physics

Rudolf Mössbauer and the Recoilless Nuclear Resonance Absorption

Rudolf Mössbauer and the Recoilless Nuclear Resonance Absorption

On January 31, 1929, German physicist and Nobel Laureate Rudolf Ludwig Mössbauer was born. He is best known for his 1957 discovery of recoilless nuclear resonance fluorescence for which he was awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize in Physics. This effect, called the Mössbauer effect, is the basis for Mössbauer spectroscopy. “Explain it! The most important thing is, that you are able to explain it! You will have exams, there you have to…
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Giovanni Alfonso Borelli and the Science of Biomechanics

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli and the Science of Biomechanics

On January 28, 1608, Renaissance Italian physiologist, physicist, and mathematician Giovanni Alfonso Borelli was born. Trained in mathematics, Borelli also made extensive studies of Jupiter’s moons, the mechanics of animal locomotion and, in microscopy, of the constituents of blood. He also used microscopy to investigate the stomatal movement of plants, and undertook studies in medicine and geology. “No sensible person will deny that the works of Nature are in the highest degree…
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Ilya Prigogine and the Irreversibility of Time

Ilya Prigogine and the Irreversibility of Time

On January 25, 1917, Belgian physical chemist and Nobel Laureate Ilya Prygogine was born. He is noted for his work on dissipative structures, complex systems, and irreversibility. The main theme of Prigogine‘s work was the search for a better understanding of the role of time in the physical sciences and in biology. He attempted to reconcile a tendency in nature for disorder to increase with so-called “self-organisation“. “The problem of time in physics…
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The Most Accurate Instruments of Gemma Frisius

The Most Accurate Instruments of Gemma Frisius

On December 9, 1508, physician, mathematician, cartographer, philosopher, and instrument maker Gemma Frisius was born. He created important globes, improved the mathematical instruments of his day and applied mathematics in new ways to surveying and navigation. Gemma Frisius – Youth and Education Gemma Frisius was born Jemma Reinierzoon in Dokkum, Friesland, a coastal province in northern Netherlands, of poor parents who died when he was young. His nom de plume Gemma Frisius is a…
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Max von Laue and the Diffraction of X-Rays in Crystals

Max von Laue and the Diffraction of X-Rays in Crystals

On October 9, 1879, German physicist Max von Laue was born. Von Laue received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1914 for his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals. “In the beginning was mechanics.” – Max von Laue (1950). History of physics Max von Laue – Early Years Max von Laue was born in Pfaffendorf, near Koblenz, Germany. His parents were Julius Laue (1848-1927), a Prussian real secret war councilor…
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Giovanni Riccioli – a man of Encyclopedic Knowledge

Giovanni Riccioli – a man of Encyclopedic Knowledge

On April 17, 1598, Italian astronomer and a Catholic priest in the Jesuit order Giovanni Battista Riccioli was born. He is known, among other things, for his experiments with pendulums and with falling bodies, for his discussion of 126 arguments concerning the motion of the Earth, and for introducing the current scheme of lunar nomenclature. He also was the first to observe a double star (two stars so close together that they…
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Bruno Rossi and the Cosmic Radiation

Bruno Rossi and the Cosmic Radiation

On April 13, 1905, Italian experimental physicist Bruno Benedetto Rossi was born. Rossi made major contributions to particle physics and the study of cosmic rays. He was one of the first to use rockets to study cosmic rays above the Earth‘s atmosphere. Finding X-rays from space he became the grandfather of high energy astrophysics, being largely responsible for starting X-ray astronomy, as well as the study of interplanetary plasma. “In any case,…
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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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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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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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