physics

Theodore Maiman and the Laser

Theodore Maiman and the Laser

On May 16, 1960, American physicist Theodore Maiman presents the world’s first operating laser at Hughes Research Laboratories, Malibu, California. Today, lasers are present everywhere, ranging from common consumer devices such as DVD players, laser printers, and barcode scanners to professional laser devices for surgery and various other skin treatments, or in industry for cutting and welding materials. Actually, it was Albert Einstein, who has laid the theoretical foundations for the laser in his…
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Steven Weinberg and the Great Unifying Theory

Steven Weinberg and the Great Unifying Theory

On May 3, 1933, American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg was born. His research on elementary particles and cosmology has been honored with numerous prizes and awards including the Nobel Prize in Physics, which he received in 1979 together with his colleagues Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow for the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particle. “Elementary particles are terribly boring, which is one reason why…
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Joseph Fourier and the Greenhouse Effect

Joseph Fourier and the Greenhouse Effect

On March 21, 1768, French mathematician and physicist Jean Baptiste Joseph du Fourier was born. He is probably best known for his work in thermodynamics, where he introduced the concept of the Fourier Analysis, named in honor after him. There, he claimed that every mathematical function of a variable can be expanded to a sum of sines of multiples of that variable. What people most likely don’t know is that Fourier also was the…
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Ernst Ruska and the Electron Microscope

Ernst Ruska and the Electron Microscope

On March 3, 1931, German physicist Ernst Ruska together with his doctoral advisor Max Knoll presented the very first prototype electron microscope, capable of four-hundred-power magnification; the apparatus was the first demonstration of the principles of electron microscopy. “The light microscope opened the 1st gate to microcosm. The electron microscope opened the 2nd gate to microcosm.” What will we find opening the 3rd gate? (Ernst Ruska, 1985)[1] Ernst Ruska was born on…
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The Birth of the Transistor

The Birth of the Transistor

John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain, the inventors of the transistor, 1948 On December 22, 1947, John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley at ATT‘s Bell Labs developed the first transistor, the key active component in practically all modern electronics. The transistor is a three terminal, solid state electronic device. In a three terminal device one can control electric current or voltage between two of the terminals by applying an electric…
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Ernest Rutherford Discovers the Nucleus

Ernest Rutherford Discovers the Nucleus

Ernest Rutherford(1871 – 1937) On December 20, 1910, New Zealand born physicist Ernest Rutherford made his seminal gold foil experiment which led to first insight about the nature of the inner structure of the atom and to the postulation of Rutherford’s concept of the “nucleus”, his greatest contribution to physics. Most interestingly, Rutherford made his greatest discovery after receiving the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1908. Ernest Rutherford was born on August…
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Albert Abraham Michelson and the Famous Experiment that lead to Einstein’s Special Relativity Theory

Albert Abraham Michelson and the Famous Experiment that lead to Einstein’s Special Relativity Theory

Albert Abraham Michelson (1852 – 1931) On December 19, 1859, US-american physicist Albert Abraham Michelson was born. Together with his colleague Edward Williams Morley he conducted an experiment that proved the by the time famous ether theory to be wrong and is considered to be one of the pilars of the theory of relativity. Albert Abraham Michelson was born in Prussia but grew up in San Francisco, where he attended mainly public schools.…
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The Wright Brothers Invented the Aviation Age

The Wright Brothers Invented the Aviation Age

The first flight of the Wright Brothers on December 17, 1903 On December 17, 1903, the brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright wrote history with the first flight of their Flyer One, the very first successful powered aircraft in the sands south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, U.S. Although the brothers Montgolfier had ascended in their first hot air balloon already in the late 18th century, the problem of imitating or adapting the flight of…
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Werner Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle

Werner Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle

Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) Bundesarchiv Bild183-R57262 On December 5, 1901, German theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize laureate Werner Heisenberg was born, who along with Max Born and Pascual Jordan laid the foundations of quantum mechanics. He is probably best known for his Uncertainty Principle, asserting a fundamental limit to the precision with which certain physical properties can be known. Actually, I had a major in physics back in highschool and thus, for many years…
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The First Self-Sustained Nuclear Chain Reaction

The First Self-Sustained Nuclear Chain Reaction

Time: 3:22 p.m, December 2, 1942. Place: Racquets Court under West Stands of Stagg Field, University of Chicago. Depiction of scientist(s) observed the world’s first nuclear reactor (CP-1) as it became self-sustaining, National Archives Identifier 542144 On December 2, 1942, during the Manhattan Project, a team led by Italian born physicist Enrico Fermi initiated the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in the Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1), the world’s first human-made nuclear reactor, and…
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