physics

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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John Tyndall and the Physics of Air

John Tyndall and the Physics of Air

John Tyndall (1820–1893) caricatured as a preacher in the magazine Vanity Fair, 1872 On August 2, 1820, British physicist John Tyndall was born. His initial scientific fame arose in the 1850s from his study of diamagnetism. Later he made discoveries in the realms of infrared radiation and the physical properties of air. As the most prominent example, he was able to demonstrate why the sky is blue. John Tyndall was born in Leighlinbridge,…
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Rosalind Franklin and the Beauty of the DNA Structure

Rosalind Franklin and the Beauty of the DNA Structure

Rosalind Franklin (1920–1958) On July 25, 1920, British biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Elsie Franklin was born. She made the first clear X-ray images of DNA’s structure. Her work was described as the most beautiful X-ray photographs ever taken. Franklin’s ‘Photo 51’ informed Crick and Watson of DNA’s double helix structure for which they were awarded a Nobel Prize. Rosalind Franklin was born in Notting Hill, London, as the second of five children into…
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Pavel Cherenkov and the Blue Light

Pavel Cherenkov and the Blue Light

Pavel Cherenkov (1904 – 1990) On July 15, 1904, Soviet physicist Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov was born. He shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 1958 with Ilya Frank and Igor Tamm for the discovery of Cherenkov radiation, made in 1934. Cherenkov radiation is a faint blue light emitted by electrons passing through a transparent medium when their speed exceeds the speed of light in that medium. This sounds pretty weird, doesn’t it.…
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Samuel Goudsmit and the Electron Spin

Samuel Goudsmit and the Electron Spin

George Uhlenbeck, Hendrik Kramers, and Samuel Goudsmit in 1928 On July 11, 1902, Dutch-born U.S. physicist Samuel Abraham Goudsmit was born. He is best known for the formulation of the concept of electron spin together with George Eugene Uhlenbeck. It led to recognition that spin was a property of protons, neutrons, and most elementary particles and to a fundamental change in the mathematical structure of quantum mechanics. If you not happen to be…
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John Wheeler and the Golden Age of General Relativity

John Wheeler and the Golden Age of General Relativity

Eckehard W. Mielke together with John Archibald Wheeler in 1985 Image: Eckard Mielke On July 9, 1911, American theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler was born. Wheeler worked with Niels Bohr in explaining the basic principles behind nuclear fission as well as with Albert Einstein, with whom he tried to achieve Einstein’s vision of a unified field theory. He is also known for popularizing the term black hole, and for coining the terms quantum foam,…
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Hans Bethe and the Energy of the Stars

Hans Bethe and the Energy of the Stars

Hans Bethe interviewed by journalists (1906 – 2005) On July 2, 1906, German and American nuclear physicist and Nobel Laureate Hans Albrecht Bethe was born. Bethe helped to shape classical physics into quantum physics and increased the understanding of the atomic processes responsible for the properties of matter and of the forces governing the structures of atomic nuclei. Hans Bethe entered the University of Frankfurt in 1924, majoring in chemistry. However, after a…
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Maria Goeppert Mayer and the Nuclear Shell Model

Maria Goeppert Mayer and the Nuclear Shell Model

Maria Goeppert Mayer (1906-1972) On June 28, 1906, German-born Physicist Maria Goeppert Mayer was born. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for proposing the nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus. She was the second female Nobel laureate in physics, after Marie Curie. Maria Goeppert was born in Kattowitz, a city in Prussia, the only child of Friedrich Goeppert and his wife Maria. At age 4, she moved with her…
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Lyman Spitzer and the Space Telescope

Lyman Spitzer and the Space Telescope

On June 26, 1914, American theoretical physicist, astronomer and mountaineer Lyman Strong Spitzer was born. Researching in star formation and plasma physics, he is probably best known for being the first to conceive the idea of telescopes operating in outer space. Thus, he is also the namesake of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Well mountaineer and astronomer at the same time, I guess we never had a fellow like Lyman Spitzer up to…
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Martin Perl and the Tau Particle

Martin Perl and the Tau Particle

On June 24, 1927, American physicist and Nobel Laureate Martin Lewis Perl was born. He is best known for his discovery of the tau lepton, a subatomic massive particle with a negative charge. The tau, which he found in the mid-1970s, was the first evidence of a third “generation” of fundamental particles. The tau lepton (τ, also called the tau particle, tauon or simply tau) is an elementary particle similar to the…
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