This tumblr's for all the great men and women of science for whom we owe our current understanding of the natural world; their achievements, their failures, and even their quirks, we celebrate them all.
For Science. For Inquiry. For Humanity.
The 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics
Electrodynamics, in essence, is the study of electric charges interact and create electric and magnetic fields. During the mid-twentieth century, this was well understood on the macroscopic level - but on the quantum scale it remained a tricky mystery. Quantum mechanics deals with incredibly small objects, such as protons, neutrons, electrons, and other elementary particles. Quantum electrodynamics (QED) is the theory of how electrodynamics applies to these elementary particles, and explains how electromagnetic forces between particles work. The exchange of minute electromagnetic radiation mediates the forces between these particles.
Three independent men published papers making huge contributions to QED: Richard Feynman, Sin-Itiro Tomonaga and Julian Schwinger. According to the official release, the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for:
“…fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles”.
“Quantum Physics makes me so happy.”
(promo for 5.20 The Transporter Malfunction)
Welcome to the weird world of Quantum Physics. =))
The Great Beards of Physics
For many Physicists throughout the ages - their beards are as remarkable as their brains. Here are just a few - from left to right:
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630): His name is synonymous with astronomy - and is best known for the eponymous planetary laws of motion that he proposed. He was a key figure of the scientific revolution, and was one of the main influences on the great Isaac Newton.
James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879): Maxwell is responsible for formulating modern electromagnetic theory - which basically unites all of electricity, magnetism and optics. He realized that light, electricity and magnetism are all formulations of the same phenomenon. Maxwell’s scientific greatness is on par with Newton himself, but Mr. Electromagnetism’s facial hair far surpasses Newton’s.
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845-1923): He was the first to produce and detect electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range that we know today as X-Rays. He produced the first X-Ray image of a human ever taken - one of his wife’s hand that can be seen here.
Joseph Swan (1828-1914): Swan is most famous for being the first to create an incandescent light bulb - he even beat Edison to it. However, his bulbs were commercially impractical as they required large conductors to produce the necessary current.
Ludwig Boltzmann (1844-1906): Boltzmann is the man who is effectively responsible for creating Statistical Mechanics and Statistical Thermodynamics. He stated the Second Law of Thermodynamics in a statistical way, and made enormous contributions to Kinetic Theory during a time when many scientists still were skeptical to atoms. He also has what is probably the coolest grave ever.
Gersh Budker (1918-1977): This Russian Physicist is best known for his invention of electron cooling, which is a “process to shrink the size, divergence and energy spread of charged particle beams without removing particles from the beam.” However, his greatest contribution to science is obviously that incredible beard.
Inspired by this wonderful post.
Quick portrait of Richard Feynman, the Quantum man, and his feynman diagrams.
Once upon a time – of all the good days in the year, on Quantum Eve – I sat busy in my laboratory.
“A merry Quantum, uncle! May the field of pure potentiality save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of my nephew.
“βah! Woo-woo.” I said, “Merry Quantum! Out upon Merry Quantum! What’s Quantum time to you but a time for deluding yourself with nonsense!”
“I have always thought of Quantum time as a good time,” returned my nephew. “The only time I know of when men and women seem by one consent to open up their minds freely and transcend the quantum level of themselves.”
“βah! Woo-woo!” I said.
“I am sorry, with all my wavefunction, to find you so resolute. So A Merry Quantum uncle!”
“Good afternoon!” I said.
Check the link for the full explanation of what’s going on here (my biologist’s brain starts melting a little when it comes to wavefunctions). But here’s a quote:
“I don’t like to sound hyperbolic, but I think the word ‘seismic’ is likely to apply to this paper,” says Antony Valentini, a theoretical physicist specializing in quantum foundations at Clemson University in South Carolina.
I don’t wanna sound obvious, but that’s pretty hyperbolic.
(via Nature News, GIF-y goodness via Wikimedia)
Set phasers to.. Relativistic Heavy Ions!
The Large Hadron Collider will spend four weeks probing the conditions of the early universe in better detail than ever before, as it takes a break from the hunt for the Higgs boson.
The LHC’s main activity for 2011, colliding pairs of protons, came to an end as scheduled on 30 October. The experiment has now produced about 6 inverse femtobarns of collision data, about three times the total used in the last major analysis searching for the Higgs boson, thought to endow other particles with mass, which was reported in August.
As researchers start analysing the new data, the LHC is switching to colliding lead ions for four weeks, starting on the 5th of November. These collisions produce pockets of very dense and hot matter, recreating the conditions in the first moments after the big bang.
Lead ion collisions at the LHC last year showed hints of producing a quark-gluon plasma, an exotic state of matter in which quarks – normally bound in pairs or triplets – are able to wander freely. The phenomenon has been observed previously at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in Brookhaven, New York, but the LHC’s higher-energy collisions allows higher temperatures to be obtained.
“Basically you get closer to the moment of big bang,” says Greg Landsberg of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, physics coordinator for CMS, one of the LHC’s two main detectors.