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Nicolaus Copernicus

Nikolaus_KopernikusNicolaus Copernicus (Polish; 19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a heliocentric model of the universe which placed the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center. The publication of Copernicus' book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), just before his death in 1543, is considered a major event in the history of science. It began the Copernican Revolution and contributed importantly to the scientific revolution. Read more...


Galileo Galilei

Justus_Sustermans_-_Portrait_of_Galileo_Galilei,_1636Galileo Galilei (Italian; 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642), often known mononymously as Galileo, was an Italian physicist, mathematician, engineer, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the scientific revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism. Galileo has been called the "father of modern observational astronomy", the "father of modern physics", the "father of science", and "the Father of Modern Science". Read more...


Johannes Kepler

220px-Johannes_Kepler_1610Johannes Kepler (German; December 27, 1571 – November 15, 1630) was a German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his laws of planetary motion, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican Astronomy. These works also provided one of the foundations for Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation. Read more...


Isaac Newton

GodfreyKneller-IsaacNewton-1689Sir Isaac Newton (English; 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727) Physicist and mathematician (described in his own day as a "natural philosopher") who is widely recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics and shares credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the invention of infinitesimal calculus. Read more...


Max Planck

483px-Max_Planck_1933Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, (German; April 23, 1858 – October 4, 1947) Theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918. Planck made many contributions to theoretical physics, but his fame rests primarily on his role as originator of the quantum theory. This theory revolutionized human understanding of atomic and subatomic processes, just as Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity revolutionized the understanding of space and time. Together they constitute the fundamental theories of 20th-century physics. Read more...


Enrico Fermi

250px-Enrico_Fermi_1943-49Enrico Fermi (Italian; 29 September 1901 – 28 November 1954) Physicist, best known for his work on Chicago Pile (the first nuclear reactor), and for his contributions to the development of quantum theory, nuclear and particle physics, and statistical mechanics. He is one of the men referred to as the "father of the atomic bomb." Fermi held several patents related to the use of nuclear power, and was awarded the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on induced radioactivity by neutron bombardment and the discovery of transuranic elements. He was widely regarded as one of the very few physicists to excel both theoretically and experimentally. Read more...


Wolfgang Pauli

220px-Wolfgang_Pauli_ETH-Bib_Portr_01042Wolfgang Ernst Pauli (Austrian; 25 April 1900 – 15 December 1958) Theoretical physicist and one of the pioneers of quantum physics. In 1945, after having been nominated by Albert Einstein, Pauli received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his "decisive contribution through his discovery of a new law of Nature, the exclusion principle or Pauli principle." The discovery involved spin theory, which is the basis of a theory of the structure of matter. Read more...


Niels Bohr

250px-Niels_BohrNiels Henrik David Bohr (Danish; 7 October 1885 – 18 November 1962) Physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr was also a philosopher and a promoter of scientific research. Bohr developed the Bohr model of the atom, in which he proposed that energy levels of electrons are discrete, and that the electrons revolve in stable orbits around the atomic nucleus, but can jump from one energy level (or orbit) to another. Although the Bohr model has been supplanted by other models, its underlying principles remain valid. He conceived the principle of complementarity: that items could be separately analysed in terms of contradictory properties, like behaving as a wave or a stream of particles. The notion of complementarity dominated Bohr's thinking in both science and philosophy. Read more...


Max Born

240px-Max_BornMax Born (German-British; 11 December 1882 – 5 January 1970) Physicist and mathematician who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics. He also made contributions to solid-state physics and optics and supervised the work of a number of notable physicists in the 1920s and 30s. Born won the 1954 Nobel Prize in Physics for his "fundamental research in Quantum Mechanics." Read more...


Erwin Schrödinger

220px-Erwin_SchrödingerErwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger (Austrian; 12 August 1887 – 4 January 1961) Nobel Prize-winning physicist who developed a number of fundamental results in the field of quantum theory, which formed the basis of wave mechanics: he formulated the wave equation (stationary and time-dependent Schrödinger equation) and revealed the identity of his development of the formalism and matrix mechanics. Schrödinger proposed an original interpretation of the physical meaning of the wave function and in subsequent years repeatedly criticized the conventional Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics (using e.g. the paradox of Schrödinger's cat). Read more...


Werner Heisenberg

220px-Bundesarchiv_Bild183-R57262,_Werner_HeisenbergWerner Karl Heisenberg (German; 5 December 1901 – 1 February 1976) Theoretical physicist and one of the key creators of quantum mechanics. He published his work in 1925 in a breakthrough paper. In the subsequent series of papers with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, during the same year, this matrix formulation of quantum mechanics was substantially elaborated. In 1927 he published his uncertainty principle, upon which he built his philosophy and for which he is best known. Heisenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1932 "for the creation of quantum mechanics". He also made important contributions to the theories of the hydrodynamics of turbulent flows, the atomic nucleus, ferromagnetism, cosmic rays, and subatomic particles, and he was instrumental in planning the first West German nuclear reactor at Karlsruhe, together with a research reactor in Munich, in 1957. Read more...


Satyendra Nath Bose

SatyenBose1925Satyendra Nath Bose (Bengali India; 1 January 1894 – 4 February 1974) Physicist specializing in mathematical physics. He was born in Calcutta. He is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, providing the foundation for Bose–Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose–Einstein condensate. A Fellow of the Royal Society, the Government of India awarded him India's second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan in 1954. The class of particles that obey Bose–Einstein statistics, bosons, were named after him by Paul Dirac. Read more...


Albert Einstein

220px-Einstein_1921_by_F_SchmutzerAlbert Einstein (German; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist. He developed:

General and Special relativity, which addressed the motion of bodies in uniform and accelerated motion as well leading to a more precise understanding of the nature of gravity. He is best known for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation"). He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the Photoelectric Effect". The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory. Read more...


Pascual Jordan

150px-Jordan,Pascual_1963_KopenhagenErnst Pascual Jordan (German; 18 October 1902 – 31 July 1980) was a theoretical and mathematical physicist who made significant contributions to quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. He contributed much to the mathematical form of matrix mechanics, and developed canonical anticommutation relations for fermions. While the Jordan algebra he invented is not routinely employed in quantum mechanics, it has found other mathematical applications and is still used in studying the mathematical and conceptual foundations of quantum theory. Read more...


Paul Dirac

220px-Dirac_4Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (English; 8 August 1902 – 20 October 1984) Theoretical physicist who made fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, a member of the Center for Theoretical Studies, University of Miami, and spent the last decade of his life at Florida State University. Among other discoveries, he formulated the Dirac equation, which describes the behaviour of fermions and predicted the existence of antimatter. Dirac shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1933 with Erwin Schrödinger, "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory". He also did work that forms the basis of modern attempts to reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics. Read more...


Louis de Broglie

180px-Broglie_BigLouis-Victor-Pierre-Raymond (French; 15 August 1892 – 19 March 1987) Physicist who made groundbreaking contributions to quantum theory. In his 1924 PhD thesis he postulated the wave nature of electrons and suggested that all matter has wave properties. This concept is known as wave-particle duality or the de Broglie hypothesis. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1929. The wave-like behaviour of particles discovered by de Broglie was used by Erwin Schrödinger in his formulation of wave mechanics. Read more...


William Gilbert

220px-William_GilbertWilliam Gilbert (English; 24 May 1544 – 30 November 1603) Also known as Gilberd, was a physician, physicist and natural philosopher. He passionately rejected both the prevailing Aristotelian philosophy and the Scholastic method of university teaching. He is remembered today largely for his book De Magnete (1600), and is credited as one of the originators of the term "electricity". He is regarded by some as the father of electrical engineering or electricity and magnetism. A unit of magnetomotive force, also known as magnetic potential, was named the gilbert in his honour. Read more...


Otto von Guericke

200px-Otto_von_Guericke_portraitOtto von Guericke (German; November 20, 1602 – May 11, 1686) Scientist, inventor, and politician. His major scientific achievements were the establishment of the physics of vacuums, the discovery of an experimental method for clearly demonstrating electrostatic repulsion, and his advocacy of the reality of "action at a distance" and of "absolute space". Read more...


Francis Hauksbee

history-francis-hauksbeeFrancis Hauksbee (English; 1660–1713), Also known as Francis Hawksbee, was an 18th-century scientist best known for his work on electricity and electrostatic repulsion. Initially apprenticed in 1678 to his elder brother as a draper, Hauksbee became Isaac Newton’s lab assistant. Hauksbee had discovered that if he placed a small amount of mercury in the glass of his modified version of Otto von Guericke's generator, evacuated the air from it to create a mild vacuum and rubbed the ball in order to build up a charge, a glow was visible if he placed his hand on the outside of the ball. This glow was bright enough to read by. This effect later became the basis of the gas-discharge lamp, which led to neon lighting and mercury vapour lamps. Read more...


Émilie du Châtelet

Emilie_Chatelet_portrait_by_LatourÉmilie du Châtelet (France; 17 December 1706 – 10 September 1749) Mathematician, physicist, and author. She derived from Newton's work, "Principia Mathematica", the notion of conservation of energy. Part of this was the understanding that the kinetic energy of a moving object was equal to the mass of the object times the square of it's velocity or MV². Albert Einstein took this further with his equation E=MC² which described the relationship between energy and matter, and how one can be converted to the other. Her scientific work was not directly related to electricity, but was so significant to understanding energy for its time she deserves a place with these other pioneers. Read more...


Benjamin Franklin

220px-BenFranklinDuplessisBenjamin Franklin (American; January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) Franklin's most famous electric experiment was his kite experiment in which he discovered that lightning was a form of electricity. Whether through knowledge or luck, evidence shows that Franklin was insulated during this experiment. Several others who attempted to repeat this experiment were horribly electrocuted. He followed up on this discovery with the invention of the lightning rod which safely diverted lightning strikes on a building to an earth grounding electrode. These strikes were a common cause of fire for large buildings, and his invention was so effective and appreciated that Franklin received the Royal Society's Copley Medal in 1753. He also experimented with the collection of electrical charges using various devices, and coined the labels for these charges "negative" and "positive" to describe them. Read more...


Luigi Galvani

220px-Luigi_Galvani,_oil-paintingLuigi Aloisio Galvani (Italian; September 9, 1737 – December 4, 1798) Physician and physicist who discovered that muscle and nerve cells produce electricity. During an experiment he touched the sciatic nerve in the leg of a dead frog with a scalpel that had accidentally collected a static charge. He observed that the frog's leg kicked as if it were still alive. Through this he was able to conclude that electricity was part of the biological animation process, or life itself. Further investigations by him helped lead the way towards development of the battery. Though he did not invent the process, "galvanizing" - a plating process to reduce the oxidation of metal - is named after him. Read more...


Alessandro Volta

220px-Volta_AAlessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (Italian; February 18, 1745 – March 5, 1827)  In 1775 he devised the electrophorus with Johannes Wilcke. This was a single-plate capacitor used to produce imbalances of electric charge through the process of electrostatic induction. He also devised experiments such as the ignition of gases by an electric spark in a closed vessel - much like a spark plug in an internal combustion engine. Further work led up to the development of the voltaic pile, a forerunner of the electric battery. He also determined that the most effective pair of dissimilar metals to produce electricity was zinc and silver. The term "volt" is derived from his name because of work. A volt is a measurement unit of electrical potential or electromotive force. Read more...


André-Marie Ampère

220px-Ampere_Andre_1825André-Marie Ampère (French; 20 January 1775 – 10 June 1836) Physicist and professor of mathematics. He is best known for his advancements in the science of electromagnetism, and for establishing a measurable relationship between magnetic fields and electricity. The term "ampere" or "amp" is named after him. This is a unit of measurement of electrical current flow in a conductor or circuit. Read more...


Carl Friedrich Gauss

Carl_Friedrich_GaussJohann Carl Friedrich Gauss (German; 30 April 1777 – 23 February 1855) Mathematician and scientist of profound genius who contributed significantly to many fields; including number theory, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, magnetism, astronomy and optics. In electrical engineering the gauss, abbreviated as G, is a unit of magnetic flux density or magnetic induction. Many television sets that use a large cathode ray tube employ an automatic degaussing electromagnet. This produces a noticeable but brief hum when these televisions are first turned on, and is designed to prevent image distortion which would be caused by residual magnetism surrounding the picture tube. Read more...


Hans Christian Ørsted

220px-Hans_Christian_Ørsted_daguerreotypeHans Christian Ørsted (Danish; 14 August 1777 – 9 March 1851) Physicist and chemist also known for advancing the science of electromagnetism. His most significant contribution in this area was the discovery that a magnetic field radiates from a wire or conductor through which there is a flow of electrical current. This principle is behind the operation of clamp-on ammeters, widely used by electricians today, which can measure the current flow through a wire or conductor simply by clamping the "jaws" of the instrument around it. A unit of magnetic induction called the "oersted" is named after him, however it is not commonly used today outside of electrical engineering studies. Read more...


Georg Ohm

225px-Georg_Simon_Ohm3Georg Simon Ohm (German; 16 March 1789 – 6 July 1854) Physicist and mathematician. He is best known for using Volta's invention of the early battery, or electrochemical cell as it was known then, to determine the relationship between electrical current, voltage, and resistance of the conductor in the circuit. This is known today as Ohm's Law (I=V/R), where I represents the current flow, V represents voltage, and R represents the resistance of the conductor making up the circuit. He also discovered, because of his precise measurement style, that the current flow through a wire is directly proportional to its cross sectional area and inversely proportional to its length. This is the basis for determining the resistance of electrical conductors. Read more...


Michael Faraday

220px-M_Faraday_Th_Phillips_oil_1842Michael Faraday (English; 22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) Chemist and physicist. His main contributions were in the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. The most recognizable legacy from Faraday is the "farad" which is a unit of measurement of capacitance. His work with electromagnetism was probably more significant however. Building on earlier research, he discovered that a magnet passing through a coil of wire would cause a current to flow through the wire. From this discovery he went on to construct an electric dynamo - the predecessor of the modern generator. Faraday's Law of induction states that a magnetic field changing in time creates a proportional electromotive force, and is the principle behind which this dynamo, and modern generators operate. This law subsequently became one of the four Maxwell equations. In addition to this he discovered that the plane of polarized light can be rotated by a strong magnetic field (called the Faraday effect), and that a conducting enclosure can be used to shield its interior against electric fields and electromagnetic radiation (called a Faraday cage). Read more...


Joseph Henry

Joseph_Henry_(1879)Joseph Henry (American; December 17, 1797 – May 13, 1878) Scientist, considered one of the greatest American scientists since Benjamin Franklin. While building electromagnets, he discovered the electromagnetic phenomenon of self-inductance. He also discovered mutual inductance independently of Faraday, though Faraday was the first to publish his results. His work on the electromagnetic relay was the basis of the electrical telegraph, which was jointly invented by Samuel Morse and Charles Wheatstone. The henry, or H, is a unit of inductance named after him. Read more...


James Prescott Joule

200px-Joule_James_sittingJames Prescott Joule (English; 24 December 1818 – 11 October 1889) Physicist who studied the nature of heat and its relationship to mechanical work. He worked with Lord Kelvin to develop the absolute scale of temperature, and found the relationship between the flow of current through a resistance and the resulting heat dissipated - this is now called "Joule's law". The "joule" which is named after him is a unit of work with several definitions: The work done, or energy required, to exert a force of one newton for a distance of one meter. The work required to move an electric charge of one coulomb through an electrical potential difference of one volt. The work done to produce the power of one watt continuously for one second. Read more...


William Thomson, (Lord Kelvin)

220px-Lord_Kelvin_photographWilliam Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (Great Britain; 26 June 1824 – 17 December 1907) Mathematical physicist and engineer. He did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form. He is best known for an absolute temperature scale, he developed with James Prescott Joule, called the Kelvin scale. This is a temperature scale in which zero represents the point at which there is absolutely no kinetic energy (or heat energy). He was also a telegraph engineer, and was elected to the board of directors of the Atlantic Telegraph Company in recognition of work he did to help with the problem of transmission rate in the Transatlantic telegraph cable. Thomson had produced a mathematical analysis of the propagation of electrical signals into telegraph cables based on their capacitance and resistance. In higher speed data cables, such as today's Cat 5, it is necessary to factor in inductance as well. Read more...


James Clerk Maxwell

James_Clerk_MaxwellJames Clerk Maxwell (Scottish; 13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) Mathematical physicist who developed a set of (4) equations that express the basic laws of electricity and magnetism. He is believed to be one of the finest mathematical minds of any theoretical physicist of his time, and is widely regarded as the nineteenth century scientist who had the greatest influence on twentieth century physics. He showed that electric and magnetic fields can travel through the vacuum of space, in the form of waves, and at a constant velocity of 3.0 × 108 m/s (which is known as the speed of light). He also proposed that light was a form of electromagnetic radiation. His (4) equations were based on the previous works of Ampère, Faraday, Gauss, and others. His first equation, called Ampère's Law, predicts the magnetic field that will be created by a given flow of current. The second equation, called Faraday's Law, is essentially the inverse of the first, and calculates the electrical current that will be generated from a changing magnetic field (this is how most electrical power is generated). The third equation, called Gauss' Law, states that a static electrical charge must generate an electrical voltage. The fourth equation, simply called the Fourth Equation, basically asserts that a magnetic charge (or magnetic monopole) cannot exist - the way that an electron can carry an electrical charge. It is believed - though may be disproved in the future - that all magnetic fields have equal and opposing poles. Read more...


Thomas Edison

220px-Thomas_Edison2Thomas Alva Edison (American; February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) Holding 1,097 U.S. patents in his name, Thomas Edison is considered one of the most prolific inventors in history. He can be credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory, and was dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" by a newspaper reporter - reflecting the amazement of many who witnessed his seemingly "magical" inventions. Some of Edison's most notable inventions are the stock ticker, phonograph, motion picture camera, and the kinetoscope (a forerunner of the modern movie projector), but his largest achievement was the development of the incandescent lighting system. The original idea for an incandescent lamp was not his, however he worked with incredible persistence to overcome the technical obstacles and produced the first usable system that could be sold to the public. The issue was finding a filament for the lamp that could be electrically heated to incandescence without self-destructing from the heat and oxidation. His first success came through the use of a wire made of carbon operating inside of a glass bulb that had been evacuated of air. This "burned" for only a few hours, but further refinements extended the useful life of the lamp to something that was practical for use by the general public. Building on the success of this, he and his team went on to design a complete system to include centrally located DC generators, underground cabling to his customers, electric metering devices so he could "charge" his customers, and lamp sockets that allowed for the bulbs to be replaced after failure. Having excellent business savvy, he chose Wall Street, New York as the location for his pilot project - knowing that he needed to impress the investors in order to realize his dream. With investment capital from J. P. Morgan he built the Edison General Electric Company - later to become General Electric. At this same time an inventor named Nikola Tesla (one of Edison's former assistants) was working with businessman George Westinghouse to design and build a competing electrical system that was based on the use of alternating current instead of direct current. This competition developed into was is known as the great "battle of the currents". Alternating current has the advantage that it can be transformed to very high voltages, allowing it to be transmitted for much greater distances than direct current. Mainly for this reason alternating current eventually won the battle, and continues to be what is used today. Probably due mostly to stubbornness Edison refused to embrace this new technology, and eventually got out of the electrical business. He continued to be a great inventor, however, and inspired many to persist and invent right up to his death. One of his most famous quotes is; "Success is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration". Read more...


Alexander Graham Bell

220px-Alexander_Graham_BellAlexander Graham Bell (Scottish; March 3, 1847 – August 2, 1922) Scientist and inventor. He is widely believed to be the inventor of the telephone system, though there were many at the time working on similar systems. Antonio Meucci and Elisha Gray (the founder of the Western Electric Manufacturing Company) also made significant contributions, and can be argued to be inventors of the telephone as well. While in his twenties, and living in Canada, Bell designed a piano which could transmit its music electrically. He continued his research at Boston University and produced a working telephone which could transmit the human voice as well as musical sounds. On March 7, 1876, the U.S. Patent Office granted him Patent Number 174,465 covering "the method of, and apparatus for, transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically … by causing electrical undulations, similar in form to the vibrations of the air accompanying the said vocal or other sound". Bell had many other patented inventions as well. There were eighteen patents granted in his name alone and twelve that he shared with his collaborators. These included fourteen for the telephone and telegraph, four for the photophone, one for the phonograph, five for aerial vehicles, four for hydro-airplanes, and two for a selenium cell. The photophone was a precursor to our modern fiber optic communication system. It enabled the transmission of sound over a beam of light, and was developed together with Charles Sumner Tainter. The device employed light-sensitive cells of crystalline selenium, which have the property that its electrical resistance varies inversely with the intensity of illumination. The beam of light was modulated through the use of a vibrating mirror or rotating disk. Today we use an electronically modulated solid-state laser, and send the beam through glass fiber optic cables rather than line-of-sight through the air. Otherwise the principle is the same as what we use now. Bell is also credited with the invention of the metal detector in 1881. The device was hurriedly put together in an attempt to find the bullet in the body of U.S. President James Garfield after his attempted assassination. Read more...


Nikola Tesla

220px-Tesla_circa_1890Nikola Tesla (Serbian / American; 10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) Inventor, physicist, and mechanical & electrical engineer. Tesla is one of the most important and fascinating inventors in the field of electricity. After studying electrical engineering he worked with telegraph and telephone designs, and conceived the idea of a brushless induction motor. In 1884 he moved to the United States and was hired by Thomas Edison to work at his Edison Machine Works company. His duties there involved problem solving and improving on DC generator designs. He left over a disagreement with Edison and started his own company called the Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing Company. The company designed and sold arc lighting systems, but a difference of opinion with investors over plans to build an alternating current motor caused him to be relieved of his duties there. After this, Tesla constructed the initial brushless alternating current induction motor, which he demonstrated to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (now IEEE) in 1888. In the same year, he developed the principles of his Tesla coil and began working with George Westinghouse at the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company's Pittsburgh labs. Unlike many others, Westinghouse was open to Tesla's ideas for a complete polyphase alternating current electrical system, and gave him the backing he needed to realize this dream. This was in direct competition with Edison's direct current system, and led to the great "battle of the currents". Tesla's alternating current system had the advantage that it can be transformed to very high voltages, allowing it to be transmitted for much greater distances than direct current. It also allowed for the use of his brushless induction motors, which require much less maintenance because of the elimination of the brushes and commutator of a DC motor. In April of 1887, Tesla began investigating what would later be called X-rays using his own single node vacuum tubes, and made many discoveries which helped advance this science. After this he began to investigate high frequency alternating currents, and generated AC of one million volts using a conical Tesla coil. At this time his interests became directed towards the wireless transmission of electrical signals and energy. He designed and demonstrated cordless gas discharge lamps, transmitted electromagnetic energy without wires, and effectively built the first radio transmitter. When Tesla was 41 years old, he filed the first basic radio patent (U.S. Patent 645576), and a year later demonstrated a radio controlled boat to the US military. In 1899 Tesla decided to move to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and built a laboratory where he would have room for his high-voltage, high-frequency experiments. Here he experimented with wireless telegraphy, the ionosphere, the earth's telluric currents, artificial lightning, and even listened for extraterrestrial radio signals. After the Colorado Springs experiments, Tesla moved to Shoreham, Long Island, and built a facility known as the Wardenclyffe Tower. This tower was 187 feet in height, 68 feet in diameter, and had a domed cupola at the top that weighed 55 tons. Its purpose was to demonstrate the ability to send and receive information and electrical power on a large scale without interconnecting wires. This idea was way ahead of its time, and the facility could not become fully operational due to lack of investment capital. Unfortunately, Tesla suffered increasingly from obsessive-compulsive disorder as he grew older, and died poor and unrewarded for his genius. It's interesting to note that one of the newest lamp types on the market today, the induction lamp, is very similar to what Tesla designed and demonstrated at the 1893 World's Fair. Read more...


Heinrich Hertz

230px-Heinrich_Rudolf_HertzHeinrich Rudolf Hertz (German; 22 February 1857 – 1 January 1894) Physicist and scientist. He was the first to demonstrate the existence of electromagnetic radiation by building an apparatus to produce UHF (ultra high frequency) radio waves. Hertz helped establish the photoelectric effect (which was later explained by others) when he noticed that a charged object loses its charge more readily when illuminated by ultraviolet light. He began experimenting with the transmission and reception of electromagnetic waves using a spark gap transmitter, and did much to explore the propagation and behavior of these waves both through the air and through different types of materials. He also developed the dipole antenna to transmit these radio waves. The hertz, or Hz., is named after him, and is a unit of electrical and electromagnetic frequency. Unlike Marconi, Hertz had little vision or understanding for the practical use of these radio waves. He once stated; "It's of no use whatsoever[...]" when speaking of his discoveries. These discoveries would later be more fully understood and exploited however, by others and become part of the new "wireless age". Read more...


Guglielmo Marconi

220px-Guglielmo_MarconiGuglielmo Marconi, 1st Marquis of Marconi (Italian; 25 April 1874 – 20 July 1937) An Italian electrical engineer known for the development of a practical wireless telegraphy system commonly known as the "radio". Although many scientists and inventors contributed to the invention of wireless telegraphy, Marconi's system achieved widespread use, and therefore he is often thought of as the "father of radio". Marconi did use others' patents in the development of his system, such as Karl Ferdinand Braun's tuning system. He also demonstrated a variety of Tesla's radio frequency systems during lectures to the National Electric Light Association in St. Louis, and the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. This should not distract from his achievements though, since few inventions are entirely original. Most all scientists and inventors build on and improve the discoveries of their predecessors. Marconi demonstrated the transmission and reception of Morse Code based radio signals over a distance of 2 or more kilometers on Salisbury Plain in England in 1896. For this he was awarded a patent for Radio communications with British Patent GB12039 - sometimes recognized as the World's first patent in radio telecommunication. In July of 1897 Marconi formed the London based Wireless Telegraph Trading Signal Company (later renamed the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company), which opened the World's first "wireless" factory in Hall Street, Chelmsford, England. In 1901 Marconi built a station near Wellfleet, Massachusetts. It was first called CC (Cape Cod), then MCC (Marconi Cape Cod) and finally WCC when the US government issued "W" call letters to stations east of the Mississippi. In 1903, from this station, Marconi sent a famous message from the President of the US to the King of the United Kingdom without having to be relayed. In 1914, Marconi built WCC in Chatham, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, and it would become the busiest ship to shore radio station for most of the twentieth century. WCC was sold during the breakup of RCA in the 1990s to MCI, and was finally shut down in 1997. Read more...


Lee de Forest

220px-Lee_De_ForestLee de Forest (American; August 26, 1873 – June 30, 1961) An inventor credited with over 300 patents, his best known and most significant invention was the audio vacuum tube. This was a device that could take a weak electrical signal, such as a radio signal, and amplify it to a more useful level - such as to drive headphones or a loudspeaker. It built upon an earlier device called the Fleming Valve by adding a third electrode called a "grid" to control the amplification of the signal. The device was sold to the Federal Telegraph Company in Palo Alto where it was used to amplify telephone signals sent through transcontinental cables, and was further improved to work as an oscillator in the radiotelephone - an early invention to transmit voice and entertainment into households. In 1907 he formed the De Forest Radio Telephone Company for this purpose, and it became one of the early radio broadcast companies from which this industry grew. In 1919, De Forest filed his first patent on a sound-on-film process, which improved on the work of German inventors, and called it the De Forest Phonofilm process. It recorded sound directly onto film as parallel lines. These lines photographically recorded electrical signals from a microphone, which were translated back into sound waves when the movie was projected. He was given an Academy Award (Oscar) in 1959/1960 in recognition for this work. Read more...


Philo Farnsworth

220px-Philo_T_FarnsworthPhilo Taylor Farnsworth (American; August 19, 1906 – March 11, 1971) At age 14 he worked out the details for an advanced electron tube called an "image dissector", and demonstrated a working unit in 1927. By 1929 he had further improved the tube and transmitted the first human images (including one of his wife) to a receiver which used a cathode ray tube to display the images. In 1930 an employee of RCA named Vladimir Zworykin visited Farnsworth's laboratory, was impressed with his image tube technology, and went back to RCA where he made additional advancements to it, allowing it to capture a sharper image with less light on the subject. The combination of these developments resulted in the Image Orthicon tube which was used in television cameras until the 1960's. In the late 1960's Farnsworth designed an apparatus called the Farnsworth-Hirsch Fusor to create nuclear fusion. This invention came about from earlier research he did in developing cathode ray tubes for his TV receiver. The apparatus injects "high temperature" ions directly into a reaction chamber in order to produce a fusion reaction. Initially there was hope that it could be used to generate power, but insolvable technical problems prevented it from achieving a net gain of energy. It was successful however, as a neutron generator, and continues to be used for this today. Read more...


William Shockley

12/2/1965 William B. Shockley, Nobel Laureate in physicsWilliam Bradford Shockley Jr. (American; February 13, 1910 – August 12, 1989) Physicist and co-inventor of the transistor (with John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain) for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. The three had been working together on theories of electric field effects in solid state materials, with the goal of replacing the triode vacuum tube which was large, fragile, and consumed much power. It was actually Bardeen and Brattain who worked out the final details and constructed the working prototype, but Shockley received a share in the credit since the team had been motivated by Shockley's idea of using field effects. At the same time he secretly continued his own work to build a different sort of transistor based on junctions instead of point contacts, expecting this kind of design would be more commercially viable. He was able to work out the technical problems involved, and obtained a patent for the the junction transistor on July 5, 1951. Eventually he was appointed as the Director of Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in Mountain View, California, a division of Beckman Instruments. He had a hard time recruiting the people he wanted due to his difficult personality, but his efforts to commercialize this new transistor design during the 1950s and 60s led directly to the creation of Silicon Valley. Read more...


Jack Kilby

Jack_KilbyJack St. Clair Kilby (American; November 8, 1923 – June 20, 2005) Electrical engineer who co-won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2000. He invented the integrated circuit in 1958 while working at Texas Instruments, about six months before Robert Noyce made the same invention at Fairchild Semiconductor. In 1938 Kilby rode with his father to the home of a neighbor and ham radio operator during a blizzard in Great Bend, Kansas. He was so fascinated by the equipment that he claimed; "It convinced me that I wanted to study electrical engineering." He received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1947, with a degree in Electrical Engineering, and obtained a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1950. In the summer of 1958, Kilby was employed as an engineer at Texas Instruments, and spent the summer working on a problem in circuit design that was commonly called the "tyranny of numbers". This was a problem, mainly with computing devices, where the number of necessary components grew increasingly larger, making it increasingly more difficult to connect them together using common wiring methods. He realized that the solution was to manufacture large numbers of these components on a single substrate. He presented his findings to the management of Texas Instruments, and showed them a piece of germanium with an oscilloscope attached. He pressed a switch and the oscilloscope showed a continuous sine wave, proving that his integrated circuit worked and that he had solved the problem. A patent for a "Solid Circuit made of Germanium" was filed on February 6, 1959 - the first integrated circuit. In addition to the integrated circuit, Jack Kilby is also known for helping to develop the portable electronic calculator, and later in his career, worked on thermal printing and solar panels. Read more...


Benjamin Thompson

200px-Benjamin_ThompsonSir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (British-American; March 26, 1753 – August 21, 1814) Physicist and inventor whose challenges to established physical theory were part of the 19th century revolution in thermodynamics. Rumford began the quantitative study of the conversion of work into heat by means of his famous cannon-boring experiments. Read more...


Humphry Davy

250px-Sir_Humphry_Davy,_Bt_by_Thomas_PhillipsSir Humphry Davy (English; 17 December 1778 – 29 May 1829) Famous for many works including his ice rubbing experiment in which he rubbed two pieces of ice (inside of parallelepiped), stated by some to have occurred in a vacuum, located inside of a room colder than the freezing point of water, together, vigorously, to see if he could generate heat by friction, an idea contrary to the then-prevalent 'caloric theory' of the time. The significance of Davy’s ice-rubbing experiment helped to prove that heat was a mode of motion. Read more...


Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot

300px-Sadi_CarnotNicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot (French; 1 June 1796 – 24 August 1832) Military engineer and physicist, often described as the "father of thermodynamics". In his only publication, the 1824 monograph Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, Carnot gave the first successful theory of the maximum efficiency of heat engines. Carnot's work attracted little attention during his lifetime, but it was later used by Rudolf Clausius and Lord Kelvin to formalize the second law of thermodynamics and define the concept of entropy. Read more...


Julius von Mayer

220px-Julius_Robert_Mayer_von_Friedrich_BerrerJulius Robert von Mayer (German; November 25, 1814 – March 20, 1878) Physician and physicist and one of the founders of thermodynamics. He is best known for enunciating in 1841 one of the original statements of the conservation of energy or what is now known as one of the first versions of the first law of thermodynamics, namely that "energy can be neither created nor destroyed." In 1842, Mayer described the vital chemical process now referred to as oxidation as the primary source of energy for any living creature. His achievements were overlooked and priority for the discovery of the mechanical equivalent of heat was attributed to James Joule in the following year. He also proposed that plants convert light into chemical energy. Read more...


Hermann von Helmholtz

225px-Hermann_von_HelmholtzHermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (German; August 31, 1821 – September 8, 1894) Physician and physicist who made significant contributions to several widely varied areas of modern science. In physics, he is known for his theories on the conservation of energy, work in electrodynamics, chemical thermodynamics, and on a mechanical foundation of thermodynamics. The largest German association of research institutions, the Helmholtz Association, is named after him. Read more...


Rudolf Clausius

220px-ClausiusRudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius (German; 2 January 1822 – 24 August 1888) Physicist and mathematician and is considered one of the central founders of the science of thermodynamics. By his restatement of Sadi Carnot's principle known as the Carnot cycle, he put the theory of heat on a truer and sounder basis. His most important paper, On the Moving Force of Heat, published in 1850, first stated the basic ideas of the second law of thermodynamics. In 1865 he introduced the concept of entropy. In 1870 he introduced the virial theorem which applied to heat. Read more...


Josiah Willard Gibbs

235px-Josiah_Willard_Gibbs_-from_MMS-Josiah Willard Gibbs (American; February 11, 1839 – April 28, 1903) Scientist who made important theoretical contributions to physics, chemistry, and mathematics. His work on the applications of thermodynamics was instrumental in transforming physical chemistry into a rigorous deductive science. Together with James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann, he created statistical mechanics (a term that he coined), explaining the laws of thermodynamics as consequences of the statistical properties of large ensembles of particles. Gibbs also worked on the application of Maxwell's equations to problems in physical optics. As a mathematician, he invented modern vector calculus (independently of the British scientist Oliver Heaviside, who carried out similar work during the same period). Read more...


Constantin Carathéodory

220px-Caratheodory_Constantin_GreekConstantin Carathéodory (Greek; 13 September 1873 – 2 February 1950) Mathematician who spent most of his professional career in Germany. He made significant contributions to the theory of functions of a real variable, the calculus of variations, and measure theory. His work also includes important results in conformal representations and in the theory of boundary correspondence. In 1909, Carathéodory pioneered the Axiomatic Formulation of Thermodynamics along a purely geometrical approach. Read more...


Ludwig Boltzmann

225px-Boltzmann2Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann (Austrian; February 20, 1844 – September 5, 1906) Physicist and philosopher whose greatest achievement was in the development of statistical mechanics, which explains and predicts how the properties of atoms (such as mass, charge, and structure) determine the physical properties of matter (such as viscosity, thermal conductivity, and diffusion). Most famous for his equation for Entropy: Read more...

S = K * log(w)


Gustav Zeuner

GW163H225Gustav Anton Zeuner (German; 30 November 1828 – 17 October 1907) Physicist, engineer and epistemologist, considered the founder of technical thermodynamics and of the Dresden School of Thermodynamics. The first being his 1859 Fundamentals of the Mechanical Theory of Heat (Grundzüge der Mechanischen Wärmetheorie). His central textbook, deriving from his 1859 paper and intended for his lectures at the Technical High School at Dresden, was the 1887 Technical Thermodynamics, which went through five editions, turning eventually into a two-volume set. Read more...


Johannes Diderik van der Waals

230px-Johannes_Diderik_van_der_WaalsJohannes Diderik van der Waals (Dutch; 23 November 1837 – 8 March 1923) Theoretical physicist and thermodynamicist famous for his work on an equation of state for gases and liquids. His name is primarily associated with the van der Waals equation of state that describes the behavior of gases and their condensation to the liquid phase. His name is also associated with van der Waals forces (forces between stable molecules), with van der Waals molecules (small molecular clusters bound by van der Waals forces), and with van der Waals radii (sizes of molecules). He became the first physics professor of the University of Amsterdam when in 1877 the old Athenaeum was upgraded to Municipal University. Van der Waals won the 1910 Nobel Prize in physics. Read more...


James Prescott Joule

200px-Joule_James_sittingJames Prescott Joule (English; 24 December 1818 – 11 October 1889) Physicist who studied the nature of heat and its relationship to mechanical work. He worked with Lord Kelvin to develop the absolute scale of temperature, and found the relationship between the flow of current through a resistance and the resulting heat dissipated - this is now called "Joule's law". The "joule" which is named after him is a unit of work with several definitions: The work done, or energy required, to exert a force of one newton for a distance of one meter. The work required to move an electric charge of one coulomb through an electrical potential difference of one volt. The work done to produce the power of one watt continuously for one second. Read more...


William Thomson, (Lord Kelvin)

220px-Lord_Kelvin_photographWilliam Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (Great Britain; 26 June 1824 – 17 December 1907) Mathematical physicist and engineer. He did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form. He is best known for an absolute temperature scale, he developed with James Prescott Joule, called the Kelvin scale. This is a temperature scale in which zero represents the point at which there is absolutely no kinetic energy (or heat energy). He was also a telegraph engineer, and was elected to the board of directors of the Atlantic Telegraph Company in recognition of work he did to help with the problem of transmission rate in the Transatlantic telegraph cable. Thomson had produced a mathematical analysis of the propagation of electrical signals into telegraph cables based on their capacitance and resistance. In higher speed data cables, such as today's Cat 5, it is necessary to factor in inductance as well. Read more...


James Clerk Maxwell

James_Clerk_MaxwellJames Clerk Maxwell (Scottish; 13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) Mathematical physicist who developed a set of (4) equations that express the basic laws of electricity and magnetism. He is believed to be one of the finest mathematical minds of any theoretical physicist of his time, and is widely regarded as the nineteenth century scientist who had the greatest influence on twentieth century physics. He showed that electric and magnetic fields can travel through the vacuum of space, in the form of waves, and at a constant velocity of 3.0 × 108 m/s (which is known as the speed of light). He also proposed that light was a form of electromagnetic radiation. His (4) equations were based on the previous works of Ampère, Faraday, Gauss, and others. His first equation, called Ampère's Law, predicts the magnetic field that will be created by a given flow of current. The second equation, called Faraday's Law, is essentially the inverse of the first, and calculates the electrical current that will be generated from a changing magnetic field (this is how most electrical power is generated). The third equation, called Gauss' Law, states that a static electrical charge must generate an electrical voltage. The fourth equation, simply called the Fourth Equation, basically asserts that a magnetic charge (or magnetic monopole) cannot exist - the way that an electron can carry an electrical charge. It is believed - though may be disproved in the future - that all magnetic fields have equal and opposing poles. Read more...


Max Planck

483px-Max_Planck_1933Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, (German; April 23, 1858 – October 4, 1947) Theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918. Planck made many contributions to theoretical physics, but his fame rests primarily on his role as originator of the quantum theory. This theory revolutionized human understanding of atomic and subatomic processes, just as Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity revolutionized the understanding of space and time. Together they constitute the fundamental theories of 20th-century physics. Read more...


Gerard 't Hooft

190px-Gerard_'t_HooftGerardus (Gerard) 't Hooft (Dutch; born July 5, 1946) Theoretical physicist and professor at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He shared the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics with his thesis advisor Martinus J. G. Veltman "for elucidating the quantum structure of electroweak interactions". His work concentrates on gauge theory, black holes, quantum gravity and fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics. His contributions to physics include a proof that gauge theories are renormalizable, dimensional regularization, and the holographic principle. Read More...


Lisa Randall

200px-Lisa-randall-at-ted-croppedLisa Randall (American; born June 18, 1962) Theoretical physicist and leading expert on particle physics and cosmology. She is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science on the physics faculty of Harvard University. Her research includes elementary particles and fundamental forces and she has developed and studied a wide variety of models, the most recent involving extra dimensions of space. She has advanced the understanding and testing of the Standard Model, supersymmetry, possible solutions to the hierarchy problem concerning the relative weakness of gravity, cosmology of extra dimensions, baryogenesis, cosmological inflation, and dark matter. Her best-known contribution is the Randall–Sundrum model, first published in 1999 with Raman Sundrum. Read More...


Leonard Susskind

LeonardSusskindStanfordNov2013Leonard Susskind (American; born June 1940) Theoretical Physics at Stanford University, and Director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics. His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an associate member of the faculty of Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and a distinguished professor of the Korea Institute for Advanced Study. Susskind is widely regarded as one of the fathers of string theory, having, with Yoichiro Nambu and Holger Bech Nielsen, independently introduced the idea that particles could in fact be states of excitation of a relativistic string. He was the first to introduce the idea of the string theory landscape in 2003. Read more...


Toshihide Maskawa

220px-Toshihide_Masukawa-press_conference_Dec_07th,_2008-2Toshihide Maskawa (Japan; born February 7, 1940) Theoretical physicist known for his work on CP-violation who was awarded one quarter of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature." Read more...


Steven Weinberg

220px-Steven_weinberg_2010Steven Weinberg (American; born May 3, 1933) Physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his contributions with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles. He holds the Josey Regental Chair in Science at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a member of the Physics and Astronomy Departments. His research on elementary particles and cosmology has been honored with numerous prizes and awards, including in 1979 the Nobel Prize in Physics and in 1991 the National Medal of Science. In 2004 he received the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society, with a citation that said he is "considered by many to be the preeminent theoretical physicist alive in the world today." He has been elected to the US National Academy of Sciences and Britain's Royal Society, as well as to the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Read more...


Roger Penrose

260px-Roger_Penrose-6Nov2005Sir Roger Penrose (English; born 8 August 1931), Mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science. He is the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford, as well as an Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College. Penrose is known for his work in mathematical physics, in particular for his contributions to general relativity and cosmology. He has received a number of prizes and awards, including the 1988 Wolf Prize for physics, which he shared with Stephen Hawking for their contribution to our understanding of the universe. Read more...


Peter Higgs

220px-Higgs,_Peter_(1929)3Peter Ware Higgs (British; born 29 May 1929) Physicist, Nobel Prize laureate and emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh. He is best known for his 1960s proposal of broken symmetry in electroweak theory, explaining the origin of mass of elementary particles in general and of the W and Z bosons in particular. This so-called Higgs mechanism, which was proposed by several physicists besides Higgs at about the same time, predicts the existence of a new particle, the Higgs boson (which was often described as "the most sought-after particle in modern physics"). CERN announced on 4 July 2012 that they had experimentally established the existence of a Higgs-like boson. The Higgs mechanism is generally accepted as an important ingredient in the Standard Model of particle physics, without which certain particles would have no mass. Read more...


Murray Gell-Mann

270px-Murray_Gell-Mann_-_World_Economic_Forum_Annual_Meeting_2012Murray Gell-Mann (American; born September 15, 1929) Physicist who received the 1969 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles. He is the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Theoretical Physics Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, a Distinguished Fellow and co-founder of the Santa Fe Institute, Professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department of the University of New Mexico, and the Presidential Professor of Physics and Medicine at the University of Southern California. Read more...


Freeman Dyson

200px-Freeman_DysonFreeman John Dyson (American; born December 15, 1923) Freeman Dyson is not one man but ten. Apart from his critical work on quantum electrodynamics Dyson has been involved in designing nuclear reactors and rocketships, in securing a limited test ban treaty and keeping tactical nuclear weapons out of Vietnam, in proposing a novel theory for the origin of life, and in launching the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. He helped create adaptive optics and originated the study of the cosmos in the distant future. Dyson is also an outspoken speaker on topics such as climate change, biotechnology, and the prospective human migration into space. A modern day Renaissance man. Read more...


Chen-Ning Yang

160px-CNYangChen-Ning Franklin Yang (Chinese-American; October 1, 1922) also known as Yang Zhenning, is a Physicist who works on statistical mechanics and particle physics. He and Tsung-dao Lee received the 1957 Nobel prize in physics for their work on parity non conservation of weak interaction, proved experimentally that one of the basic quantum-mechanics laws, called the conservation of parity, is violated in the so-called weak nuclear reactions, those nuclear processes that result in the emission of beta or alpha particles of nuclear's radioactivities reactions. Read more...


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