Ernest Rutherford

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. For sure you do remember that poster from your classroom with all the chemical elements ordered in the so-called periodic table. But, certainly only a few of…
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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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Paul Villard and the Gamma Radiation

Paul Villard and the Gamma Radiation

On September 28, 1860, French chemist and physicist Paul Ulrich Villard was born. Villard is best known for having discovered gamma rays in 1900 while studying the radiation emanating from radium. Youth and Education Paul Villard was born in Saint-Germain-au-Mont-d’Or, Rhône, France. Villard entered the École Normal Supérieure in 1881 and received the agrégé in 1884, which gave him the license to teach at any secondary school financed by the government.[2] After…
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The Case of J. Robert Oppenheimer

The Case of J. Robert Oppenheimer

On April 22, 1904, American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer was born. Oppenheimer was the wartime head of the Los Alamos Laboratory and is among those who are credited with being the “father of the atomic bomb” for their role in the Manhattan Project, the World War II undertaking that developed the first nuclear weapons. Oppenheimer‘s achievements in physics included the Born–Oppenheimer approximation for molecular wave functions, work on the theory of electrons…
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Sir Alan Hodgkin and the Giant Axon of the Atlantic Squid

Sir Alan Hodgkin and the Giant Axon of the Atlantic Squid

On February 5, 1914, English physiologist and biophysicist Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin was born. Hodgkin shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Andrew Huxley and John Eccles for the discovery of the chemical processes involved in nerve conduction, more specifically, discoveries concerning the ionic mechanisms involved in excitation and inhibition in the peripheral and central portions of the nerve cell membrane. Early Life Alan Hodgkin was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK, to…
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Hans Geiger and the Geiger Counter

Hans Geiger and the Geiger Counter

Hans Geiger(1882 – 1945)Image: Wikimedia User GFHund 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 started his physical and mathematical studies at the University of Erlangen, where he finished his final examinations and his doctorate on measurement of radiation. He moved to Manchester, where he became…
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