Hermann von Helmholtz

Heinrich Gustav Magnus and the Magnus Effect

Heinrich Gustav Magnus and the Magnus Effect

On May 2, 1802, German physicist Heinrich Gustav Magnus was born. He is best known for the Magnus effect (the lift force produced by a rotating cylinder, which for example, gives the curve to a curve ball). In chemical research, he discovered the first of the platino-ammonium compounds. Heinrich Gustav Magnus – Early Years Heinrich Gustav Magnus’ father, the wealthy cloth and silk merchant Immanuel Meyer Magnus was baptized in 1807 with his…
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James Prescott Joule and the True Nature of Heat

James Prescott Joule and the True Nature of Heat

On December 24, 1818, English physicist and brewer, James Prescott Joule was born. Joule studied the nature of heat, and discovered its relationship to mechanical work. This led to the law of conservation of energy, which led to the development of the first law of thermodynamics. The SI derived unit of energy, the joule, is named after James Joule. “My object has been, first to discover correct principles and then to suggest their practical…
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Charles Scott Sherrington and the Functions of the Neurons

Charles Scott Sherrington and the Functions of the Neurons

On November 27, 1857, English neurophysiologist and Nobel Laureate Sir Charles Scott Sherrington was born. Sherrington received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Edgar Adrian in 1932 for their work on the functions of neurons. Prior to the work of Sherrington and Adrian, it was widely accepted that reflexes occurred as isolated activity within a reflex arc. Sherrington received the prize for showing that reflexes require integrated activation and demonstrated…
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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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Sofia Kovalevskaya – Mathematician and Writer

Sofia Kovalevskaya – Mathematician and Writer

On January 15, 1850, Russian mathematician Sofia Kovalevskaya was born. Kovalevskaya was responsible for important original contributions to analysis, partial differential equations and mechanics, and the first woman appointed to a full professorship in Northern Europe. “Say what you know, do what you must, come what may.” — Sofia Kovaleveskaya, Motto on her paper “On the Problem of the Rotation of a Solid Body about a Fixed Point.” (1886) Sofia Kovalevskaya – Early…
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Christine Ladd-Franklin and the Theory of Colour Vision

Christine Ladd-Franklin and the Theory of Colour Vision

On December 1, 1847, American psychologist, logician, and mathematician Christine Ladd-Franklin was born. She is known for contributions to the theory of color vision accounting for the development of man’s color sense which countered the established views of Helmholtz, Young, and Hering. Her position was that color-sense developed in stages. Christine Ladd-Franklin – Early Years Christine Ladd was born in Windsor, Connecticut, to Eliphalet Ladd, a merchant, and Augusta Niles Ladd. She began…
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Gustav Fechner, Psychophysics, and the Ultimate Philosophic Problem

Gustav Fechner, Psychophysics, and the Ultimate Philosophic Problem

On April 19, 1801, German philosopher, physicist and experimental psychologist Gustav Theodor Fechner was born. An early pioneer in experimental psychology and founder of psychophysics, he inspired many 20th century scientists and philosophers. He is also credited with demonstrating the non-linear relationship between psychological sensation and the physical intensity of a stimulus, which became known as the Weber–Fechner law. “Man lives on earth not once, but three times: the first stage of…
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Rudolf Clausius and the Science of Thermodynamics

Rudolf Clausius and the Science of Thermodynamics

On January 2, 1822, German physicist and mathematician Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius was born. He is considered one of the central founders of the science of thermodynamics, who introduced the concept of entropy in 1865. “If for the entire universe we conceive the same magnitude to be determined, consistently and with due regard to all circumstances, which for a single body I have called entropy, and if at the same time we introduce…
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Ludwig Boltzmann and Statistical Mechanics

Ludwig Boltzmann and Statistical Mechanics

On February 20, 1844, Austrian physicist and philosopher Ludwig Boltzmann was born. His greatest achievement was in the development of statistical mechanics, which explains and predicts how the properties of atoms determine the physical properties of matter. “Who sees the future? Let us have free scope for all directions of research; away with dogmatism, either atomistic or anti-atomistic!” — Ludwig Boltzmann, “Lectures on Gas Theory”, translated by Stephen George Brush (1971), p.…
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Carl Ludwig – Pioneer of Modern Physiology

Carl Ludwig – Pioneer of Modern Physiology

On December 29, 1816, German physician and physiologist Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig was born. Ludwig was one of the creators of modern physiology. He applied the experimental approach of chemistry and physics to explain the way the body functions. Ludwig investigated the structure of the kidneys and cardiac activity. Early Life Carl Ludwig was born in Witzenhausen an der Werra, near Kassel, Germany. His father was the rent master in Witzenhausen, later promoted…
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