optics

Evangelista Torricelli and the Barometer

Evangelista Torricelli and the Barometer

On October 15, 1608, Italian physicist and mathematician Evangelista Torricelli was born, best known for his invention of the barometer, but is also known for his advances in Optics. Evangelista Torricelli Background Evangelista Torricelli was born in Rome, the firstborn child of Gaspare Ruberti, a poor textile worker, and Giacoma Torricelli. His family was from Faenza in the Province of Ravenna, then part of the Papal States. His parents sent Evangelista to…
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Peter Barlow and the Barlow Lenses

Peter Barlow and the Barlow Lenses

On October 13, 1776, British mathematician and physicist Peter Barlow was born. He is still reknown today for his development of two varieties of achromatic (non-colour-distorting) telescope lenses, the so-called Barlow lenses. Opinions derived from long experience are exceedingly valuable, and outweigh all others, while they are consistent with facts and with each other; but they are worse than useless when they lead, as in this instance, to directly opposite opinions. – Peter…
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David Rittenhouse and the Transit of Venus

David Rittenhouse and the Transit of Venus

On April 8, 1732, American astronomer David Rittenhouse was born. He was an early observer of the atmosphere of Venus. For observations for the transit of Venus on 3 June 1769, he constructed a high precision pendulum clock, an astronomical quadrant, an equal altitude instrument, and an astronomical transit. Besides being an astronomer, he was also inventor, clockmaker, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman and public official as first director of the United States Mint.…
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Harold Eugene Edgerton and the High Speed Photography

Harold Eugene Edgerton and the High Speed Photography

On April 6, 1903, Harold Eugene “Doc” Edgerton, professor for electrical engineering at the Massachussetts Institut of Technology was born.He is largely credited with transforming the stroboscope from an obscure laboratory instrument into a common device. He also was deeply involved with the development of sonar and deep-sea photography, and his equipment was used by Jacques Cousteau in searches for shipwrecks and even the Loch Ness monster. Harold Eugene Edgerton  – Early…
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Hans Lippershey and the Telescope

Hans Lippershey and the Telescope

On October 2, 1608,  German-Dutch lensmaker Hans Lippershey applied to the States-General of the Netherlands for a patent for his instrument “for seeing things far away as if they were nearby”. Telescope History Even though scientists of the middle ages never heard of telescopes and most of them did not know specific laws of optics, they started laying the foundations for telescopes as we know them today. Before the invention of the telescope…
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Athanasius Kircher – A Man in Search of Universal Knowledge

Athanasius Kircher – A Man in Search of Universal Knowledge

On May 2nd, 1601 (or 1602), German Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher was born. He has published most notably in the fields of oriental studies, geology, and medicine, and has been compared to Leonardo da Vinci for his enormous range of interests.[5] He is regarded as one of the founders of Egyptology for his (mostly fruitless) efforts in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs, wrote an encyclopedia about China, studied volcanos and fossils, was one of the very…
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Carl Friedrich Gauss – The Prince of Mathematicians

Carl Friedrich Gauss – The Prince of Mathematicians

On April 30, 1777, German mathematician and physical scientist Carl Friedrich Gauss was born. He contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, algebra, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, electrostatics, astronomy and optics. He is often referred to as Princeps mathematicorum (Latin, “the Prince of Mathematicians”) as well as “greatest mathematician since antiquity”. “Mathematics is the Queen of Science, and Arithmetic is the Queen of Mathematics” – handed down in Wolfgang Sartorius…
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Ernst Ruska and the Electron Microscope

Ernst Ruska and the Electron Microscope

On March 9, 1931, German physicist Ernst Ruska together with his doctoral advisor Max Knoll presented the very first prototype electron microscope, capable of four-hundred-power magnification; the apparatus was the first demonstration of the principles of electron microscopy. “The light microscope opened the 1st gate to microcosm. The electron microscope opened the 2nd gate to microcosm.” What will we find opening the 3rd gate? (Ernst Ruska, 1985)[1] Youth and Education Ernst Ruska…
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Sir Isaac Newton and the famous Principia

Sir Isaac Newton and the famous Principia

On July 5, 1687, Sir Isaac Newton published his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (in Latin). The Principia states Newton’s laws of motion, forming the foundation of classical mechanics; Newton’s law of universal gravitation; and a derivation of Kepler’s laws of planetary motion (which Kepler first obtained empirically).[6] It is to be considered as the most influential work of Isaac Newton and as one of the greatest scientific works of all time. “The ancients…
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Thomas Young – The Last Man who Knew Everything

Thomas Young – The Last Man who Knew Everything

On June 13, 1773, British polymath and physician Thomas Young was born. Young made notable scientific contributions to the fields of vision, light, solid mechanics, energy, physiology, language, musical harmony, and Egyptology. He “made a number of original and insightful innovations” in the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs (specifically the Rosetta Stone) before Jean-François Champollion eventually expanded on his work.[1] The Youth of a Polymath Young came from a family of Quakers, of…
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