Happy Birthday, Gustave-Gaspard Coriolis

Thomas Forrister May 21, 2018

Gustave-Gaspard Coriolis was a French physicist with a passion for mechanics. He spent much of his time contemplating the nature of movement in machinery and introduced the concept of kinetic energy in relation to work. When he extended these ideas to rotating machinery, his sphere of influence grew: The Coriolis force and subsequent Coriolis effect are observed in rotating systems with applications in engineering, meteorology, stellar dynamics, and more.

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Caty Fairclough May 13, 2018

What’s at the center of the earth? To answer this question, Inge Lehmann, a Danish geophysicist and seismologist, used seismic waves generated by earthquakes to study the middle of the planet. Her results revealed what truly lies at the center of the earth: a solid inner core inside a molten outer core.

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Brianne Costa May 9, 2018

During his life, John Scott Russell chased his passion for science — literally. While watching horses pull a boat through a shallow canal, he noticed a wave behaving strangely and followed it for one or two miles on horseback. For the rest of his life, he continued to chase this wave (which he called the “wave of translation”) figuratively, persevering even when his theories were ridiculed by scientists. Did Scott Russell ever catch up to his wave?

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Caty Fairclough May 4, 2018

Born to a family with a longstanding military lineage, it’s no surprise that Jean-Charles de Borda joined the French army and navy. He was a man of many trades and is also seen as a surveyor, mathematician, political scientist, and physicist. Due to his wide interests, Borda contributed to the advancement of fluid mechanics, geodesy, navigation, and more during his lifetime.

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Thomas Forrister April 30, 2018

Known as the “father of information theory”, Claude Shannon shaped the way we think about computer operations and communications between devices as a single framework. His groundbreaking ideas about testing digital circuits, coding messages in binary, and programming artificial intelligence ushered us into the digital age. The internet was made possible by Shannon’s classical foundations in information science, and thanks to his equations, the amount of data we’re able to store and share consistently increases.

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Thomas Forrister April 15, 2018

Prolific and profound, Leonhard Euler is considered one of the greatest mathematical scientists of all time. He made formative contributions to whole branches of mathematics, among them infinitesimal calculus, graph theory, and topology. Best known for his eponymous formula and identity equation, part of his genius was the ability to apply equations to the world around him and explain scientific concepts in terms that a layperson could understand.

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Thomas Forrister March 23, 2018

Pierre-Simon Laplace was a French physicist who made many contributions to mathematics and astronomy and is best known for demonstrating the stability of our solar system. Sometimes referred to as “the French Sir Isaac Newton”, Laplace confirmed Newton’s theory of gravitation by applying it to planetary orbits. Many of his formulas are still used by physicists today.

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Jenn Nguyen March 14, 2018

“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” –Albert Einstein A passionate and curious intellectual, Albert Einstein is considered one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century. The German-born mathematician and physicist made numerous discoveries throughout his lifetime. Most notably, he developed the special and general theories of relativity. For discovering the law of the photoelectric effect, he earned a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.

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Caty Fairclough March 6, 2018

In 1801, the building around a glassmaker apprentice named Joseph von Fraunhofer collapsed, trapping him in rubble. While he didn’t know it at the time, this dramatic event (and resulting encounter with a prince-elector and politician) set him on the path toward improving the field of optics…

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Thomas Forrister March 2, 2018

Frances Spence was an American mathematician and one of the first computer programmers in history. She is best known for her work as a programmer of the first digital computer, Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC). Although she helped program the computer during WWII, her contributions to computer programming have only recently been recognized.

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Thomas Forrister February 18, 2018

“I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet.” So begins the iconic scene in Frankenstein, which was first published in 1818. While Shelley infused a spark of life into science fiction, Alessandro Volta helped foster innovation in the field of electrochemistry through also trying to “spark life” into a lifeless thing — literally.

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