physics

Wolfgang Pauli and the Pauli Principle

Wolfgang Pauli and the Pauli Principle

On April 25, 1900, Austrian-born Swiss theoretical physicist Wolfgang Ernst Pauli was born. Pauli is one of the pioneers of quantum theory. In 1945, Pauli received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his “decisive contribution through his discovery of a new law of Nature, the exclusion principle or Pauli principle.” The discovery involved spin theory, which is the basis of a theory of the structure of matter. “At the dawn of religion,…
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The Broughton Suspension Bridge and the Resonance Disaster

The Broughton Suspension Bridge and the Resonance Disaster

On April 12, 1831, the Broughton Suspension bridge collapsed, reportedly due to mechanical resonance induced by troops marching in step. But, also wind can be the cause for mechanical resonance which leads to disaster, such as for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940. But, also buildings can be affected, such as the 39-story shopping mall called the “Techno-Mart” in Seoul, Korea, that had to be evacuated because of people synchronously exercising Tae Bo. The…
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Sin-Itiro Tomonaga and Quantum Electrodynamics

Sin-Itiro Tomonaga and Quantum Electrodynamics

On March 31, 1906, Japanese physicist and Nobel laureate Sin-Itiro Tomonaga was born. He was influential in the development of quantum electrodynamics, work for which he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 along with Richard Feynman and Julian Schwinger. Tomonaga was one of the first to apply quantum theory to subatomic particles with very high energies. Tomonaga was born in Tokyo in 1906 as the second child and…
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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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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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