quantum mechanics

Paul Dirac and the Quantum Mechanics

Paul Dirac and the Quantum Mechanics

On August 8, 1902, English theoretical physicist Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac was born. Dirac is best known for his fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. “The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible.” — Paul Dirac Paul Dirac Background Paul Dirac was born…
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Samuel Goudsmit and the Electron Spin

Samuel Goudsmit and the Electron Spin

On July 11, 1902, Dutch-born U.S. physicist Samuel Abraham Goudsmit was born. He is best known for the formulation of the concept of electron spin together with George Eugene Uhlenbeck. It led to recognition that spin was a property of protons, neutrons, and most elementary particles and to a fundamental change in the mathematical structure of quantum mechanics. “I did all the problems a little different from the rest of the class.” –…
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Statistical Mechanics with Paul Ehrenfest

Statistical Mechanics with Paul Ehrenfest

On January 18, 1881, Austrian and Dutch theoretical physicist Paul Ehrenfest was born. Ehrenfest made major contributions to the field of statistical mechanics and its relations with quantum mechanics, including the theory of phase transition and the Ehrenfest theorem. “Einstein, my upset stomach hates your theory — it almost hates you yourself ! How am I to provide for my students ? What am I to answer to the philosophers ?” –…
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Niels Bohr and the Origins of Quantum Mechanics

Niels Bohr and the Origins of Quantum Mechanics

On October 7, 1885, Danish physicist and Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr was born. Bohr made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. “Physics is to be regarded not so much as the study of something a priori given, but rather as the development of methods of ordering and surveying human experience. In this respect our task must be to account…
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Max Planck and the Quantum Theory

Max Planck and the Quantum Theory

On April 23, 1858, German theoretical physicist Max Planck was born, who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918. “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” – Max Planck, Interview in ‘The Observer’ (25 January 1931), p.17, column 3 Childhood in Munich Max Karl…
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John A. Pople and Computational Methods in Quantum Chemistry

John A. Pople and Computational Methods in Quantum Chemistry

On October 31, 1925, British theoretical chemist and Nobel laureate Sir John Anthony Pople was born. Pople was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Walter Kohn in 1998 for his work on computational methodology to study the quantum mechanics of molecules, their properties and how they act together in chemical reactions. “Sometimes one can improve the theories in the sense of discovering a quicker, more efficient way of doing a given…
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Norman Ramsey and the Oscillatory Field Method

Norman Ramsey and the Oscillatory Field Method

On August 27, 1915, American physicist and Nobel Laureate Norman Foster Ramsey Jr. was born. Ramsey was awarded the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physics, for the invention of the separated oscillatory field method, which had important applications in the construction of atomic clocks. “You have to get a little untrapped from too much prior knowledge.” — Norman Foster Ramsey, Jr., explaining what’s the best way of thinking, in an oral history conducted…
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Stephen Hawking and the Hairy Black Holes

Stephen Hawking and the Hairy Black Holes

When I read the news that Stephen Hawking passed away, I was rather sad. I grew up with a fascination for astronomy and cosmology. Trying to understand the fabrics and working of the universe, I devoured his popular books and articles and I am rather thankful. Amongst others it was foremost this unique physicist, who planted the seed for my decision to become a scientist myself. However, I abandoned physics after high…
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Satyendra Nath Bose and the Einstein-Bose Statistics

Satyendra Nath Bose and the Einstein-Bose Statistics

Satyendra Nath Bose (1894-1974) On January 1, 1898, Bengali Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose was born. Specialising in mathematical physics, Bose is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, providing the foundation for Bose–Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose–Einstein condensate. The class of particles that obey Bose–Einstein statistics, bosons, was named after Bose by Paul Dirac. Education Bose was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), the…
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Max Born and the statistical interpretation of the Wave Function

Max Born and the statistical interpretation of the Wave Function

On December 11, 1882, German physicist, mathematician, and Nobel Laureate Max Born was born, who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics. He also made contributions to solid-state physics and optics and supervised the work of a number of notable physicists in the 1920s and 1930s. “Can we call something with which the concepts of position and motion cannot be associated in the usual way, a thing, or a particle? And if…
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