Hermann von Helmholtz

Julius von Mayer – Energy can neither be created or destroyed

Julius von Mayer – Energy can neither be created or destroyed

On November 25, 1814, German physician and physicist Julius Robert von Mayer was born. He is best known for enunciating in 1841 one of the original statements of the conservation of energy or what is now known as one of the first versions of the first law thermodynamics, namely that “energy can be neither created nor destroyed“. “Nature has put itself the problem of how to catch in flight light streaming to the…
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Michael Pupin solving the Problems of long-distance Communication

Michael Pupin solving the Problems of long-distance Communication

On October 9, 1858, Serbian American physicist and physical chemist Michael Pupin was born, who is best known for his numerous patents, including a means of greatly extending the range of long-distance telephone communication by placing loading coils (of wire) at predetermined intervals along the transmitting wire (known as “pupinization“). “We would never get away from it. … It’s bad enough as it is, but with the wireless telephone one could be…
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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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