physics

Otto Frisch and the Idea of Nuclear Fission

Otto Frisch and the Idea of Nuclear Fission

On October 1, 1904, Austrian-British physicist Otto Robert Frisch was born. With his aunt Lise Meitner,[4] Frisch described the division of neutron-bombarded uranium into lighter elements. With his collaborator Rudolf Peierls he designed the first theoretical mechanism for the detonation of an atomic bomb in 1940. “Scientists have one thing in common with children: curiosity. To be a good scientist you must have kept this trait of childhood, and perhaps it is not…
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Jean Baptiste Perrin and the Brownian Motion

Jean Baptiste Perrin and the Brownian Motion

On September 30, 1870, French physicist Jean Baptiste Perrin was born. In his studies of the Brownian motion of minute particles suspended in liquids, Perrin verified Albert Einstein’s explanation of this phenomenon and thereby confirmed the atomic nature of matter. Jean Baptiste Perrin – Biographical Background Jean Baptiste Perrin was born in Lille, France, while his father, Captain Jean Baptiste Perrin, wounded at the battle of Saint-Privat, was locked up in Metz…
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John Ray Dunning and the Manhattan Project

John Ray Dunning and the Manhattan Project

On September 24, 1907, US-American physicist John Ray Dunning was born. Dunning played key roles in the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic bombs. He specialized in neutron physics, and did pioneering work in gaseous diffusion for isotope separation. John Ray Dunning – Early Years John Ray Dunning was born in Shelby, Nebraska, USA, the son of Albert Chester Dunning, a grain dealer, and his wife Josephine. He graduated from Shelby High…
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Arthur Holly Compton and the Compton Effect

Arthur Holly Compton and the Compton Effect

On September 10, 1890, American physicist and Nobel Laureate Arthur Holly Compton was born. Compton won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1927 for his discovery of the Compton effect, which demonstrated the particle nature of electromagnetic radiation. It was a sensational discovery at the time: the wave nature of light had been well-demonstrated, but the idea that light had both wave and particle properties was not easily accepted. Arthur Holly Compton…
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Francis William Aston and the Mass Spectrograph

Francis William Aston and the Mass Spectrograph

On September 1, 1877, English chemist, physicist, and Nobel Laureate Francis William Aston was born. Aston won the 1922 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery, by means of his mass spectrograph, of isotopes, in a large number of non-radioactive elements, and for his enunciation of the whole number rule. Francis William Aston – Early Years Francis William Aston was born in Harborne, now part of Birmingham, UK, as the third child and second…
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Louis Essen and the Precise Measurement of Time

Louis Essen and the Precise Measurement of Time

On August 24, 1997, English physicist Louis Essen FRS, O.B.E passed away. Essen’s most notable achievements were in the precise measurement of time and the determination of the speed of light. He invented the quartz crystal ring clock and the first practical atomic clock. These devices were capable of measuring time more accurately than any previous clocks. He built a cesium-beam atomic clock, a device that ultimately changed the way time is measured.…
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Erwin Schrödinger and his Famous Thought Experiment

Erwin Schrödinger and his Famous Thought Experiment

On August 12, 1887, Austrian physicist and Nobel Laureate Erwin Schrödinger was born. Schrödinger developed a number of fundamental results in the field of quantum theory, which formed the basis of wave mechanics: he formulated the wave equation and revealed the identity of his development of the formalism and matrix mechanics. Schrödinger proposed an original interpretation of the physical meaning of the wave function. Although many of you are not physicists, you…
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Wolfgang Paul and the Quadrupole Ion Trap

Wolfgang Paul and the Quadrupole Ion Trap

On August 10, 1913, German physicist Wolfgang Paul was born. Paul co-developed the non-magnetic quadrupole mass filter which laid the foundation for what we now call an ion trap. He shared one-half of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1989 for this work with Hans Georg Dehmelt; the other half of the Prize in that year was awarded to Norman Foster Ramsey, Jr. Ion traps can be used as a component of…
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Sir Roger Penrose and the Singularity

Sir Roger Penrose and the Singularity

On August 8, 1931, English mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science. Sir Roger Penrose was born. Penrose is known for his work in mathematical physics, in particular for his contributions to general relativity and cosmology. In 1969, with Stephen Hawking, Penrose proved that all matter within a black hole collapses to a singularity, a geometric point in space where mass is compressed to infinite density and zero volume. Youth and Education…
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Sir William Crookes and the Fundamentals of Luminescence

Sir William Crookes and the Fundamentals of Luminescence

On June 17, 1832, British physicist, chemist, science journalist, and parapsychologist Sir William Crookes was born. Crookes visualized cathode rays, discovered the fundamentals of luminescence and isotopes, and developed methods for detecting ionizing radiation. He discovered the chemical element thallium and the thorium isotope 234Th. William Crookes – Biographical Background William Crookes was born in London, the eldest son of the second wife of Joseph Crookes, a very wealthy tailor. He attended…
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