physics

James Chadwick and the Discovery of the Neutron

James Chadwick and the Discovery of the Neutron

On February 27, 1932, English physicist and Nobel Laureate Sir James Chadwick published an article in the scientific journal ‘Nature‘ about the discovery of the neutron, a previously unknown particle in the atomic nucleus. James Chadwick was born and raised in Bollington, England and later studied at Manchester and Cambridge University. Just before the start of World War I, Chadwick moved to Berlin, studying at the city’s Technical University under Ernest Rutherford and Hans…
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Ernst Mach and the eponymous Mach Number

Ernst Mach and the eponymous Mach Number

On February 18, 1838, Austrian physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach was born. Mach is noted for his contributions to physics such as study of shock waves. The ratio of one’s speed to that of sound is named the Mach number in his honor. As a philosopher of science, he was a major influence on logical positivism and American pragmatism. “There is no problem in all mathematics that cannot be solved by direct…
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Charles Wheatstone – From the Concertina to the Telegraph

Charles Wheatstone – From the Concertina to the Telegraph

On February 6, 1802, Charles Wheatstone, English scientist and inventor of many scientific breakthroughs of the Victorian era was born. He is well known for his research in acoustics, electricity, and telegraphy. Well, if you don’t happen to be an engineer or a physicist, then you have probably never heard of Charles Wheatstone. But we will show you that he was really some remarkable fellow. Charles Wheatstone was born on February 6, 1802, in…
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Ernst Abbe – Brilliant Engineer and Courageous Social Reformer

Ernst Abbe – Brilliant Engineer and Courageous Social Reformer

On January 23, 1840, German physicist, optometrist, entrepreneur, and social reformer Ernst Abbe was born. Together with Otto Schott and Carl Zeiss, he laid the foundation of modern optics. As a co-owner of Carl Zeiss AG, a German manufacturer of research microscopes, astronomical telescopes, planetariums and other optical systems, Abbe developed numerous optical instruments. Abbe was born in Eisenach in 1840 and was lucky to be financially supported by his father’s boss,…
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André-Marie Ampère and Electromagnetism

André-Marie Ampère and Electromagnetism

On January 20, 1775, French physicist and mathematician André-Marie Ampère was born, after whom the unit of measurement of electric current, the ampere, is named. He is generally considered as one of the main founders of the science of classical electromagnetism, which he referred to as “electrodynamics“. André-Maria Ampère was born into a well educated family and influenced by the theories of Jean-Jacques Rousseau early. He was home schooled by his father, who rejected…
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Edward Teller and Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove

Edward Teller and Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove

On January 15, 1908, Hungarian born US theoretical physicist Edward Teller, often referred to as ‘Father of the hydrogenic bomb‘, was born. Teller made numerous contributions to nuclear and molecular physics, and is considered one of the inspirations for the character Dr. Strangelove in the 1964 Stanley Kubrick movie of the same name. Born in Budapest, Edward Teller grew up in a family of Hungarian and German speaking parents, but Teller himself “decided” not…
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Caroline Herschel – The Comet Sweeper

Caroline Herschel – The Comet Sweeper

On January 9, 1848, Caroline Lucretia Herschel, German-British astronomer and sister of astronomer Sir William Herschel, passed away at age 98. She is best know for the discovery of several comets, in particular the periodic comet 35P/Herschel-Rigollet, which bears her name. Caroline Herschel grew up in the German town Hannover where she worked at her parent‘s home as a housekeeper and received a musical education followed by a starting career as a concert…
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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – Sir Isaac Newton

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727), Portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller (1689) On January 4, 1643 [N.S.] (25 December 1642 [O.S.]), Sir Isaac Newton, famous physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian, was born. With his Principia Newton laid the foundation of modern classical mechanics. Besides he constructed the very first reflecting telescope and independent of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz developed differential and integral calculus [10]. “We are to admit no more causes of natural…
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Foucault’s Pendulum

Foucault’s Pendulum

Foucault’s Pendulum at the Panthéon, Paris, © Javi Masa On January 3, 1851, French physicist Leon Foucault started to experiment with his eponymous pendulum, by which he was able to proof the earth‘s rotation. Actually, how can you prove that the earth is a rotating orb in an easy-to-see experiment and – of course – without spaceflight? By today, Foucault’s simple device is part of numerous natural science museums around the world. Ok, how does…
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The Celestial Mechanics of Anders Johann Lexell

The Celestial Mechanics of Anders Johann Lexell

On December 24, 1740, Finnish-Swedish astronomer, mathematician, and physicist Anders Johann Lexell was born. Lexell made important discoveries in polygonometry and celestial mechanics; the latter led to a comet named in his honour. La Grande Encyclopédie states that he was the prominent mathematician of his time who contributed to spherical trigonometry with new and interesting solutions, which he took as a basis for his research of comet and planet motion. His name…
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