physics

Alexis Claude Clairaut and the True Figure of the Earth

Alexis Claude Clairaut and the True Figure of the Earth

On May 13, 1713, French mathematician, astronomer, and geophysicist Alexis Claude Clairaut was born. Clairaut was one of the key figures in the expedition to Lapland that helped to confirm Newton’s theory for the figure of the Earth.[3] In that context, Clairaut worked out a mathematical result now known as “Clairaut’s theorem“. He also tackled the gravitational three-body problem, being the first to obtain a satisfactory result for the apsidal precession of…
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The Instruments of Jean-Charles de Borda

The Instruments of Jean-Charles de Borda

On May 4, 1733, French mathematician, physicist, political scientist, and sailor Jean-Charles de Borda was born. De Borda is noted for his studies of fluid mechanics and his development of instruments for navigation and geodesy, the study of the size and shape of the Earth. He is one of 72 scientists commemorated by plaques on the Eiffel tower. From Latin and Greek to Mathematics and Physics Jean-Charles de Borda grew up in Dax, France,…
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Charles Francis Richter and the Richter Scale

Charles Francis Richter and the Richter Scale

On April 26, 1900, American seismologist and physicist Charles Francis Richter was born. Richter is most famous as the creator of the Richter magnitude scale, which, until the development of the moment magnitude scale in 1979, quantified the size of earthquakes. Inspired by Kiyoo Wadati‘s 1928 paper on shallow and deep earthquakes, Richter first used the scale in 1935 after developing it in collaboration with Beno Gutenberg; both worked at the California Institute of…
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John Leslie’s Research in Heat and Capillary Action

John Leslie’s Research in Heat and Capillary Action

On April 10, 1766, Scottish mathematician and physicist Sir John Leslie was born. Leslie is best remembered for his research into heat. He gave the first modern account of capillary action in 1802 and froze water using an air-pump in 1810, the first artificial production of ice. “The true business of the philosopher, though not flattering to his vanity, is merely to ascertain, arrange and condense the facts. “ — Sir John…
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Peter Debye – Dipole Moments, X Rays, and Light Scattering

Peter Debye – Dipole Moments, X Rays, and Light Scattering

On March 24, 1884, Dutch-American physicist and physical chemist Peter Joseph William Debye was born. Debye’s investigations of dipole moments, X rays, and light scattering in gases brought him the 1936 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Most of his work was in chemical-physics with special interest in electrolytes and dipolar momentum analysis. He established a theory of specific heat with some improvements on that proposed by Einstein.[5] “If a problem is clearly stated,…
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Vilhelm Bjerknes – A Pioneer of Modern Weatherforecast

Vilhelm Bjerknes – A Pioneer of Modern Weatherforecast

On March 14, 1862, Norwegian physicist and meteorologist Vilhelm Bjerknes was born, Bjerknes is best known for being one of the founders of the modern science of weather forecasting with his 1921 published work “On the Dynamics of the Circular Vortex with Applications to the Atmosphere and to Atmospheric Vortex and Wave Motion“. Youth and Education Vilhelm Frimann Koren Bjerknes was born in Kristiania (later renamed Oslo), Norway, and enjoyed an early exposure…
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Edward Condon – Pioneer in Quantum Mechanics – SciHi Blog

Edward Condon – Pioneer in Quantum Mechanics – SciHi Blog

On March 2, 1902, American nuclear physicist Edward Uhler Condon was born. Condon was a pioneer in quantum mechanics and a participant in the development of radar and nuclear weapons during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project. The Franck–Condon principle and the Slater–Condon rules are co-named after him. “I have lost a good deal of sleep trying to figure out how you could have talked this way about a…
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William Grey Walter and his Machina speculatrix

William Grey Walter and his Machina speculatrix

On February 19, 1910, British neurophysiologist and robotician William Grey Walter was born. Walter is best known for linking learning with a particular brain wave as revealed by measurements by electroencephalograph. But his most famous work was his construction of some of the first electronic autonomous robots. “The mechanism of learning is of course one of the most enthralling and baffling mysteries in the field of biology.” – William Grey Walter, A machine that…
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Julian Schwinger and Quantum Electrodynamics

Julian Schwinger and Quantum Electrodynamics

On February 12, 1918, US-american theoretical physicist and Nobel Laureate Julian Seymour Schwinger was born. Schwinger is best known for his work on the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED), in particular for developing a relativistically invariant perturbation theory, and for renormalizing QED to one loop order. “Is the purpose of theoretical physics to be no more than a cataloging of all the things that can happen when particles interact with each other…
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Rolf Landauer and the Landauer Principle

On February 4, 1927, German-American physicist Rolf William Landauer was born. Landauer made important contributions in diverse areas of the thermodynamics of information processing, condensed matter physics, and the conductivity of disordered media. He is probably best known for the formulation of the eponymous Landauer Principle concerning the energy used during a computer‘s operation. “We shall call a device logically irreversible if the output of a device does not uniquely define the…
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