in mathematics and were willing…
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Edward Appleton and the Ionosphere

Edward Appleton and the Ionosphere

On September 6, 1892, English physicist Sir Edward Victor Appleton was born. Appleton won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1947 for his seminal work proving the existence of the ionosphere during experiments carried out in 1924. Edward Victor Appleton attended St. John’s College, Cambridge where he earned his B.A. degree in Natural Science and already won the Wiltshire Prize in 1913 and the Hutchinson Research Studentship in 1914. During World War I, Appleton joined…
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Hermann von Helmholtz and his Theory of Vision

Hermann von Helmholtz and his Theory of Vision

On August 31, 1821, German physician and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz was born. In physiology and psychology, he is known for his mathematics of the eye, theories of vision, ideas on the visual perception of space, color vision research, and on the sensation of tone, perception of sound, and empiricism. In physics, he is known for his theories on the conservation of energy, work in electrodynamics, chemical thermodynamics, and on a mechanical foundation…
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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his Theory of Colours

On August 28, 1749, famous German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born. Besides his merrits in literature, poetry, and philosophy, that we already did acknowledge in previous articles, Goethe was also interested in natural sciences. He independently discovered the human intermaxillary bone in 1784, was one of the many precursors in the history of evolutionary thought, popularized the Goethe barometer using a principle established by Torricelli, and published his Theory of Colours…
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Denis Papin and the Pressure Cooker

Denis Papin and the Pressure Cooker

On August 22, 1647, French physicist, mathematician and inventor Denis Papin was born. He is best known for his pioneering invention of the steam digester, the forerunner of the steam engine, and of the pressure cooker. He never built an effective working engine of his own, but his idea was improved by others and led to the development of the steam engine, a major contribution to the Industrial Revolution. Papin’s Youth and Education…
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Gabriel Lippmann and the Invention of Colour Photography

Gabriel Lippmann and the Invention of Colour Photography

On August 16, 1845, Franco-Luxembourgish physicist and Nobel Laureate Gabriel Lippmann was born. He is best known for for his method of reproducing colors photographically based on the phenomenon of interference. Gabriel Lippmann was the son of a Luxembourg Jewish family who soon after his birth moved to France, where he went to school.  He was educated at the Lycée Napoleon and later he was admitted to the École Normale. In 1873, Lippmann was…
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Sir Roger Penrose and the Singularity

Sir Roger Penrose and the Singularity

On August 8, 1931, English mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science. Sir Roger Penrose was born. Penrose is known for his work in mathematical physics, in particular for his contributions to general relativity and cosmology. In 1969, with Stephen Hawking, Penrose proved that all matter within a black hole collapses to a singularity, a geometric point in space where mass is compressed to infinite density and zero volume. Youth and Education…
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