Gertrude Elion… Gerty Theresa Cori… Glenn Seaborg… Glenn Seaborg… Scientists › Multiposts

Biographies of Famous Scientists

Biographies of Famous Scientists, his life and achievements

Biographies of Famous Scientists:

  1. Who is Gertrude Elion: Biography
  2. Who is Gerty Theresa Cori: Biography
  3. Who is Glenn Seaborg: Biography
  4. Who is Gottfried Leibniz: Biography
  5. Who is Gottlieb Daimler: Biography
  6. Who is Grace Murray Hopper: Biography
  7. Who is Gregor Mendel: Biography
  8. Who is Guglielmo Marconi: Biography
  9. Who is Gustav Kirchoff: Biography
  10. Who is Gustav Ludwig Hertz: Biography
  11. Who is Hans Bethe: Biography
  12. Who is Hans Christian Oersted: Biography
  13. Who is Hans Selye: Biography
  14. Who is Harriet Quimby: Biography
  15. Who is Hedy Lamarr: Biography
  16. Who is Heike Kamerlingh Onnes: Biography
  17. Who is Heinrich Hertz: Biography
  18. Who is Hendrik Antoon Lorentz: Biography
  19. Who is Henri Becquerel: Biography

Who is Gertrude Elion: Biography

“Don’t be afraid of hard work. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Don’t let others discourage you or tell you that you can’t do it. In my day I was told women didn’t go into chemistry. I saw no reason why we couldn’t.”Gertrude B. Elion
American pharmacologist and biochemist, Gertrude B. Elion is famous for her scientific discovery of drugs to treat leukemia and herpes and to prevent the rejection of kidney transplants. This discovery earned her Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1988 which she shared with George H. Hitchings, her long-time boss and collaborator at Burroughs-Wellcome, and also Sir James W. Black. After receiving the Nobel Prize she once said:
“People ask me often (was) the Nobel Prize the thing you were aiming for all your life? And I say that would be crazy. Nobody would aim for a Nobel Prize because, if you didn’t get it, your whole life would be wasted. What we were aiming at was getting people well, and the satisfaction of that is much greater than any prize you can get.”
She is holder of 45 patents, 23 honorary degrees, and a lengthy list of other honors. She was unmarried.

Early Life, Education and Career:

Gertrude Elion was born in New York City on January 23, 1918 to immigrant parents. She completed her graduation from Hunter College with a B.A. degree in chemistry in 19During this time she also planned to become a cancer researcher but for several years worked as a lab assistant, food analyst (tested pickles and berries for quality at the Quaker Maid Company), and high school teacher while studying for her Masters degree at night. She completed her M.S. in chemistry from New York University in 1941.
When World War II broke out, there was an urgent need for women at scientific laboratories so she left to work as an assistant to George H. Hitchings at the Burroughs-Wellcome pharmaceutical company (now GlaxoSmithKline). She never obtained a formal Ph.D., but was later awarded an honorary Ph.D from Polytechnic University of New York in 1989 and honorary SD degree from Harvard University in 1998.
While working with H. Hitchings, Elion helped develop the first drugs to combat leukemia, herpes, and AIDS, and established new research methods to produce drugs that could target specific pathogens. The medicines she developed include acyclovir (for herpes), allopurinol (for gout), azathioprine (which limits rejection in organ transplants), purinethol (for leukemia), pyrimethamine (for malaria), and trimethoprim (for meningitis and bacterial infections).
During 1967 she occupied the position of the head of the company’s Department of Experimental Therapy and officially retired in 19Despite her retirement, Elion continued working almost full time at the lab, and oversaw the adaptation of azidothymidine (AZT), which became the first drug used for treatment of AIDS.


Gertrude Elion died in North Carolina on February 21, 19She was always admired by a number of students and colleagues for her brilliancy and dedication to science.

Who is Gerty Theresa Cori: Biography

The name of Gerty Theresa Cori is acknowledged among the greatest women achievers of the 20th century. This American biologist is known for her discoveries in biochemistry, especially carbohydrate metabolism. Her contributions in the field of biology led her to be the first American woman to achieve the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which she shared with her husband Carl Ferdinand Cori and Argentine physiologist Bernardo Houssay.

Life, Education and Career:

Gerty Theresa Cori was born on August 15, 1896 in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Until the age of ten she was educated at her home after which she was enrolled in a Lyceum for girls. As a child Gerty became interested in science and mathematics and entered the Realgymnasium at Tetschen, from which she graduated in 1914, and then joined the Medical School of the German University of Prague. Here she met Carl Ferdinand Cori, a fellow student who shared her hobbies of skiing, gardening and mountain climbing and her interest in laboratory research. Both of them worked together and during 1920 published the results of their first research collaboration, completed their graduation, and got married.
Gerty Cori’s first research position was as an assistant in the Karolinen Children’s Hospital in Vienna. In 1922 Carl Cori immigrated to the United, having accepted a job at the State Institute for the Study of Malignant Diseases in Buffalo, New York. Gerty Cori stayed behind for a few months, meanwhile working as an assistant pathologist at the Institute and later rising to assistant biochemist. After six months, Gerty got a job at the same institute as Carl, and she joined him in Buffalo. In 1928 they became U.S. citizens.
In 1931 Carl Cori took the position of chairman of the Department of Pharmacology of the Washington University School of Medicine. Gerty was employed too, as a research associate, regardless of her equivalent degrees and comparable research experience. In 1943 she was appointed as an associate professor of Research Biological Chemistry and Pharmacology and two months after she received her Nobel Prize in 1947, she got promoted to the rank of professor of Biological Chemistry.
During the 1930s and 1940s both husband and wife began studying carbohydrate metabolism and continued the research in their laboratory at Washington University. Their laboratory gained an international standing as an important center of biochemical advancements. In 1947 the Cori’s won the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine for their pivotal studies in elucidating the nature of sugar metabolism.
In 1947 Gerty Cori showed the symptoms of myelofibrosis, a disease she fought for 10 years, refusing to give up her research until the last few months of her life. She died on October 26, 1957.
Besides the Nobel Prize she was also honored with the Garvan Medal for women chemists of the American Chemical Society as well as membership in the National Academy of Sciences. The crater Cori on the Moon is named after her. She also shares a star with her husband on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Who is Glenn Seaborg: Biography

Glenn Seaborg took part in the discovery of ten of the periodic table’s chemical elements. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 19
His work on the electronic structure of elements led to the periodic table being rewritten. He also co-discovered technetium-99m, the most commonly used medical radioisotope in the world.
Element 106 is named seaborgium in his honor.

Early Life and Education

Glenn Theodore Seaborg was born on April 19, 1912, in the small mining town of Ishpeming, Michigan, USA.
His father Herman Seaborg and mother Selma Olivia Erickson spoke Swedish at home.
At elementary school Glenn Seaborg took no interest in science.
In 1922 the Seaborg family moved to Los Angeles, California. At David Starr Jordan High School, located in the Watts neighborhood, Glenn Seaborg’s interests in chemistry and physics were awakened by the exhilarating lessons taught by Dwight Logan Reid. Seaborg graduated from high school at the top of his class, then studied for a chemistry degree at UCLA, where he graduated in 1933, aged
Four years later he was awarded a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. His Ph.D. thesis was in the field of nuclear chemistry.
He became fascinated by Otto Hahn’s work in Germany on radioactive elements. Hahn had discovered the radioactive isotopes radium-228 and thorium-230 and, with Lisa Meitner, the most stable form of the new radioactive element protactinium. Hahn went on to win the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of nuclear fission.

Glenn Seaborg’s Scientific Achievements and Discoveries

After obtaining his Ph.D. from Berkeley, Seaborg continued working there as a nuclear chemist, taking part in the discovery of dozens of new isotopes.
The isotopes were produced using Berkeley’s cyclotrons – i.e. particle accelerators.
At the age of 27, in 1939, Seaborg was promoted, becoming a chemistry instructor.

Medical Isotopes

Working with John J. Livingood, Seaborg discovered iodine-131 and cobalt-60: these are crucial radioisotopes in medical diagnoses and treatments.
In 1938, Seaborg and Emilio Segrè discovered technetium-99m, which is the most-used medical radioisotope ever. It is used it tens of millions of scans every year.

The Discovery of Plutonium

In 1940, Edwin McMillan and Philip Abelson discovered element 93 using the 60-inch cyclotron at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Berkeley. They named the new element neptunium, after the planet Neptune.
Their discovery depended on work Seaborg and his colleagues had carried out to refine a method to isolate the new radioactive metal.
Soon after his discovery, McMillan diverted his attention to radar research.
Seaborg continued working with the cyclotron in an effort to produce the next undiscovered element, element 94.
In February 1941 Seaborg led his research team to discover element 94 – plutonium. They named the new element after Pluto, keeping up the theme which began with element 92, uranium (Uranus) and element 93, neptunium (Neptune).
Plutonium was made by bombarding uranium with hydrogen-2 (heavy hydrogen) nuclei.
A month after discovering plutonium, Seaborg’s team discovered that its isotope plutonium-239 could undergo nuclear fission, and therefore could potentially be used in nuclear weapons and nuclear energy production.
Following his group’s discovery of plutonium, Berkeley promoted Seaborg to the position of assistant professor of chemistry.

Discovering More Elements

After discovering plutonium, Seaborg’s team continued working with the 60-inch cyclotron, discovering curium (in 1944), americium (in 1944), and berkelium (in 1949). Seaborg became a full professor of chemistry in 1945.
Seaborg co-discovered californium in 1950 and mendelevium in 1955 using the 60-inch cyclotron.
Further, he co-discovered the new elements einsteinium and fermium in the fall out from nuclear weapons testing in 1952.
Seaborg also worked in the research groups that independently discovered nobelium and seaborgium, although the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry credits scientists at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia with the first production of these elements.
Except for the discovery of plutonium, Albert Ghiorso was one of Seaborg’s co-workers in all of his element discoveries.

The Atom Bomb

As an expert in nuclear chemistry, during World War 2 it was inevitable that Seaborg would be asked to take part in the Manhattan Project to produce nuclear weapons. Seaborg moved to Chicago where he led a team of 100 scientists who worked out how to refine plutonium from uranium and produce it in viable quantities for a plutonium based atomic bomb.
Seaborg was one of the scientists who put their name to the Franck Report, a secret document requesting that the bomb should not be used as a weapon. The scientists requested that an atomic explosion should be publicly demonstrated to representatives of other countries, including Japan, in an attempt to bring about a Japanese surrender. The request was turned down.
The Fat Man bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 was a plutonium bomb. (The Little Boy bomb dropped three days earlier on Hiroshima was a uranium bomb.)

A New Periodic Table

On the basis of electron structures, in 1944 Seaborg proposed that a new row should be added to the periodic table. The new row would be placed below the row of elements known as the lanthanides. The elements in Seaborg’s new row would be called the actinides. He was warned that it would ruin his scientific reputation to publish such a proposal, but he carried on.
Far from professional ruin, Seaborg’s proposal resulted in a significant redesign of the periodic table. The actinide series is now the final row in the standard periodic table, stretching from element 89 (actinium) to element 103 (lawrencium). Within the actinides can be found all of the elements discovered by Seaborg.


Between 1954 and 1965 Seaborg was granted a total of 43 patents. These were mainly for methods of processing and separating radioactive heavy elements.
He also patented methods for producing and separating the element americium.
Royalties from the americium patents provided him with an ongoing income after americium became a standard part of smoke detectors.

An Island of Stability

Seaborg predicted the existence of heavier elements than the ones he had discovered: elements which would be very unstable, with half-lives measured in seconds or fractions of seconds.
However, he also predicted some superheavy elements would form an ‘island of stability’ in the periodic table, with much longer half-lives than surrounding elements.
He based his idea on the fact that atoms whose nuclear energy shells are filled with as many neutrons and protons as possible are particularly stable, and some very heavy elements would have such filled energy shells.
No elements heavy enough to test Seaborg’s island of stability hypothesis have been made yet, but many nuclear scientists would dearly love to achieve this.


Seaborg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1951, when he was just 39 years old. Seaborg shared the prize with Edwin McMillan for their work in discovering elements heavier than uranium.
Recipients of the prize travel to Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, to receive their awards. Brought up by parents who spoke Swedish at home, Seaborg is one of the few Nobel Prize winners who have given their short speech at the Nobel Banquet in Swedish.
In 1997 the element seaborgium was named in Seaborg’s honor; it is the only element ever named after someone who was still living at the time the name was announced.

Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

From 1961 to 1971 Seaborg chaired the Atomic Energy Commission. In this role he helped negotiate the Limited Test Ban Treaty securing the agreement of the US, UK, and USSR in banning above-ground testing of nuclear weapons.

Record Breaker

Seaborg’s achievements and activities thrust his name into the Guinness Book of World Records, for taking up the most space in Who’s Who in America: more than any actor, sports star or even politician!

The End

Glenn Seaborg died aged 86 on February 25, 1999, in Lafayette, California.
He was survived by his wife, Helen Griggs Seaborg, and three sons and two daughters.

Who is Gottfried Leibniz: Biography

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (also known as von Leibniz) was a prominent German mathematician, philosopher, physicist and statesman. Noted for his independent invention of the differential and integral calculus, Gottfried Leibniz remains one of the greatest and most influential metaphysicians, thinkers and logicians in history. He also invented the Leibniz wheel and suggested important theories about force, energy and time.

Early Life and Education:

Gottfried Lelbniz was born in Leipzig, endeavor Germany to influential parents. His father, a professor of moral philosophy at the city’s university, died when Leibniz was only six. His mother was the daughter of a rich local lawyer.
Leibniz was a childhood prodigy. He became fluent in Latin and studied works of Greeks scholars such as when he was only twelve. He entered the University of Leipzig when he was fourteen, where he took philosophy, mathematics and law.
After graduation, he applied for a doctorate in law, but was refused due to his young age. Leibniz chose to present his thesis to the University of Altdorf, where professors were so impressed that they immediately awarded him the degree of Doctor of Laws and gave him a job of professorship.

Contributions and Achievements:

Gottfried Leibniz was a great polymath who knew almost everything that could be known at the time about any subject or intellectual enterprise. He made important contributions to philosophy, engineering, physics, law, politics, philology and theology.
Probably his greatest achievement was the discovery of a new mathematical method called calculus. Scientists use to deal with quantities that are constantly varying. Newton had devised a similar method for his work on gravity. Therefore, there was a harsh debate about who had been first.
Newton began working on his version in 1665, but Leibniz published his results in 1684, almost three years before Newton. However, the consensus is that they discovered the method simultaneously.
Leibniz also discovered the binary number system and invented the first calculating machine that could add, subtract, multiply and divide. When it came to metaphysics, he formulated the famous theory of monads which explained the relation between soul and the body. Leibniz is often known as the founder of symbolic logic as he developed the universal characteristic, a symbolic language in which any item of information can be represented in a natural and systematic way.

Later Life and Death:

Gottfried Leibniz died in Hanover on November 14, 17He was 70 years old.

Who is Gottlieb Daimler: Biography

Early Life and Contributions:

Gottlieb Daimler was born in Schorndorf in Germany in 18He was an engineer, industrial designer, industrialist, pioneer of the modern internal combustion engine and a workaholic before the term was invented. A persistent perfectionist, he drove himself and his co-workers mercilessly. Daimler was a cosmopolitan man, instrumental in founding auto industries in Germany, France and England. His core ability was engines, and he didn’t care whether they were powering cars, boats, trams, pumps or airships. He is also known for inventing the first high-speed petrol engine and the first four-wheel automobile.
Talking about Daimler’s early life, his father wanted his son to become a municipal employee, but the young, mechanically inclined Daimler instead apprenticed himself to a gunsmith. After four years of his apprenticeship Daimler worked in a steam-engine factory and eventually completed his schooling at the Stuttgart Polytechnic. He spent the next three decades working as an engineer and technical director of engine development for several companies.
It was during this period that he worked with Nikolaus August Otto, the inventor of the four-cycle internal combustion engine, and Wilhelm Maybach, who become Daimler’s lifelong collaborator.
Daimler’s and Maybach’s dream was to create small high speed engines to be mounted in any kind of locomotion device. They designed a precursor of the modern petrol engine which they subsequently fitted to a two-wheeler and considered the first motorcycle and, in the next year, to a stagecoach, and a boat. They are renowned as the designers of this Grandfather Clock engine. This helped push them ahead of other inventors who were emerging as competitors. In 1882 Daimler and Maybach set up a factory in Stuttgart to develop light, high-speed, gasoline-powered internal combustion engines. Their aim from the start appears to have been to apply these engines to vehicles.
In 1890 Daimler and Maybach formed the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft in Stuttgart, but they left the company only a year later in order to concentrate on various technical and commercial development projects. A Daimler-powered car won the first international car race–the 1894 Paris-to-Rouen race. Of the 102 cars that started the competition, only fifteen completed it, and all finishers were powered by a Daimler engine.


The success of the Paris-to-Rouen race may also have been a factor in Daimler’s and Maybach’s decision to rejoin the Daimler Motor Company in 18In the following year, the Daimler Company produced the first road truck, and in 1900 the company produced the first Mercedes automobile (named for the daughter of the financier backing Daimler).
The man who is widely credited with pioneering the modern automobile industry apparently did not like to drive and may never have driven at all. Certainly Gottlieb Daimler was a passenger in 1899 during a rough, bad weather journey that accelerated his declining health and contributed to his death the following spring of heart disease on March 6, 1900, in Stuttgart, Germany, after a lifetime as an inventor in the forefront of automobile development. Daimler’s auto company merged with the Benz Company (also of Germany) in 1926, forming the Mercedes-Benz automobile company later.

Who is Grace Murray Hopper: Biography

Grace Murray Hopper, a computer scientist from America, is a pioneer in her field and was one of Harvard Mark I computer’s first programmers. She is also responsible for developing the first ever compiler used for computer programming language. Apart from being the brains behind COBOL which is one of the first few modern programming languages, Grace Hopper is also a United States Navy Rear Admiral. Because of her achievements and contributions in the field of computer science as well as the navy, she is sometimes fondly called “Amazing Grace.”

Educational Background and Early Years

Her maiden name was Grace Brewster Murray, and she was born in New York on the ninth of December, 19Eldest of three siblings, she had always had a great curiosity for things. When she was seven, she had a great urge to discover how alarm clocks worked and was able to dismantle seven alarm clocks before her mother discovered what she was up to. After that incident, she was then limited to studying just one clock.
She went to New Jersey’s Hartridge School for preparatory education. She tried to enter Vassar College when she was 16 but got rejected because her grades in Latin weren’t satisfactory. She was, however, accepted the following year. In 1928, she graduated from Vassar with her bachelor’s degree from her course mathematics and physics. Two years later, she had earned her Master’s degree in the same field from Yale University.
Grace Hopper continued to further her education by earning her Ph.D. in mathematics. She was under the supervision of Øystein Ore a Norwegian mathematician famous for his graph theory. Grace Hopper worked on her Ph.D. in Yale, and got it in 19That same year, her dissertation entitled New Types of Irreducibility Criteria was also published. While working on her Ph.D., she had been teaching in Vassar College since 1931, and earned the promotion as associate professor 10 years later.


Her career is a long and busy one, being involved with national naval affairs and the improvement of computer technology. It was in 1943 while she was still associate professor at the Vassar College when she filed for a leave of absence to be part of the United States Navy Reserve, and was one of the women who volunteered their services for WAVES or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.
Having graduated as the top student in her 1994 class, she was then assigned to Harvard University’s Bureau of Ships Computation Project as a junior grade lieutenant. It was then when she became part of the programming staff for Mark I computer which was headed by Howard Aiken.
While Grace Hopper wanted to be transferred to the regular Navy posts, her request was denied because she was already 38 then. She did, however, remain to serve as part of the Navy Reserve. Until 1949, Grace Hopper was part of the Harvard Computation Lab. She even turned down Vassar’s offer of a full professorship post, and instead chose to work as a researcher under Navy contract for Harvard.
It was in 1949 when she became part of the team which was developing the UNIVAC I. It was during this time when she was able to device her compiler which was then called the A compiler. The first version was called A-0.
A few years later in 1952, she was able to come up with an operational compiler, however she said that nobody believed it and that she was told that computers were only limited to doing arithmetic. Two years later, she was named Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation’s director for automatic programming, and it was her department which released the first programming languages which were compiler based. These included ARITH-MATIC, FLOW-MATIC, and MATH-MATIC.
In 1959, CODASYL or the Conference on Data Systems Languages brought together different computer experts for a 2-day conference. Hopper had been the committee’s technical consultant, and she along with her previous employees helped define COBOL. Up to this day, COmmon Business-Oriented Language or COBOL is still one of the most famous business languages.
For ten years since 1967, Grace Hopper was the Navy Programming Languages Group’s director in the Navy’s Office of Information Systems Planning. She received a promotion as captain in 1973, and during her years of service there, was able to develop a validation software which was used for COBOL.
During the 1970s, she had an advocacy where she believed the Defense Department should replace the usual large and centralized systems with smaller and more distributed computers. It was Grace Hopper who spearheaded implementing standards when it came to computer components and systems, most especially for programming languages the likes of COBOL and FORTRAN.

Recognitions and Retirement

During her long years of service, she received many awards including being the “computer sciences man of the year” given by the Data Processing Management Association, became a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society in 1973, and was given the Defense Distinguished Service Medal after her retirement in 1986.
She was 60 when she retired ranked as commander of the Naval Reserve. However, she was recalled in a year after her first retirement in 1966 to have an indefinite assignment. In 1971, she retired once more only to be called back again in 19In 1973 she earned the promotion as captain given by Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr.

Personal Life

During her whole lifetime, Grace Hopper was given 40 honorary degrees from different universities all over the world. Because of her work, experience, and contribution especially in the field of computer science, she had been invited numerous times as an esteemed speaker for various events related to the computer industry even after her active years of service for the navy. Apart from being known as “Amazing Grace,” another nickname she earned was “Grandma COBOL” because of her great work on COBOL’s development.
Grace Hopper had been married to Vincent Foster Hopper, a professor in New York University. They were married from 1930 but got divorced in 19She had never been married again and has chosen to keep her married last name.

Who is Gregor Mendel: Biography

Gregor Mendel is the father of genetics. He:
• Founded the science of genetics.
• Identified many of the rules of heredity. These rules determine how traits are passed through generations of living things.
• Saw that living things pass traits to the next generation by something which remains unchanged in successive generations of an organism – we now call this ‘something’ genes.
• Realized that traits could skip a generation – seemingly lost traits could appear again in another generation – he called these recessive traits.
• Identified recessive and dominant traits which pass from parents to offspring.
• Established, momentously, that traits pass from parents to their offspring in a mathematically predictable way.
Mendel’s work only made a big impact in 1900, 16 years after his death, and 34 years after he first published it.

Mendel’s Education and the Abbey of St. Thomas

Johann Mendel (he wasn’t called Gregor until later) was born July 20, 1822, in Heinzendorf bei Odrau. This small village was in the Austrian Empire, but is now in the Czech Republic.
Mendel’s parents were small farmers who made financial sacrifices to pay for his education.
He did well enough at high school to make it, aged 18, to the University of Olomouc in 18The university was about 40 miles (60 km) from his home village. He took courses in physics, mathematics and philosophy.
You want to keep doing science? You need to be a monk!
In 1843, aged 21, and in financial difficulty, one of his teachers, Professor Friedrich Franz, a physicist, advised Mendel to join the Abbey of St. Thomas in Brünn as a monk.
The Abbey actually had a good reputation for its teaching of sciences, and its director, Abbot Franz Cyril Napp, was particularly interested in heredity of traits in plants and animals on farms.
If he could join the Abbey, he could continue studying science, while ensuring he could get by financially. And so Mendel, who was more interested in science than religion, became a monk.
The move to Brünn carried him much farther away from his home village. On joining the Abbey, he took the name Gregor. From then on he ceased to be Johann Mendel and became Gregor Mendel.
Learning and Teaching Science
In 1846, aged 24, Mendel took fruit-growing classes given by Professor Franz Diebl at the Brünn Philosophical Institute. Diebl was an authority on plant breeding.
Mendel became a priest in 1847 and got his own parish in 18He did not enjoy working as a parish priest and got a job as a high school teacher in 18
In 1850, aged 28, he failed exams which would have qualified him as a high school teacher.
A year later, he went to the University of Vienna where he studied chemistry, biology and physics. The idea was that by strengthening his knowledge in these subjects, he could qualify as a high school teacher.
Two years later, after completing his studies, he returned to the monastery in 1854 and took a position as a physics teacher at a school at Brünn, where he taught for the next 16 years.
Research and Admin
In 1856, aged 34, he again failed to qualify formally as a high school teacher. This time, illness prevented him completing the exams.
In the same year, he began his major, groundbreaking study of heredity in plants.
In 1865, still interested in physical science, he founded the Austrian Meteorological Society. In fact, during his life, Mendel published more about meteorology than he did biology!
In 1866, he published his heredity work. Unfortunately, most people who read it did not recognize the intellectual gold that his paper contained.
In 1867, aged 45, he became Abbot of his monastery and devoted himself to its smooth running as its administrator.

Mendel and Genetics: Experiments with Peas: 1856 to 1863

During his time in Olomouc, Mendel had made friends with two university professors: Friedrich Franz, a physicist, and Johann Karl Nestler, an agricultural biologist, who was interested in heredity.
Nestler passed his interest in heredity to Mendel, who was intrigued by the subject.
Mendel’s monastery had a 5 acre (2 hectare) garden, and his two former professors encouraged Mendel to pursue his interest in heredity by using the garden for experiments.
Abbot Franz Cyril Napp and Professor Franz Diebl also encouraged him to follow this path.

Mendel was unhappy with how inheritance of traits was being explained

People had known for millennia about selective breeding. They knew that by breeding from those individuals that showed the most desirable traits, future generations were more likely to show these desirable traits.
• Guard dogs might be bred from parents that were loyal and friendly to their owners, but were suspicious or even aggressive with strangers.
• Cattle might be bred from cows that yielded most milk and bulls that yielded most meat.
• Wheat might be kept and sown the following year from those plants which had produced the most abundant crop.
The main theory of heredity in Mendel’s time was that offspring were a smooth blend of their two parents’ traits.
Mendel set himself the very ambitious task of discovering the laws of heredity.
To achieve this, he embarked on a mammoth sized, highly systematic, eight year study of edible peas, individually and carefully recording the traits shown by every plant in successive generations.
His work involved growing and recording the traits in about 30,000 plants.
One of the keys to his success was breeding from closely related pea varieties which would differ in only a small number of traits.

Mendel’s Results for Flower Color

Mendel found the same results for all traits, but we’ll look at flower color as an example.
When Mendel bred purple-flowered peas (BB) with white-flowered peas (bb), every plant in the the next generation had only purple flowers (Bb).
When these purple-flowered plants (Bb) were bred with one-another to create a second-generation of plants, some white flowered plants appeared again (bb).
Mendel realized that his purple-flowered plants still held instructions for making white flowers somewhere inside them.
He also found that the number of purple to white was predictable.
75 percent of the second-generation of plants had purple flowers, while 25 percent had white flowers. He called the purple trait dominant and the white trait recessive.
A Punnett Square. Both of the starting plants have purple flowers but they contain the genes for purple (B) and white (b). The pollen from the male plant fertilizes the egg in the female flower. In this variety of plant, purple flowers are caused by a dominant gene (B). Dominance is indicated by a capital letter. White flowers are caused by recessive genes, indicated by the small letter (b). Both the male and female parent plants in the diagram above carry the dominant gene B for purple and the recessive gene b for white flowers. The ratio of purple flowers to white flowers in their offspring will be 3:1 as shown in this diagram. For a white flower to appear, the offspring must inherit the recessive gene from both parents. Purple appears with any other combination of genes inherited from the parent plants. Image by Madeleine Price Ball

Mendel’s Conclusions

Mendel’s most important conclusions were:
• The inheritance of each trait is determined by something (which we now call genes) passed from parent to offspring unchanged. In other words, genes from parents do not ‘blend’ in the offspring.
• For each trait, an organism inherits one gene from each parent.
• Although a trait may not appear in an individual, the gene that can cause the trait is still there, so the trait can appear again in a future generation.
Scientists who did research later found that Mendel’s results do not only apply to pea plants. Trait inheritance in most plants and animals, including humans, follows the patterns Mendel recorded.
In Mendel’s honor, these very common patterns of heredity are now called Mendelian Inheritance.

Fast Forward to 1900: The Sleeping Giant Awakes

In 1900, three scientists independently carrying out heredity research got exciting results.
However, when they searched the literature, they realized their results were not really new. Their results actually verified the forgotten results Mendel had published 34 years earlier.
Mendel’s results gave the scientists of 1900 greater confidence in their own results and the new science of genetics was truly born.
The scientists were Carl Correns, Hugo de Vries, and Erich von Tschermak.

Mendel’s Results Were “Too Good”

Mendel’s published work was rather vague about detailed experimental procedures, including dates.
Enter Ronald Fisher, a very eminent geneticist and statistician. It was Fisher who first used the term ‘null hypothesis’ in statistical testing.
In 1936, Fisher tried to reconstruct on paper the way Mendel carried out his experiments.
He also wanted to discover why Mendel’s work had been overlooked for so long until it was rediscovered in 1900.
He found that, although some people in a position to see the importance of Mendel’s work had actually read it, they did not realize its importance. Their minds were unreceptive to Mendel’s words and ideas. They may have believed he was repeating plant hybridization work others had already carried out.
Controversially, Fisher said that his statistical analysis of Mendel’s results showed too few random errors to have come from real experiments. Nearly all of Mendel’s data showed an unnatural bias.
Fisher’s analysis said there was only a 1 in 2000 chance that Mendel’s results were the fully reported results of real experiments.
The controversy begun by Fisher continues to this day, with a steady stream of publications seeking to give reasons for Mendel’s results. One possibility is that results from ‘bad’ experiments were discarded to leave only the results of ‘good’ experiments. Another is that the results arose from an unconscious bias on the part of the experimenters.

The End

Gregor Mendel was unaware of the new science of genetics which he had founded, and unaware of any future controversies. He died of a kidney disease, aged 61, on January 6, 18

Who is Guglielmo Marconi: Biography

The Italian inventor and physicist, Guglielmo Marconi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun for their development of practical wireless telegraphy. He once said:
“Thanks to the high standing which science has for so long attain and to the impartiality of the Nobel Prize Committee, the Nobel Prize for Physics is rightly considered everywhere as the highest reward within the reach of workers in Natural Philosophy.”
His development of a radio telegraph system led to the esbalishment of many associated companies all over the world.

Early Life:

Guglielmo Marconi was born in Bologna, Italy, on April 25, 18He was the second son of Giuseppe Marconi, a wealthy Italian landowner, and his Irish wife, Annie Jameson. He received his education privately at Bologna, Florence and Leghorn. As a young boy he was fascinated with physical and electrical science and studied the earlier mathematical work of James Clerk Maxwell, the experiments of Heinrich Hertz and research on lightning and electricity conducted by Sir Oliver Lodge.

Contributions and Achievements:

Marconi was convinced that communication among people was possible via wireless radio signaling. He started conducting experiment in 1895 at his father’s home in Pontecchio, where he was soon able to send signals over one and a half miles. During this period, he also carried out simple experiments with reflectors around the aerial to concentrate the radiated electrical energy into a beam instead of spreading it in all directions.
In 1896 Marconi traveled to England in order to get a patent for his apparatus. Later that year he was granted the world’s first patent for a system of wireless telegraphy. After successfully demonstrating the system’s ability to transmit radio signals in London, on Salisbury Plain and across the Bristol Channel, he established the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company Limited in July 18This company was re-named as Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company Limited in 1990.
In 1899 he established a wireless link between Britain and France across the English Channel. Further he established permanent wireless stations at The Needles, Isle of Wight, Bournemouth, and later at the Haven Hotel in Poole, Dorset. The following year he received his patent for “tuned or systonic telegraphy.”
During December 1901 Marconi proved that wireless signals were unaffected by the curvature of the earth. He transmitted the first wireless signals across the Atlantic between Poldhu, Cornwall and St, Johns, New Foundland, a distance of 2100 miles.
The next year he demonstrated “daylight effect” relative to wireless communication and also he patented his magnetic detector, which was the standard wireless receiver for many years. In December he successfully transmitted the first complete message to Poldhu from stations at Glace Bay, Nova Scotia and Cape Cod Massachusetts.
In 1905 and 1912 Marconi patented his horizontal directional aerial and patented a “timed spark” system for generating continuous waves respectively.

Later Life:

In 1914, he took the position of a Lieutenant in the Italian Army. Later he was promoted to Captain and in 1916 was appointed as a Commander in the Navy, receiving his Italian Military Medal in 1919 for his war service. He also used his systems for the workings of the military. During this time he continued with his experiments, establishing the world’s first microwave radiotelephone link in 1932, and later introducing the microwave beacon for ship navigation.
Marconi died in Rome on 20 July 1937 following a series of heart attacks.

Who is Gustav Kirchoff: Biography

There are a lot of great names in the world of science and one of the most notable ones is Gustav Robert Kirchoff. This German physicist has made massive contributions to the fundamental understanding of black-body radiation emitted by heated objects, spectroscopy, and electrical circuits. He also worked with other famous names in science and came up with other profound breakthroughs and theories. Indeed, he is a man who made great leaps and bounds in the world of physics and chemistry and there are things worth finding out about this scientist.

His Early Life

Gustav Kirchoff was born in Konigsberg, East Prussia where his father, Friedrich Kirchoff, worked as a law councilor. Friedrich Kirchoff had a very strong sense of duty to the state of Prussia and Johanna Henriette Wittke was his wife. The Kirchoff family belonged to an intellectual community of Konigsberg that was flourishing and being the most promising of his parents’ children, Gustav was raised with the mindset that serving the state was really the only open course for him. In the state of Prussia, University staff and professors were considered civil servants and so his parents believed that it was the best place for him since it was where he could put his brains to work to serve his state.
Gustav Kirchoff excelled in school and given his academic aptitude, his career flowed naturally. He went to school in Konigsberg at the Albertus University of Konigsberg. It was founded by the first duke of Prussia, Albert back in 15Jacobi and Franz Neumann set up a mathematics-physics seminar as a joint project in Konigsberg. In this seminar, Jacobi and Neumann used to teach their students different research methods. The seminar started in 1833 and Kirchoff attended it from 1843 to 18It was very unfortunate that Jacobi fell ill during the year 1843 and so it turned out to be Neumann who had had the bigger influence on Kirchoff.
At that time, Neumann was interested in mathematical physics most of all and it was at the same time that Kirchhoff began his studies at Konigsberg. Neumann was then working on electrical inductions. Neumann had, in fact, just submitted the first of two major papers he wrote on the subject of electrical induction. This happened in the year 1845 while Kirchoff was his student. At the University of Konigsberg, Kirchoff was taught by Friedrich Jules Richelot.

His Work

During the time he was studying under Neumann, he made the first of many outstanding research contributions that were related to electrical current. In 1845, he announced Kirchoff’s laws and they allowed the calculation of currents, voltages and resistances in electrical circuits that had multiple loops. This further extended German mathematician Georg Ohm’s work.
A couple of years later, Gustav Kirchoff’s work would lead to recognize this error and prod him to come up with a better and keener understanding of how the theory of electrostatics and electric currents could be and should be combined.
He graduated from university in the year 1847 and made the move to Berlin. The conditions were rather poor in the German Confederation at that time and it proved to be a difficult time. Emotions and tensions from the citizens were running high and trouble always seemed to be around the corner. Crop failures and high rates of unemployment also led to disturbances and discontent within the people. Trouble was also sparked when news came out that Louis-Philippe had been overthrown by an 1848 uprising in Paris. Not only was there revolution in several German states but people also took up arms in Berlin. The monarchy was in trouble with the socialists and the republicans. Fortunately, Kirchoff was in a privileged position and was unaffected by the events of the state so he pressed on with his chosen career. Bunsen moved to take a teaching spot in Breslau and this was where he met Robert Bunsen who also became his lifelong friend. Bunsen moved to teach at the University of Heidelberg in 1852 and he made it a point to make arrangements for Kirchoff to move to Heidelberg to teach as well.
Aside from working with electricity and currents, he also made major discoveries in the field of chemistry. In the year 1869, Gustav Kirchoff and Robert Bunsen (developer of the Bunsen burner with help from his assistant) discovered cesium and rubidium. With the use of a spectroscope they had invented together, they managed to spot these two alkali metals that the world had no previous knowledge of. Their discoveries marked the beginning of a new era, that is, they introduced a new way to look for new elements. They found that the first 50 elements found – not counting the ones known since ancient eras – were released by electrolysis or products of chemical reactions.

Personal and Later Life

Gustav Kirchoff got married to one Clara Richelot who was the daughter of Friedrich Jules Richelot, his mathematics professor in Konigsberg. Together, he and Clara had two daughters and three sons but Clara died in 1869 and he was left to raise his children. This was made all the more challenging since he had a disability that forced him to use crutches or a wheelchair most of the time. In 1872, he got married to Luise Brommel who hailed from Heidelberg.
He had numerous offers from other universities but he was quite happy and contented with Heidelberg so he turned down all offers. However, his health continued to fail him and he realized that the experimental side of the subject that he so loved was becoming impossible for him to accomplish. In 1875, he made the move to Berlin where he became chair of mathematical physics. The spot allowed him to teach and do research without having to carry out any experiments. After he took the position in Berlin, he came out with his best known treatise which is the Vorlesungen über mathematische Physik.
He died in 1887 and his final resting place could now be found in St. Matthaus Kirchoff Cemetary in Berlin. His grave is just a few meters away from those of the Brothers Grimm.

Who is Gustav Ludwig Hertz: Biography

There are many important and notable names in the world of physics that have done a lot to improve the way people view and understand the world. There are times when they make contributions so significant that they get the highly sought after Nobel Prize. One man who belongs to the field of physics who also nabbed a Nobel Prize is the experimental physicist Gustav Ludwig Hertz from Germany. His uncle was Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, another famous German physicist.

Early Life

Gustav Ludwig Hertz’s father was a lawyer named Gustav Theodor Hertz and his mother was Auguste Arning. Gustav Hertz attended university from 1906 to 1907 at the Georg-August University of Gottingen. From 1907 to 1908, he was at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Then he continued his studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin from 1908-It was in 1911 that he finally obtained his PhD under Heinrich Leopold Rubens.
From the year he got his doctorate until 1914, Gustav Hertz worked as Rubens’ assistant at the University of Berlin. It was during this stint that Gustav Hertz got to know James Franck and they got together to perform various studies and experiments on inelastic electron collisions that happened in gases. Their activities were named “Franck-Hertz experiments.” These experiments garnered the 1925 Physics Nobel Prize.
However, he had to take a break from his studies and experiments because he was serving in the military in 1914 during World War I. In 1915, Gustav Hertz went down with a serious wound injury from the war. He got discharged from the military in 1917 so he went back to the University of Berlin to become a Privatdozent. He got a job in Eindhoven in 1920 at the Philips Incandescent Lamp factory. His position was that of a research physicist and he held the job for a good 5 years.


In 1925, Gustav Hertz left his research physicist post in Philips Incandescent Lamp factory for a position at Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg as Director of the Physics Institute and professor ordinarius. Two years after, he moved on to become an experimental physics professor ordinarius and Director of the Physics Institute of the BTH (Berlin Technische Hochschule) which was in Berlin-Charlottenberg. It was during this time at BTH that he managed to come up with a technique to separate isotopes through gaseous diffusion. It was a good time for him at BTH but it didn’t last and it as well because of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service.
The fact that Hertz was a military officer back in World War I gave him some level of protection against National Socialist policies but as they became stricter, the laws caught up anyway. In 1934, he had to leave BTH since he fell under the classification as part-Jewish because his grandfather (paternal side) was raised in a Jewish home before his family converted to Lutheranism.
After he was forced to quit his job at BTH, he was the Research Laboratory II director at Siemens. While he held this job at Siemens, he also continued his work with ultrasound and atomic physics though he did stop his work and research on separating isotopes. He worked at Siemens until he left in 1946 USSR.

Soviet Union Years

Hertz, just like fellow Nobel Prize winner Franck, was worried over his safety in Germany and wanted to get out of Germany. It didn’t really matter where they moved as long as it was out of Germany. Hertz, Franck and colleagues of theirs then had an agreement. The agreement was that whoever got to speak to the Russians first would have to speak for the people in their party and state the following:
• To prevent the plunder of their places of work and institutes.
• To be allowed to continue their scientific works without or with very minimal interruption.
• To be given protection from criminal acts in their past.
The other members of their group were Manfred von Ardenne, Max Volmer, and Peter Adolf Thiessen. It was Thiessen who had communist contact although he was a member of the Nazi party. On April 1945, Thiessen and a Soviet Major arrived at the Institute where Von Ardenne worked and took away the other pact members to bring them to the Soviet Union. The pact members, along with other German scientists and researchers, were made to work and conduct research in different laboratories.
In 1949, Hertz worked with six other German scientists on a project called Sverdlosk- It was all about the study of uranium enrichment. They had to move to a plant where the workers were getting only about 45% enrichment when they expected around 90% or even more.
By 1950, he moved to Moscow and in 1951, he was given the Stalin Prize 2nd class alongside another German scientist. In the same year, Gustav Hertz and James Franck were given the Max Planck Medal. Gustav Hertz stayed until 1955 in the USSR but eventually went back to Germany where he got a job again at the University of Leipzig as professor ordinarius.

Scientific Memberships

Being the brilliant man that he was, it was a given that Gustav Ludwig Hertz would gain membership in several scientific societies. For one, he was a German Academy of Sciences member. This organization was in Berlin. He was also a Hungarian Academy of Sciences honorary member. While he was in the Soviet Union, he became a USSR Academy of Sciences foreign member.

Personal Life

Hertz was married to Ellen nee Dihlmann. She died in 19Their marriage produced 2 sons whom they named Johannes Heinrich Hertz and Carl Helmut Hertz. Carl became a Nazi Soldier during World War II but was captured by US troops and brought stateside. Luckily, his father had a Nobel Laureate friend who arranged for his release. Carl Hertz later moved to Sweden where he studied physics and came up with medical ultrasonography. In fact, both of Gustav Ludwig Hertz’s sons became physicists.

Who is Hans Bethe: Biography

Hans Bethe was a German-born American theoretical physicist who is credited as one of the founders of quantum physics. His scientific research helped understand the atomic processes responsible for the properties of matter and of the forces regulating the structures of atomic nuclei. He played a substantial role in the development of the first atomic bomb during World War II, and later, in the early 1950s, the larger hydrogen bomb.

Early Life and Education:

Born in Strasbourg, Germany in 1906, Hans Bethe was a child prodigy in mathematics. He acquired a degree in physics from JWG University, Frankfurt, and earned his doctorate from the University of Munich. Later, he also worked in Cambridge, England and Enrico Fermi’s laboratory in Rome, Italy.
In 1939, Hans Bethe married Rose Ewald, the daughter of his university professor Paul Peter Ewald.

Contributions and Achievements:

Hans Bethe accepted J. Robert Oppenheimer’s invitation to become a part of the Manhattan Project, performing as director of the theoretical physics division. His wife had, however, strict reservations about Bethe’s job. His role was to define how the atomic bomb would function and what effects it would produce. Utilizing his vast knowledge of nuclear physics, electromagnetic theory and shock waves, Bethe collaborated with Richard Feynman to work out a formula to calculate the efficiency of a nuclear weapon. He also made decivise contributions to the feasibility and design of the uranium and the plutonium atomic bombs.
Later, Bethe worked extensively on the investigation of the feasibility of producing fusion bombs and helped design the hydrogen bomb in the early 1950s. After the war, he preached and actively campaigned for disarmament. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1967 for his research regarding the production of energy in stars.

Later Life and Death:

Hans Bethe became a prominent political activist in his later life, while he was still actively involved in his scientific researches.
Bethe died of congestive heart failure on March 6, 20He was 98 years old.

Who is Hans Christian Oersted: Biography

Hans Christian Oersted was a Danish physicist and chemist who revolutionized the arena of electromagnetism by discovering that the electric currents can produce magnetic fields. His 1820 discovery of piperine, the pungent component that causes the hotness of pepper, and his 1825 formulation of metallic aluminum, are considered significant contributions in the history of chemistry.

Early Life and Education:

Born in Rudkøbing to a chemist father, Hans Oersted, surrounded by scientific apparatus, showed an early interest in science. After attending the University of Copenhagen, he traveled throught Europe to meet some of the leading scientists of the world. Oersted received his doctorate in 1799.

Contributions and Achievements:

Oersted learnt a lot during the tours and, in 1806, he took a job at his old university. He also gave lectures which were quite popular among the public. During one such lecture in April 1820, Oersted carried out an experiment that was never performed before. He placed a compass underneath a wire and then turned on electric current. The needle of the magnetized compass showed movement.
Oersted recognized the significance of what he had just done. Earlier, it was believed that electricity and magnetism were two different forces. Oersted had demonstrated that they were interconnected. Some scientists, influenced by this experiment, continued with the modern field of “electromagnetism”. Their research resulted in several new scientific theories and various vital inventions like the dynamo and the electric motor.
Oersted was made a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1822.

Later Life and Death:

In 1829, Hans Christian Oersted established “Den Polytekniske Læreanstalt” (English: College of Advanced Technology), which is now known as the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).
Oersted died at Copenhagen, Denmark in 18He was 73 years old. He was buried in the Assistens Cemetery.

Who is Hans Selye: Biography

Hans Hugo Bruno Selye, more commonly known as Hans Selye, was one of the most influential endocrinologists who is known for his research he effects of stress on the human body.

Early Life and Education:

Born in Vienna in 1907, Hans Selye attended the German University of Prague as well as the universities of Paris and Rome.

Contributions and Achievements:

In his second year of medical school, Selye started to work on his theory of the influence of stress on a person’s capacity to handle the pressures of injury and disease. He found out that patients with an assortment of ailments demonstrated lots of similar symptoms, which he associated with their effort to cope up with the stress of being ill.
Selye termed this collection of symptoms as the “general adaptation syndrome”. He earned worldwide acclaim for his extraordinary contributions and he was named “the Einstein of medicine”.
Selye defined “stress” in 1936 in his first scientific paper. He wrote over 1700 scholarly papers and 39 books about stress. His work has been mentioned in millions of publications in nearly all major languages of the world. Selye’s two major books The Stress of Life (1956) and Stress Without Distress (1974) were best-sellers and sold in millions of copies worldwide.
As a physician and endocrinologist, he had three earned doctorates and 43 honorary doctorates.

Later Life and Death:

Hans Selye also worked as a professor and director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery at the Université de Montréal. During his stay, he showcased the role of emotional responses in creating or fighting much of the wear and tear felt by human beings in their lifespan.
Selye died in 1982 in Montreal, where he had spent much of life researching the subjects related to stress.

Who is Harriet Quimby: Biography

Harriet Quimby is classified among the most famous American female aviators. Her career as a pilot did not last long but was undeniably heroic. She was the first American lady to become a licensed pilot and the first woman to fly across the English Channel. She was also a movie screenwriter. Even though she died very young, Harriet played a key influence upon the role of women in aviation.

Life and Career:

Harriet was born in Arcadia, Michigan on May 1, 18It is said that her parents, William and Ursula were wealthy and educated her in America. Her only sibling was her older sister Kittie, while there were others before them who died due to various diseases. During the early 1900s, Harriet and her family moved to San Francisco, California and there in 1902, she took a job as a writer for the Dramatic Review. The following year she moved to New York City where she began writing for Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly and more than 250 of her articles were published over a span of nine years. Her articles ranged in scope from household tips (“Home and the Household”) to advice for women on ways to find employment, budget their income, live prudently on a modest income in a safe apartment and ways to repair their automobiles themselves.
Harriet had always dreamed of becoming a journalist, but her plans changed after she attended the Belmont Park International Aviation Tournament on Long Island, New York in 19There she met Matilde Moisant and her brother John (a well-known American aviator and operator of a flight school at Mineola), who was mainly responsible for developing her interest in aviation.
Along with her friend Matilde, Harriet learned to fly at a school in Hempstead, New York, becoming the first U.S. woman to earn a pilot’s certificate. Matilde soon followed and became the nation’s second certified female pilot. Soon after Harriet received her pilot license, she joined the Moisant International Aviators, an exhibition team. With the Moisant group she traveled to Mexico and became the first woman to fly over Mexico City.
In 1912 Harriet borrowed a 50-horsepower Bleriot monoplane from Louis Bleriot and began preparations for an English Channel flight. Her consultant, Gustav Hamel, unsure of a woman’s ability to make such a flight, offered to dress in her purple flying suit and make the flight for her. She refused and on April 16, 1912 flew from Dover, England, to Hardelot, France (about 25 miles south of Calais). She made quite a name and returned successfully to U.S.


After three months, on July 1, 1912 Harriet made her last flight at the Harvard-Boston Aviation Meet where she met with a tragic accident. She was flying in the Bleriot with William Willard when suddenly the plane went into a nose dive. Willard was thrown from his seat after which the aircraft flipped over, throwing Harriet out too. Both Quimby and Willard fell and died at Dorchester Harbor. Ironically the aircraft landed with little damage.

Who is Hedy Lamarr: Biography

A lot of inventors are primarily known for their breakthroughs and contributions to the field of science. However, there is a beautiful Hedy Lamarr who is known mostly for being an elegant actress. She was one of the MGM stars during the “Golden Age” and she was a well-known face in those years. Apart from being a crowd darling, she helped invent spread-spectrum communication techniques as well as frequency hopping which is a necessary part of wireless communication back then before mainstream computers were famous. This technology is still used today, and it was the Austrian actress inventor who contributed to its pilot development.

Early Life

Hedy Lamarr was the screen name for which the actress was known by. She was born on the 9th of November in 1914 to parents Emil Kiesler and Gertrud or “Trude” Kesler in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. Her birth name was Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler. She was of Jewish descent since her mother was a Budapest native who originally came from the “Jewish haute bourgeoisie,” while her father who was born in Lemberg was a secular Jew.

Career—in Entertainment and Science

She was 17 when she first appeared in a film which was called Geld Auf Der Strase—a German project. Her career in entertainment made a strong presence in the Czechoslavakian and German productions during those days. The film called Extase from 1932 Germany brought Hedy to the attention of Hollywood producers. A few years later, she became an MGM contract star.
When she entered Hollywood, this was when she changed her name to Hedy Lamarr and her first film came out in 19It was called the Algiers. Lamarr had a successful career in entertainment and was known as “the most beautiful woman in films” back in those days. She even had an autobiography called “Ecstacy and Me” which discussed her private life as well as details about the film Extase which became notorious for sensual scenes.
Her first husband was Friedrich Mandl, the man who was reputed as the third richest in Austria at the time. He had objected to the distribution of Extase and said it was exploitation of the expression on Hedy’s face. In Lamarr’s autobiography, she had described her husband as an extremely controlling man who prevented her growth in her acting career. She also felt imprisoned in their castle-like home where parties were held and which notable people like Hitler and Mussolini attended. Also in her autobiography, she had stated that she devised a plan to escape the controlling marriage and said she disguised herself as her maid and then left for Paris where she subsequently blossomed as an actress.
George Anthiel, an avant-garde composer who happened to be Lamarr’s neighbor when she lived in California was the son of German immigrants. He had been experimenting with the automated controls of musical instruments especially for the music he made for the Ballet Mecanique. It was during the Second World War when Lamarr and Antheil discussed how radio-controlled torpedoes being used in the naval wars could be intercepted by broadcasting a particular interference at the signal’s frequency control which would ultimately get the torpedo off course.
Together with Anthiel, Lamarr developed the “Secret Communications System” which was designed to help counter the Nazis. They achieved this feat by manipulating the radio frequencies at irregular intervals during reception or transmission. Their invention formed a kind of unbreakable code which prevented classified information and message transmissions from being intercepted by those who aren’t their allies.
Lamarr earned her knowledge about torpedoes from Mandl and she used her knowledge from him to help develop this invention. With Anthiel who incorporated the use of a piano roll, they were successfully able to pull off frequency hopping. They used the 88 piano keys to randomly change the signals within the range of 88 frequencies.
It was in 1942 when the patent for the invention of Antheil and Hedy Kiesler Markey (her married name then) was granted. However, the early version of the frequency hopping technique they created was met with opposition by the United States navy and therefore was not adopted. Their idea was not used by the navy until 1962 when the military used it for a Cuban blockade after the patent had already expired.
In 1997, the invention was honored because the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave Lamarr credits—although belated, for her contributing work for the technology. Today, the work done by Lamarr and Anthiel is the basis for the modern spread-spectrum communication technology. It is the idea behind Bluetooth, Wi-Fi connections, and CDMA. Later in her life, Lamarr expressed her wanting to join the National Inventors Council. However, it was said by the NIC member Charles Kettering that she could help with the war efforts better if she would use her celebrity status for selling war bonds.

Later Years and Death

In April of 1953 Lamarr became a naturalized American citizen at the age of Her “Ecstasy in Me” autobiography had earned negative reviews especially after her account of having had sexual intercourse with a man inside a brothel she was hiding in when Mandl was searching for her after her escape. According to her, these accounts had been falsely made by the ghost writer Leo Guild.
Even in her older age come the 1970s, she had been offered scripts, commercials for television, and even stage projects. None of these offers, however, appealed to her and these years became her years of seclusion. In 1981 and with her failing eyesight, she chose to retreat to Miami Beach in Florida.
In January 2000, Lamarr died in Florida due heart problems, namely arteriosclerotic heart disease, chronic valvular heart disease, and heart failure. Because of her contributions especially to the world of entertainment, she was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Despite not being highly recognized for her contributions in the field of science since women were not treated as equally back then, her invention together with Anthiel had paved its way to modern times and continues to persevere to this day.

Who is Heike Kamerlingh Onnes: Biography

A Dutch physicist, Heike Kamerlingh Onnes was the pioneer of refrigeration techniques and the one who studied how materials behave when they are cooled to almost absolute zero temperature. He was also the the first person to liquefy helium, and because of his experiments concerning cryogenics as well as extremely low temperature, he was able to discove superconductivity. He also noted how the rate of electrical resistance can vanish at much lower temperatures for certain materials.

Early Life and Educational Background

Heike was born on the 21st of September in 1853 and was a native of Groningen in the Netherlands. Harm Kamerlingh Onnes, his father, owned brickworks near his birth town. Anna Gerdina Coers, his mother, was an architect’s daughter from Arnhem. His exposure to such fields may have piqued his interest when it came to making his very own discoveries later on in his life.
He was educated at the local Hoogere Burgerschool which was a native secondary school that did not have classical languages. After spending the required time for secondary school, he was able to get supplementary education on Latin and Greek from Leyden J.M. van Bemmelen who later became his Chemistry professor. After his supplementary education on classical languages, he went to the University of Groningen where he worked on obtaining the “candidaats” degree.
A year after studying at the University of Groningen, he proceeded to Heidelberg where he furthered his education from 1871 up to 18After his time there, he made his way back to Groningen and this was where he was able to pass his “doctoraal” exams in 18A year later, he was able to obtain his doctoral degree and he had his thesis called the New Proofs of the Rotation of the Earth which was originally entitled Nieuwebewijzenvoor de aswenteling der aarde.
In this doctoral work, he proved through theoretical and experimental means how the Foucault’s pendulum experiment must be seen as a kind of special, large group phenomena which, when simplified, can prove how the earth moved in a rotational manner. In 1881, Heike published Algemeenetheorie der vloeistoffen or the general theory of liquids which discussed the kinetic theory of matter in liquid state. Here, he approached his work using the Van der Waal law while also having a mechanistic back up to it.
His work on the general theory of liquids sparked his lifelong dedication to investigate more on how matter behaves when subjected to very low temperatures. He had his inaugural address known as the importance of quantitative research in physics where he said his now famous motto: “Knowledge through measurement” or “Door metentotweten.” Little did he realize this belief had materialized because of his appreciation of how important measurements were concerning his lifelong engagement in scientific experiments.

Scientific Career and Endeavors

It was in 1871 when his outstanding skills in solving scientific problems were made obvious at the young age of That year he received a gold medal for winning a competition which was held by the University of Utrecht’s Natural Sciences Faculty. The following year he received a silver medal from the University of Groningen.
While he was still working on his doctoral degree, he was an assistant at the Polytechnicum which was in Delft. He also became a lecturer in the area for a year from 18Because of this, he was appointed as the Professor of Experimental Physics and Meteorology after P.L. Rijke held the same post.
After he got appointed as the chair of Physics, he made changes to the Physical Laboratory which is now named after him and is called the Kamerlingh Onnes Laboratory. He made the necessary changes so that the place would be fitted to be the most suitable place for his own program. More particularly, the changes he made were aimed towards having his own cryogenic laboratory that would help him verify the idea Van der Waal had about corresponding states of matter in relation to the temperature they are being subjected to.
It took a while before his efforts to reach very low temperatures paid off. It was in 1908 when he was able to liquefy helium. He was able to bring its temperature down to only 0,9°K which was, back then, the nearest temperature to absolute zero. It was because of this achievement that he was able to justify the saying which claims that the coldest area on the planet was Leyden. It was because of this successful experimentation about low temperatures that he became a Nobel Laureate for Physics. Later on and in the same laboratory, W.J. de Haas and W.H. Keesom had experiments where they also aimed to reach the absolute zero mark.


Years later, his laboratory became the place where more important breakthroughs were made and this earned him worldwide recognition. Such studies included research about thermodynamics, radioactivity laws, as well as different observations on electrical, magnetic, and optical phenomena. The study of fluorescence and phosphorescence, along with the polarization plane’s magnetic rotation and how crystals absorbed spectra in the magnetic field, were also brought to light in his laboratory.
His more momentous discovery was superconductivity of certain pure metals like mercury. This discovery was made in 19In this experiment, other metals he used included tin and lead which were both subjected to extremely low temperatures.
The great results of experiments done by Heike were published in the Communications of the Physical Laboratory at Leyden. They were also published in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Amsterdam. Because of the significance of his work and the breakthroughs he was able to make, a lot of foreign men of science went to Leyden to have a chance at working in his laboratory.
Outside the laboratory, he was known as a family man who also extended a helping hand to those who needed it. He was married to Maria Adriana Wilhelmina Elisabeth Bijleveld. With his wife, he had one son named Albert who later on became a civil servant at The Hague.

Who is Heinrich Hertz: Biography

The great German physicist, Heinrich Hertz made possible the development of radio, television, and radar by proving that electricity can be transmitted in electromagnetic waves. He explained and expanded the electromagnetic theory of light that had been put forth by Maxwell. He was the first person who successfully demonstrated the presence of electromagnetic waves, by building an apparatus that produced and detected the VHF/UHF radio waves. His undertakings earned him the honor of having his surname assigned to the international unit of frequency (one cycle per second).

Early Life and Career:

Born on February 22, 1857 in Hamburg, Germany, Hertz came from a wealthy, educated and incredibly successful family. His father, Gustav Ferdinand Hertz, was a lawyer and later a senator. He developed interest for science and mathematics as a child while studying at the Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums of Hamburg. He studied sciences and engineering in the German cities of Dresden, Munich and Berlin under two eminent physicists, Gustav R. Kirchhoff and Hermann von Helmholtz.
Hertz earned his PhD from the University of Berlin in 1880 and worked as an assistant to Helmhotz. Though he devoted his thesis to the nature of electromagnetic induction in rotating conductors, his research as Helmholtz’s assistant focused on mechanical hardness and stress, a field in which he wrote a number of influential papers. In 1883, Hertz took up the chance to move up a step on the academic ladder. He moved to the University of Kiel as a Lecturer, where he continued his research on electromagnetism. From 1885 to 1889 he served as a professor of physics at the technical school in Karlsruhe and after 1889 held the same post at the University in Bonn.
During 1886, he married Elizabeth Doll, daughter of his colleague Dr. Max Doll. They had two daughters, Joanna and Mathilde.


When Hertz began conducting experiments at the University of Bonn, he was aware of the revolutionary work that was left behind by British scientist James Clerk Maxwell, who had produced a series of mathematical equations that predicted the existence of electromagnetic waves. This challenged experimentalists to produce and detect electromagnetic radiation using some form of electrical apparatus.
Hertz took up that challenge and in 1887 confirmed Maxwell’s theories about the existence of electromagnetic radiation. He proved that electricity can be transmitted in electromagnetic waves, which travel at the speed of light and possess many other properties of light.
While carrying out his experiment on electromagnetic waves, Hertz also accidentally discovered the photoelectric effect in which light falling on special surfaces can generate electricity.
Apart from the electromagnetic or electric waves (“Hertzian waves”), Hertz also showed that their velocity and length could be measured and that light and heat are electromagnetic waves.

Early Death:

During 1892, Hertz was diagnosed with first a head cold and then an allergy. Since then his health remained poor. He died of blood poisoning at the age of 36 in Bonn, Germany on January 1, 1894, and was buried in Ohlsdorf, Hamburg.

Who is Hendrik Antoon Lorentz: Biography

Hendrik Antoon Lorentz was a Dutch physicist and a joint Nobel Prize winner along with Pieter Zeeman known for his theory of electromagnetic radiation, which was validated by the findings of Zeeman. He was most famous for deriving the transformation equations which formed as the basis of Albert Einstein’s general and special theories of relativity.

Early Life and Education

Hendrik Lorentz was born to Gerrit Frederik Lorentz, a wealthy nursery owner and Geertruida van Ginke on July 18, 1853 at Arnhem in the Netherlands. At only 4 years old, he lost his mother. Five years after his mother’s death, his father married Luberta Hupkes.
During Hendrik Lorentz’s time, grade school held classes in the morning, afternoon, and evening. During evening classes, teaching was freer, more like the Dalton method. Hendrik attended Mr. Timmer’s Primary School until he was 13 years old.
Hendrik was considered a gifted pupil. At the age of 9, he was already able to master the use of the table of logarithms. In 1866, when the first high school was opened at Arnhem, Hendrik was placed in the 3rd form. He excelled in the science subjects and even in history and languages.
After completing the fifth 5th form plus spending a year studying the classics, he entered the University of Leyden in 1870 after passing the examinations that qualified him to proceed. There, he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. The following year, he got his degree in Physics. By the end of the next year he had become a doctoral candidate.


When he decided to return to Arnhem in 1872, Hendrik taught evening classes, teaching high school physics and mathematics. At the same time, he was working on his doctoral thesis, in which he refined James Clerk Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory. He presented his thesis about the theory of the reflection and refraction of light in 1875, the same year that he obtained his doctor’s degree at age 22.
Three years later, in 1878, he was already appointed the Chair of Theoretical Physics at Leyden University—a position newly created just for him. He was only 24 years old at that time. For the next 20 years, Hendrik devoted his time in quiet and almost isolated study. He kept himself updated with the latest publications in physics without actually establishing personal contacts with other physicists abroad. His first international contact didn’t happen until 18At that time, he was already married and a father to three children; two daughters and a son.
Though there were many invitations for him to chair overseas, Hendrik remained loyal to his Alma Mater. He held the position until his retirement in 1912.
After retiring, from 1912 onwards, Hendrik worked as Curator of Teyler’s Physical Cabinet at Haarlem. At the same time, he was also the Secretary of the “Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen” or the Dutch Society of Sciences. However, he retained an honorary position at Leyden University as Extraordinary Professor where he continued to deliver his famed Monday morning lectures until his death.

Scientific Works

Hendrik’s greatest science contribution for which he and his student, Pieter Zeeman received a Nobel Prize in 1902 was when he developed a mathematical theory of the electron which proposed that light waves were caused by the oscillations of an electric charge in the atom. His proposal came out at a time when the existence of electrons was yet to be proven.
Hendrik is also best known for his work on the FitzGerald-Lorentz contraction. In 1904, he introduced his transformations which basically described the increase of mass, the reduction of length, and the time dilation of a body that is moving at speeds closest to the velocity of light. This served as the fundamentals of Einstein’s special theory of atoms and theories of relativity. In 1953, Einstein wrote that Lorentz meant more to him than all the others he met on his life’s journey.
In the autumn of 1911, Lorentz was the appointed chairman of the first Solvay Conference that was held in Brussels. One of the critical highlights of the said conference was to take a look into the problems of having two approaches, classical physics and of quantum theory. Hendrik was said to have not been in total acceptance of the latter.

Personal Life

Hendrik was married to Aletta Catharina Kaiser, the daughter of Johann Wilhelm Kaiser who was a director of the Amsterdam’s Engraving School and a professor teaching Fine Arts. In 1982, he designed the first Dutch postage stamps.
Interestingly, Aletta is also the niece of Frederik Kaiser, Hendrik’s astronomy professor who had strongly influenced him to become a physicist.
Hendrik and Aletta had three children. It was believed that the eldest, Geertruida Luberta Lorentz, went on to become a physicist, just like her father.
Hendrik continued his work in physics until the end of his life. He died on February 4, 1928 after becoming seriously ill, in Haarlem, Holland. As described by Owen W. Richardson, a Nobel Laureate, Hendrik’s funeral took place at noon on February 10 in Haarlem. At exactly 12 noon, the state telegraph and telephone services of Holland were stalled for three minutes to pay tribute to “the greatest man Holland has ever produced.”
The funeral was attended by several of Hendrik’s colleagues and distinguished physicists from around the world and even by the President, Sir Ernest Rutherford, who represented the Royal Society.

Awards and Recognition

In addition to being a Nobel Prize recipient, Hendrik Lorentz received other great honors for his outstanding work. He was an LMS Honorary member in 1898, and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1905.He was the speaker at the International Congress in 1908, was awarded the Rumford Medal by the Royal Society in 1908 and the Copley Medal in 19He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1920.
Hendrik Lorentz, although not totally recognized for his botany work was actually the author of some plant taxa. He also co-wrote a couple of books with other botanists. The Lorentz crater in the moon was named after him.

Who is Henri Becquerel: Biography

Whenever we study or talk about radio activity, the name Henri Becquerel at once clicks to our minds. He was the discoverer of radioactivity, for which he also won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Early Life:

Antoine Henri Becquerel was born in Paris on December 15, 1852, a member of a distinguished family of scholars and scientists. His father, Alexander Edmond Becquerel, was a Professor of Applied Physics and had done research on solar radiation and on phosphorescence. He entered the Polytechnic in 1872 and ultimately became a professor in the same institute of the Applied Physics.

Contributions and Achievements:

The early research of Becquerel was almost entirely in optics. His first extensive investigations dealt with the rotation of plane-polarized light by magnetic fields. He next turned to infra-red spectra, making visual observations by means of the light released from certain phosphorescent crystals under infra-red illumination. He then studied the absorption of light in crystals. With these researches, Becquerel obtained his doctorate from the Faculty of Sciences of Paris in 1888 and election to the Academy of Sciences in 18Thus at the age of forty three, Becquerel was established in the rank and liability, his years of active research behind him and all that for which he is still now remembered.
Talking about the invention of radioactivity Becquerel decided to investigate whether there was any connection between X-rays and naturally occurring phosphorescence. The glow of X-ray emission put Becquerel in mind of the light in his study although he had not done much active research in the last few years. He had inherited from his father a supply of uranium salts, which phosphoresce when exposed to light. When the salts were placed near to a photographic plate covered with opaque paper, the plate was discovered to be fogged.
The phenomenon was found to be common to all the uranium salts studied and was concluded to be a property of the uranium atom. Finally Becquerel showed that the rays emitted by uranium caused gases to ionize and that they differed from X-rays in that they could be deflected by electric or magnetic fields. In this way his spontaneous discovery of radioactivity took place as like most physicists, he had a better understanding of the nature of matter that brought him closer to reaching this final philosophical goal.
Nowadays it is generally considered that Becquerel discovered radioactivity by chance, but it is truer to say that he was looking for an effect so similar to radioactivity that he must have discovered it sooner or later, and he was so great a scientist that he quickly realized the importance of his evidence. It is also known that Becquerel discovered one type of radioactivity beta particles which is due to high-speed electrons leaving the nucleus of the atom.
Becquerel also authored detailed studies of the physical properties of cobalt, nickel, and ozone, studied how crystals absorb light, and researched the polarization of light. He is the namesake of the Becquerel, the basic unit of radioactivity used in the international system of radiation units, referred to as “SI” units. From handling radioactive stones he developed serious and recurring burns on his skin, which may have been a contributing factor in history.
Besides being a Nobel Laureate, Becquerel was elected a member of the Academe des Sciences de France and succeeded Berthelot as Life Secretary of that body. He was a member also of the Accademia dei Lincei and of the Royal Academy of Berlin, amongst others. He was also made an Officer of the Legion of Honour. Becquerel published his findings in many papers, principally in the Annales de Physique et de Chimie and the Comptes Rendus de l’Academie des Sciences.


The famous scientist died in 1908 at Croissic in Britanny and is still remembered up till now among the outstanding Physicists.

Sources: Famous Scientists

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