physics

Frederick Reines’ Chase for the Ghost Particle

Frederick Reines’ Chase for the Ghost Particle

On March 16, 1918, American physicist and Nobel Laureate Frederick Reines was born. He is best known for his co-detection of the neutrino with Clyde Cowan in the neutrino experiment. The neutrino is a subatomic particle, a tiny lepton with little or no mass and a neutral charge which had been postulated by Wolfgang Pauli in the early 1930s but had previously remained undiscovered. Reines shared the Nobel Prize with physicist Martin…
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George Gamow and his fundamental Views on the Foundations of Science

George Gamow and his fundamental Views on the Foundations of Science

On March 4, 1904, theoretical physicist and cosmologist George Gamow was born. He was an early advocate and developer of George Lemaître’s Big Bang theory. Besides his contributions to physics, in his middle and late career, Gamow focused more on teaching, and became well known as an author of popular books on science, which are still in print more than 50 years after their publication. Gamow was born in Odessa, Russian Empire…
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Fritz Zwicky and the Dark Matter

Fritz Zwicky and the Dark Matter

On February 14, 1898, Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky was born. He is best known for his proposal of he existence of dark matter and counts as one of the most important astronomers of the 20th century. Fritz Zwicky attended a grammar school in Zurich, Switzerland and enrolled at the ETH Zurich in order to study physics and mathematics afterwards. Zwicky became a research assistant around 1922 and worked at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena…
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Leo Szilard and the Atomic Bomb

Leo Szilard and the Atomic Bomb

On February 11, 1898, Hungarian-American physicist and inventor Leo Szilárd was born. He conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933, patented the idea of a nuclear reactor with Enrico Fermi, and in late 1939 together with Albert Einstein wrote the letter that resulted in the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb. He also conceived the electron microscope, the linear accelerator, and also the cyclotron. Szilárd was born in Budapest, Hungary, as son of Louis Spitz, a…
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Dimitri Mendeleev and the Periodic Table of Elements

Dimitri Mendeleev and the Periodic Table of Elements

On February 2, 1907, Russian chemist and inventor Dimitri Ivanovich Mendeleev passed away. He is probably best known for his version of the periodic table of chemical elements. Furthermore, he used it to correct the properties of some already discovered elements and also to predict the properties of eight elements yet to be discovered. “I wish to establish some sort of system not guided by chance but by some sort of definite…
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Sir George Stokes and Fluid Dynamics

Sir George Stokes and Fluid Dynamics

On February 1, 1903, Irish mathematician, physicist, politician and theologian Sir George Gabriel Stokes, 1st Baronet, passed away. Stokes made seminal contributions to fluid dynamics, optics, and mathematical physics including the first version of what is now known as Stokes’ theorem. “It is very difficult for us, placed as we have been from earliest childhood in a condition of training, to say what would have been our feelings had such training never…
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Igor Kurchatov – Father of the Soviet Atomic Bomb

Igor Kurchatov – Father of the Soviet Atomic Bomb

On January 12, 1903, Soviet nuclear physicist and Nobel Laureate Igor Vasilyevich Kurchatov was born. Kurchatov is widely known as the director of the Soviet atomic bomb project and therefore often referred to as ‘Father of the Soviet Atomic Bomb‘. Youth and Education Igor Kurchatov was born in Simsky Zavod, Ufa Governorate (now the town of Sim, Chelyabinsk Oblast) in the family of a chartered surveyor and his mother a teacher. After completing high…
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Rudolf Clausius and the Science of Thermodynamics

Rudolf Clausius and the Science of Thermodynamics

On January 2, 1822, German physicist and mathematician Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius was born. He is considered one of the central founders of the science of thermodynamics, who introduced the concept of entropy in 1865. Rudolf Clausius’ father founded a school and became its Principal. However, Rudolf Clausius moved to Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland), where he attended a grammar school. He entered the University of Berlin around 1840, being mostly interested in history…
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John von Neumann – Game Theory and the Digital Computer

John von Neumann – Game Theory and the Digital Computer

On December 28, 1903, Hungarian and American pure and applied mathematician, physicist, inventor and polymath John von Neumann was born. He made major contributions to a number of fields including mathematics, physics, economics, computing, and statistics. He was a key figure in the development of game theory, the concepts of cellular automata, and the digital computer. He is definitely one of the candidates to write several biographical articles of, each with a…
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John Michell and the Effect of Gravity on Light

John Michell and the Effect of Gravity on Light

On December 25, 1724, English natural philosopher and geologist John Michell was (probably) born. He is best known as both a theorist and an experimenter, who was the first to propose the effects of gravity on light, later resulting in the physics of general relativity and black holes. John Michell was born in Nottinghamshire, however, his exact birth place and date remain unknown. He earned his Master’s degree drom Queen’s College of…
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