Do you fondly call the whiz kid in your class/ organization ˜Einstein'? If yes, then you aren't the only one who does so. People around the world honor their friends and acquaintance with the title of ˜Einstein' for the person's immaculate brilliance and genius mind. While there may be a lot of genius mind set at work to this date, only once in a century is Albert Einstein born. The 19th century not just witnessed the birth of Albert Einstein, but with it, the birth of modern physics. Rightly known as the Father of Modern Physics, Albert Einstein was, without a doubt, the most influential physicist of the 20th century. With his research and finding, Einstein created a revolution in the field of science. Amongst his numerous works: (a) the general theory of relativity, which provided a unified description of gravity as a geometric property of space and time, and (b) photoelectric effect that established the quantum theory within physics are the most important ones. During his lifetime, Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers, apart from 150 non-scientific works. He was the proud recipient of numerous awards, such as Nobel Prize in Physics, Copley Medal, Matteucci Medal and Max Planck medal. Other than these, he has also been credited by the Times magazine as the Person of the Century. Such was his contribution to mankind that his name Einstein has been made synonymous to being "genius".
Stephen William Hawking was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His key exploration was in the areas of theoretical cosmology, focusing on the evolution of the universe as governed by the laws of general relativity. He is known for his work related to the study of black holes. With the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, a theory called ˜Hawking radiation,' he became the first to set forth a cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. Hawking suffered from a rare and life-threatening condition of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a condition he suffered all of his adult life. The illness started when he was 21 and pursuing his PhD from Cambridge University. For a major part of his later life, he was almost completely paralyzed and communicated through a speech generating device. Not succumbing to the despair of the disease, Hawking devoted all his life to his work and research. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for around three decades and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. For his contribution to the study of universe and his pioneering work in cosmology, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
An extraordinary genius and proficient physicist, mathematician, astronomer and alchemist, Sir Isaac Newton is considered to be the greatest and the most influential scientist who ever lived. One of the paramount contributors of the 17th century Scientific Revolution, he developed the principles of modern physics which he laid out in his book, ˜Philosophiae, Natrualis, Principia Mathematica'. Popularly known as Principia, the book highlighted the concepts of universal gravitation and laws of motions which remained at the forefront of science for centuries after. Furthermore, he worked on and developed the theory of color. He was the first to lay out the fact that color is an intrinsic property of light and that when reflected, scattered or transmitted, a white light decomposed into numerous colors that are visible in the spectrum or in the rainbow. He was responsible for building the first practical telescope. Newton also contributed to the study of power series, generalised the binomial theorem to non-integer exponents, and developed method for approximating the roots of a function. Apart from all the aforementioned, Newton made noteworthy and substantial contribution in the field of alchemy and theology as well. In his life, he held numerous significant positions such as serving as the Lucasian Professor of mathematics, President of the Royal Society and Warden and Master of the Mint. Thus, it wouldn't be wrong to say that Newton, single-handedly, achieved milestones in physics that laid the groundwork for future discoveries by scientists across the globe.
Polish physicist and chemist who discovered two radioactive elements: radium and polonium. She became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1903 when she won the award for physics. In 1911, she won the award again for chemistry.
Physicist, professor and media personality most famous as the presenter of numerous educational TV shows, such as Wonders of Life. In the scientific community, he is known for his work on projects like the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.
Niels Bohr was a Noble Prize winning Danish physicist who did pioneering work in quantum theory and in contributing to the understanding of atomic structure. Born to a highly influential and well educated famil, he is regarded as one of the most dominant physicists of the 20th century. After earning his doctoral degree in physics, he conducted an intensive research along with Ernest Rutherford on the atomic structures. He formulated the first successful explanation of some major lines of the hydrogen spectrum and his theory of the atom became the foundation of modern atomic physics. His remarkable contribution to the understanding of the atomic structure and quantum mechanics earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics. Among other things, he also proposed the complementarity principle, which states that objects may have a dual nature, similar to that of an electron which behaves both as a particle and a wave, but we can only experience one aspect at a time. During World War II, he escaped arrest by German police and eventually made it to the United States where he acted as a prominent part of the team of physicists working on the Manhattan Project. He was also a noted humanitarian and after the war, he spent the rest of his life advocating the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr. is an American astrophysicist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1993 for discovering a new type of pulsar that opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation. He was born in a family, who were Quakers by descent and his parents managed their own farm in Cinnaminson in New Jersey. He studied at the Moorestown Friends School and then at Haverford College, both were Quaker institutions. At school and in college, he showed a remarkable grasp of mathematics. He earned his doctorate in astronomy from Harvard University and started off as a teacher at the University of Massachusetts. He collaborated with his student Russell A. Hulse to discover the first pulsar in binary system and also proved the presence of gravitational waves a few years later in another paper. After quitting the University of Massachusetts, he became a professor of physics at Princeton University and during his 25 year career at the university; he was made the James S. McDonnell professor of physics and also served as the dean of the physics department for a period.
Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, the Indian physicist who made his motherland proud by becoming the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for Physics, was a scientist par excellence. He displayed a brilliant mind even as a child and passed his matriculation examination at a much younger age as compared to other students. As the son of a lecturer in mathematics and physics, the young Raman was exposed to an academic environment from the very beginning. A topper throughout his academic days, he was deeply interested in research; in fact he began his research work on optics and acoustics even while he was a student. Even though he started his career as a Deputy Accountant General, still he could not keep away from research, often staying up whole nights to discover new things in the field of physics. He was intrigued by the blue colour of glaciers and the Mediterranean sea and wanted to unravel the mystery that why water, a colorless liquid, appeared blue to the eyes. Thus began a series of experiments on the scattering of light which ultimately led to what came to be known as the ˜Raman Effect' for which he won the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Physicist who wrote the best-selling books Physics of the Impossible (2008) and Physics of the Future (2011). In 2008 he hosted the three-hour BBC-TV documentary Visions of the Future and in 2009 he began hosting Sci Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible, a 12-episode weekly TV series for the Science Channel.
Richard Feynman was an American physicist specializing in quantum mechanics, quantum electrodynamics, and particle physics. After growing up in Queens, New York City, he went on to receive his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctoral degree from Princeton University. He used his gained expertise in physics to contribute to the development of the atomic bomb, in what was called the Manhattan Project, during World War II. Working with other professionals in his field, he went on to receive a Nobel Prize in Physics for research on quantum electrodynamics. Another significant study which he undertook is the super-fluidity in super-cooled liquid helium. The Feynman diagrams as they are now known was a concept developed by this eminent scientist; the diagrams are used to pictorially represent the behavior of sub-atomic particles. Dabbling with particle physics, he came up with the Parton model. He later became credited with expanding physics research to the world of modern technologies through the creation of quantum computing and his theories concerning nanotechnology. Over the course of his career, Feynman took on a number of assistantships and appointed positions at various prestigious institutions across the country. He presented lectures, which were later published and are now considered one of the most well-known books ever written on physics. Read on to know more about his life and works
Ernest Rutherford was a New Zealand physicist popularly known as the father of nuclear physics. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances. He established the fact that radioactivity involved the nuclear transformation of one chemical element to another. He also identified and named the Alpha and Beta radiations. He named the Gamma rays as well. The Rutherford model of the atom was introduced when he theorized that atoms have their charge concentrated in a very small nucleus. He conducted experiments that resulted in the first ˜splitting' of the atom in 1917; during the process he discovered and named the proton. Under his supervision as the Director of the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, his associate James Chadwick proved his theorization of neutrons and soon after, the first experiment to split the nucleus in a fully controlled manner was conducted by his students, John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton. He was admitted to the Order of Merit in 1925, and was raised to the peerage as Lord Rutherford of Nelson in 1931. The chemical element 104 - Rutherfordium has been named after him.
Sir James Chadwick CH was an English physicist, who won the 1935 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of neutron. Born in an economically backward family, he rose to become one of the most renowned scientists of Great Britain. While studying physics at the University of Manchester, he caught the attention of the head of the department, Professor Ernest Rutherford. When Rutherford became the Director of Research at Cavendish Laboratory, he invited Chadwick to join him. While working at the laboratory as Assistant Director, Chadwick discovered neutron, which led to the development of atomic bomb during the end of the Second World War. He later became the head of the British Mission at the Manhattan Project and was one of three men who had access to all the American research and production facilities for the atomic bomb. During his lifetime, he published a number of papers, which are now held at the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge. Apart from being a great physicist, he was also a great human being and was much distressed by the fact that his discovery had been used to kill many innocent people.
The Volt was named after an Italian scientist and creator of the battery. Napoleon Bonaparte appointed him a count in 1801 and his portrait appeared on the Italian 10,000 lira note, which is no longer in circulation.
Cyrus McCormick was an American industrialist who invented the mechanical reaper and founded the McCormick Harvesting Company. Born to an inventor father in Virginia, Cyrus received limited formal education but, displayed a knack for mechanics and soon learned the skills of his father, who used to conduct numerous experiments with farm machinery. When his father abandoned the work to build a reaper, Cyrus took over the project and after making several changes to the original design, in 1831, he was able to construct the first commercially successful mechanical reaper. However, over the next few decades, he faced the threat of competing inventors but was able to improve its mechanism, thus making his machine a success and maintaining his market position. In 1847, he established the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company in Chicago to manufacture, market, and distribute reapers. With innovative business practices, over the years, McCormick Harvesting Machine Company became the largest farm equipment manufacturing firm in the country. In 1871, when the factory was burnt down in the great Chicago fire, he rebuilt it with increased capacity and expanded his business. Subsequently, Cyrus also served as a leading public figure and remained active in Presbyterian causes as well as Democratic politics. An extraordinary inventor with unparalleled business acumen, Cyrus McCormick will always be remembered for his contributions to the advancement and mechanization of agriculture.
Danish physicist and chemist who discovered the important aspect of electromagnetism that electric currents create magnetic fields. The HC Orsted Medal is awarded every year by American Association of Physics Teachers.
Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian engineer and inventor who successfully demonstrated the working of long-distance wireless telegraph and radio signal. This Nobel-prize winner was born into a wealthy and educated family, and was first educated in Bologna and Florence, later moving to a technical school in Leghorn. As a boy he was impressed by the works of Hertz, Maxwell and Lodge. He began experimenting in his father's estate and was successful in sending wireless signals over short distances, greater than a mile. He took his machine to England where his invention was received with enthusiasm. One of the interested parties was British Post Office. Within a year, his successful endeavour of broadcasting to 12 miles, Marconi applied for his first patent. Determined to establish that wireless waves were not influenced by the curves of Earth, he transmitted his historic wireless signals across the Atlantic. The claims of his transatlantic signal were however never quite verified. Marconi continuously explored the various possibilities of the usage of radio waves beyond the spectrum of telecommunications. His experimentation resulted in discovering the use of microwave in physical therapy. Guglielmo, as an entrepreneur was quite conservative when it came to patents, as he never disclosed the full design until the patent was given to him, allowing him to realize the full monetary benefit
American nuclear scientist who became the youngest person at age 14 to produce nuclear fusion. He won several awards in the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2010.
Led America into the atomic era with his research into nuclear physics and supervision of the Los Alamos laboratories from the very beginning of the Manhattan Project. In 1953, after a military report linked him to Communists in the past, he lost his prestigious position within the U.S. government.
William Harvey is best remembered as the first man who aptly described the circulation of blood in the bodythrough the functioning of the heart. An anatomist and a physician by profession, Harvey's discovery was crucial and opened new avenues of study in blood circulation and distribution. His experimentation thwarted the incorrect belief that liver was the source of blood movement. He instead showed the world that the heart formed the centre of blood circulation and it was through it that arteries and veins circulated the blood to the body and the brain. He also established the fact that the regular contractions of the heart pumped the flow of blood around the whole body. The discovery was extraordinarily remarkable and sealed Harvey's place in the history of medicine forever. Apart from doing significant medical research and experimentation, Harvey served as the royal physician to King James I and later King Charles I. Simultaneously, he also served various aristocrats and royals. In his lifetime, Harvey held the chair of a Lumleian lecturer and also served patients at St Bartholomew's Hospital. Towards the end of his life, Harvey came up with a masterpiece, ˜De Generatione Animalium', which concentrated on embryology. The book highlighted the theory of ˜epigenesis' which stated that the organism does not exist as a minute entity within the ovum but develops from it by a gradual building up of its parts. He was also the first to suggest that humans and mammals reproduced via fertilization of an egg by a sperm.
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck or simply Max Planck was a German scientist and theoretical physicist who brought about a paradigm shift in the study of physics in the late 19th century with his quantum theory of physics. When he was a student in school, Planck displayed a great talent in music and could have studied music; however, he changed his mind later on and decided to study physics. Planck held positions at the University of Munich, University of Berlin and the University of Kiel during his illustrious career and also collaborated with some of the leading scientist of his day. Planck's greatest contribution in physics was the introduction of quantum physics as a distinct branch of physics in the late 19th century; he won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918 for his quantum theory. Planck was also pivotal in bringing together all the different physics societies in Germany under one roof with the establishment of the Physical Societies of Germany that led to greater collaboration between physicists in the country.
American rocket propulsion researcher and pioneer of solid rocket fuel research who founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Aerojet Corp. Unfortunately he lost his security clearance and ability to work in rocketry during the communist witch hunts brought on by Joseph McCarthy.
Scientist who is known as Albert Einstein's fellow student at the Zurich Polytechnic and later became his first wife.
Wernher von Braun was one of most important figures who earned unparalleled achievements in the field of rocketry, and has been hailed as the ˜Father of Rocket Science'. In his childhood, he was not particularly good at mathematics and physics but after he was gifted a telescope, by his mother his interest in astronomy was stimulated. He eventually topped his class and went on to obtain a bachelor's degree in engineering. Soon, he received a research grant for his scientific works, and later received a doctorate in Physics. He experimented on liquid-fueled rocket aircrafts and developed V-2 ballistic missiles, which the German forces deployed against Britain without his approval. Due to his disapproval of military use of his rockets, he was arrested on fake espionage charges by the Gestapo, the ˜Secret State Police' of Nazi Germany. Towards the end of WWII, his team surrendered to American forces, where he and his team began designing US ballistic missiles and later, he became the Director of NASA's new Marshall Space Flight Centre. He is regarded as one of the greatest German weapon specialists and is hailed as one of the most prominent figures of space exploration. Scroll further to learn more about his life and career.
Physicist credited with the discovery of the "Hall Effect," which describes the voltage difference across an electrical conductor. He served as a Professor of Physics at Harvard University from 1895 to 1921.