Werner Heisenberg

Werner Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle

Werner Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle

On December 5, 1901, German theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize laureate Werner Heisenberg was born, who along with Max Born and Pascual Jordan laid the foundations of quantum mechanics. He is probably best known for his Uncertainty Principle, asserting a fundamental limit to the precision with which certain physical properties can be known. “The more precise the measurement of position, the more imprecise the measurement of momentum, and vice versa.” — Werner Heisenberg,…
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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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Pascual Jordan and Quantum Mechanics

Pascual Jordan and Quantum Mechanics

On October 18, 1902, theoretical and mathematical physicist Pascual Jordan was born. Jordan made significant contributions to quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. He contributed much to the mathematical form of matrix mechanics, and developed canonical anticommutation relations for fermions. Pascual Jordan was born in Hanover, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire, as son of Ernst Pasqual Jordan (1858-1924), a painter of landscapes and portraits, and Eva Fischer. One of his ancestors named…
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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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Frederick Reines’ Chase for the Ghost Particle

Frederick Reines’ Chase for the Ghost Particle

On March 16, 1918, American physicist and Nobel Laureate Frederick Reines was born. He is best known for his co-detection of the neutrino with Clyde Cowan in the neutrino experiment. The neutrino is a subatomic particle, a tiny lepton with little or no mass and a neutral charge which had been postulated by Wolfgang Pauli in the early 1930s but had previously remained undiscovered. Reines shared the Nobel Prize with physicist Martin…
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Robert Mulliken and the Molecular Orbitals

Robert Mulliken and the Molecular Orbitals

On June 7, 1896, American physicist, chemist, and Nobel Laureate Robert Sonderson Mulliken was born. He is primarily responsible for the early development of molecular orbital theory, i.e. the elaboration of the molecular orbital method of computing the structure of molecules. “…the more accurate the calculations became, the more the concepts tended to vanish into thin air.” — Robert Mulliken, about using old-fashioned chemistry to describe molecular structure, in Molecular Scientists and…
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