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Biographies of Famous Scientists

Biographies of Famous Scientists, his life and achievements

Biographies of Famous Scientists:

  1. Who is Henry Bessemer: Biography
  2. Who is Henry Cavendish: Biography
  3. Who is Henry Ford: Biography
  4. Who is Henry Moseley: Biography
  5. Who is Hermann Rorschach: Biography
  6. Who is Hermann von Helmholtz: Biography
  7. Who is Homi Jehangir Bhabha: Biography
  8. Who is Humphry Davy: Biography
  9. Who is Abu Walid Mohammad Ibn Rushd: Biography
  10. Who is Inge Lehmann: Biography
  11. Who is Irene Joliot-Curie: Biography
  12. Who is Isaac Newton: Biography
  13. Who is Ivan Pavlov: Biography
  14. Who is Johannes Hans Daniel Jensen: Biography
  15. Who is Joseph John Thomson: Biography
  16. Who is J. Robert Oppenheimer: Biography
  17. Who is Josiah Willard Gibbs: Biography
  18. Who is Jacques Cousteau: Biography
  19. Who is Jagadish Chandra Bose: Biography

Who is Henry Bessemer: Biography

Sir Henry Bessemer was a prominent British engineer, inventor and entrepreneur. He developed the first cost-efficient process for the manufacture of steel in 1856, which later led to the invention of Bessemer converter.

Early Life and Education:

Born in Charlton, Hertfordshire on January 19, 1813, Henry Bessemer’s father, Anthony Bessemer, was an engineer and inventor, who was also appointed a member of the French Academy of Science, for making amendments to the optical microscope.
Bessemer was mostly self-taught who exhibited extraordinary inventive skills since childhood. He learnt mettalurgy at his father’s type foundry, helping in the production of gold chains.

Contributions and Achievements:

Henry Bessemer’s early invention of a group of six steam-powered machines for manufacturing bronze powder gained him wealth and fame. He also made other inventions in his early days, including an advanced sugarcane-crushing machine.
Bessemer is best known for devising a steel production process that inspired the Industrial Revolution. It was the first cost-efficient industrial process for the big-scale production of steel from molten pig iron by taking out impurities from pig iron using an air blast. Bessemer’s process still continues to inspire the production of modern steel.
The Royal Society of London elected Bessemer into fellowship in 18Two years later, in 1879, he was knighted. Throughout his career, he registered more than 110 patents.

Later Life and Death:

Henry Bessemer continued his research and made several inventions in the later years of his life. He died on March 15, 1898 in London. Bessemer was 85 years old.

Who is Henry Cavendish: Biography

A natural philosopher, the greatest experimental and theoretical English chemist and physicist of his age, Henry Cavendish (10 Oct. 1731 – 24 Feb. 1810) was distinguished for great accuracy and precision in researches into the composition of atmospheric air, the properties of different gases, the synthesis of water, the law governing electrical attraction and repulsion, and calculations of the density (and hence the weight) of the Earth.

Early Life:

Cavendish attended Cambridge University from 1749 to 1753, but left without a degree. He engrossed himself in scientific studies but did not bother to publish a number of his important discoveries as Cavendish was sociable only with his scientific friends. Even the only existing portrait of him was sketched secretly. He approached most of his investigations through quantitative measurements.

Contributions and Achievements:

He was the first to recognize hydrogen gas as a distinct substance for which he calculated their densities as well as the densities of several other gases. He showed that it produced dew, which appeared to be water, upon being burned. He also found it to be much less dense than air. Cavendish also investigated the products of fermentation, showing that the gas from the fermentation of sugar is indistinguishable from the “fixed air” characterized as a constituent of chalk and magnesia by Black ( in modern language, carbon dioxide). In his study of the methods of gas analysis Cavendish made one amazing observation.
He was glinting air with excess oxygen (to form oxides of nitrogen) over alkali until no more absorption took place and noted that a tiny amount of gas could not be further reduced, “so that if there is any part of the phlogisticated air of our atmosphere which differs from the rest, and cannot be reduced to nitrous acid, we may safely conclude that it is not more than 1/120 part of the whole.” As is now known, he had observed the noble gases of the atmosphere.
In addition to his achievements in chemistry, Cavendish is also known for the Cavendish experiment, the first to measure the force of gravity between masses in a laboratory and to produce an accurate value for Earth’s density. The apparatus he was working with was devised by the Rev. John Michell, though he had the most important parts reconstructed to his own designs, it depended on measuring the attraction exercised on a horizontal bar, suspended by a vertical wire and bearing a small lead ball at each end, by two large masses of lead. His work and constant observation led others to accurate values for the gravitational constant (G) and Earth’s mass.
Based on his results, one can calculate a value for G of 6.754 × 10?11N-m2/kg2, which compares favourably with the modern value of 6.67428 × 10?11N-m2/kg2.
Cavendish compared the electrical conductivities of equivalent solutions of electrolytes and expressed a version of Ohm’s law. He was not the first to profound an inverse-square law of electrostatic attraction, but Cavendish’s exhibition, based in part on mathematical reasoning, was the most effective. He founded the study of the properties of dielectrics and also distinguished clearly between quantity of electricity and what is now called potential.
Cavendish’s work and reputation have to be considered in two parts, the one relating to his published work, the other to the large amount he did not publish. During his lifetime he made notable discoveries in chemistry and physics mainly for which he is known the best and recognized.

Who is Henry Ford: Biography

Henry Ford was an American industrialist and inventor who formulated the assembly-line methods for automobile manufacturing, which led to faster production at lower costs. One of the most popular figures in history, Ford’s inspired the Industrial Revolution in the United States and worldwide.

Early Life and Education:

Born on a farm in Greenfield Township, Michigan, Henry Ford had two brothers and two sisters. His father gave him a pocket watch when he was fifteen. Even at such a young age, Ford reassembled it and gained the reputation of a watch repairman. When his mother died in 1876, he refused to take over the family farm. Ford became an apprentice machinist in 18He also worked for Westinghouse company as a steam engine repairman.

Contributions and Achievements:

Henry Ford built his first steam engine when he was only fifteen. He constructed his first internal combustion engine in 1893 and his first automobile in 18Ford changed the way automobiles were designed and built, bringing in the assembly-line factories for the mass production of vehicles that later led to lower prices, and therefore caused a storm in automobile ownership throughout the United States and abroad. He created his first gasoline-driven buggy or Quadricycle in 1893 which was entirely self-propelled.
Ford founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and was president of the company from 1906 to 19He resumed his post from 1943 to 19The gross sales of his company exceeded 250,000 in 19The total sales went over 450.000 19Ford became the vice president of the Society of Automotive Engineers when it was established in 19The institute was formed to systematize automotive parts in the United States.

Later Life and Death:

Henry Ford fell ill and went into retirement in 19He died of a cerebral hemorrhage two years later in 19Ford was buried in the Ford Cemetery in Detroit. He was 83 years old.

Who is Henry Moseley: Biography

Henry Moseley was an outstandingly skilled experimental physicist. In 1913 he used self-built equipment to prove that every element’s identity is uniquely determined by the number of protons it has. His discovery enabled him to predict confidently the existence of four new chemical elements, all of which were found.

Early Life and Education

Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley was born in the town of Weymouth, England, on November 23, 18
His parents were both from well-educated families. His father, who was also named Henry, was a professor of anatomy and physiology. His mother, Amabel, was the daughter of a barrister who had changed careers to become a mollusc biologist.
Henry Moseley was educated in private schools. His first school was Summer Fields School – an elementary school. There he won a scholarship for Eton College, which is probably Britain’s most prestigious high school.
Some time after arriving at Eton he decided the school’s physics lessons were too easy, so he worked on the subject independently. Aged 18, he won Eton’s physics and chemistry prizes.
Already a high achiever, he was admitted in 1906 to the University of Oxford’s Trinity College, where he studied physics. There he disappointed himself. He was suffering badly from hayfever when he sat his final exams. He got a second class honors degree in physics, not the ‘first’ he had hoped for and expected.

Ernest Rutherford’s Laboratory

In 1910 Moseley moved to the University of Manchester to join Ernest Rutherford’s research group.
Rutherford had become world famous two years earlier when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discoveries in radioactivity.
Although Moseley’s degree was ‘only a second,’ Rutherford took him on after hearing from professors at Oxford that he was a very promising physicist.
Their personalities were opposites. Rutherford was talkative and loud, while Moseley was rather reserved, using no more words than he found necessary.
(Rutherford seems to have been a very loud character, so loud that colleagues such as Geoffrey Fellows made jokes about it.)
At Manchester, Moseley taught physics and carried out research work. He soon learned that he did not enjoy the teaching side of his job.
After Moseley had been at Manchester for a year, Rutherford, very impressed with his work, offered him a research fellowship. Moseley accepted this happily – it allowed him to concentrate all his attention on research and drop his teaching work.

Henry Moseley’s Scientific Discoveries

The Atomic Battery

Working in Rutherford’s group, it was inevitable that Moseley would work with radioactive chemical elements.
After becoming familiar with the field, he went beyond experiments others had thought of and came up with his own particular twist.
In 1912 he attempted to use high positive voltages to pull beta particles (high energy electrons) back into their radioactive source. (This sounds like a fun sort of thing anyway, but Moseley hoped to use the results to shed light on one of the predictions of Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity: that mass increases with velocity.)
He tried to pull the beta particles back by insulating their radioactive source (radium) so that it would become increasingly positive as the beta particles carried negative charge away.
The positive charge on radium increases when it loses negative charges by beta-particle emission. If the radium can be very well insulated, it will develop an extremely high positive charge.
If the radium could reach an electric potential of one million volts, then even the most energetic beta particles would be pulled back into the source as they were emitted. Unfortunately, the high degree of perfection needed in insulating the radium could not be achieved, so one million volts could not be reached.
However, by generating voltages (about 150,000 volts) on a radioactive source, Moseley actually created the world’s first atomic battery – a beta cell. He called it a radium battery.
Today, atomic batteries are used where long battery life is crucial, such as in cardiac pacemakers and spacecraft.

The Periodic Table Explained at Last

Something’s Not Quite Right

In 1913 Moseley celebrated his 26th birthday. Dmitri Mendeleev’s periodic table was older; it had been around for 44 years. New chemical elements were still being discovered and added to it. Since Mendeleev’s time, elements in the periodic table had been arranged according to their atomic weights and their chemical properties.
There was, however, a basic flaw in the table: the position predicted by an element’s atomic weight did not always match the position predicted by its chemical properties. In these cases elements were positioned in the periodic table according to their properties, rather than their atomic weight.
Was it possible that elements could have a more fundamental property than atomic weight?

Antonius van den Broek’s Hypothesis

In 1911 Antonius van den Broek had published his hypothesis that atomic number – which at this time was simply the position of an element in the periodic table – might actually be equal to the amount of charge in the atom’s nucleus. There was, however, no experimental evidence to prove this hypothesis.
Enter Henry Moseley!

Shooting Electrons at the Elements

Moseley had learned from William and Lawrence Bragg that when high-energy electrons hit solids such as metals, the solids emit X-rays.
This intrigued Moseley, who wondered if he could study these X-rays to learn more about what goes on inside atoms; he had van den Broek’s hypothesis in mind specifically.
He moved back to Oxford in 19Rutherford had offered him a new fellowship at Manchester on better terms, but Moseley decided the best path for his career would be to get experience in several different laboratories. There was no fellowship open at Oxford, but Moseley believed one was coming up. He was given laboratory space, but had to self-fund his work.
In a very small amount of time he personally put together experimental apparatus to shoot high-energy electrons at different chemical elements and measure the wavelength and frequencies of the resulting X-rays.
Moseley got a straight line when he plotted the square roots of elements’ X-ray frequencies against elements’ atomic numbers.
He discovered that each element emits X-rays at a unique frequency. He also found he could get a straight line graph by plotting the square-root of X-ray frequency against elements’ atomic numbers.
Startlingly, Moseley realized that his work had confirmed van den Broek’s hypothesis.
His data made most sense if the positive charge in the atomic nucleus increased by exactly one unit as you look from one element to the next in the periodic table. In other words, he discovered that an element’s atomic number is identical to how many protons it has.

Chemical Elements = Proton Numbers

This was enormously important. It meant that Moseley had discovered that the basic difference between elements is the number of protons they have. He realized that an element is defined by its number of protons. If an element has one proton it must be hydrogen; two protons must be helium, three protons must be lithium, etc, etc. Although this may seem obvious to us today, it was a huge discovery in 1913.
Adding a proton produces a new element. Hydrogen has one proton, so its atomic number is one. Add a proton and you get helium with atomic number two. Add another proton and you get lithium with atomic number three, etc.
When Moseley arranged the elements in the periodic table by their number of protons rather than their atomic weights, the flaws in the periodic table that had been making scientists uncomfortable for decades simply disappeared.

Four New Chemical Elements

Furthermore, just like Mendeleev had done 44 years earlier, Moseley saw gaps in his new periodic table. He predicted the existence of four new elements, with 43, 61, 72, and 75 protons. These elements were discovered later by other scientists; we now call them technetium, promethium, hafnium and rhenium.

New Method of Identifying Elements

As if his explanation of the periodic table were not enough, Moseley had also discovered a new non-destructive method to find out which elements are present in any sample: you bombard the sample with high-energy electrons and look at the frequencies of the resulting X-rays. These X-rays are as good as a fingerprint for any elements present in the sample.
At the time, this was a particularly welcome technique for rare-earth chemists, who had found their work becoming almost nightmarish. The rare-earth metals behave so similarly that to analyze a sample containing these elements could take years of work. Moseley could now do it in minutes!
X-ray spectroscopy is now used in laboratories all over the world. It is also used to study other worlds, such as Mars.
Henry Moseley invented X-Ray spectrum analysis in 19In the image above, his method has been used by the Mars Pathfinder lander to discover the elements present in Martian soil. (Fractions relative to silicon.) Image courtesy NASA.

The End

In 1914 Rutherford and Bragg recommended to the University of Oxford that Moseley should be appointed to a chair of physics that was becoming vacant there.
Moseley, however, had other ideas.
When World War 1 began in 1914 he enlisted as a volunteer in the British Army’s Royal Engineers. His family pleaded with him to continue his scientific research, and the army was reluctant to accept him. Moseley had to fight hard to get into the army.
Second Lieutenant Henry Moseley was killed in battle at the age of 27 in Gallipoli, Turkey on August 10, 19His grave is located on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula.
As a result of Moseley’s death, and after much lobbying by Ernest Rutherford, the British Government placed a ban on other scientists of repute serving in front-line roles.
In 1916 no Nobel Prizes were awarded in physics or chemistry. There is a strong scientific consensus that Henry Moseley, had he been alive, would have received one of these awards.

Who is Hermann Rorschach: Biography

Hermann Rorschach is a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who developed what we now know as the Rorschach inkblot test. The Rorschach inkblot test is a personality projection test where individuals are shown one of ten inkblots at a time while taking note of what they think and see in each of the images.

Early Life, Education and Career

Hermann Rorschach was born on November 8, 1884 in Zurich, Switzerland. He was the eldest of three children. He was only 12 years old when his mother died in 18Seven years after that, his father also died. He was a local art teacher and was very keen on encouraging his son to use his creativity to express himself effectively. In fact, H.F. Ellenberger, a medical historian and psychiatrist, described Rorschach’s childhood as very artistic and intellectual.
Rorschach spent his youth in a place in Northern Switzerland called Schaffhausen and immediately showed a fascination for inkblots when he was in high school. In fact, a Swiss childhood game called Klecksography that involved making pictures out of random inkblots proved to be Rorschach’s favorite, that his friends started calling him “Klecks”.
Before graduating in high school, Rorschach was torn between aiming for a career in science and a career in art. He even wrote to Ernst Haeckel, the famous German Biologist, to ask for his advice. Of course, Haeckel responded that Rorschach would be better off in pursuing a career in science.
Rorschach attended Academie de Neuchatel in 1904 and studied geology and botany. After just a single term, he transferred to Universite de Dijon to take French classes.
In 1904, he finally went to the University of Berne to attend medical school. He specialized in psychology and travelled throughout Zurich, Berlin and Nuremberg to complete his studies. He finally graduated in 1909 at the University of Zurich.
He married his Russian classmate from medical school, Olga Stempelin, in 19He was working in a mental institution in Switzerland at that time. In 1913, he decided to leave his job and left for Russia with his wife. After just a year in Russia, he decided to go back to Switzerland where he worked at the Walden Psychiatric University as one of the residents. His wife was temporarily detained in Russia but was able to travel back to Switzerland eventually. They had a daughter named Elizabeth who was born in 1917 and a son named Wadin who was born in 1919.
In 1915, he became the associate director for the Herisau Asylum.

The Rorschach Inkblot Test

While he was still studying, Rorschach had started wondering why different people reacted differently to certain stimuli. This was also the period when there was a lot of excitement on the continuous development of psychoanalysis. He was instantly reminded about the inkblots that he had played with as a child and was curious to find out why different people interpreted the same inkblots differently.
The psychiatrist Szyman Hens had already been using inkblots to study the fantasies that his patients had. Rorschach took a great interest in this concept when he found out about it. He also took into consideration the methods of his acquaintance, Carl Jung. Jung was tapping into random people’s unconscious minds by using a series of word association tests.
There were other speculations on other influences that Rorschach may have had on his the concepts he applied in his inkblot tests as well. There was a popular book of poems that was published by a German doctor named Justinus Kerner in 1857 that was said to have gotten its inspiration from an inkblot. Alfred Binet, a French psychologist, had also previously used inkblots for a creativity test.
Because Rorschach was interested in both art and psychoanalysis, he suddenly realized that the two could actually be combined. He started showing random inkblots to people just to see what their responses would be. He then created the Rorschach Inkblot test to study and analyze how patients would react and what associations they would form from random stimuli.
To test the system, he tried it on 300 patients with 100 of them as control subjects. The test involved showing each patient a series of 10 inkblot cards, half of them in black and white and the other half with colors. Each patient is then asked what they associate each inkblot with as Rorschach took notes of each patient’s answer. Once done with all the inkblots, these were shown to each patient again as they are asked to explain the answers that they gave previously. The answers were evaluated based on location, content, quality and conventionality. From the data he gathered, he was able to draw conclusions about the social behavior of each patient.
In 1921, he published the book Psychodiagnostik. This was one of the bases for his continuously developing inkblot test.

His Death and Further Developments

Hermann Rorschach died suddenly on April 2, 1922 of peritonitis in Herisau, Switzerland at the young age of It is believed that this was the result of a ruptured appendix. He left behind his wife and two kids and was still holding the position of Associate Director at the Herisau Asylum during his death.
Despite his early death, the impact that his inkblot test had created remained. The German psychologist Bruno Klopfer saw the importance of the studies that Rorschach started and picked up where he left off. He started to make improvements on the test’s scoring system. He also became an advocate of the importance of projective personality tests, eventually causing them to be a popular psychological and psychiatric tool.
By the 1960s, Rorschach’s inkblot test became the most widely used projective personality test in the United States. In fact, it was ranked eighth in a long list of tests used all over the US for outpatient mental health care.
Rorschach’s inkblot test still faces a lot of controversy and criticism to this day. Despite this fact, it is still one of the primary tests used in hospitals, schools, jails and courtrooms and is used to decide on parental custody rights, assess the emotional issues of children, and determine if a prisoner is eligible for parole or not.

Who is Hermann von Helmholtz: Biography

Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand Helmholtz, more commonly known as Hermann von Helmholtz, was a German physicist, physician and philosopher who made many groundbreaking contributions to physiology, electrodynamics, optics, meteorology and mathematics. He is highly regarded for his statement of the law of the conservation of energy, as well as his theories of vision.

Early Life and Education:

Born at Potsdam, Prussia, Hermann von Helmholtz’s father was a gymnasium headmaster who had also studied philosophy and philology. Helmholtz acquired his degree in medicine from Berlin in 1842, as per his father’s wishes. He served as a surgeon in the military until 1847.

Contributions and Achievements:

Hermann von Helmholtz published his famous physics treatise on the “Conservation of Energy”, in which he traces incidentally the history of the idea as formulated by Mayer, Joule and himself. In 1850, he was appointed as the Professor of Physiology and General Pathology at Koenigsberg. He invented the ophthalmoscope one year later in 1851.
He accepted another teaching position at Bonn in 1885, while he took the chair of Physiology at Heidelberg in 18Helmholtz’s finding regarding human sight earned his fame and he also investigated the mechanical causes of vocal sounds.
His contributions to electricity and magnetism brought out his belief that classical mechanics was perhaps the ideal mode of scientific reasoning. He became the first German scientist to value the great work of Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell in electrodynamics. Helmholtz took the mathematics of electrodynamics to new heights of excellence.
He was made the Professor of Physics at Berlin in 18He was also awarded the title of nobility, “von Helmholtz”, in 18The theory of the conservation of energy which he formulated is considered as one of the broadest and most important generalizations ever known in the history of science.

Later Life and Death:

Hermann von Helmholtz spent his later life trying to cut down all of electrodynamics to a minimum set of mathematical principles, however without success.
Helmholtz died on September 8, 18He was 73 years old.

Who is Homi Jehangir Bhabha: Biography

An Indian born scientist who played an important part in contribution to The Quantum Theory was born on October 30, 1909 in Bombay. His name is Homi Jehangir Bhabha. He was the first one to become the Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India.

Early Life:

Bhabha belonged to a wealthy Parsi family that was very influential in the west of India. He got a doctorate degree from the University of Cambridge in 1934 after he had completed his studies from the Elphinstone College and graduated from the Royal Institute of Science that resided in Bombay. All this time he worked along with Neil Bohr that led them to discover the quantum theory. Bhabha also did some work with Walter Heitler and they made a breakthrough in the cosmic radiation’s understanding by working on cascade theory of electron showers. In 1941, Bhabha got elected for his work in the Royal Society.

Contributions and Achievements:

Bhabha went back to India in 1940 and started his research in Banglore at an institute in India named The Indian Institute of Science about the cosmic rays. He was given a position as a director at an institute in Bombay known as Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. He was a skillful manager and it was due to his prominence, devotion, wealth and comradeship with Jawaharlal Nehru, PM of India that he was able to gain a leading position for allocating the scientific resources of India.
Bhabha was the first one to become the chairperson of India’s Atomic Energy Commission in the year 19It was under his direction that the scientists of India made their way into making an atomic bomb ant the first atomic reactant was operated in Bombay in the year 19Bhabha also led the first UN Conference held for the purpose of Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva, 19It was then predicted by him that a limitless power of industries would be found through nuclear fusion’s control. He promoted nuclear energy control and also prohibition of atomic bombs worldwide. He was absolutely against India manufacturing atomic bombs even if the country had enough resources to do so. Instead he suggested that the production of an atomic reactor should be used to lessen India’s misery and poverty. A post in Indian Cabinet was rejected by him but he served as a scientific advisor to PM Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Bhabha got many rewards and award from Indian as well as foreign universities and he was an associate of various societies of science including a famous one in the US known as National Academy of Sciences. Bhabha was killed in an air crash accident on January 24, 1966 in Switzerland.

Who is Humphry Davy: Biography

Sir Humphry Davy, widely considered to be one of the greatest chemists and inventors that Great Britain has ever produced, is highly regarded for his work on various alkali and alkaline earth metals, and for his valuable contributions regarding the findings of the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine.

Early Life and Education:

Humphry was born on December 17, 1778 at Penzance, Cornwall to a wood carver. He was naturally a gifted and sharp boy who could write impressive fiction and poetry. At sixteen, he lost his father. After the tragic event, Gregory Watt, son of the famous Scottish inventor James Watt, came to visit him and subsequently became a lodger in the house of Mrs. Davy, his mother. They became great friends and their strong relationship have had an important influence on the later career of Davy. Mr. Davies Gilbert was a huge source of inspiration and encouragement for Davy, who later went on to introduce him to the notice of the Royal Institution in London.

Contributions and Achievements:

Dr. Thomas Beddoes, an emiment English physician and scientific writer, founded the “Pneumatic Institution” in Bristol, and Davy became associated with it in 17Within one year, Davy wrote his legendary publications “Essays on MAI and Light, with a New Theory of Respiration” and “Researches, Chemical and Philosophical, chiefly concerning Nitrous Oxide and its Respiration”. Both of these works instantly gained worldwide recognition. Davy was not only the first scientist to reveal the peculiar exhilarating or intoxicating properties of nitrous oxide gas, but his “Researches” also featured the results of various interesting experiments on the respiration of carburetted hydrogen, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbonic acid and nitrous gases.
Davy delivered his first lecture at the Royal Institution in 1801 and instantly became a popular figure there. His tenure as a lecturer was immensely successful. During his second Bakerian lecture at the Royal Society in 1807, he made public his tremendous achievement – the decomposition by galvanism of the fixed alkalies. He performed a demonstration that these alkalies are simply metallic oxides. These discoveries are said to be the most important contribution made to the “Philosophical Transactions” (of the Royal Society) since Sir Isaac Newton.
Other important books of Davy include “Elements of Chemical Philosophy” (1812), “Elements of Agricultural Chemistry” (1813) and “Consolations in Travel” (1830).

Later Life and Death:

Davy was knighted in 1812, after which he married a rich widow named Mrs. Apreece. He was also made a baronet in 1818 for outstanding contributions to his country and mankind; most importantly, his invention of the safety-lamp. He was promoted to the president of the Royal Society in 1820 and he performed his duties for consecutive seven years.
His health began to decline in 1827 which became the cause of his resignation. Davy died at Geneva on May 29, 1829.

Who is Abu Walid Mohammad Ibn Rushd: Biography

Early Life:

Abu Walid Mohammad Ibn Rushd born in 1128 C.E. in Cordova has been held as one of the greatest thinkers and scientists of the history. A product of twelfth-century Islamic Spain, he set out to integrate Aristotelian philosophy with Islamic thought. A common theme throughout his writings is that there is no inappropriateness between religion and philosophy when both are properly understood.
His contributions to philosophy took many forms, ranging from his detailed commentaries on Aristotle, his defence of philosophy against the attacks of those who condemned it as different to Islam and his construction of a form of Aristotelianism which cleansed it, as far as was possible at the time, of, Neoplatonic influences.

Contributions and Achievements:

Ibn Rushd’s education followed a traditional path, beginning with studies in Hadith, linguistics, jurisprudence and scholastic theology. Throughout his life he wrote extensively on Philosophy and Religion, attributes of God, origin of the universe, Metaphysics and Psychology but he excelled in philosophy and jurisprudence and was nicknamed “the jurisprudent philosopher.” The role of the philosopher in the state was a topic of continual interest for Ibn Rushd.
His thought is genuinely creative and highly controversial, producing powerful arguments that were to puzzle his philosophical successors in the Jewish and Christian worlds. He seems to argue that there are two forms of truth, a religious form and a philosophical form, and that it does not matter if they point in different directions. He also appears to be doubtful about the possibility of personal immortality or of God’s being able to know that particular events have taken place. There is much in his work also which suggests that religion is inferior to philosophy as a means of attaining knowledge, and that the understanding of religion which ordinary believers can have is very different and impoverished when compared with that available to the philosopher.
In philosophy, his most important work Tuhafut al-Tuhafut was written in response to Al-Ghazali’s work. Ibn Rushd was criticized by many Muslim scholars for this book, which, nevertheless, had a deep influence on European thought, at least until the beginning of modern philosophy and experimental science. His views on fate were that man is neither in full control of his destiny nor is it fully predetermined for him. Al Rushd’s longest commentary was, in fact, an original contribution as it was largely based on his analysis including interpretation of Quranic concepts. Ibn Rushd’s summary the opinions (fatwa) of previous Islamic jurists on a variety of issues has continued to influence Islamic scholars to the present day, notably Javed Ahmad Ghamidi.
At the age of 25, Ibn Rushd conducted astronomical observations in Morocco, during which he discovered a previously unobserved star. He was also of the view that the Moon is opaque and obscure, and has some parts which are thicker than others, with the thicker parts receiving more light from the Sun than the thinner parts of the Moon. He also gave one of the first descriptions on sunspots.
Ibn Rushd also made remarkable contributions in medicine. In medicine his well-known book Kitab al-Kulyat fi al-Tibb was written before 1162 A.D Its Latin translation was known as ‘Colliget’. In it Ibn Rushd has thrown light on various aspects of medicine, including the diagnoses, cure and prevention of diseases and several original observations of him.
He wrote at least 67 original works, which included 28 works on philosophy, 20 on medicine, 8 on law, 5 on theology, and 4 on grammar, in addition to his commentaries on most of Aristotle’s works and his commentary on Plato’s The Republic. A careful examination of his works reveals that Ibn Rushd (Averroes) was a deeply Islamic man. As an example, we find in his writing, “Anyone who studies anatomy will increase his faith in the omnipotence and oneness of God the Almighty”. He believed that true happiness for man can surely be achieved through mental and psychological health, and people cannot enjoy psychological health unless they follow ways that lead to happiness in the hereafter, and unless they believe in God and His oneness.


Ibn Rushd died in Marakesh in 1198 where he was buried. Three months later, his body was moved to Qurtuba, the tribune of his thought. It leaves no room for any doubt about the important influence that the Muslim Philosopher had on the greatest of all Catholic theologians.

Who is Inge Lehmann: Biography

Inge Lehmann overturned the idea that our planet’s metallic core is entirely molten liquid. She used mathematics to analyze the way energy released by earthquakes travels through the earth. She discovered something eternally concealed from the naked eye – thousands of miles below our feet, at its center, the earth is solid. In fact, it has a solid inner core and a liquid outer core.
Inge Lehmann is also remarkable in that she is one of the longest lived scientists in history, living to 104 years of age.


Inge Lehmann was born in Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen, on May 13, 18Her father, Alfred Georg Ludvik Lehmann, was a psychologist and her mother, Ida Sophie Tørsleff, was a housewife. Both parents came from prominent families.
She was a very shy girl, who did not enjoy being in the spotlight. She continued to be shy throughout her long life.
Inge was schooled at a private coeducational school called Fællesskolen – which translates as shared school. The school was new: it had been founded when Inge was 5 years old by Hanna Adler, a wealthy woman.
Hanna Adler’s new school was unusual in that boys and girls were treated identically, studying the same subjects and taking part in the same sports and activities. The children were not disciplined as rigorously as in other schools of that time.
Inge Lehmann enjoyed her time at the Fællesskolen, but she was sometimes bored, because she did not feel challenged enough by the schoolwork.
In 1906, at the age of 18, she passed the entrance examination for Copenhagen University with a first rank mark.


Lehmann started freshman courses in mathematics, chemistry and physics at Copenhagen University in 19She finally graduated in 19
It took her an exceptionally long time to get a degree: in 1911 she had returned to Copenhagen after a year at Cambridge University completely burned out; she then abandoned her studies to do actuarial work for an insurance company. She did actuarial work until 1918, when she returned to university, finally graduating with a mathematics degree in 1920, aged
In 1923, she began working as an assistant in Copenhagen University’s actuarial department. In 1925 she shifted to seismology work with Professor Niels Nørlund.
She learned that the internal structure of our planet can be understood through the study of earthquake data. She visited seismic stations in Germany, the Netherlands and France learning about techniques for analyzing the earth’s movements.
Lehmann was captivated by her new academic field and, in 1928, aged 40, she obtained a Master of Science degree in geodesy (the science of making measurements related to planet Earth).
Seismic data measured at different stations of an earthquake in Mexico in 1928 published by Inge Lehmann in 19Lehmann, I., The earthquake of 22 III 1928, Gerlands Beitr. Geophys., 28, 151, 1930

Earth Research

In 1928, Lehmann was appointed head of the Department of Seismology at the Royal Danish Geodetic Institute, with responsibility for running the Copenhagen, Ivigtut and Scoresbysund seismographic observatories.
Her job was administrative, but she made time for scientific research, including improving the coordination and analysis of measurements from Europe’s seismographic observatories. This was important, because it ensured data from the observatories could be better compared and interpreted. Lehmann’s actions to improve the trustworthiness of measurements lay at the heart of her later discovery.

Dreaming of a World Deep Below

The interior of our planet has long held a fascination for philosophers and story tellers.
Some have speculated that another inhabited world lies beneath our own.
In 1864, Jules Verne published Journey to the Center of the Earth, describing the fictional adventures of explorers traveling under our planet’s surface.
It was a best-seller.
People wondered if the world Verne had described below our own could be real.

Disappointed Dreamers

By the time Lehmann was awarded her Masters degree in 1928, scientists had already realized that seismographic data from earthquakes could be used to deduce what sort of stuff Earth’s interior was made of.
To the dismay of many dreamers, seismologists had ruled out Jules Verne’s ideas of another inhabited world below Earth’s surface.
Seismologists had figured out that vibrations from earthquakes travel through the earth. Some travel as transverse waves (S-waves,) and others as longitudinal waves (P-waves). The time these waves took to travel from an earthquake’s epicenter to different seismic observatories around the world revealed information about the paths the waves had taken through the earth.
The path of earthquake waves through our planet depends on the materials the waves travel through and the boundaries between these materials.
Paths of different wave-types moving out from the focus of an earthquake. The P-waves are fast moving longitudinal waves. The S-waves are slower moving transverse waves.
In 1906, Richard Dixon Oldham analyzed seismic waves from several earthquakes and concluded that the earth has a large, liquid, metallic core. He calculated this core made up the inner 40 percent of our planet’s radius. (We now know the core Oldham discovered comprises the innermost 3470 km of Earth’s 6360 km radius.)

A Puzzle

Although Oldham had discovered Earth’s metallic core, seismologists still did not completely understand the meaning of the data recorded at their observatories.
Lehmann and other workers were puzzled about the behavior of the P-waves. Earthquake data from observatories showed these were not traveling through Earth in the way they were expected to. They were appearing in locations they ought not to.
Lehmann had an idea. People believed that Earth, below its solid crust, was molten. She wondered if our planet’s inner core might actually be solid. If it were solid, surrounded by molten liquid, would that account for the odd behavior of the P-waves?
She developed mathematical models of our planet featuring a solid inner core and… Eureka! Such a planet agreed with the observed data. Lehmann was able to conclude that P-waves were appearing in unexpected locations because they were being refracted and reflected to these locations by the boundary between the Earth’s solid inner core and liquid outer core. The inner core, she calculated, had a radius of about 1400 km.
Lehmann published her findings in 1936, in a paper titled very simply P’. Within a few years her new model of the earth’s inner structure had been generally, if not completely, accepted by the scientific community. With the passage of time as ever more accurate seismic measurements were taken, confirming Lehmann’s work, the solid core became completely accepted.
We now know the solid core Inge Lehmann discovered:
• is about the same temperature as the sun’s surface!
• is made of iron-nickel alloy
• is solid because of the enormous pressure from the outer layers of the earth pushing down on it
• has a radius of 1220 km, making it somewhat smaller than the moon

Retirement? Not Really

Lehmann retired from her position at the Geodetic Institute in 1953, aged This freed her from administrative work, allowing her to spend more time on her true passion – scientific research – much of which she carried out in lengthy stays in the USA and Canada.
During her ‘retirement’ she discovered Lehmann discontinuities in 1959, which have not been fully explained even today. (A Lehmann discontinuity is a step-change increase in seismic wave speeds in the earth’s mantle at depths of 180 to 250 km below the surface.)
In 1987, aged 99, she wrote her last scientific article: Seismology in the Days of Old. In 1988, she attended the party held for her hundredth birthday at her old workplace, the Geodetic Institute.
I may have been 15 or 16 years old when, on a Sunday morning, I was sitting at home together with my mother and sister, and the floor began to move under us. The hanging lamp swayed. It was very strange. My father came into the room. “It was an earthquake,” he said. The center had evidently been at a considerable distance, for the movements felt slow and not shaky. In spite of a great deal of effort, an accurate epicenter was never found. This was my only experience with an earthquake until I became a seismologist 20 years later.
Inge Lehmann


1938: Tagea Brandt Award
1941, 1944: Chair of Danish Geophysical Society
1950: President of the European Seismological Federation
1960: Gordon Wood Award
1964: Emil Wiechert Medal of the German Geophysical Society
1965: Gold Medal of the Danish Royal Society
1969: Elected Fellow of the British Royal Society
1971: The William Bowie Medal
1977: Medal of the Seismological Society of America
The American Geophysical Union established the Inge Lehmann Medal in 1997 to be awarded for outstanding contributions to the understanding of the structure, composition, and dynamics of the Earth’s mantle and core.

The End

Inge Lehmann died at the age of 104 on February 21, 19She had not married and had no children. She left all of her possessions to The Danish Academy.

Who is Irene Joliot-Curie: Biography

Irene Joliot-Curie is one name that is always mentioned when we discuss the discovery of radioactivity and neutron. She was a French physicist who along with her husband Joliot-Curie, a well-known French physicist, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935 for their synthesis of new radioactive elements.

Early life, Education and Career:

Irène Joliot-Curie was born on 12 September 1897, in Paris. She was the daughter of the French physicists, Marie Sk?odowska-Curie and Pierre Curie. For a few years of her childhood Irene was educated by her mother, but later completed her studies at the University of Paris. Beginning in 1918 she assisted her mother at the Institute of Radium of the University of Paris while studying for her own doctoral degree. In 1925 she graduated with a thesis on the alpha rays of polonium. The same year she met Frédéric Joliot, assisting also at the Institute of Radium. The following year they both got married and took the name of Joliot-Curie. They had two children; one daughter, Helene and one son, Pierre.
Subsequent to their marriage the Joliot-Curies formed a great scientific team. Irene’s scientific research focused on natural and artificial radioactivity, transmutation of elements, and nuclear physics. During 1926 – 1928 she helped her husband in improving his laboratory techniques. Starting in 1928 Irène and Frédéric carried out their research on the study of atomic nuclei and published together.
Together they specialized in the field of nuclear physics. In 1934 their combined work led to the discovery of artificial radioactivity. By bombarding boron, aluminum, and magnesium with alpha particles, the Joliot-Curies produced isotopes of the generally stable elements nitrogen, phosphorus, silicon and aluminum that decompose spontaneously, with a more or less long period, by release of positive or negative electrons. For this work they were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 19Irene would not stop there, however, and went on to accomplish many other honors.
During 1936 she served in the French Cabinet as Undersecretary of State for Scientific Research. In 1937 she was appointed as a Professor in the Faculty of Science in Paris, and in the following year her research on the heavy elements played a vital role in the discovery of uranium fission. In 1939 Irene was employed as an Officer of the Legion of Honor. From 1946 – 1951 she was a member of the French Atomic Energy Commission. After 1947 she served as the Director of the Institute of Radium, and in 1948 she contributed to the creation of the first French atomic pile.
Irene Joliot-Curie had a great interest in the intellectual development of women, and therefore served as the members of the Comite National de l’Union des Femmes Francais, and the World Peace Council. Moreover she was also very concerned with the installation of a large center for nuclear physics at Orsay, and she personally worked out the plans for its construction. Her work on this facility would be carried on by her husband after her death.


Irene Joliot-Curie died on 17 March 1956, in Paris, from leukemia contracted in the course of her work.

Who is Isaac Newton: Biography

Isaac Newton is perhaps the greatest physicist who has ever lived. He and Albert Einstein are almost equally matched contenders for this title. Each of these great scientists produced dramatic and startling transformations in the physical laws we believe our universe obeys, changing the way we understand and relate to the world around us.

Early Life and Education

Isaac Newton was born on January 4, 1643 in the tiny village of Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, Lincolnshire, England.
His father, whose name was also Isaac Newton, was a farmer who died before Isaac Junior was born. Although comfortable financially, his father could not read or write.
His mother, Hannah Ayscough, married a churchman when Newton was three years old.
Newton disliked his mother’s new husband and did not join their household, living instead with his mother’s mother, Margery Ayscough.
His resentment of his mother and stepfather’s new life did not subside with time; as a teenager he threatened to burn their house down!
Beginning at age 12, Newton attended The King’s School, Grantham, where he was taught the classics, but no science or mathematics. When he was 17, his mother stopped his schooling so that he could become a farmer. Fortunately for the future of science Newton found he had neither aptitude nor liking for farming; his mother allowed him to return to school, where he finished as top student.

Servant and Undergraduate

In June 1661, aged 18, Newton began studying for a law degree at Cambridge University’s Trinity College, earning money working as a personal servant to wealthier students.
By the time he was a third-year student he was spending a lot of his time studying mathematics and natural philosophy (today we call it physics). He was also very interested in alchemy, which we now categorize as a pseudoscience.
His natural philosophy lecturers based their courses on Aristotle’s incorrect ideas from Ancient Greece. This was despite the fact that 25 years earlier, in 1638, Galileo Galilei had published his physics masterpiece Two New Sciences establishing a new scientific basis for the physics of motion.
Newton began to disregard the material taught at his college, preferring to study the recent (and more scientifically correct) works of Galileo, Boyle, Descartes, and Kepler. He wrote:
Reading the works of these great scientists, Newton grew more ambitious about making discoveries himself. While still working part-time as a servant, he wrote a note to himself. In it he posed questions which had not yet been answered by science. These included questions about gravity, the nature of light, the nature of color and vision, and atoms.
After three years at Cambridge he won a four-year scholarship, allowing him to devote his time fully to academic studies.

A Mind on Fire

In 1665, at the age of 22, a year after beginning his four-year scholarship, he made his first major discovery: this was in mathematics, where he discovered the generalized binomial theorem. In 1665 he was also awarded his B.A. degree.
By now Newton’s mind was ablaze with new ideas. He began making significant progress in three distinct fields – fields in which he would make some of his most profound discoveries:
• calculus, the mathematics of change, which is vital to our understanding of the world around us
• gravity
• optics and the behavior of light
He did much of his work on these topics back home at Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth after the Great Plague forced his college in Cambridge to close.

Fellow and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics

At the age of 24, in 1667, he returned to Cambridge, where events moved quickly.
First he was elected as a fellow of Trinity College.
A year later, in 1668, he was awarded an M.A. degree.
A year after that, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Trinity College, Isaac Barrow, resigned and Newton was appointed as his replacement; he was just 26 years old. Barrow, who had recommended that Newton should succeed him, said of Newton’s skills in mathematics:

Isaac Newton’s Scientific Achievements and Discoveries

Achievements in Brief

Isaac Newton, who was largely self-taught in mathematics and physics:
• generalized the binomial theorem
• showed that sunlight is made up of all of the colors of the rainbow. He used one glass prism to split a beam of sunlight into its separate colors, then another prism to recombine the rainbow colors to make a beam of white light again.
• built the world’s first working reflecting telescope.
• discovered/invented calculus, the mathematics of change, without which we could not understand the behavior of objects as tiny as electrons or as large as galaxies.
• wrote the Principia, one of the most important scientific books ever written; in it he used mathematics to explain gravity and motion. (Principia is pronounced with a hard c.)
• discovered the law of universal gravitation, proving that the force holding the moon in orbit around the earth is the same force that causes an apple to fall from a tree.
• formulated his three laws of motion – Newton’s Laws – which lie at the heart of the science of movement.
• showed that Kepler’s laws of planetary motion are special cases of Newton’s universal gravitation.
• proved that all objects moving through space under the influence of gravity must follow a path shaped in the form of one of the conic sections, such as a circle, an ellipse, or a parabola, hence explaining the paths all planets and comets follow.
• showed that the tides are caused by gravitational interactions between the earth, the moon and the sun.
• predicted, correctly, that the earth is not perfectly spherical but is squashed into an oblate spheroid, larger around the equator than around the poles.
• Used mathematics to model the movement of fluids – from which the concept of a Newtonian fluid comes.
• devised Newton’s Method for finding the roots of mathematical functions.

Some Details about Newton’s Greatest Discoveries

Newton revealed his laws of motion and gravitation in his book the Principia. Just as few people at first could understand Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, few people understood the Principia when it was published. When Newton walked past them one day, one student remarked to another:
“There goes a man who has written a book that neither he nor anybody else understands.”
Newton’s ideas were spread by the small number of people who understood the Principia, and who were able to convey its message in more accessible ways: people including Leonard Euler, Joseph Louis Lagrange, Pierre Simon de Laplace, Willem Jacob ‘s Gravesande, William Whiston, Voltaire, John Theophilus Desaguliers, and David Gregory.


Newton was the first person to fully develop calculus. Calculus is the mathematics of change. Modern physics and physical chemistry would be impossible without it. Other academic disciplines such as biology and economics also rely heavily on calculus for analysis.
In his development of calculus Newton was influenced by Pierre de Fermat, who had shown specific examples in which calculus-like methods could be used. Newton was able to build on Fermat’s work and generalize calculus. Newton wrote that he had been guided by:
From Newton’s fertile mind came the ideas that we now call differential calculus, integral calculus and differential equations.
Soon after Newton generalized calculus, Gottfried Leibniz achieved the same result. Today, most mathematicians give equal credit to Newton and Leibniz for calculus’s discovery.

Universal Gravitation and the Apple

Newton’s famous apple, which he saw falling from a tree in the garden of his family home in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, is not a myth.
He told people that seeing the apple’s fall made him wonder why it fell in a straight line towards the center of our planet rather than moving upwards or sideways.
Ultimately, he realized and proved that the force behind the apple’s fall also causes the moon to orbit the earth; and comets, the earth and other planets to orbit the sun. The force is felt throughout the universe, so Newton called it Universal Gravitation. In a nutshell, it says that mass attracts mass.
Newton discovered the equation that allows us to calculate the force of gravity between two objects.
Most people don’t like equations much: E = mc2 is as much as they can stand, but, for the record, here’s Newton’s equation:
Newton’s equation says that you can calculate the gravitational force attracting one object to another by multiplying the masses of the two objects by the gravitational constant and dividing by the square of the distance between the objects.
Dividing by distance squared means Newton’s Law is an inverse-square law.
Newton proved mathematically that any object moving in space affected by an inverse-square law will follow a path in the shape of one of the conic sections, the shapes which fascinated Archimedes and other Ancient Greek mathematicians.
For example, planets follow elliptical paths; while comets follow elliptical, or parabolic or hyperbolic paths.
And that’s it!
Newton showed everyone how to calculate the force of gravity between things such as people, planets, stars and apples.

Optics and Light

Newton was not just clever with his mind. He was also skilled in experimental methods and working with equipment.
He built the world’s first reflecting telescope. This telescope focuses light from a curved mirror. Reflecting telescopes have several advantages over earlier telescopes including:
• they are cheaper to make
• they are easier to make in large sizes, gathering more light, allowing higher magnification
• they do not suffer from a focusing issue associated with lenses called chromatic aberration.
Newton also used glass prisms to establish that white light is not a simple phenomenon. He proved that it is made up of all of the colors of the rainbow, which he could recombine to form white light again.
A beam of white light from the sun is split into its component colors by a glass prism.

Alchemy, Feuds, Religion, and Planets Orbiting Distant Stars

Although he is one of the greatest scientists in history, Newton’s laboratory papers show that he probably devoted more of his time to alchemy than to anything we would recognize as science.
Not surprisingly, Newton never found the Philosophers’ Stone. Given his towering contributions to real science, all we can do is wonder what else he might have achieved if he had not been such a passionate alchemist.
Despite his brilliance, Newton was a very insecure man: most historians trace this back to his childhood family difficulties.
Newton published very little work until his later years, because in his early years as a scientist, Robert Hooke had disagreed strongly with a scientific paper Newton had published. Newton took criticism of his work in a very personal way and developed a lifelong loathing for Hooke.
His lack of published work also caused a huge issue when Gottfried Leibniz starting publishing his own version of calculus. Newton was already a master of this branch of mathematics, but had published very little of it. Again Newton’s insecurity got the better of him, and he angrily accused Leibniz of stealing his work. The pros and cons of each man’s case have long been debated by historians. Most mathematicians regard Newton and Leibniz as equally responsible for the development of calculus.
Newton was a very religious man with somewhat unorthodox Protestant Christian views. He spent a great deal of time and wrote a large body of private works concerned with theology and his interpretation of the Bible.
His scientific work had revealed a universe that obeyed logical mathematical laws. He had also discovered that starlight and sunlight are the same, and he speculated that stars could have their own systems of planets orbiting them. He believed such a system could only have been made by God.

Moving On

In 1696, Newton was appointed as a Warden of the Royal Mint. In 1700, he became Master of the Mint, leaving Cambridge for London, and more or less ending his scientific discovery work. He took his new role very seriously, going out into London’s taverns in disguise gathering evidence against counterfeiters.
In 1703, he was elected President of the Royal Society.
In 1705, he was knighted, becoming Sir Isaac Newton.

The End

Isaac Newton died on March 31, 1727, aged He had never married and had no children.
He was buried in Westminster Abbey, London.

Who is Ivan Pavlov: Biography

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was an eminent Russian physiologist and psychologist who devised the concept of the conditioned reflex. He conducted a legendary experiment in which he provided training to a hungry dog to drool at the sound of a bell, something which was related to the sight of food. Pavlov also formulated a similar conceptual theory, highlighting the significance of conditioning and associating human behavior with the nervous system. He won the 1904 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his groundbreaking research on digestive secretions.

Early Life and Education:

Ivan Pavlov was born in Ryazan, Russia. As a young child, he suffered a serious injury, due to which Pavlov spent much of his childhood with his parents in the family home and garden, acquiring various practical skills and a deep interest in natural history. He developed a strong interest in science and the possibility of using science to ameliorate and modify society.
He studied medicine at university under a famed physiologist of the time, S. P. Botkin, who taught him a great deal about the nervous system.

Contributions and Achievements:

Ivan Pavlov conducted neurophysiological experiments with animals for years after receiving his doctorate at the Academy of Medical Surgery. He became fully convinced that human behavior could be understood and explained best in physiological terms rather than in mentalist terms. The legendary experiment for which Pavlov is remembered was when he used the feeding of dogs to establish a number of his key ideas.
Moments before feeding, a bell was rung to measure the dogs’ saliva production when they heard the bell. Pavolv found out that once the dogs had been trained to associate the sound of the bell with food, they would produce saliva, whether or not food followed. The experiment proved that the dogs’ physical response, salivation, was directly related to the stimulus of the bell, hence the saliva production was a stimulus response. The continued increased salivation, even when the dogs had experienced hearing the bell without being later fed, was a conditioned reflex.
The entire process is a prime example of classical conditioning, and it is primarily related to a physical and spontaneous response to some particular conditions that the organism has acquired through association. Behaviorist theory has massively applied these landmark ideas for the explanation of human behaviour.

Later Life and Death:

Ivan Pavlov died on February 27, 1936 in Leningrad, Soviet Union, from natural causes. He was 86 years old.

Who is Johannes Hans Daniel Jensen: Biography

Famous for his work on the German nuclear energy project, which is more popularly known as the Uranium Club, J. Hans D. Jensen was responsible for making contributions to the separation of uranium isotopes. He was a German nuclear physicist who was one of the notable names during World War II. Of note, he is also a Nobel Prize for Physics winner in 1963 where he shared the award with Maria Goeppert-Mayer, when they proposed the model for the nuclear shell which he devised in 19Together with the American scientist Goeppert-Mayer, they wrote the book called Elementary Theory of Nuclear Shell Structure, which explained their findings.

Early Life and Educational Background

J. Hans D. Jensen was born Johannes Hans Daniel Jensen on the 25th of June in 1907, and he was the son of Karl Jensen who was a gardener, and Helene Ohm Jensen. His earliest academic interests lay in philosophy, physical chemistry, and mathematics. He studied these courses starting in 1926 at the Universities of Hamburg and Freiburg. There, he was able to obtain his Ph.D. in physics in 19He was coached by Wilhem Lenz, a German physicist who was known for his invention of the Ising model. Jensen was able to complete his Habilitation at the University of Hamburg in 1936.

Career and Academic Involvements

He had the chance to work as one of the scientific assistants at the Institute of Theoretical Physics in the University of Hamburg. In 1936, he was able to obtain his D. Sc. from Hamburg and he became one of the Privatdozents at the same university. During his time as a Privatdozent at the University of Hamburg, he began working with the director of the physical chemistry department, Paul Harteck. Paul Harteck had also been the advisor of the Heereswaffenamt or HWA, Army Ordinance Office for explosives.
Paul Harteck, with his assistant Wilhelm Groth, got in touch with the Reich Ministry of War or Reichskriegsministerium (RKM) on the 24th of April in 1939 and they told the authorities of how nuclear chain reactions may be of use for military applications. It was Paul Harteck who brought Jensen into the Uranverein or Uranium Club which started on the first of September in 1939—the same day the Nazis invaded Poland and initiated The Second World War. Together with Harteck, Jensen was able to develop the double centrifuge which was based on a rocking process that facilitated the necessary separation effect.
In 1941, Jensen became the Professor of Theoretical Physics in Hannover’s Technische Hochschule. He became an extraordinarius professor in 1946 at the same university which is now known as the University of Hanover. He had a notable academic career, and in 1949 he was one of the appointed professors at University of Heidelberg. Two years earlier, he had been honored with a professorship at the University of Hamburg, and a year before that, he had a doctorate h.c. from the Technische Universitat Hannover.
Jensen had also been one of the members of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences which he joined in 19He was one of the corresponding members of the Max Planck Gesellschaft which he became a part of in 1960, and he was also one of the members of the Sacri Romani Imperii Academia Naturae Coriosorum, which he joined in 1964.
His other academic involvements included being one of the visiting professors at the University of Wisconsin in 1951, in Princeton’s Institute of Advanced Study and the University of California at Berkeley both in 1952, the California Institute of Technology and the Indiana University in 1953, the University of Minnesota in 1956, and he also visited the University of California in La Jolla in 19Because of his contributions to science, especially in the field of physics, he was able to make a name for himself and had the opportunity to educate students outside of Europe as well.

Political Involvement

Jensen’s time had been when Hitler was rising in power, and choosing sides was necessary for people, especially for those who were able to make contributions for the movement. Membership for the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Dozentenbund, which was also known as the National Socialist German University Lecturers League or NSDDB, was advantageous for those looking to further their career in academics. Although all of the German universities were under the influence of politics, some were not as strict when it came to enforcing the needed membership to the NSDDB, and this was the case in the University of Hamburg. He was still, however, one of the members of the NSDDB and this went on for three years.
The NSLB or the National Socialist Teachers League expressed their sentiments to Jensen—that he be active in their cause, and this was what they got from him. When the Second World War ended, the denazification process began and when it was time for Jensen to face the proceedings, he went to Werner Heisenberg for help. Heisenberg was one of the most prominent members of the Uranium Club, and it was Heisenberg who testified for Jensen’s character. This testimony was necessary for the acquisition of his whitewash certificate or Persilschein. Heisenberg had been a powerful man to approach when there is a need for this document, since he was never a member of the National Socialist German Workers Party or the NSDAP. For Jensen, Heisenberg wrote the needed documentation and stated that Jensen did indeed join the party organizations so that he would be able to avoid the difficulties posed by political affiliations or lack thereof for someone in the academia.
Jensen had been the recipient of several other honors apart from the Nobel Prize in Physics. These include those which he received from the universities he taught at, and he also became one of the honorary citizens of Fort Lauderdale in Florida. His many achievements gained him a respected name in the United States despite having been previously affiliated with Nazi movements. He was never able to get married, and he died in 1973 at Heidelberg, Germany.

Who is Joseph John Thomson: Biography

J. J. Thomson took science to new heights with his 1897 discovery of the electron – the first subatomic particle. He also found the first evidence that stable elements can exist as isotopes and invented one of the most powerful tools in analytical chemistry, the mass spectrometer.

Beginnings: School and University

Joseph John Thomson was born on December 18, 1856 in Manchester, England, UK.
His father, Joseph James Thomson, ran a specialist bookshop that had been in his family for three generations. His mother, Emma Swindells, came from a family that owned a cotton company.
Even as a young boy Joey, who would later be known as J. J., was deeply interested in science. At the age of 14 he became a student at Owens College, the University of Manchester, where he studied mathematics, physics and engineering.
A shy boy, his parents hoped he would become an apprentice engineer with a locomotive company. These hopes were dashed, however, with the death of his father when J. J. was The fees for engineering apprenticeships were high, and his mother could not afford them.
This misfortune ultimately benefited science, because J. J. needed to find funding to continue his education. In 1876 he won a scholarship which took him, aged 19, to the University of Cambridge to study mathematics. Four years later he graduated with high honors in his bachelors degree.
Thomson continued studying at Cambridge, and in 1882 he won the Adam’s Prize, one of the universities most sought after prizes in mathematics. In 1883 he was awarded a master’s degree in mathematics.

Early Research Work

When Thomson began his research career, nobody had a clear picture of how atoms might look. Thomson decided he would picture them as a kind of smoke ring and see where the mathematics would take him. This work, for which he was awarded both the Adam’s Prize and his master’s degree had the title A Treatise on the Motion of Vortex Rings. Although the title and beginning chapters might suggest applied mathematics is the major theme, the headings of the final sections are revealing:
• Pressure of a gas. Boyle’s Law
• Thermal effusion
• Sketch of a chemical theory
• Theory of quantivalence
• Valency of the various [chemical] elements
Thomson was pushing his powerful mathematical mind towards a deeper understanding of matter.
Electricity and Magnetism
In addition to atoms, Thomson began to take a serious interest in James Clerk Maxwell’s equations, which had revealed electricity and magnetism to be manifestations of a single force – the electromagnetic force – and had revealed light to be an electromagnetic wave.
In 1893, at the age of 36, Thomson published Notes on Recent Researches in Electricity and Magnetism, building on Maxwell’s work. His book is sometimes described as “Maxwell’s Equations Volume 3.”

Thomson’s Most Significant Contributions to Science

Discovery of the Electron – The first subatomic particle

In 1834 Michael Faraday had coined the word ion to account for charged particles that were attracted to positively or negatively charged electrodes. So, in Thomson’s time, it was already known that atoms were associated in some way with electric charges, and that atoms could exist in ionic forms, carrying positive or negative charges. For example, table salt is made of ionized sodium and chlorine atoms.
Na+: A sodium ion with a single positive charge
Cl–: A chloride ion with a single negative charge
In 1891 George Johnstone Stoney had coined the word electron to represent the fundamental unit of electric charge. He did not, however, propose that the electron existed as a particle in its own right. He believed that it represented the smallest unit of charge an ionized atom could have.
Atoms were still regarded as indivisible.
In 1897, aged 40, Thomson carried out a now famous experiment with a cathode ray tube.
Thomson allowed his cathode rays to travel through air rather than the usual vacuum and was surprised at how far they could travel before they were stopped. This suggested to him that the particles within the cathode rays were many times smaller than scientists had estimated atoms to be.
So, cathode ray particles were smaller than atoms! What about their mass? Did they have a mass typical of, say, a hydrogen atom? – the smallest particle then known.
To estimate the mass of a cathode ray particle and discover whether its charge was positive or negative, Thomson deflected cathode rays with electric and magnetic fields to see the direction they were deflected and how far they were pulled off course. He knew the size of the deflection would tell him about the particle’s mass and the direction of the deflection would tell him the charge the particles carried. He also estimated mass by measuring the amount of heat the particles generated when they hit a target.
Thomson used a cloud chamber to establish that a cathode ray particle carried the same amount of charge (i.e. one unit) as a hydrogen ion.
From these experiments he drew three revolutionary conclusions:
• Cathode ray particles were negatively charged.
• Cathode ray particles were at least 1000 times lighter than a hydrogen atom.
• Whatever source was used to generate them, all cathode ray particles were of identical mass and identical charge.
2300 years earlier, Democritus in Ancient Greece had used his intellect to deduce the existence of atoms. Then, in 1808, John Dalton had resurrected Democritus’s idea with his atomic theory. By Thomson’s time, scientists were convinced that atoms were the smallest particles in the universe, the fundamental building blocks of everything.
These beliefs were shattered by J. J. Thomson’s experiments, which proved the existence of a new fundamental particle, much smaller than the atom: the electron. The world would never be the same again.
Physicists now had an incentive to investigate subatomic particles – particles smaller than the atom. They have done this ever since, trying to discover the building blocks that make up the building blocks that make up the building blocks that make up the building blocks… of matter.
Although many building blocks have been discovered, Thomson’s electron appears to be a truly fundamental particle that cannot be divided further.
Thomson was awarded the 1906 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery.

The Atom as a Plum Pudding

Based on his results, Thomson produced his famous (but incorrect) plum pudding model of the atom. He pictured the atom as a uniformly positively charged ‘pudding’ within which the plums (electrons) orbited.

Invention of the Mass Spectrometer

In discovering the electron, Thomson also moved towards the invention of an immensely important new tool for chemical analysis – the mass spectrometer.
At its simplest, a mass spectrometer resembles a cathode ray tube, although in the case of the mass spectrometer, the beam of charged particles is made up of positive ions rather than electrons. These ions are deflected from a straight line path by electric/magnetic fields. The amount of deflection depends on the ion’s mass (low masses are deflected more) and charge (high charges are deflected more).
By ionizing materials and putting them through a mass spectrometer, the chemical elements present can be deduced by how far their ions are deflected.

Discovery that every Hydrogen Atom has only one Electron

In 1907 Thomson established using a variety of methods that every atom of hydrogen has only one electron.

Discovery of Isotopes of Stable Elements

Although Thomson had discovered the electron, scientists still had a long way to go to achieve even a basic understanding of the atom: protons and neutrons were yet to be discovered.
Despite these obstacles, in 1912 Thomson discovered that stable elements could exist as isotopes. In other words, the same element could exist with different atomic masses.
Thomson made this discovery when his research student Francis Aston fired ionized neon through a magnetic and electric field – i.e. he used a mass spectrometer – and observed two distinct deflections. Thomson concluded that neon existed in two forms whose masses are different – i.e. isotopes.
Aston went on to win the 1922 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for continuing this work, discovering a large number of stable isotopes and discovering that all isotope masses were whole number multiples of the hydrogen atom’s mass.

Some Personal Details and the End

In 1890, aged 33, Thomson married Rose Elizabeth Paget, a young physicist working in his laboratory. She was the daughter of a Cambridge medical professor. The couple had one son, George, and one daughter, Joan.
Humble and modest, with a quiet sense of humor, would probably be the best words to summarize Thomson’s personality.
Although scientific research consumed most of his time, he liked to relax cultivating his large garden.
Despite his modesty he became Cavendish Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge – a role first held by James Clerk Maxwell – at the age of just As Cavendish Professor, in addition to making remarkable discoveries himself, he paved the way to greatness for a significant number of other scientists.
In fact, a remarkable number of Thomson’s research workers went on to become Nobel Prize Winners, including Charles T. R. Wilson, Charles Barkla, Ernest Rutherford, Francis Aston, Owen Richardson, William Henry Bragg, William Lawrence Bragg, and Max Born.
Thomson was aged 40 when Ernest Rutherford arrived at his laboratory. After the meeting, Rutherford wrote of Thomson:
“He is very pleasant in conversation and is not fossilized at all. As regards appearance he is a medium-sized man, dark and quite youthful still: shaves, very badly, and wears his hair rather long.”
The icing on the Nobel cake for his research workers came 31 years after Thomson was awarded his 1906 Nobel Prize in physics, when his son George won the same prize in 19George’s prize was also for work with electrons, which he proved can behave like waves.
Thomson was knighted in 1908, becoming Sir J. J. Thomson.
J. J. Thomson died at the age of 83, on August 30, 19His ashes were buried in the Nave of Westminster Abbey, joining other science greats such as Isaac Newton, Lord Kelvin, Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, and his friend and former research worker Ernest Rutherford.

Who is J. Robert Oppenheimer: Biography

J. Robert Oppenheimer, also known as “the father of the atomic bomb”, was an American nuclear physicist and director of the Los Alamos Laboratory (Manhattan Project). With a project so big that involved the hard work of hundreds of gifted scientists, it may appear quite undue to give so much credit on the shoulders of Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer is, however, still the sole creator and inventor of the nuclear bomb to most people in the world.Early Life and Education: Born in 1904 in New York City to a rich Jewish father, Oppenheimer became one of the brightest students at Harvard University at a youthful age of seventeen. He also went to Cambridge University in England for higher studies, where Ernest Rutherford, the famous British chemist and physicist, was his teacher. Oppenheimer acquired his Ph.D. from University of Göttingen in Germany.
Although he spent most of his time carrying out research and publishing books about quantum theory and theoretical physics, he was probably more interested in the classics and Eastern philosophy. In 1929, Oppenheimer topped in all the units at the University of California and the California Institute of Technology. Most of the times, Oppenheimer had almost no time for his personal life. The growing popularity of Nazism in Germany during the 1930s, however, became a major event in his life, as it led him towards politics and resistance against the European fascist movement.
Oppenheimer subsequently joined left-wing politics, and became associated with several left-leaning organizations, which were somehow linked to the Communist Party.

Contributions and Achievements:

Niels Bohr and other European scientists informed their American contemporaries about the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute’s successful attempt of splitting the atom in 19President Roosevelt was much concerned that the Nazis may utilize this extraordinary technology to create an atomic weapon. This fear led him to institute the Manhattan Project in 1941.
Oppenheimer was appointed the scientific director of the project. He advised that the project be housed at Los Alamos in New Mexico. After extensive hard work and rigorous struggle, the first nuclear bomb was exploded on July 16, 1945, with the power of approximately 18,000 tons of TNT, at Alamogordo Air Force Base in southern New Mexico.
Within one month, two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. The event almost instantly ended the war, after which Oppenheimer was made the chairperson of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Later Life and Death:

Oppenheimer, due to his conscience and regrets over making such horrible weapons of mass destruction, opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb in 19The bomb is often thought to be the Truman administration’s answer to the Soviet acquisition of the atomic bomb. Due to this unexpected move, Edward Teller, his colleague at Los Alamos, was made the director of the new project. Oppenheimer’s patriotism was also questioned and he was even accused of “communist sympathies” due to his past political affiliations.
For the rest of his life, he shunned politics and performed his duties as the director of the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton. Oppenheimer died of cancer in Princeton in 1967.

Who is Josiah Willard Gibbs: Biography

Willard Gibbs was a mathematical physicist who made enormous contributions to science: he founded modern statistical mechanics, he founded chemical thermodynamics, and he invented vector analysis.

Early Life and Education

Josiah Willard Gibbs was born on February 11, 1839 in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, the hometown of Yale University.
Willard Gibbs’ family was prosperous and intellectual. His mother’s name was Mary Anna Van Cleve. She came from an eminent family and was an amateur ornithologist. His father’s name was also Josiah Willard Gibbs. To avoid confusion, Gibbs Jr. was always known as Willard. His father, an expert on languages and linguistics, was a professor of sacred literature at Yale University’s School of Divinity.
Willard Gibbs was privately educated at Hopkins Grammar School until he enrolled at Yale University, aged just He was awarded his degree four years later, in 1858, along with university prizes in mathematics and Latin.
He immediately began working for an engineering Ph.D. at Yale, which he was awarded in 1863, at the age of This was the first ever award of an engineering Ph.D. to any student at an American university. His highly mathematical thesis had the title: “On the Forms of the Teeth of Wheels in Spur Gearing.”
Socially, Gibbs was quiet and bookish, a somewhat reserved student. Academically, he was brilliant.
While Gibbs was a student, three significant events took place:
• In 1855, his mother died.
• In 1861, his father died, leaving Gibbs and his two sisters a substantial inheritance, making them financially independent.
• From 1861–65 the American Civil War raged. Gibbs was not conscripted: his health was fragile, and he suffered from respiratory problems. Also, his eyesight for reading was blurred, caused by astigmatism. He eventually had to grind lenses himself to solve this problem.

Gibbs’ Academic Career

Tutoring at Yale
Yale University appointed Gibbs as a tutor in 18Tutors were expected to make themselves available to teach any of Yale’s courses. Gibbs taught Latin for two years, followed by a year teaching physics, while he continued privately to widen and sharpen his knowledge of engineering and the physical sciences. During this time he patented an improved railway car brake.
Three Years in France and Germany
In 1866 Gibbs and his sisters, Anna and Julia, set off on a three-year trip to Europe.
Gibbs spent an academic year at each of the Sorbonne in Paris, and the Universities of Berlin and Heidelberg in Germany. His single-minded purpose was to continue expanding and refining his scientific knowledge. Like his father, he seems to have had a considerable gift for languages, so working in French and German caused him no problems.
France, Germany and the United Kingdom lay at the heart of the scientific world. Gibbs took a unique approach by spending three years studying in the non-English speaking countries, which gave him a distinctive scientific viewpoint compared with other American scientists of the time.
During the trip to Europe, Gibbs’ health was again a concern – tuberculosis was suspected – and he and his sisters moved to the French Riviera, hoping the warm, dry Mediterranean climate would help him. Thankfully, after a few months on the Riviera, he was pronounced free of tuberculosis.
Professorship at Yale
On his return to New Haven, Gibbs taught French for a time at Yale, and worked privately on some of his engineering ideas.
In 1871 he was appointed Yale’s first professor of mathematical physics. The role was unpaid. Gibbs was happy with this situation – he was a man of modest needs, and his inheritance provided him with more than enough money. Furthermore, Gibbs was happy that the role required little teaching work, allowing him more thinking and research time.
As his scientific reputation grew, other universities head-hunted him. Gibbs chose to stay at Yale, because he was happy in the familiar surroundings of his hometown and, also, Yale’s other scientists told him how much they valued his presence at the university. He stayed at Yale for the whole of his career and the University started paying him a salary to counterbalance offers he received from other institutions.

Gibbs’ Most Significant Contributions to Science

Gibbs was a man of immense intellect; his work’s reception brings to mind Isaac Newton’s experience when he first published his laws of motion and gravitation. One of his students is said to have joked about Newton:
“There goes a man who has written a book that neither he nor anybody else understands.”
It was left to others to explain and spread Newton’s complex ideas and mathematics.
Similarly, when Gibbs published his research, it was often little understood. One of the few people who did understand and appreciate its significance was James Clerk Maxwell.
Indeed when Maxwell died at a young age, the word in Yale – with echoes of the old joke about Newton – was:
“Only one man lived who could understand Gibbs’ papers. That was Maxwell, and now he is dead.”


Thermodynamics explores the relationship between temperature, entropy, and energy. Its laws underpin the physical characteristics of everything in the universe, including life. Its ideas are rather complex; easier aspects of thermodynamics are not usually introduced until university level in chemistry and physics or perhaps the end of high school chemistry.
In 1873, two years into his professorship, the 34-year-old Gibbs began publishing work that revolutionized our understanding of thermodynamics. He began by noting that the first two laws of thermodynamics could be combined into a single equation of state – the Gibbs Equation of State – now a basic equation of thermodynamics:
dU = TdS – PdV
In two groundbreaking papers he showed how expressing thermodynamic quantities on graphs he had constructed led to entirely new conclusions about the behavior of matter. These graphs were in three dimensions, with x, y and z axes.
Gibbs sent copies of his work to 75 notable scientists in Europe. One of these was James Clerk Maxwell at the University of Cambridge.

Willard Gibbs and James Clerk Maxwell

Maxwell, one of the world’s foremost authorities on thermodynamics, devoured Gibbs work, realizing that it solved a conceptual problem he had been wrestling with in vain for over two years. Furthermore, Gibbs’ new interpretation of thermodynamics improved Maxwell’s personal understanding of the field.
Maxwell shared Gibbs’ work enthusiastically with other British scientists. He made three 3-dimensional plaster models of a surface in one of Gibbs’ graphs and sent one model to Gibbs as a token of his appreciation and respect.
Maxwell and Gibbs were on the same mental wavelength – they understood each other’s work, which few other people did at the time.
Unfortunately, Maxwell’s untimely death in 1879 deprived the scientific world of what could have become a very fruitful, if long-distance, partnership between two great intellects.

Reshaping the Science of Thermodynamics

In 1878 Gibbs published a third thermodynamics paper, the most revolutionary of them all. On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances Part II.
In this paper Gibbs founded the science of chemical thermodynamics, entirely shaping our modern understanding of the field. This work lies at the heart of physical chemistry, telling us which chemical reactions are feasible.
Unfortunately, Gibbs’ work was so highly mathematical that it took many years before its message was fully understood.
If Gibbs had a fault, it was that he used mathematics to do nearly all of his talking for him. He felt little need to relate his mathematics and ideas to real-world examples and he was not concerned if people said his work was too hard to understand.
He took exactly the same lofty approach to his lectures as he did his writing. One of his best students, Edwin Bidwell Wilson, recalled being told by Gibbs:

The Phase Rule

Gibbs discovered that in any equilibrium mixture of C components in P phases the number of variables F that can be independently controlled is:
F = C – P + 2
With this rule, which is a general, fundamental rule of thermodynamics, phase diagrams become an indispensable part of the toolkit of physical chemistry.

Gibbs’ Thermodynamics on a Stamp

In 2005, a U.S. stamp commemorated Gibbs’ graphical thermodynamics methods bearing an image of Gibbs and a two-dimensional contour map of one of his thermodynamic surfaces.

Vector Analysis – A New Branch of Mathematics

James Clerk Maxwell used a form of mathematics called quaternion calculus in his electromagnetic theory of light. Gibbs took up Maxwell’s new theory enthusiastically, but he thought the quaternion calculus Maxwell had used seemed rather inconvenient. It had a vector part and a scalar part, but in Gibbs’ opinion was geometrically unsatisfying.
In order to teach Maxwell’s theory to his own students, Gibbs developed a new branch of mathematics called vector analysis/calculus. He did this in 1881 – 1884, producing lecture notes for his new mathematical methods.
British physicist Oliver Heaviside independently invented vector calculus between 1880 and 18Neither man was aware of the other’s work.
The vector calculus invented by Gibbs and Heaviside is now used extensively in both physics and mathematics.
The notation used today for the scalar and vector products was also devised by Gibbs.

Statistical Mechanics

Statistical mechanics allows physical phenomena to be explained and calculated by averaging the individual behaviors of huge numbers of atoms/molecules.
In 1902, Gibbs published a new scientific masterpiece – Elementary Principles in Statistical Mechanics. He had worked day and night on the book in late 1900 and early 1901.
What we now know as statistical mechanics had been invented and developed by Daniel Bernoulli, James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann.
Gibbs’ book came like a bolt from the blue. It needed to refer only a little to what had gone before; and then revealed an entirely new formulation of the science.
Gibbs devised a new mathematical framework for statistical mechanics which bridged the gap between classical and (as yet undiscovered) quantum physics, paving the way for the quantum world that was to unfold in the following years.
Like his earlier works, most scientists found Gibbs’ statistical mechanics book difficult to understand. However, perseverance eventually bore fruit and it is Gibbs’ formulation of statistical mechanics that is still used today – he even coined the term statistical mechanics.


In 1880 Gibbs won the Rumford Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In 1901 he was awarded the British Royal Society’s Copely Medal, which was then the greatest prize in science, equal to a Nobel Prize today; and a rarer award, since only one Copely Medal was awarded each year. The award citation stated that Gibbs was:
“the first to apply the second law of thermodynamics to the exhaustive discussion of the relation between chemical, electrical, and thermal energy and capacity for external work.”

Some Personal Details and the End

Except for three years in Europe, Gibbs lived all his life in the large family home his father built in New Haven, Connecticut.
This steady life suited him, because he was a man who enjoyed regularity and order. There is an irony in this, given that Gibbs significantly advanced our understanding of entropy – which is often characterized as disorder.
He attended church regularly and left New Haven only during his summer vacations, which he liked to spend in the mountains.
Gibbs was perceived by people who knew him as kind, sympathetic and happy. He never married. He shared the family home with his sisters: Anna, who remained unmarried; and Julia, her husband and children.
Josiah Willard Gibbs died at the age of 64 on April 28, 1903, just a year after he published his seminal work on statistical thermodynamics. His death was caused by an intestinal obstruction.
He was buried in the Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven.

Who is Jacques Cousteau: Biography

After co-inventing the breathe-on-demand valve for SCUBA diving, Jacques Cousteau led hundreds of marine expeditions, making three Oscar winning documentaries. His pioneering television series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau promoted human understanding of ocean life and its intelligence, with Cousteau and his crew doing things never seen before, such as swimming with whales, caressing octopuses, and being pulled along by giant turtles. He was the first person to propose that cetaceans, such as whales and porpoises, use echolocation to navigate.

Earliest Years

Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born on June 11, 1910 in Saint-André-de-Cubzac, near Bordeaux, in France. He learned to swim when he was just four.
His father, Daniel Cousteau, was an international lawyer. His mother, Elizabeth Duranthon, was the daughter of a wealthy local wine merchant and landowner.
The family temporarily relocated to New York, USA when Jacques Cousteau was aged 10 to 12 years old. There he learned to speak English fluently and improved his swimming and snorkeling. At summer camp in Vermont he started diving as part of the camp’s policy of cleaning up the nearby lake, beginning his life-long love of swimming below the water, even though he had no goggles at that time.
When the family returned to France, they moved to the Mediterranean city of Marseilles, where Cousteau snorkeled in the warm sea around the city. He also bought a movie camera, which he took apart and reassembled, learning how it worked mechanically.
Concerned at their son’s lack of academic progress and lack of discipline (he had gone on a window-smashing spree) his parents sent him to a tough boarding school in France’s Alsace region. The strong discipline worked wonders for the boy.

Beginning a Life at Sea

In 1930 Cousteau passed the tough exams for the French Naval Academy in Brest, where he trained for two years before spending a year at sea.
In 1933 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and spent most of the next two years sailing the world’s seas.
In 1935 Cousteau started training to become a naval aircraft pilot. He had almost completed his training when, in 1936, he was involved in a near-fatal car crash. Traveling too fast on a bend, his car left the road. He was paralyzed on his right side and broke a dozen bones, including multiple fractures in both arms.
Surgeons thought it best to amputate his paralyzed right arm, which had become infected. Although the infection was life-threatening, Cousteau insisted his arm should not be amputated. He survived, but his career as a pilot was over.
After months of therapy, much of it spent swimming to increase the strength of his shattered bones, he became a naval gunnery instructor.
Cousteau now swam daily to strengthen his arms. He improvised a pair of early swimming goggles from aircraft pilot goggles and swam down to explore the sea floor. The beauty of the sea-floor and its flora and fauna made such a deep impression on him that he decided that he wanted to make diving his life’s work.

World War 2: Despair, Spying, and Inventing the Diving Regulator


In the early part of World War 2 Cousteau was serving as a gunnery officer when French ships bombarded the Italian naval base at Genoa, close to the border between France and Italy. Cousteau thought of his Italian friends and felt deep despair about what he had to do.
After France surrendered, the southern part of France lived under the Vichy regime – a French government that cooperated with the Nazis, causing more despair for Cousteau.


Before the war began, Cousteau had been recruited into France’s intelligence service. Cousteau stayed in France during the war and worked in Resistance operations against Italy’s intelligence services. After the war ended, Cousteau was awarded the Military Cross 1939-1945, ‘with palm and two citations.’

Marine Cameraman and Film Prize

During the war years, Cousteau also began the work for which he would become world-famous. In 1942 he and his friend Marcel Ichac took an underwater camera to the waters around the Embiez Islands in the French Mediterranean. They made a film of undersea footage called 18 Meters Deep. The following year, the pair were awarded an arts prize for their work.

Inventing the Diving Regulator

Meanwhile, Cousteau had grown frustrated with the breathing equipment available for divers. Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) had been invented in 1926 by another Frenchman, Yves Paul Gaston Le Prieur, but air flow to the diver from the air tanks on his back was poorly regulated, with the result that time spent underwater was very short. Cousteau had earlier experimented with breathing pure oxygen rather than air, hoping this would allow him to remain underwater longer. However, oxygen toxicity at depths below 45 feet caused him to lose consciousness; he abandoned the idea of breathing pure oxygen.
Cousteau then tried to find a better way to control air flow to the diver.
The demand regulator had been invented in 1942 by Émile Gagnan, a French engineer, to control gas flow in engines. The demand regulator only allowed gas through ‘on demand,’ not continuously.
Cousteau saw the potential for such a valve for divers: air would only be fed to them when they breathed in, and so their supply would last longer. Cousteau made suggestions to Gagnan about modifying his valve.
And so, in 1943, the diving regulator or aqualung was born, co-invented and patented by Gagnan and Cousteau.
Cousteau immediately incorporated the new device into SCUBA apparatus. It gave him exactly what he wanted, clearing the path for him to swim freely under the ocean’s surface.There was no longer any need for the incredibly restrictive heavy helmet, diving suit, and air tube going back to ship, that had made diving such a cumbersome activity in the past. He said:

Initial Research

After the war ended, Cousteau began underwater research for the French Navy. In 1947 he set a new depth record for a free diver, descending to 300 feet under the sea.
In addition to military work, such as mine clearance, in 1948 Cousteau used his new SCUBA equipment for underwater archeology work, exploring a sunken Roman wreck in the Mediterranean off the coast of Mahdia, in Tunisia.
In 1951 Cousteau took scientific leave from the Navy and began his own sea expeditions.

Cousteau, Marine Science, Conservation and Television Documentaries

All Aboard Calypso

Cousteau had shared his plans to make undersea film documentaries with wealthy British philanthropist Thomas Loel Guinness.Guinness was highly enthusiastic and he decided the best way he could help was to provide Cousteau with a ship.
In 1950 Guinness bought a former car ferry and leased it to Cousteau, now 40-years-old, for a token 1 franc a year.
The ship’s name was Calypso. Like Cousteau’s own name, it was destined to become familiar to TV audiences all over the world.
Although he now had use of a ship at virtually no cost, Cousteau needed to equip it and crew it. This was terribly expensive, and Cousteau begged for government grants and pleaded with manufacturers for free equipment.
To raise more money, he and Frédéric Dumas coauthored the 1953 book The Silent World, a book about their pioneering adventures in SCUBA diving.
The book was an instant hit, and has continued to sell; to date it has sold over 5 million copies. In the book, Cousteau made the first ever suggestion that members of the whale family are able navigate using echolocation. He had deduced this from observing their behavior entering the Straits of Gibraltar.

Two Movie Oscars

In 1956 Cousteau released his first color movie documentary, called, like his earlier book, The Silent World. This movie changed forever people’s ideas about the oceans and the life they contain. Today, most of us have seen plenty of undersea footage, but until Cousteau released The Silent World, only a tiny number of people had any idea of what the undersea world looked like. The movie won Cousteau the 1957 Academy Award for Best Documentary.
A lot of marine life was killed during filming of The Silent World, including many sharks and a baby whale (by accident). In more recent times Cousteau has been criticized for this, although, given that he himself was to become one of the world’s greatest advocates of marine conservation, he must have come to regret the deaths.
After the film’s release, there was huge demand for SCUBA equipment, including Gagnan and Cousteau’s diving regulator. Cousteau had captured the world’s imagination. A great many people desperate for adventure were inspired by Cousteau to take up SCUBA diving.
Cousteau officially retired from the French Navy in 1956 with the rank of Captain.
In 1960, the year of his fiftieth birthday, Cousteau’s new documentary, The Golden Fish, won the Academy Award for Best Short Film. In the same year, he was featured on the front cover of Time Magazine. In his interview with Time, Cousteau predicted that one day people would have gills surgically added to enable them to live underwater.
In 1961 President John F. Kennedy presented the National Geographic Society’s Gold Medal to Cousteau.

Conshelf Sea Bases and, Remarkably, a Third Oscar

In 1963 Cousteau explored the possibility of establishing manned bases on the sea-floor, where divers could become ‘oceanauts.’
The bases, the Conshelf bases, were partly funded by French oil companies who were interested in exploring the sea-floor. In the end, Cousteau decided he would rather work in conservation than oil-exploration and abandoned the idea. Nowadays, sea-floor exploration is carried out at lower cost and lower risk using underwater robots.
The documentary Cousteau made about establishing the Conshelf bases, World Without Sun, won him his third Academy Award, for Best Documentary, in 19

The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau

In the years 1968–76 Cousteau produced probably his best known work, the TV documentary series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. It ran for eight seasons, with some narration from Cousteau himself in his uniquely French accented English. The programs described the undersea adventures he and Calypso’s crew were having and the marine species they were observing. The crew by now included his sons, Philippe and Jean-Michel. The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau inspired yet another new generation of divers and marine biologists.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom

In 1985, on Cousteau’s 75th birthday, President Ronald Reagan presented him with America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That same year, Cousteau had invited Cuba’s leader, Fidel Castro, for dinner on Calypso and persuaded him to release 80 political prisoners.

Some Personal Details and the End

Cousteau married Simone Melchior when he was 26 years old, on July, 12 19They had two sons, Jean-Michel and Philipp. Simone always traveled with Cousteau on Calypso and once even sold her jewels to buy fuel to keep the ship at sea.
Simone died of cancer in 1990.
In 1991, Cousteau, who was by then in his eighties, married Francine Triplet. They already had a daughter, Diane, and a son, Pierre-Yves, born in the early nineteen-eighties, while Cousteau was still married to Simone.
Near the end of his life, Cousteau had a legal battle with his son, Jean-Michael, over his son’s wish to use the Cousteau name for commercial purposes.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau died of a heart attack on June 25, 1997 in Paris, aged He was buried in his family’s vault in the village of his birth, Saint-André-de-Cubzac. His village renamed the street which led to the house he was born in “Rue du Commandant Cousteau” or, in English, “Commander Cousteau Street.”

Who is Jagadish Chandra Bose: Biography

Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose is one of the most prominent first Indian scientists who proved by experimentation that both animals and plants share much in common. He demonstrated that plants are also sensitive to heat, cold, light, noise and various other external stimuli. Bose contrived a very sophisticated instrument called Crescograph which could record and observe the minute responses because of external stimulants. It was capable of magnifying the motion of plant tissues to about 10,000 times of their actual size, which found many similarities between plants and other living organisms.

Contributions and Early Life:

The central hall of the Royal Society in London was jam-packed with famous scientists on May 10, 19Everyone seemed to be curious to know how Bose’s experiment will demonstrate that plants have feelings like other living beings and humans. Bose chose a plant whose mots were cautiously dipped up to its stem in a vessel holding the bromide solution. The salts of hydrobromic acid are considered a poison. He plugged in the instrument with the plant and viewed the lighted spot on a screen showing the movements of the plant, as its pulse beat, and the spot began to and fro movement similar to a pendulum. Within minutes, the spot vibrated in a violent manner and finally came to an abrupt stop. The whole thing was almost like a poisoned rat fighting against death. The plant had died due to the exposure to the poisonous bromide solution.
The event was greeted with much appreciation, however some physiologists were not content, and considered Bose as an intruder. They harshly knocked the experiment but Bose did not give up and was quite confident about his findings.
Using the Crescograph, he further researched the response of the plants to fertilizers, light rays and wireless waves. The instrument received widespread acclaim, particularly from the Path Congress of Science in 19Many physiologists also supported his findings later on, using more advanced instruments.
Jagadish Chandra Bose was born on 30 November, 1858 at Mymensingh, now in Bangladesh. He was raised in a home committed to pure Indian traditions and culture. He got his elementary education from a vernacular school, because his father thought that Bose should learn his own mother tongue, Bengali, before studying a foreign language like English. Bose attended Cambridge after studying physics at Calcutta University. He returned to India in 1884 after completing a B.Sc. degree from Cambridge University.

Later Life and Death:

Bose authored two illustrious books; ‘Response in the Living and Non-living’ (1902) and ‘The Nervous Mechanism of Plants’ (1926). He also extensively researched the behaviour of radiowaves. Mostly known as a plant physiologist, he was actually a physicist. Bose devised another instrument called ‘Coherer’, for detecting the radiowaves.
Prior to his death in 1937, Bose set up the Bose Institute at Calcutta. He was elected the Fellow of the Royal Society in 1920 for his amazing contributions and achievements.

Sources: Famous Scientists