physics

Charles-Adolphe Wurtz and the Atomic Theory

Charles-Adolphe Wurtz and the Atomic Theory

On November 26, 1817, Alsatian French chemist and educator Charles-Adolphe Wurtz was born. Wurtz is best remembered for his decades-long advocacy for the atomic theory and for ideas about the structures of chemical compounds, against the skeptical opinions of chemists such as Marcellin Berthelot and Etienne Henri Sainte-Claire Deville. He is well known by organic chemists for the Wurtz reaction, to form carbon-carbon bonds by reacting alkyl halides with sodium, and for…
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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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Donald Kerst and the Betatron

Donald Kerst and the Betatron

On November 1, 1911, American physicist Donald William Kerst was born. Kerst worked on advanced particle accelerator concepts (accelerator physics) and plasma physics. He is most notable for his development of the betatron, a novel type of particle accelerator used to accelerate electrons. Donald Kerst – Early Years Donald Kerst was born in Galena, Illinois, U.S., the son of Herman Samuel Kerst and Lillian E Wetz. He studied at the University of Wisconsin, earning…
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Laura Bassi – the first Woman with a University Chair

Laura Bassi – the first Woman with a University Chair

Between October 20 and October 29, 1711, Italian physicist and academic Laura Maria Caterina Bassi was born. Bassi is referred to as being the first woman to earn a professorship in physics at a university in Europe and is recognized as the first woman in the world to earn a university chair in a scientific field of studies. She contributed immensely to the field of science while also helping to spread the…
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Robert Stirling and the Stirling Engine

Robert Stirling and the Stirling Engine

On October 25, 1790, Scottish clergyman Reverend Dr Robert Stirling was born. Stirling is best known for his invention of the Stirling engine, a heat engine that operates by cyclic compression and expansion of air or other gas (the working fluid) at different temperatures, such that there is a net conversion of heat energy to mechanical work. Robert Stirling Youth and Education Robert Stirling was born at Cloag Farm near Methven, Perthshire,…
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Seymour Benzer and his Experiments in Behavioural Genetics

Seymour Benzer and his Experiments in Behavioural Genetics

On October 15, 1921, American physicist, molecular biologist and behavioral geneticist Seymour Benzer was born. Benzer is known for having developed a method for determining the detailed structure of viral genes. He coined the term cistron (1957) to denote functional subunits of genes. He also did much to elucidate the nature of genetic anomalies, called nonsense mutations, in terms of the nucleotide sequence of DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid. Seymor Benzer – Early Years Seymour…
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Walter Houser Brattain and the Age of the Transistor

Walter Houser Brattain and the Age of the Transistor

On October 13, 1987, American physicist and Nobel Laureate Walter Houser Brattain passed away. At Bell Labs, Brattain along with fellow scientists John Bardeen and William Shockley, invented the point-contact transistor in December, 1947, for which they shared he 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics. Youth and Education Walter Houser Brattain was born in 1902 in Xiamen, Fujian, China, to Ross R. Brattain, a teacher at the private Ting-Wen Institute, and Ottilie Houser…
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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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Ejnar Hertzsprung and the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram

Ejnar Hertzsprung and the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram

On October 8, 1873, Danish chemist and astronomer Ejnar Hertzsprung was born. Together with Henry Norris Russell, Hertzsprung developed the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram, a scatter graph of stars showing the relationship between the stars‘ absolute magnitudes or luminosities versus their spectral classifications or effective temperatures, which has become fundamental to the study of stellar evolution. Ejnar Hertzsprung – Early Years Ejnar Hertzsprung was probably not formally educated, but studied in technological colleges in Denmark…
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Harold Kroto and the Discovery of Fullerenes

Harold Kroto and the Discovery of Fullerenes

On October 7, 1939, English chemist and Nobel Laureate Sir Harold Walter Kroto was born. Kroto shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Robert Curl and Richard Smalley [6] for their discovery of fullerenes, i.e. molecules of carbon in the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, tube, and many other shapes, which have been the subject of intense research, both for their unique chemistry and for their technological applications, especially in…
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