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

Science is either physics or stamp collecting?

all science is either physics or stamp collecting meaning

What is science? In one simple sentence, science is the study of nature. However, different sciences like: astronomy, chemistry, biology, geology, etc. have different approaches to do so. Thus, not all sciences are equal.

The quote 'All science is either physics or stamp collecting' by New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford perfectly reflects that inequality. According to him, physics is the king of sciences because it is fundamental to all other fields of study.

But why exactly did Rutherford think in that manner? Despite himself being the recipient of Nobel Prize in chemistry, what made him consider physics the most noble of sciences?

The answer lies in stamp collecting - a hobby in which people collect and classify stamps as objects of interest or value.

Stamps are available in many varieties - big and small, square and round, stamps with famous human faces, stamps with animals and birds, stamps commemorating anniversaries, etc.

all science is either physics or stamp collecting rutherford
 Rutherford's stamp 

Similarly, some branches of science, such as zoology or botany for example, are mostly concerned with collection and classification of species - animals and plants, respectively.

Although this would be dumbing down those sciences but that is more or less the purpose, isn't it? In other words, those sciences are not fundamental sciences and their scope is limited only to Earth.

Physics, according to Rutherford, is the only science that has an elaborate structure consisting of observation, experiment and mathematics. Physics captures our imagination from mysterious atoms to supermassive galaxies. It truly is the universal embodiment of the scientific method.

By this definition, the science which is closest to physics is astronomy. You observe and measure the effects of, say a black hole on its surroundings, with the help of a telescope and basic knowledge of mathematics. In this way, like engineering, astronomy is an application of physics and mathematics.

Chemistry is a unique science because it has the 2nd most direct impact on day to day life after physics. The objects we use, such as plastic, glass, steel, etc. are all obtained by chemical processes.

Our body is a chemical engine and the food we eat are organic molecules. But just like biology, there is a lot of nomenclature and classification rules in chemistry to deal with. Chemistry is also not universally the same, like on different planets, but the laws of physics governing those chemistries are the same.

Likewise, sciences like computer science and psychology are neither fundamental nor universal. They are narrowed specializations and are heavily dependent on logic, mathematics and observation.

All the sciences, however, must ultimately be experimental because that is how they progress. That is how the hypotheses are tested and verified and accepted. So it is worth pointing out that no amount of belief can make something true. Sciences keep evolving with time as new evidence is uncovered.

Finally, it is equally important to mention that the statement "all science is either physics or stamp collecting" had more truth to it back in Rutherford’s time than today.

As you know, for example: With Darwin's theory of evolution, biological sciences have too become observational rather than just being classification sciences.

So, over time, sciences evolve and become more and more physics-like. They are no longer merely observe and classify but start using mathematical models. Still, Rutherford's point is intact, physics will be the king of sciences.

8 times when Nikola Tesla was wrong about physics

8 times when engineer Nikola Tesla was wrong

Nikola Tesla was a great Serbian-American engineer who played the major role in perfecting and promoting alternate current. He was also a visionary who predicted smartphones, renewable energy and creation of artificial Suns, much before time permitted.

However, it is surprising that Tesla sometimes took anti-science as well as anti-mathematics positions. Several of his views about the world were particularly pseudoscientific. So in this post, let us look at 8 instances when even the Genius Nikola Tesla was wrong.

On electrons

Tesla did not agree with the theory of atoms being composed of smaller subatomic particles. He thought that there was no such thing as an electron creating an electric charge and that it had nothing to do with electricity.

However, not only did the electron get discovered but also its properties and effects were measured by physicist J.J. Thomson at the start of the twentieth century. Without electron, technologies like the television couldn't exist.

On relativity

According to Nikola Tesla, Einstein's 1915 theory of general relativity was wrong. He commented in 1932: "I hold that space cannot be curved, for the simple reason that it can have no properties. It might as well be said that God has properties. He has not."

8 times when engineer Nikola Tesla was wrong

In 1935, Tesla told The New York times: "Einstein's relativity work is a magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying errors. The theory is like a beggar clothed in purple whom ignorant people take for a king."

In 2004, the gravity probe-b satellite was launched to measure the curvature due to Earth. Its data was analyzed by the Stanford University and it indeed confirmed Einstein's theory to a high degree of accuracy in 2011.

Furthermore, without relativity, the GPS would fail in its navigational functions and Google maps couldn't work to pinpoint precision.

On mathematics

Nikola Tesla said in 1934: "Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality."

That may be true, although mathematics and experiments are both fundamental to scientific progress. There cannot be one without the other, especially in the field of physics.

At the same time in Europe, Dirac was trying to find an equation to unify quantum mechanics and special relativity. He predicted the existence of antimatter in doing so, which was discovered in 1932.

Even 16th century Galileo Galilei had a high regard for mathematics, when he said: Philosophy is written in mathematical language; without it one wanders in vain through a dark labyrinth.

On atomic energy

Tesla told The New York Times in 1931: "The idea of atomic energy is illusionary. I have preached against it for twenty-five years but there are still some who believe it to be realizable."

Because, as mentioned before, he did not trust the theory of subatomic particles. So according to Tesla, atoms were immutable – meaning that they could not be split or changed in any way.

Two years after Tesla's death in 1943, not only did the humankind split the atom, they also used it to end the World War II. Although it began a nuclear arms race and a call for disarmament – well that is another story in itself.

Today, atomic energy is a source of nuclear power – as predicted by physicist Lise Meitner – which is in turn used to generate heat and electricity. Moreover, scientists are also working on a large-scale fusion project called ITER for future electricity generation.

On EM waves

German physicist Henrich Hertz demonstrated the accuracy of Maxwell's equations when he successfully generated electromagnetic waves in laboratory.

Because Tesla did not have the mathematical advantage, he relied completely on experiments and his own experiments led him to erroneously believe that Hertz and Maxwell were wrong.

In one 1891 lecture, Tesla expressed openly his disagreements with Hertz – which is anyway healthy for the sake of scientific progress.

But over the next few years, several groundbreaking evidences were collected in the favor of Maxwellian electromagnetism.

In 1898, Tesla himself developed a radio based remote-controlled boat and yet till 1919 he did not believe in the existence of EM waves and in the theories developed by Maxwell and Hertz.

On wireless electricity

Tesla was a great visionary but his vision was not always practical. After perfecting alternate current technologies, Tesla wanted to make a new revolutionary change - render wires useless!

At first, Tesla decided to transmit electricity through air but rejected the idea later on. In 1902, Tesla completed the Wardenclyffe Tower to tranfer electricity via ground.

However, engineers pointed out that currents once injected into the ground would spread in all the directions, quickly becoming too diffuse to be usable over long distances.

8 times when engineer Nikola Tesla was wrong

In addition to engineering and financial problems, the dangers of wireless electrical power to nearby wildlife was not taken into account by Tesla. Thus, the Wardenclyffe Tower project had to be abandoned.

During the same time, Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi - who unlike Tesla, believed in and worked with electromagnetic waves, succeeded in the wireless transmission of information, rather than electricity.

On science

Although Nikola Tesla was a brilliant engineer and inventor, he sometimes delved into pseudoscientific ideas which had no basis in reality and lacked experimental data – a quality he admired.

For example, Tesla once said: A single ray of light from a distant star falling upon the eye of a tyrant in bygone times may have altered the course of his life, may have changed the destiny of nations.

That thought, although poetically is beautiful, has no scientific weight. Distant stars and planets and their motions have no measurable effects on people. What changes destiny of nations is politics and the king's advisor would have had far greater impact than light of a far away star.

On radioactivity

In 1903, Marie Curie, Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel won the Nobel Prize in physics for discovering evidence for radioactivity.

However, Tesla was not convinced since he did not believe that the atom was divisible and that it had internal forces and subatomic particles.

According to him, the phenomena of radioactivity was not the result of forces within the radioactive substance but by the rays emitted by the Sun.

He told The New York Times in 1931: If radium could be screened effectively against this ray it would cease to be radioactive.

Summing up

Nikola Tesla was a genius inventor and explorer whose work ushered the electrical revolution that transformed daily life. Einstein wrote to Tesla: As an eminent pioneer in the realm of high frequency currents... I congratulate you on the great successes of your life's work.

8 times when Nikola Tesla was wrong

But at the same time Nikola Tesla was also human – jealousy, denial and frustration, played a big role in his professional life.

His frustration with advanced mathematics led him to incorrectly conclude that Maxwell's equations and relativity were wrong.

His denial of modern science left him too far behind his contemporaries – Marconi, Braun, Bose – in his ability to contribute to the wireless communication.

Surely, Tesla did achieve what others could only dream of. But the point is, not to put Tesla on pedestal, or build conspiracy theories in his favor, as many fans would want to do. It does not do justice to Tesla's brilliance.

Role of Richard Feynman's Father In Shaping His Life

richard feynman and his father on father's day

When Richard Feynman was asked in an interview whether anybody could become a physicist like him, he candidly replied: Of course. I was an ordinary person who studied hard. There are no miracle people.

While that may be true, it was Feynman's parents who played the most important roles in giving his life and character shape. While from his father Richard learned to challenge orthodox thinking; from his mother he gained a unique sense of humor.

Richard was born on May 11, 1918 in New York city to Lucille Phillips, a teacher turned homemaker and Melville Feynman, a military uniform salesman who was an immigrant from Minsk, then part of the Russian Empire.

Melville, who never himself had the opportunity to make a career in science, encouraged both his son and daughter Joan (nine years younger than Richard) to take up science. She went on to become a distinguished astrophysicist herself.

Feynman also became famous for his work on quantum electrodynamics which earned him the 1965 Nobel Prize. In an interview thereafter, he revealed: My father taught me very early the difference between knowing and understanding.

Feynman explained: When I was a small boy, my father used to sit me on his lap and read to me from encyclopedia Britannica, say about the dinosaurs.

That this thing was 25 feet tall and its head was 6 feet across and so on. 'But he would stop always', Feynman recalled. 'What does that even mean?'

richard feynman's father story how to learn tips

'Suppose the dinosaur stood in our front yard, then it would be high enough to put its head through the window - but not quite - because the head would be too wide and it would probably break the window apart.'

That is how Melville translated every numerical fact into pictures, into reality and Richard thus started to grow an unbound sense of imagination from an early age, thanks to his father.

Apart from that, Feynman's modesty was also a gift from his father. When questioned, if his work was worthy of a Nobel Prize, he said: I don’t like honors, honors is epaulettes, honors is uniforms. My papa brought me up this way. I can’t stand it, honors bother me.

For him, the true honor was in the observation that other people used his work and derived inspiration from it. Those are the real things, Richard added.

Melville died suddenly on October 8, 1946 around the same time when Arline, Feynman's first wife had passed away. Richard suffered from depression as a result and could not continue doing physics for some time. It was too deep a sorrow.

In the end, what did Feynman gain most from his father? One can say, his childlike curiosity that he maintained throughout his life. But more importantly the bond that they shared was more that of a loving teacher and a student. Feynman learned from his dad how to think, not what to think. His father was his first teacher and friend.

10 Nobel Prize Winning Families In Science

nobel prize winning father son couples in science

The Nobel Prize is the most prestigious award given for intellectual achievement in the world. While there have been several controversial snubs, few have also gone on to win multiple prizes. This, is a list of 10 famous Nobel laureate families of the world.

Curie family

You may already know that Marie Curie and Pierre Curie have jointly won the Nobel Prize in physics. Their daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie received the Prize in chemistry, sharing it with her husband Frédéric Joliot-Curie.

Marie Curie was awarded one more Prize for work done in chemistry thus taking their family total to five Nobel Prizes.

Niels and Aage Bohr

This father and son duo has won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1922 and 1975 respectively. Niels Bohr was awarded for his services in the investigation of atomic structure and Aage Bohr won for describing the structure of atomic nucleus.

Raman and beyond

In 1930, C.V. Raman became India's first Nobel laureate in physics. His nephew Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar was awarded in 1983 for explaining the evolution of stars. In 2009, another Tamilian Venki Ramakrishnan won the Prize only this time in chemistry.

Thomson family

J.J. Thomson got the 1906 Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery of electron, the first subatomic particle to be found. His son, George Paget Thomson was recognized by the Nobel Committee in 1937 for showing that electron behaved like a wave.

Arthur and Roger Kornberg

Roger was only 12 years old when he saw his father Arthur Kornberg receive the most coveted Prize in 1959. Then, 47 years later, Roger won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for explaining how information is copied from DNA to RNA.

Euler family

Hans von Euler-Chelpin, distantly related to mathematician Leonhard Euler, was a biochemist who won the 1929 Nobel Prize in chemistry. His son Ulf von Euler was a physiologist who won the Prize in medicine for work done on neurotransmitters.

Manne and Kai Siegbahn

This father and son duo was an expert on spectroscopy. Manne Siegbahn won the Nobel Prize in physics for pioneering work done in x-ray spectroscopy. Whereas his son Kai Siegbahn won the same Prize for developing a new method of electron spectroscopy.

Bragg family

William and Lawrence Bragg were jointly awarded the 1915 Nobel Prize for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of x-rays. Lawrence is thus far the youngest ever laureate in physics. The father-son duo also have a crystal named after them – Braggite.

May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser

The Curies are not the only couples that have won the Nobel Prize. In 2014, Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser received the Prize in medicine for the discovery of grid cells. These are neurons which provide a coordinate system to the brain and thus help an animal navigate in space.

Carl Ferdinand and Gerty Cori

Another Nobel Prize winning couple: Gerti Corie was the third woman to win a Nobel Prize in science. The biochemist duo shared the 1947 Prize in medicine for their discovery of glycogen.

Maxwell, Great Physicist Who Died Too Soon

james clerk maxwell biography, facts

James Clerk Maxwell was a renowned Scottish mathematician who built upon the works of English scientist Michael Faraday and revolutionized physics in whatever little time he spent on Earth.

His most important contribution was the unification of electricity, magnetism and optics into one coherent body of knowledge. Maxwell's research paved the way for technologies like radio, television, mobile phones and infrared telescopes.

Einstein said of Maxwell: The special theory of relativity owes its origins to Maxwell's Equations of the electromagnetic field. Planck added: He achieved greatness unequalled.

Early genius

When Maxwell was 13 years old, he won the Mathematics Medal and the first prize in both English and poetry. Following is one of his short poems:

The world may be utterly crazy
And life may be labour in vain;
But I'd rather be silly than lazy,
And would not quit life for its pain.

He published his first scientific paper at 14. The paper was written on a series of oval curves that could be traced with pins and threads, showing his love for geometry.


When he was 24, Maxwell used to set up examination papers for Trinity College. A year later, he became a professor of natural philosophy at Aberdeen University aged 25. Maxwell was at least 15 years younger than his colleagues.

There he studied the nature of Saturn’s rings for almost two years and compiled his observations in a detailed essay, titled: The Stability of Saturn’s Rings.

When Voyager spacecrafts went to space in the 1980s, they confirmed many of the conclusions that Maxwell had made over a century before.


Maxwell joined King's College, London in 1860. Here he forayed into works published by Faraday and also met him on several occasions. Michael Faraday, who was 40 years older than Maxwell, became an admirer.

Maxwell examined the behavior of electric and magnetic fields in his 1861 paper: 'On physical lines of force'. In 1862, while giving a lecture, he calculated that the speed of propagation of an electromagnetic field is same as the speed of light.

Thus, he went on to conclude that light is itself an electromagnetic disturbance which propagates through the space according to electromagnetic laws.

Last years

Maxwell resigned in 1865 and returned to his home in Scotland. He also frequented to Cambridge where he was supervising the construction of Cavendish Laboratory.

In 1871, aged 40, he was elected the first Cavendish Professor of Physics. Here he wrote three popular books called Theory of HeatMatter and Motion and A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism.
His famous twenty equations, which in their modern form are four partial differential equations, known as Maxwell's equations, first appeared in 1873.

In 1879, Maxwell reported difficulty in swallowing food. It was found that he had abdominal cancer, to which he succumbed the same year, at the age of 48.


In 1884, five years after Maxwell's death, Heinrich Hertz, a German physicist successfully produced electromagnetic waves in a laboratory as predicted by Maxwell.

Physicists say that Maxwell achieved for light what Newton had achieved for gravity: Unification. It took Maxwell's genius to collect the laws from the scattered pile of experimental evidence then at hand.

American physicist Richard Feynman wrote: Maxwell's equations didn't just change the world. They opened up a new one. Feynman labeled it the 'most significant discovery' of the 19th century.

Today, world's largest single-dish telescope that operates in submillimeter wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum is called James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in his honor.

5 LGBTQ scientists who changed the world

5 LGBTQ scientists who changed the world

According to a study, 40% LGBTQ scientists remain closeted at work. While we don't think this post will drastically change the mindset but it will hopefully serve as a conversation starter. Here is a list of LGBTQ scientists who changed the world.

Alan Turing

He was a British mathematician who is well known as the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.

His pivotal role in the second world war was documented in award winning movie The Imitation Game which starred Benedict Cumberbatch.

Turing was arrested by the police because of his homosexuality in 1952. He chose chemical castration over going to prison to focus on his work. However, he went into depression soon after.

Turing committed suicide in 1954 by eating an apple laced with Cyanide. It is said that the logo of Apple computers is a homage to Turing.

apple 1977 logo tribute to alan turing pride month

In 1999, Time magazine named Alan Turing as one of the 100 most important people of the twentieth century. Later on, an official apology by the British government was also made.

Isaac Newton

In 2005, schools across UK included lessons on modern as well as historical gay icons such as Freddie Mercury and Isaac Newton respectively.

was isaac newton gay pride month

While many biographers, including Richard Westfall in his 1000 page account of Newton, argue that Newton was homosexually inclined (focusing particularly on his close relationship with the Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier) others are not so keen.

Still, people find it rather odd that a figure as popular as Newton may have died a virgin.

When asked to answer on Newton's personal life, a Quora user jokingly commented: Newton was closeted of course, as men of his time had to be. But he gave a big hint by shining a rainbow for all to see.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Renaissance society did not have the idea of firm sexual orientation that prevails today and many men were in practice bisexual.

According to Walter Isaacson's biography, Leonardo Da Vinci lived life as an openly gay man and while that is the generally accepted position, some say that the artist and inventor was celibate.

The only written evidence, so far as his personal life is concerned, is a 1476 document in which Leonardo was charged with sodomy involving a well-known male prostitute.

Since that date, much has been speculated and written about his presumed homosexuality and especially its role in his art.

Francis Bacon

He is known as father of modern science thanks to his invention of an empirical method of doing science which is called the scientific method. Historical notes, such as letters exchanged between Bacon's mother and brother, have shown that he was primarily attracted to men.

Sally Ride

She was an American astronaut and physicist who became the first American woman to go to space. Ride was only 32 years old at the time of this achievement and remains the youngest American to have been to space.

She was in a private relationship with former Tennis player and science writer Tam O'Shaughnessy. They were together for 27 years until Ride's death due to pancreatic cancer.

Which Books Richard Feynman Studied From?

feynman richard books

We all know Richard Feynman as a Nobel Prize winner and a beloved teacher whose lectures on physics are enjoyed by millions of people. It would be interesting to know how Feynman became so imaginative and curious about the world. How did Feynman learn physics and mathematics? Let's find out in this post.

When asked in an interview, if anybody could become a physicist like him, Feynman candidly replied: "Of course. I was an ordinary person who studied hard. There are no miracle people. It just happens. They got interested in this thing and they learned all this stuff."

The young Richard Feynman was largely influenced by his father, Melville Feynman, who encouraged his son to ask questions and challenge orthodox thinking. Melville was a sales manager but he always wanted to become a scientist himself.

Feynman recalled: "The most important thing I found out from my father is that if you asked any question and pursued it deeply enough, then at the end there was a glorious discovery of a general and beautiful kind."

Feynman also learned from his father the difference between knowing and understanding. For instance, you can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird.

Feynman goes on to comment: "I don't know what is the matter with people: they don't learn by understanding; they learn by some other way – by rote or something. Their knowledge is so fragile."

When Feynman found a subject which interested him, he was not the kind to wait for the right teacher to come along; Feynman was determined to master the topic by himself. This is how he practiced early on the art of teaching.

For example, Feynman self-studied calculus at the age of 14 by reading Calculus for the practical man. This and other books written by James Edgar Thompson, such as Algebra for the practical man intrigued him.

Richard Feynman's notes calculus
Table of contents. Picture credit: Melinda Baldwin

Feynman's notes were quite extensive, less wordy and more visual in nature. This habit of taking notes helped in revision. Feynman would use drawings to simplify a difficult concept, which helped him win a Nobel prize later on.

While Julian Schwinger's formulation of quantum electrodynamics was mathematically superior and far more complex to work with; Feynman's drawing approach, on the other hand, broke the whole thing down into simpler diagrams.

Feynman studied really very hard in his Caltech years too. Before giving a lecture, he would prepare late into the night. Feynman's strategy was: To study in the most undisciplined, irreverent, and original manner possible.

In other words, Feynman's ability to consume knowledge was phenomenal. He would teach it to himself and in the process discover tricks and tips to succeed in maths and physics. Thus, in short, his two secrets to success in academics: Self-learning and teaching.

Feynman was a life-long learner and no matter how long it would take him to learn on his own, he would never give up or lose hope and stayed focused till the problem at hand was resolved.

Einstein's letter sold for $1.2 million at auction

Einstein's handwritten letter with E=mc² fetches 1.2 million at auction

Set up at a base price of $400,000, the letter containing Einstein's most well known formula has sold for $1.2 million at an auction conducted by RR Auction.

The letter is said to be one of the three written records of Einstein's famous equation. It was sent to Polish-American physicist Ludwik Silberstein in 1946.

In this equation, energy is equal to mass, multiplied by the square of the velocity of light. It shows that very small amounts of mass may be converted into a very large amount of energy and vice versa.

For example: In an atomic bomb, uranium is transformed into krypton and barium. Their combined mass is slightly less than the mass of the original uranium. Though the difference is small, by virtue of speed of light, the energy which is released is enormous.

During the Second World War, Einstein feared that Germans might develop an atomic weapon based upon his groundbreaking discovery.

So, despite being a long-time pacifist, Einstein wrote a letter to Franklin Roosevelt, the then President of the United States, to urge him to develop the atomic bomb before the Germans.

Thus, today, the equation is dear to not only physicists but also to history lovers. Auction of the letter began on 13 May and its rarity set off a bidding war among five parties.

Sold for more than $1.2 million, the letter has garnered about three times more money than it was expected to get.

Who discovered that we are made from star stuff?

Hans Bethe Starstuff contemplating the stars Carl Sagan

Astronomer Carl Sagan popularized the phrase "We are made of star stuff" when he said: Nitrogen in our DNA, calcium in our teeth, iron in our blood and carbon in our food; were made in the interiors of collapsing stars.

However, most people wouldn't know the name of that scientist who actually found it out. It was German American physicist Hans Bethe (1906-2005) who wrote it in a paper titled "Energy Production in Stars" as early as in 1939.

In 1930s, at the time when European scientists were debating quantum mechanics, Bethe migrated to United States and contemplated the stars. He thus became the first person to figure out that conversion of hydrogen into helium was the primary source of energy in a star.

The process is called nuclear fusion in which many nuclei combine together to make a larger one. It so happens that the resultant nucleus is smaller in mass than the sum of the ones that made it. So, by virtue of Einstein's equation E=mc², the mass is converted to energy.

When a star would eventually run out of hydrogen (its primary fuel) it would start converting helium into carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and so on, in order to keep itself hot.

However, those reactions themselves will halt at some point and the star would no longer be able to support itself against its own gravity and it will die in an explosion.

Therefore, it was proposed that most of the material that we're made from, came out of the dead stars which spewed out those chemical elements into the universe for further use. Hence, we are made of star stuff.

Bethe's groundbreaking paper not only helped in understanding the inner workings of the stars but also solved the age-old questions like: 'How do stars shine?' 'Where did the chemical elements come from?'

He won the 1967 Nobel Prize in physics for this theory of stellar nucleosynthesis. Bethe would continue to do research on supernovae, neutron stars, black holes and other problems of astrophysics well into his late nineties.

Carl Sagan Hans Bethe Cornell Astrophysics
Carl Sagan and Hans Bethe share the stage at Cornell

Now, Carl Sagan, who was earlier at Harvard University, joined Cornell in 1976 and became immediate colleagues with Hans Bethe who had been at Cornell since coming to America in 1935. While Bethe was a professor of physics, Sagan was a professor of Astronomy.

It was unfortunate that the general public still did not know about stellar nucleosynthesis despite Bethe discovering it some 40 years ago and winning the highest prize for it a decade ago. Carl Sagan changed this.

Their common interests in science and politics brought them even closer. Bethe was also a fan of Sagan's 1980 show Cosmos: A personal voyage. In one of the episodes, when Sagan said "We are made of star stuff", he immortalized Bethe's work in television history.

7 Lessons To Learn From Richard Feynman

7 life lessons richard feynman motivational

Richard Feynman (1918–1988) was a Nobel Prize winning American physicist whose life was a combination of his intellect, uncertainty and a childlike curiosity.

Although he was a late talker and did not speak until after his third birthday, we know Feynman best as the chatty one.

His life is a story of constant growth: First, as a student, then as an eminent physicist and ultimately as a beloved teacher. Following are seven motivating lessons from Feynman's life.

1. Pursue a hobby

Feynman has said: "Fall in love with some activity and do it. Because, nobody ever figures out what life is all about and it doesn't matter." Feynman used to draw on canvas in spare time. He also learned Portuguese just so he could impress his colleagues in Brazil.

2. Explore the world

Everyone wants to win but no one wants to play the game. That's what Feynman meant when he said: "Everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough." Try new things and work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best.

3. Carve your own path

The essence of Feynman's autobiography is: "Don't think about what you want to be, but what you want to do." Don't care about what others think. However, keep up some kind of a minimum, such as a degree, so that society doesn't stop you from doing anything at all.

4. Keep learning

Feynman has said: "It is important to admit when you do not know." There is no shame in not knowing. The only shame is when you pretend that you know everything. So, read as many books as you can. Be as practical as you need to be.

5. You only live once

Feynman was the first to profess this popular life mantra when he said: "Of course, you only live one life. So, make all your mistakes now, and learn what not to do." Thus, life is a process of constantly growing up.

6. Blind belief is dangerous

Feynman mentions in his autobiography: "Have no respect whatsoever for authority; forget who said it and instead ask yourself, Is it reasonable?" In other words, do not blindly believe anyone and make up your own mind about the world.

7. Enjoy the process

Feynman did not become a scientist for honors or recognition. He said: "My interest in science is to simply find out more about the world." So, no matter what you choose to become in life, do it because you love it deeply.
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