nuclear physics

Hans Bethe and the Energy of the Stars

Hans Bethe and the Energy of the Stars

On July 2, 1906, German and American nuclear physicist and Nobel Laureate Hans Albrecht Bethe was born. Bethe helped to shape classical physics into quantum physics and increased the understanding of the atomic processes responsible for the properties of matter and of the forces governing the structures of atomic nuclei. Hans Bethe Background Hans Bethe entered the University of Frankfurt in 1924, majoring in chemistry. However, after a few semesters, he was advised…
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Martin Perl and the Tau Particle

Martin Perl and the Tau Particle

On June 24, 1927, American physicist and Nobel Laureate Martin Lewis Perl was born. He is best known for his discovery of the tau lepton, a subatomic massive particle with a negative charge. The tau, which he found in the mid-1970s, was the first evidence of a third “generation” of fundamental particles. Tau Lepton The tau lepton (τ, also called the tau particle, tauon or simply tau) is an elementary particle similar…
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George Gamow and his fundamental Views on the Foundations of Science

George Gamow and his fundamental Views on the Foundations of Science

On March 4, 1904, theoretical physicist and cosmologist George Gamow was born. He was an early advocate and developer of George Lemaître’s Big Bang theory. Besides his contributions to physics, in his middle and late career, Gamow focused more on teaching, and became well known as an author of popular books on science, which are still in print more than 50 years after their publication. “There was a young fellow from Trinity,…
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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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Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker – The Responsibility of Science in the Atomic Age

Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker – The Responsibility of Science in the Atomic Age

On June 28, 1912, German physicist at philosopher Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker was born. Being a member of the team of physicists, who under Werner Heisenberg‘s lead performed nuclear research in Germany during World War 2, Weizsäcker later made important theoretical discoveries regarding energy production in stars from nuclear fusion processes. He also did influential theoretical work on planetary formation in the early Solar System. “It’s useful when we learn to wonder…
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Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman

On May 11, 1918, famous physicist and nobel laureate Richard Feynman was born. Ever since my first days at university, Feynman has been one of my absolute heroes of science. I’ve heard  his name for the first time back in high school, when we learned about Feynman diagrams and I have had heard about his famous physics lectures. But when I had the chance to read his autobiographical book “Surely you’re joking Mr. Feynman…
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Henri Becquerel and Radioactivity

Henri Becquerel and Radioactivity

On March 1, 1896, French physicist Henri Becquerel while experimenting with X-rays and photographic plates discovered radioactivity along with Marie Curie and Pierre Curie, for which all three won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics. “I developed the photographic plates on the 1st of March, expecting to find the images very weak. Instead the silhouettes appeared with great intensity. It is important to observe that it appears this phenomenon must not be attributed…
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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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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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Homi J. Bhabha and the Indian Nuclear Programme

Homi J. Bhabha and the Indian Nuclear Programme

On October 30, 1909, Indian nuclear physicist Homi J. Bhabha was born. Bhabha is often referred to as known as “father of the Indian nuclear programme“. With support from industrialist Dorabji Jamsetji Tata, he established the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay (1945) for large scale research in physics, chemistry, electronics and mathematics. He envisioned nuclear power from thorium instead of uranium reserves. Education Homi Jehangir Bhabha went to school in Bombay, including Elphinstone…
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