physics

Edmond Halley besides the Eponymous Comet

Edmond Halley besides the Eponymous Comet

On November 8, 1656, English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and physicist Sir Edmond Halley was born. Of course everybody has heard of Halley’s comet. We too already had an article on that topic [1]. But, Edmond Halley did much more than calculating the orbit of the eponymous comet. He compiled a catalogue of the stars of the Southern hemisphere, he also improved the sextant, and made observations about the ocean and the…
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Georg Ernst Stahl and the Phlogiston Theory

Georg Ernst Stahl and the Phlogiston Theory

On October 22, 1659, German chemist, physician and philosopher Georg Ernst Stahl was born. Stahl developed the phlogiston theory of combustion and of such related biological processes as respiration, fermentation, and decay. Combustible objects, he said, were rich in phlogiston, and during combustion is lost. The remaining ash, now having no phlogiston, could no longer burn. Until the late 18th century his works on phlogiston were accepted as an explanation for chemical…
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Elmer Sperry and the Invention of the Gyrocompass

Elmer Sperry and the Invention of 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 – Early Years Elmer Sperry was born at Cincinnatus, New York, on October 12, 1860, to Stephen Decatur Sperry and Mary Burst. His mother…
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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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George Green and his Theory of Electricity and Magnetism

George Green and his Theory of Electricity and Magnetism

On July 14, 1793, British mathematical physicist George Green was baptized. He is best known for his publication of wrote An Essay on the Application of Mathematical Analysis to the Theories of Electricity and Magnetism, in which he developed a first mathematical theory of electricity and magnetism. His theory formed the foundation for the work of other scientists such as James Clerk Maxwell,[3] William Thomson,[4] and others. George Green was born and lived for…
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Sir William Henry Bragg and his Work with X-Rays

Sir William Henry Bragg and his Work with X-Rays

On July 2 1862, British physicist, chemist, mathematician, active sportsman and Nobel Laureate Sir William Henry Bragg was born. Bragg shared the 1915 Nobel Prize in physics with his son William Lawrence Bragg [3] “for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays“. During the WW I, Bragg was put in charge of research on the detection and measurement of underwater sounds in connection with the location of submarines. He also constructed an X-ray…
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Wallace Sabine and the Field of Architectural Acoustics

Wallace Sabine and the Field of Architectural Acoustics

On June 13, 1868, American physicist Wallace Clement Sabine was born. Sabine founded the field of architectural acoustics as the outcome of his investigations on the effect of absorption on reverberation time. Sabine was acoustical architect of Boston’s Symphony Hall, widely considered one of the two or three best concert halls in the world for its acoustics. Acoustically Improving a Lecture Hall Wallace Sabine graduated from Ohio State University in 1886 and pursued graduate…
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Robert Stirling and the Stirling Engine

Robert Stirling and the Stirling Engine

On October 25, 1790, Scottish clergyman Reverend Dr Robert Stirling was born. Stirling is best known for his invention of the Stirling engine, a heat engine that operates by cyclic compression and expansion of air or other gas (the working fluid) at different temperatures, such that there is a net conversion of heat energy to mechanical work. Robert Stirling Youth and Education Robert Stirling was born at Cloag Farm near Methven, Perthshire,…
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Otto von Guericke and the Horror of Vacuum

Otto von Guericke and the Horror of Vacuum

On November 30, 1602, German scientist, inventor, and politician Otto von Guericke was born. One of his major scientific achievements was the establishment of the physics of vacuums, which he gave proof of in a famous public experiment. He also was an envoy at the Peace of Westphalia after the Thirty Year’s War.[4] “For God cannot be contained in any location, nor in any vacuum, nor in any space, for He Himself is, of…
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Murray Gell-Mann and the Quark Model

Murray Gell-Mann and the Quark Model

On September 15, 1929, American physicist and Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann was born. He is best known for his work on the theory of elementary particles and introduced the quark model. The quark model is a classification scheme for hadrons, i.e. composite particle made of quarks held together by the strong force (in the same way as atoms and molecules are held together by the electromagnetic force). “While many questions about quantum mechanics…
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