physics

The Galileo Affair

The Galileo Affair

On February 13, 1633, Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome and was brought before the inquisitor Vincenzo Maculani to be charged for his defence of the Copernican theory in his writings. In the course of the trial, Galilei was found guilty and sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life. All in all, Galileo is a frequent guest in our blog. Besides his life, we have already reported about his astronomical…
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The Quantum Hall Effect

The Quantum Hall Effect

On February 5, 1980, German physicist Klaus von Klitzing discovered the Quantum Hall Effect in the high field magnet laboratory of Grenoble, France, for which he was granted the 1985 Nobel Prize in Physics. Hall Effect OK, today we have a topic that is a little bit complicated to explain, at least to us being non-physicists. Let’s start with the ‘traditional’ Hall effect. The Hall effect is the production of a voltage difference (the…
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Carl David Anderson and the Positron

Carl David Anderson and the Positron

On January 11, 1991, American physicist Carl David Anderson passed away. He is best known for his discovery of the positron in 1932, an achievement for which he received the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physics, and of the muon in 1936. “The atom can’t be seen, yet its existence can be proved. And it is simple to prove that it can’t ever be seen. It has to be studied by indirect evidence — and…
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The Birth of the Transistor, Key Component of Modern Electronics

The Birth of the Transistor, Key Component of Modern Electronics

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. Vacuum Tubes as Predecessor of Transistors 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 current or voltage to the third terminal.…
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Ernest Rutherford Discovers the Nucleus

Ernest Rutherford Discovers the Nucleus

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. “When we have found how the nucleus of atoms is…
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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

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. “While it is never safe to affirm that the future of Physical Science has no marvels in store even more astonishing than those of the…
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Werner Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle

Werner Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle

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. “The more precise the measurement of position, the more imprecise the measurement of momentum, and vice versa.” — Werner Heisenberg,…
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The First Self-Sustained Nuclear Chain Reaction

The First Self-Sustained Nuclear Chain Reaction

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 initiated the so-called atomic age. CP-1 was built on a rackets court, under the abandoned west stands of the original Alonzo Stagg Field stadium, at the University of Chicago. Nuclear Chain Reaction and the Atomic Bomb…
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Christian Doppler and the Doppler Effect

Christian Doppler and the Doppler Effect

On November 29, 1803, Christian Johann Doppler, Austrian Physicist and mathematician was born in Salzburg. Doppler is widely known for his principle, the Doppler effect, that the observed frequency of a wave depends on the relative speed of the source and the observer. He used this concept to explain the color of binary stars. “There have been applied sciences throughout the ages. … However this so-called practice was not much more than paper…
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Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the Discovery of Pulsars

Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the Discovery of Pulsars

On November 28, 1967, Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Anthony Hewish discovered the first Pulsar, a fast rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. The radiation of a pulsar can only be observed when the beam of emission is pointing toward the Earth, much the way a lighthouse can only be seen when the light is pointed in the direction of an observer, and is responsible for the pulsed appearance…
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