Happy Birthday, Ernst Mach

Thomas Forrister February 18, 2019

Ernst Mach made many significant contributions to the fields of wave dynamics, optics, mechanics, and more. A physicist by education and profession, his interest in psychology and philosophy sharpened his thoughts about physics, helping him make connections that he might not have otherwise made. In particular, Mach’s outlook on how we experience sensations from external stimuli informed his approach to physics experiments and led him to exciting discoveries.

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Emily Ediger February 8, 2019

In 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev organized the elements by atomic weight, creating a tool that not only arranged the discovered elements but also left gaps that predicted future discoveries. Mendeleev’s periodic table of elements evolved into a reference tool that would be used by scientists around the world for years to come.

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Emily Ediger January 24, 2019

Known for her work in radium research, Berta Karlik is one of two scientists credited with the discovery of the 85th element, astatine. Berta Karlik is also recognized as a pioneer for women in STEM and was the first female professor at the University of Vienna.

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Brianne Christopher January 8, 2019

It’s safe to say that Stephen Hawking is one of the most influential and highly regarded theoretical physicists in history. Besides contributing to the fields of astronomy and cosmology, Hawking inspired multiple generations with a curiosity for space exploration and a love of physics.

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Thomas Forrister December 17, 2018

Émilie du Châtelet was a French physicist, natural philosopher, and mathematician who contributed to our understanding of Newtonian mechanics. Her translation of Sir Isaac Newton’s book the Principia is considered the standard version in French today. In addition to translating this work, she included her own commentary, adding a conservation law for total energy that emphasizes the role of kinetic energy. She is also famous for her masterful textbook, Foundations of Physics, which takes a philosophical approach to the sciences.

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Bridget Paulus December 3, 2018

A pioneer in chemistry, sanitary engineering, and human ecology, Ellen Swallow Richards paved the way for women in science. She was the first woman to attend, graduate, and teach at MIT. During her career, she developed standards for water quality and isolated the chemical element vanadium. In addition, Richards was passionate about using science to create a better home life, founding the field of home economics.

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Thomas Forrister November 27, 2018

Sir Horace Lamb was a British applied mathematician and professor who wrote several textbooks that became fundamental in physics. Among them is a comprehensive text that was considered the standard for hydrodynamics for many years. His work in this subject resulted in the Lamb vector, the Lamb-Oseen vortex, and Lamb surfaces. He also authored works on sound, statistics, and mechanics.

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Thomas Forrister November 20, 2018

“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure ‘science.’” — Edwin Hubble Imagine if the entire universe consisted of the Milky Way galaxy alone. Most scientists thought this was the case before astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered other galaxies. Considered the founder of extragalactic astronomy, Hubble was one of the leading 20th-century figures in observational cosmology and provided evidence that the universe expands at a constant rate.

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Bridget Paulus November 12, 2018

Ever wonder why the sky is blue? Lord Rayleigh answered this question, explaining that the color comes from the scattering of sunlight off small particles in the atmosphere. A prolific scientist, Rayleigh made notable contributions to a wide range of fields, including optics, acoustics, and fluid flow. He is best known for discovering argon, an accomplishment for which he won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

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Thomas Forrister October 23, 2018

Starting with photography, William D. Coolidge had a lifelong interest in light and images. His pursuits in electrical engineering drove him to develop the incandescent light bulb, using ductile tungsten as the wire filament. This tungsten method lit the way for further developments in X-ray and radiology technology, helping medical professionals more accurately diagnose their patients.

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Caty Fairclough October 5, 2018

“Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realized, it becomes commonplace.” — Robert Hutchings Goddard Known as the “Father of Modern Rocketry”, Robert Hutchings Goddard was an innovator, engineer, and physicist. While Goddard made many advancements in his time, such as creating and testing the first liquid-propelled rocket on Earth, his idea of sending a rocket to the Moon was not accepted by the public. Despite this setback, Goddard continued to reach for the stars.

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