Albert Einstein

John Wheeler and the Golden Age of General Relativity

John Wheeler and the Golden Age of General Relativity

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, and wormhole. Background John Wheeler John Archibald Wheeler grew up in a Unitarian…
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Wolfgang Pauli and the Pauli Principle

Wolfgang Pauli and the Pauli Principle

On April 25, 1900, Austrian-born Swiss theoretical physicist Wolfgang Ernst Pauli was born. Pauli is one of the pioneers of quantum theory. In 1945, Pauli received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his “decisive contribution through his discovery of a new law of Nature, the exclusion principle or Pauli principle.” The discovery involved spin theory, which is the basis of a theory of the structure of matter. “At the dawn of religion,…
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Leo Szilard and the Atomic Bomb

Leo Szilard and the Atomic Bomb

On February 11, 1898, Hungarian-American physicist and inventor Leo Szilard was born. He conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933, patented the idea of a nuclear reactor with Enrico Fermi, and in late 1939 together with Albert Einstein wrote the letter that resulted in the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb. He also conceived the electron microscope, the linear accelerator, and also the cyclotron. “A scientist’s aim in a discussion with his colleagues is not…
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Statistical Mechanics with Paul Ehrenfest

Statistical Mechanics with Paul Ehrenfest

On January 18, 1881, Austrian and Dutch theoretical physicist Paul Ehrenfest was born. Ehrenfest made major contributions to the field of statistical mechanics and its relations with quantum mechanics, including the theory of phase transition and the Ehrenfest theorem. “Einstein, my upset stomach hates your theory — it almost hates you yourself ! How am I to provide for my students ? What am I to answer to the philosophers ?” –…
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Nikolay Basov and the Principles of Maser and Laser

Nikolay Basov and the Principles of Maser and Laser

On December 14, 1922, Soviet physicist and Nobel Laureate Nikolay Basov was born. For his fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics that led to the development of laser and maser, Basov shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics with Alexander Prokhorov and Charles Hard Townes. The maser is a device that produces coherent electromagnetic waves through amplification by stimulated emission, a principle originally proposed by Albert Einstein in 1917.[4] Nikolay Basov…
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The Universe goes beyond the Milky Way – thanks to Edwin Hubble

The Universe goes beyond the Milky Way – thanks to Edwin Hubble

On November 20, 1889, American astronomer Edwin Hubble was born. He is best known for his role in establishing the field of extragalactic astronomy and is generally regarded as one of the most important observational cosmologists of the 20th century. “Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.” – Edwin Hubble (1929) Edwin Hubble – Early Years Although Edwin Hubble earned pretty good grades in…
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Niels Bohr and the Origins of Quantum Mechanics

Niels Bohr and the Origins of Quantum Mechanics

On October 7, 1885, Danish physicist and Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr was born. Bohr made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. “Physics is to be regarded not so much as the study of something a priori given, but rather as the development of methods of ordering and surveying human experience. In this respect our task must be to account…
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Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds – The Trinity Test

Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds – The Trinity Test

On July 16, 1945, the first detonation of a nuclear device with the code name Trinity took place in the Jornada del Muerto desert in New Mexico. Although nuclear chain reactions had been hypothesized already in 1933 and the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction (Chicago Pile-1) had taken place in December 1942, the date of the Trinity test is usually considered to be the beginning of the Atomic Age. Los Alamos director…
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Georges Lemaître and the Origins of the Big Bang Theory

Georges Lemaître and the Origins of the Big Bang Theory

On June 20, 1966, Belgian priest, astronomer and professor of physics Georges Lemaître passed away. He was the first person to propose the theory of the expansion of the Universe, widely misattributed to Edwin Hubble, and is best known for his proposal of what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe. “We want a fireworks theory of evolution. The last two thousand million years are slow…
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Theodore Maiman and the Invention of the Laser

Theodore Maiman and the Invention of the Laser

On May 16, 1960, American physicist Theodore Maiman presents the world’s first operating laser at Hughes Research Laboratories, Malibu, California. Today, lasers are present everywhere, ranging from common consumer devices such as DVD players, laser printers, and barcode scanners to professional laser devices for surgery and various other skin treatments, or in industry for cutting and welding materials. Actually, it was Albert Einstein, who has laid the theoretical foundations for the laser in his…
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