physics

Réaumur – the Entomologist and the Temperature Scale

Réaumur – the Entomologist and the Temperature Scale

On October 17, 1757, French entomologist and physicist René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur passed away. Réaumur contributed to many different fields, especially the study of insects. But, he is best known for having introduced the Réaumur temperature scale in 1730. Of course everybody has heard of Fahrenheit and Celsius. But, there exists a variety of different temperature scales, most prominent of them the perhaps absolute temperature scale of Lord Kelvin. But, although the other’s prevailed, Réaumur’s scale still…
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Karl Schwarzschild and the Event Horizon

Karl Schwarzschild and the Event Horizon

On October 9, 1873, German physicist and astronomer Karl Schwarzschild was born. He provided the first exact solution to the Einstein field equations of general relativity, for the limited case of a single spherical non-rotating mass, which he accomplished in 1915, the same year that Albert Einstein first introduced general relativity. The Schwarzschild solution leads to a derivation of the Schwarzschild radius, which is the size of the event horizon of a…
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Willy Ley and the German Society for Space Travel

Willy Ley and the German Society for Space Travel

On October 2, 1906, German-American engineer, science writer, spaceflight advocate, and historian of science Willy Ley was born. Ley is known for being one of the first members of the German Society for Space Travel, one of the first group of men to experiment with rockets. Fiercely anti-Nazi, unlike Wernher von Braun, in 1934, he emigrated to the U.S. rather than pursuing military applications of rocketry. In the U.S., he became a popularizer of space…
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The Kyshtym Disaster

The Kyshtym Disaster

On September 29, 1957, near the Russian town of Kyshtym a major radiological contamination accident happened, which is referred to as the Kyshtym disaster. The failure of the cooling system for a tank storing tens of thousands of tons of dissolved nuclear waste resulted in a chemical (non-nuclear) explosion having an energy estimated at about 75 tons of TNT. The Soviet Union did not release news of the accident and denied it…
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Edward Appleton and the Discovery of the Ionosphere

Edward Appleton and the Discovery of the Ionosphere

On September 6, 1892, English physicist Sir Edward Victor Appleton was born. Appleton won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1947 for his seminal work proving the existence of the ionosphere during experiments carried out in 1924. “I am only a physicist with nothing material to show for my labours. I have never even seen the ionosphere, although I have worked on the subject for thirty years. That does show how lucky people can…
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Hermann von Helmholtz – Physiologist and Physicist

Hermann von Helmholtz – Physiologist and Physicist

On August 31, 1821, German physician and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz was born. In physiology and psychology, he is known for his mathematics of the eye, theories of vision, ideas on the visual perception of space, color vision research, and on the sensation of tone, perception of sound, and empiricism. In physics, he is known for his theories on the conservation of energy, work in electrodynamics, chemical thermodynamics, and on a mechanical foundation…
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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his Theory of Colours

On August 28, 1749, famous German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born. Besides his merits in literature, poetry, and philosophy, that we already did acknowledge in previous articles [4,5,9], Goethe was also interested in natural sciences. He independently discovered the human intermaxillary bone in 1784, was one of the many precursors in the history of evolutionary thought, popularized the Goethe barometer using a principle established by Torricelli, and published his Theory of…
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Denis Papin and the Pressure Cooker

Denis Papin and the Pressure Cooker

On August 22, 1647, French physicist, mathematician and inventor Denis Papin was baptized [2]. He is best known for his pioneering invention of the steam digester, the forerunner of the steam engine, and of the pressure cooker. He never built an effective working engine of his own, but his idea was improved by others and led to the development of the steam engine, a major contribution to the Industrial Revolution. “Turning a small…
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Gabriel Lippmann and the Invention of Colour Photography

Gabriel Lippmann and the Invention of Colour Photography

On August 16, 1845, Franco-Luxembourgish physicist and Nobel Laureate Gabriel Lippmann was born. He is best known for for his method of reproducing colors photographically based on the phenomenon of interference. Gabriel Lippmann, Early Years Gabriel Lippmann was the son of a Luxembourg Jewish family. His father, Isaïe managed the family glove-making business at the former convent in Bonnevoie. In 1848, the family moved to Paris where Lippmann was initially tutored by his mother, Miriam Rose (Lévy), before attending…
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Louis de Broglie and wave nature of matter

Louis de Broglie and wave nature of matter

On August 15, 1892, French physicist and Nobel Laureate Louis de Broglie was born. He is best known for making groundbreaking contributions to quantum theory. He postulated the wave nature of electrons and suggested that all matter has wave properties. This concept is known as wave-particle duality or the de Broglie hypothesis. Louis de Broglie – Early Years Louis de Broglie attended the Lycée Janson of Sailly and decided to continue his…
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