Showing posts with label History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History. Show all posts

10 Inspiring Quotes From Richard Feynman's Letters

quotes by richard feynman letters

Richard Feynman was a Nobel Prize winning American physicist whose letters have grabbed the attention of media far and wide. They included jokes, anecdotes, puzzles and news for his parents while he worked at institutions across America.

The following 10 quotes by Richard Feynman are extracted from the book titled, Don't you have time to think? edited by his daughter Michelle Feynman. The book, published in April 2005, is a unique collection of Feynman's letters.

1) Letter to mom Lucille Feynman, Oct 1939: Professor Wheeler was called away suddenly last night so I took over his course in mechanics for the day. I spent all last night preparing. It went very nicely and smoothly. It was a good experience - I guess someday I will do a lot of that.

Physicist John Wheeler was Feynman's doctoral advisor. This was probably Feynman's first lecture he gave in the absence of Prof Wheeler, as mentioned. He seemed to have enjoyed teaching and wanted to share that feeling with his mother.

2) Tell pop I have made out a time schedule so as to efficiently distribute my time and will follow it quite closely. There are many hours when I haven't marked down just what to do but I do what I feel is most necessary then or what I am most interested in.

quotes by richard feynman letters

Like most students Feynman also struggled to manage time. At the time this was written Feynman was quite early in his twenties. As suggested by his father, Feynman made a time table to achieve maximum level of productivity in a day.

3) 1940: I am listening to a course in physiology, study of life processes, in the biology dept. It is a graduate course. I don't know at all as much as the 3 other fellows in the class but I can understand and follow everything easily.

Just like this, Feynman was led to new adventures in life by his curiosity. In a 1979 interview given to Omni magazine Feynman said: I don't know anything, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough.

4) Letter to Arline, the love of his life, year 1945: I feel I am a reservoir for your strength. Without you, I would be empty and weak, like I was before I knew you... but your moments of strength make me strong and thus I am able to comfort you with your own strength when you are down.

5) Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible. Letter to J. M. Szabados (November 1965)

6) Letter to Koichi Mano, February 1966: You say you are a nameless man. You are not to your wife and to your child. You will not long remain so to your immediate colleagues if you can answer their simple questions when they come into your office.

You are not nameless to me. Do not remain nameless to yourself — it is too sad a way to be. Know your place in the world and evaluate yourself fairly, not in terms of the na├»ve ideals of your own youth, nor in terms of what you erroneously imagine your teacher's ideals are.

7) Do not read so much, look about you and think of what you see there. Letter to Ashok Arora, January 1967.

8) The real question of government versus private enterprise is argued on too philosophical and abstract a basis. Theoretically, planning may be good. But nobody has ever figured out the cause of government stupidity — and until they do (and find the cure), all ideal plans will fall into quicksand. 1963 letter to his wife, Gweneth.

9) Tell your son to stop trying to fill your head with science — for to fill your heart with love is enough! Note to the mother of Marcus Chown.

10) Last letter to Arline, written in 1946, after her untimely death due to prolonged tuberculosis: I adore you sweetheart. I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead. But I still want to comfort and take care of you — and I want you to love me and care for me.

I want to have problems to discuss with you — I want to do little projects with you. My darling wife, I do adore you. You, dead, are so much better than anyone else alive. I love my wife. My wife is dead. PS: Please excuse my not mailing this but I don't know your new address.

5 Women Who Deserved To Win Nobel Prize In Physics

women who deserved to win nobel prize in physics

The Nobel Prize can be as controversial as it is prestigious. There is a long history of women going unrecognized, especially in the field of physics. Many female scientists have made ground-breaking contributions that should have won them a Nobel Prize, but they never became laureates.

Since 1901, of the 219 Nobel Prize winners in physics, only 4 were women. The following is a list of at least five more women who deserved to win the Nobel Prize but did not receive the top honor. Instead, the prize was either awarded to their male colleagues, advisor or not considered at all.

Chien-Shiung Wu


Chinese-American experimental physicist is best known for conducting what is called the Wu experiment. She showed that parity, which is conserved for electromagnetic and strong forces, is not conserved for weak force.

The violation of parity meant that if there was a mirror version of the real world then it would be possible to distinguish between the two. Before the Wu experiment, it was assumed by physicists that parity was always conserved.

Her male colleagues Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang received the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics for the idea, whereas Wu's contribution in the discovery only got a mention in the Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell


Astrophysicist from Northern Ireland picked up an interesting signal as a research student that turned out to be the first rotating neutron star, Pulsar, ever known. The discovery was recognized by the award of 1974 Nobel Prize in physics. However, Bell was excluded from the recipients.

Astronomers Martin Ryle and Anthony Hewish (doctoral advisor of Bell) won the Nobel Prize which was the first physics award given in recognition of astronomical research. Fellow astronomer Fred Hoyle strongly objected to Bell's omission, but to no avail.

Emmy Noether


German mathematician Amalie Emmy Noether made extraordinary contributions to both physics and mathematics. In physics, among many discoveries, Noether's theorem is the most famous that explains the relation between conservation laws and symmetry.

women who deserved nobel prize in physics

Her expertise in mathematics was sought after by famous mathematicians such as David Hilbert to understand the theory of general relativity. Albert Einstein described Noether as the most important woman in the history of mathematics.

Unfortunately, the scope of Noether's exceptional work in physics was not recognized during her lifetime. She died in 1935 at the relatively young age of 53 which is probably one of the reasons why she never won a Nobel Prize.

Lise Meitner


Austrian-Swedish physicist Lise Meitner was among the first to discover nuclear fission. In nuclear fission, atoms are split apart, which releases zero-emission clean energy, as the total mass of the resultant particles is less than that of the initial reactants.

Nobel committee for chemistry decided that German chemist Otto Hahn should be the sole winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his role in understanding fission. The committee members failed to understand why the physics community regarded Meitner's work as seminal.

Lise Meitner spent most of her scientific career in Germany. She was the first woman to become a full professor of physics in Germany. Albert Einstein nicknamed her as the German Marie Curie when she discovered the radioactive element Protactinium.

Vera Rubin


American astronomer discovered a discrepancy in the predicted and observed angular momentum of galaxies which was the first evidence for the existence of dark matter, which makes 27% of the universe. In fact, the matter we know of makes only 5% of the universe.

In 1970s, with her long time collaborator Kent Ford, Vera Rubin found that there was more gravitation in individual galaxies than normal matter could account for. They showed that there must be at least six times more dark matter than visible mass, which is an accepted fact today.

Dark matter research gained momentum after their discovery but neither Ford nor Rubin won the Nobel Prize. Rubin fought hard to gain credibility in a traditionally male-dominated field of astronomy. Rubin died in 2016 after waiting over 40 years for a Nobel Prize recognition.

5 Nikola Tesla Quotes For Making A Better World

nikola tesla engineer physics quotes by tesla

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian inventor and engineer who is best known for his contribution to the development of alternating current system and his feud with American inventor Thomas Edison over whose electricity supply method would power the world.

Tesla was also a deeply spiritual and a forward thinking man of culture. He consumed Mark Twain's works early on in life and was highly influenced by eastern philosophies in the latter part of his life. In this post, let us take a look at 5 of Tesla's famous ideas that may change the world.

Enjoy solitude

For much of his life, Nikola Tesla was lonely and he was never married. Some of Tesla's best work came out of solitude and he acknowledged this, saying: The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion. No big laboratory is needed in which to think. Originality thrives in solitude free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born.

Think reasonably

Nikola Tesla was born and raised in an orthodox Christian family. Later in life he did not consider himself to be a believer in the orthodox sense. Tesla said: To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end. The human being is no exception to the natural order. Man, like the universe, is a machine.

Tesla favored rationality and always opposed religious fanatism. He believed: Nothing enters our minds or determines our actions, and what we call soul or spirit, is nothing more than the sum of the functionings of the body. When this functioning ceases, the soul or the spirit also ceases.

Preach equality

Nikola Tesla advocated strongly for women to pursue scientific endeavors. Women will startle civilization with their progress, Tesla predicted. He said in an interview: The female mind has demonstrated a capacity for all the mental acquirements and achievements of men, and as generations ensue that capacity will be expanded. The average woman will be as well educated as the average man, and then better educated, for the dormant faculties of her brain will be stimulated to an activity that will be all the more intense and powerful because of centuries of repose.

Future of energy

Nikola Tesla was a visionary who endorsed renewable energy sources like solar, wind and water. Of the three, Tesla was most in favor of sun's practically infinite untapped energy. He said: The sun's rays beat the earth incessantly and supply energy at a maximum rate of over four million horsepower per square mile. The average energy received per square mile in any locality during the year is only a small fraction of that amount, yet an inexhaustible source of power would be opened up by the discovery of some efficient method of utilizing the energy of the rays.

To achieve peace

Nikola Tesla realized much later in his life that the fights between individuals, or even among governments and nations, result from misunderstandings, that are always caused by the inability of appreciating one another's point of view.

Tesla's way of accomplishing peace is simply, understanding and acknowledging the differences. To resist our inherent fighting tendency, the best way is to dispel ignorance of the doings of others. The most important step is to aid exchange of thought and ideas.

4 Father-Son Nobel Prize Winners In Physics

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Fathers are often the role model for their children. Richard Feynman's father taught him how to think, not what to think. Aage Bohr grew up working with his father Niels Bohr at the University of Copenhagen. Did you know that seven father-child pairs have been awarded a Nobel Prize? Of these, four pairs won the Nobel Prize in physics.

JJ Thomson and George Thomson


Sir Joseph John Thomson won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1906 for the discovery of electron, the first subatomic particle to be found. Thomson was also a great teacher, and nine of his students went on to win Nobel Prizes, including his son George.

JJ Thomson father's day 2022 father son nobel prize physics
Working with Cathode rays

Contradicting his father, George Paget Thomson won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1937 for the discovery of wave properties of electron. He showed by scattering electrons through thin Gold films that electron diffracted as if it were a wave. With his discovery, George confirmed Louis de Broglie's theory.

Niels Bohr and Aage Bohr


Aage Bohr grew up surrounded by physicists including Heisenberg, Pauli and Kramers. After graduation, he served as a personal assistant to his Nobel Prize winning father who was one of the founders of quantum mechanics, Niels Bohr, best known for explaining the structure of Hydrogen atom.

At that time, the known properties of atomic nuclei could not be explained by the existing nuclear models. Aage studied this problem in the late 1940s and solved in 1952. He gave a new theory to describe asymmetrical shapes of certain nuclei, what the shell model and liquid drop model could not account for.

Aage Bohr shared the Nobel Prize with physicists Ben Mottelson and James Rainwater in 1975 for their explanation of the non-spherical geometry of atomic nuclei and its experimental verification.

niels bohr aage bohr father's day physics nobel prize

William Bragg and Lawrence Bragg


Lawrence Bragg was born in Australia and graduated from the University of Adelaide at age 18. He soon was offered a scholarship in mathematics by the University of Cambridge while his father William Henry Bragg secured a prestigious Cavendish chair of physics at the University of Leeds.

The family moved to Britain and the father and son duo studied the structure of minerals by means of X-rays. They shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 1915 for their services in the X-ray crystallography research. A sulfide mineral is named "Braggite" in their honor.

Manne Siegbahn and Kai Siegbahn


While Niels Bohr was among the first to gain theoretical understanding of atom's internal structure, Manne Siebahn was an experimental physicist who understood electron shell system experimentally by means of x-ray spectroscopy.

Manne won the Nobel Prize in 1924 for his precision measurements that drove many developments in quantum theory and atomic physics. His son Kai also won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1981 for the development of electron spectroscopy.

Other Father Child Nobel winners


1. Pierre Curie won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1903 with his wife Marie Curie for their extraordinary contribution to the understanding of radioactivity. Their daughter Irene won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1935 for pioneering work in artificial radioactivity.

Pierre Curie father's day 2022 irene curie marie curie mother's day physics nobel prize

2. Arthur Kornberg won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1959 for his studies on the synthesis of DNA. His son Roger Kornberg won in chemistry in 2006 for explaining how information is copied from DNA to RNA.

3. Hans von Euler won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1929 for research in organic chemistry. His son Ulf von Euler won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1970 for his work on neurotransmitters. They are distantly related to mathematician Leonhard Euler.

5 Richard Feynman Quotes on Quantum Mechanics

richard feynman quotes on quantum mechanics

American physicist Richard Feynman won a Nobel Prize for physics in 1965 for his work in quantum electrodynamics. Feynman was a man who always jumped into an adventure: as an artist, a story-teller and an everyday joker whose life was a combination of his intelligence, curiosity and uncertainty.

Despite making fundamental contribution to the field of quantum mechanics, Feynman was often perplexed by its complexity. Feynman said, We don't know what an atom looks like but we can calculate its behavior. It is like a computer trying to calculate how fast a car is going without being able to picture the car.

Following are five quotes by Richard Feynman that reflect his views on quantum physics. As students, we may derive one or two equations, solve few problems and be done with it. But it is a great insight to look back as to how a previous generation of physicists grappled with the bizarreness of quantum mechanics.

1. Personal struggle: I always have had a great deal of difficulty in understanding the world view that quantum mechanics represents. Because I'm an old enough man that I haven't got to the point that this stuff is obvious to me, okay? I still get nervous with it. And therefore, some of the younger students, you know how it always is, every new idea, it takes a generation or two until it becomes obvious that there's no real problem. It has not yet become obvious to me that there is no real problem.

2. Nature is absurd: What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school. It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don't understand it. You see my physics students don't understand it... That is because I don't understand it. Nobody does. Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd.

3. Relativity VS quantum mechanics: There was a time when the newspapers said that only twelve men understood the theory of relativity. I do not believe there ever was such a time. There might have been a time when only one man did, (Einstein) because he was the only guy who caught on, before he wrote his paper. But after people read the paper a lot of people understood the theory of relativity in some way or other, certainly more than twelve. On the other hand, I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.

The difficulty really is psychological and exists in the perpetual torment that results from your saying to yourself, "But how can it be like that?" which is a reflection of uncontrolled but utterly vain desire to see it in terms of something familiar. But nature is not classical, dammit, the imagination of nature is far greater than the imagination of man.

4. The mystery of atom: It always bothers me that, according to the laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out what goes on in no matter how tiny a region of space, and no matter how tiny a region of time.

How can all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one tiny piece of space/time is going to do? So I have often made the hypotheses that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement, that in the end the machinery will be revealed, and the laws will turn out to be simple.

5. On nature of reality: Does this then mean that my observations become real only when I observe an observer observing something as it happens? This is a horrible viewpoint. Do you seriously entertain the idea that without the observer there is no reality? Which observer? Any observer? Is a fly an observer? Is a star an observer? Was there no reality in the universe before life began? Or are you the observer? Then there is no reality to the world after you are dead? I know a number of otherwise respectable physicists who have bought life insurance.

7 Funny Quotes By Physicist Wolfgang Pauli

quantum mechanics quotes wolfgang pauli physics quotes

Wolfgang Pauli was one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century who played critical role in the development of quantum mechanics. He won the Nobel Prize in 1945 after being nominated by Albert Einstein for the discovery of exclusion principle.

Pauli was infamous for his supposed tendency to cause equipment failure whenever he was around. Stories like, his new car failed during a honeymoon without apparent reason, and a cyclotron at Princeton University burnt in 1950 in his presence.

Once at a reception party, his colleagues decided to parody the Pauli effect by deliberately dropping a chandelier upon Pauli's entrance. But to everyone's surprise, the chandelier stuck instead, becoming yet another example of the Pauli effect.

Hence, Pauli was a really mysterious person whose proximity was disliked by experimental physicists. In this post, let us delve into interesting anecdotes and funny quotes of Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli, the most legendary scientist of the past century.

Prophet Dirac

In the 1927 Solvay conference, Paul Dirac said: If we are honest, and scientists have to be, we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination.

Wolfgang Pauli had kept silent. When asked for his opinion, Pauli jokingly replied: Our friend Dirac has a religion of his own and its guiding principle is, "There is no God and Dirac is His prophet." Everybody burst into laughter, including Dirac and Heisenberg.

paul dirac and wolfgang pauli physics
Dirac, Pauli

Elusive Neutrino

Pauli said in 1930: I have done a terrible thing. I have postulated a particle that cannot be detected. After proposing the existence of neutrino, an extremely light electrically neutral particle, that does not participate in the strong interaction and weak force is very short range, so it is very hard to find.

Trolling Heisenberg

Werner Heisenberg claimed to a journalist that Pauli and he had found a unified field theory, but just some technical details were missing. Pauli wrote in a letter, drawing a big rectangle, that "This is to show that I can paint like Titian. Only technical details are missing."

niels bohr werner heisenberg wolfgang pauli physics history quantum mechanics
Bohr, Heisenberg, Pauli

Parity violation

If a system behaves in the mirror image as it normally would, it is said to respect parity symmetry. In 1956, Chinese American physicist Chien-Shiung Wu discovered parity violation, leading Pauli to comment: "I cannot believe God is a weak left-hander!"

Bad science

Wolfgang Pauli was known for his colorful objections to careless thinking. When a colleague showed Pauli his paper, Pauli said after reading: This paper is not only not right; it is not even wrong. The phrase caught on to describe bad science or statements that don't satisfy falsifiability.

Why so serious?

Wolfgang Pauli recalled this incident. A person observed that Pauli was strolling aimlessly in the streets of Copenhagen, and said: You look very unhappy. Pauli replied seriously: How can one look happy when he is thinking about the anomalous Zeeman effect?

spectral line split zeeman effect wolfgang pauli physics

Pieter Zeeman discovered in 1896 the splitting of a spectral line into several components in the presence of a static magnetic field. For this discovery, he was awarded Nobel Prize in 1902.

On knowledge

Wolfgang Pauli was of the belief that there is no limit to knowledge. However, as one goes deeply into learning a subject, the ambiguity also increases, since every new answer might open the door to a hundred new questions.

Pauli said: "The best that most of us can hope to achieve in physics is simply to misunderstand at a deeper level." This means that at least we have reached a deeper level to be amazed and confused by the result, so it's worth something.

5 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Marie Curie

marie curie quotes international women's day

Marie Curie was denied education in her native Poland because she was a woman. She had to attend a secret underground university to prove her merit. Times changed and Marie emerged as one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century winning two Nobel Prizes in less than 10 years.

It was a period of very limited opportunities for women in all spheres, yet in an academic world that belonged to men Curie made an everlasting mark. Following are five inspiring quotes by Madame Curie that each teach you a valuable lesson in life.

1. To her two daughters – Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.

marie curie quotes international women's day

Irene and Eve grew up to be distinguished figures in their own fields. While Irene became famous for her scientific achievement, Eve worked for UNICEF providing help to mothers in the developing countries.

2. On curiosity – Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. If I see anything vital around me it is precisely this spirit of adventure, which seems indestructible and is akin to curiosity, that guides me.

According to Madame Curie: We only fear that we do not yet understand. Curie was exposed to Radiation in her scientific investigation of elements. Later on, she was exposed to X-ray when she served as a medical doctor during the first World War.

3. On scientific beauty – I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale.

All my life the new sights of nature made me rejoice like a little child. So we should not allow it to be believed that all scientific progress can be reduced to mechanisms, machines, gearings; even though such machinery also has its beauty.

4. On usefulness of science – We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it.

Apart from its medical application, Radium was increasingly used in industries such as timekeeping. The radium watch first produced in 1916 became a highly profitable commodity. However, Marie and her husband Pierre benefited little as they refused to patent their discovery of Radium.

5. On her wedding dress – I have no dress except the one I wear every day. If you are going to be kind enough to give me one, please let it be practical and dark so that I can put it on afterwards to go to the laboratory.

Marie and her husband Pierre came together through common love of science and research. They shared the Nobel Prize in 1903 in recognition of their extraordinary services to the study of radiation phenomena. For their honeymoon, Marie and Pierre took a bicycle tour around the French countryside in 1895.

marie curie and pierre curie, international women's day

One can know of her dedication to science by the fact that Curie survived on buttered bread and tea to be able to afford her education. Denied access in early years, she received her doctorate of science only at the age of 36. The way of progress is neither swift nor easy, Curie used to say.

Before her untimely death in 1934, Marie Curie founded the Radium Institute in 1932 as a specialized research institute and hospital. Hugely inspired by her drive and intellect, Albert Einstein said: Of all celebrated beings, Madame Curie is the only one whom fame has not corrupted.

5 Important Discoveries By Heinrich Rudolf Hertz

heinrich hertz biography experimental physics

Heinrich Hertz (1857–1894) was a renowned German experimental physicist whose discoveries over a period of 10 years served as the foundation stones of modern communication technology and quantum mechanics.

Hertz was home schooled from age 15, as he was an outstanding student who showed proficiency not only in the sciences but also in foreign languages, such as Arabic and Sanskrit. In 1930, the SI unit of frequency was named Hertz in his honor.

1. Inertia of electricity

Hertz studied under physicist Hermann von Helmholtz at the University of Berlin. In 1878, Helmholtz was involved in a fierce debate with a colleague: Does electric current have mass? He announced a prize to anyone who could answer the question.

At that time, electron was not yet discovered so it was a big ask. Hertz accepted the challenge as it gave him immense pleasure in learning directly from nature through well thought out experiments.

After one year of hard work, Hertz settled the debate by showing in a series of experiments that if electric current had any mass at all, it must be negligibly small. Nearly 20 years later, electron was discovered by J.J. Thomson.

2. Radio waves

Hertz was 7 years old when James Clerk Maxwell wrote the famous equations of electromagnetic theory. No one was able to generate electromagnetic waves until Hertz in 1887. Hertz was 30 years old at the time.

Hertz was demonstrating electrical sparks to his students in 1886. He noticed during the lecture that sparks produced a regular electrical vibration within the electric wires.

Hertz thought that this vibration was caused by accelerating and decelerating electrical charges. If Maxwell was right, this would radiate electromagnetic waves through air.

When Hertz was asked in an interview the use of electromagnetic waves, he replied: Nothing I guess. This is just a home-made experiment that proves Maestro Maxwell right.

3. Electromagnetic spectrum

Hertz calculated the speed of radio waves he created and found it to be the same as the speed of light. This was an experimental triumph as he had proved yet another prediction of Maxwell.

Hertz also showed that the waves radiating from his oscillator could be reflected, refracted, polarized and produced interference patterns like light.

In 1890s, Hertz also worked with ultraviolet and x-ray. He concluded that UV, radio, x-ray and light are part of a large family of waves which is today called the electromagnetic spectrum.

4. Photoelectric effect

In 1887, Hertz observed that an electrically charged metal when put under ultraviolet light lost its charge faster than otherwise. This is called photoelectric effect.

As Hertz was an experimental physicist he did not try explaining the phenomenon. Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein was a young boy in Munich at this time.

In 1905, Einstein wrote the theory of photoelectric effect and won the Nobel Prize for the same in 1921. This work played a key role in the development of quantum mechanics.

5. Contact mechanics

Hertz wrote a paper in 1881 outlining the field of contact mechanics. Contact mechanics is a part of mechanical engineering in which engineers study the touch points of solids.

The principles of contact mechanics are useful in applications such as rail-wheel contact, braking systems and tyres.

Summing up

Heinrich Hertz was only 36 years old when he died of complications in surgery to fix his constant migraines. In just 15 years of his scientific career Hertz made pioneering contributions to various fields of physics.

From Maxwell to Einstein, Hertz is the famous experimenter whose observations either confirmed a previous theory or laid groundwork for a new theory. Hertz is among the few scientists in whose honor an SI unit is named.

7 Facts About Galileo Galilei That You Didn't Know

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Astronomer Galileo Galilei was the most well known scientist of old and one of the most underrated scientists today. He is not as widely recognized as Newton or Einstein despite laying the very foundations of physics in the 16th century.

But one can also learn from Galileo lessons of bravery and honesty. To search for truth in all his life, Galileo challenged and exposed the stubbornness of authorities – academic or religious. Following are 8 interesting facts on Galileo.

Middle finger


At the time of Galileo's death, his family wanted to erect a marble mausoleum in Galileo's honor. The then Pope of Catholic Church vehemently protested against it and Galileo was buried in a small underwhelming room as a result.

After the Pope died, the family reburied Galileo and removed three fingers from Galileo's remains. Today, the middle finger of Galileo's right hand is on display at a Museum in Florence. A prime example of how the tables have turned.

Father of physics


Einstein was highly inspired by Two New Sciences which was written while Galileo was under the house arrest. In this book, Galileo summarized all the experiments on physics he had conducted in the forty years earlier. As a result of this work, Galileo is often called the father of modern physics.

Einstein's hero


Galileo proposed that everything is relative... there is no absolute motion or absolute rest. That the laws of physics are the same in any system that is moving at a constant speed in a straight line, a principle that is central to Einstein's special theory of relativity.

Debunking Aristotle


A biography by Galileo's student Vincenzo Viviani states that Galileo gathered a crowd and climbed the Tower of Pisa to drop balls of the same material, but of different masses to prove Aristotle wrong. Galileo observed that an object twice as heavy did not fall twice as fast, as was Aristotle’s claim.

Apology by Church


In 1939, Pope Pius XII in his first speech, described Galileo as being among the most audacious heroes of research... not afraid of the stumbling blocks and the risks on the way. On 31 October 1992, Pope John Paul II acknowledged that the Church had erred in condemning Galileo 359 years ago.

Galileoscope


In 2009, a small mass-produced low-cost telescope was released with the motive to increase public interest in astronomy and science. It was developed to commemorate the fourth centenary of Galileo's first recorded astronomical observations with the telescope.

The 2-inch Galileoscope helped millions of people view the same things seen by Galileo Galilei with his telescope such as the craters of Earth's Moon, four of Jupiter's moons, and the Pleiades.

What is in a name?


Galileo disliked his given surname and did not use it in public documents as it was not compulsory at the time. He was named after a family ancestor Galileo Bonaiuti, who was an important physician and professor in Florence. Galileo Bonaiuti was buried in the same church where about 200 years later, Galileo Galilei was also buried.

Follow your heart


Since Galileo was named after a physician he was enrolled at the University of Pisa in 1580 to become a doctor. Although Galileo considered priesthood as a young man at his father's urging he obliged.

In 1581, when Galileo was in a lecture hall studying medicine he noticed a swinging chandelier, which air currents shifted about to swing in larger and smaller arcs.
To him, it seemed that the chandelier took the same amount of time to swing back and forth. This could be a fine time keeping instrument Galileo thought.

Up to this point, Galileo had deliberately been kept away from philosophy and mathematics because a doctor earned more than a mathematician. Galileo convinced his father into letting him study natural philosophy instead of medicine after this incident.
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