physics

Steven Weinberg and the Great Unifying Theory

Steven Weinberg and the Great Unifying Theory

On May 3, 1933, American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg was born. His research on elementary particles and cosmology has been honored with numerous prizes and awards including the Nobel Prize in Physics, which he received in 1979 together with his colleagues Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow for the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particle. “Elementary particles are terribly boring, which is one reason why…
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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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Christian Doppler and the Doppler Effect

Christian Doppler and the Doppler Effect

On November 29, 1803, Christian Johann Doppler, Austrian Physicist and mathematician was born in Salzburg. Doppler is widely known for his principle, the Doppler effect, that the observed frequency of a wave depends on the relative speed of the source and the observer. He used this concept to explain the color of binary stars. “There have been applied sciences throughout the ages. … However this so-called practice was not much more than paper…
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How High/Low Can You Go? – The Explorer Auguste Piccard

How High/Low Can You Go? – The Explorer Auguste Piccard

Scientists and explorers we are, to boldly go where no man has gone before. If there is one scientist, who might serve as the prototype of an bold explorer, then we have to consider Auguste Piccard, a Swiss professor of physics, who tried to explore the deepest depths of the sea as well as the extreme stratosphere of the earth. And he did this not only in theory, but by experiment (always…
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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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Carl von Linde’s Breakthrough in the Refrigeration Process

Carl von Linde’s Breakthrough in the Refrigeration Process

On June 11, 1842, German scientist, engineer, and businessman Carl von Linde was born. Von Linde discovered a refrigeration cycle and invented the first industrial-scale air separation and gas liquefaction processes. These breakthroughs laid the backbone for his 1913 Nobel Prize in Physics. Cotton-Spinning, Locomotive Factory, and Technical University Born in Berndorf, Germany as the son of a German-born minister and Swedish mother, Carl von Linde was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps, but…
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Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit and the Measurement of Temperature

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit and the Measurement of Temperature

On May 24, 1686, Dutch-German-Polish physicist, engineer, and glass blower Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit was born. He is is best known for his invention of the mercury-in-glass thermometer in 1714, and for developing a temperature scale that is now named after him. Daniel Fahrenheit – Youth and Education Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit’s parents living in Gdansk, Poland, were Daniel (1656-1701) and Concordia Fahrenheit (1657-1701) (née Schumann, related Runge). The mother came from a well-known Gdañsk…
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Joseph-Louis Lagrange and the Celestial Mechanics

Joseph-Louis Lagrange and the Celestial Mechanics

On April 10, 1813, Italian mathematician and astronomer Joseph-Louis Lagrange passed away. Lagrange made significant contributions to the fields of analysis, number theory, and both classical and celestial mechanics. “I cannot say whether I will still be doing geometry ten years from now. It also seems to me that the mine has maybe already become too deep and unless one finds new veins it might have to be abandoned. Physics and chemistry…
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Josef Stefan’s – Black Bodies and Thermodynamic Temperature

Josef Stefan’s – Black Bodies and Thermodynamic Temperature

On March 24, 1835, Carinthian Slovene physicist, mathematician, and poet Josef Stefan was born. Stefan is best known for originating Stefan’s law in 1879, a physical power law stating that the total radiation from a black body is proportional to the fourth power of its thermodynamic temperature T. As long as you are not a physicist specialized in black body radiation, you probably have never heard of Josef Stefan. For me as a computer…
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Augustin-Jean Fresnel and the Wave Theory of Light

Augustin-Jean Fresnel and the Wave Theory of Light

On March 10, 1788, French civil engineer and physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel was born. Augustin-Jean Fresnel‘s research in optics led to the almost unanimous acceptance of the wave theory of light, excluding any remnant of Newton‘s corpuscular theory, from the late 1830s until the end of the 19th century. “It’s not observation but theory that led me to this result that experience has confirmed afterwards.” – Augustin-Jean Fresnel, explaining how he was led to…
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