Ernest Rutherford

Pierre Curie – A Pioneer in Radioactivity

Pierre Curie – A Pioneer in Radioactivity

On 19 April 1906, French physicist and Nobel laureate Pierre Curie died in an accident. A pioneer in crystallography, magnetism, piezoelectricity and radioactivity, he co-jointly received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 with his wife, Marie Skłodowska-Curie, and Henri Becquerel, “in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel“.[9] “If one leaves a wooden or cardboard box containing a…
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J. J. Thomson and the Existence of the Electron

J. J. Thomson and the Existence of the Electron

On April 30, 1897, English physicist Joseph John Thomson gave the first experimental proof of the electron, which had been already theoretically predicted by Johnstone Stoney. Thomson was awarded the 1906 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the electron and for his work on the conduction of electricity in gases. “As the cathode rays carry a charge of negative electricity, are deflected by an electrostatic force as if they were negatively electrified,…
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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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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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Hans Geiger and the Invention of the Geiger-Müller Counter

Hans Geiger and the Invention of the Geiger-Müller Counter

On September 30, 1882, German physicist Johannes Wilhelm Geiger was born. He is best known as the co-inventor of the Geiger counter and for the Geiger–Marsden experiment which discovered the atomic nucleus. Hans Geiger – Early Years Geiger was born at Neustadt an der Haardt, Germany. He was one of five children born to the Indologist Wilhelm Ludwig Geiger, who was a professor at the University of Erlangen. In 1902, Hans Geiger…
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A Life of Discoveries –  the great Michael Faraday

A Life of Discoveries – the great Michael Faraday

On September 22, 1791, the famous chemist and physicist Michael Faraday  was born. He is responsible for the discovery of the electromagnetic induction, the laws of electrolysis and best known for his inventions, which laid the foundations to the electrical industry. But, to understand the person and the scientist Michael Faraday, we have to look a little bit into his background and his development. “I was at first almost frightened when I…
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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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Henry Moseley and the Atomic Numbers

Henry Moseley and the Atomic Numbers

On August 10, 1915, English physicist, Henry Moseley was killed in action. Moseley‘s contribution to the science of physics was the justification from physical laws of the previous empirical and chemical concept of the atomic number. This stemmed from his development of Moseley’s law in X-ray spectra. “We have now got what seems to be definite proof that an X ray which spreads out in a spherical form from a source as a wave…
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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. Youth and Education Chadwick was born in Bollington, near Manchester. His parents were John Joseph Chadwick and Mary Anne Knowles. He first attended the Bollington Cross C of E Primary School and later the Central Grammar School for Boys…
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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. “There’s no system foolproof enough to defeat a sufficiently great fool.” — Edward Teller, As quoted in “Nuclear Reactions”, by…
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