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‘Are Us’ Fun Fact: Michael Faraday’s father was a poverty-stricken blacksmith who worked in the village of Newington in Surrey, England and the family hardly ever had enough to eat.
Favorite Quote: “Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of nature.”
1791, Faraday was brought into the world to provide many contributions to physics and chemistry. An English scientist, he contributed enormously to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry.
As a chemist, Michael discovered the organic chemical compound Benzine (Interesting Benzine Video); it has the molecular formula C6H6, a molecule composed of six carbon atoms glued in a ring with just one hydrogen atom attached to each of the atoms of carbon. In 1825, Faraday did this by isolating the oily residue derived from the production of illuminating gas. Neat to say the least!
He also contributed to the early form of the Bunsen burner, the system of oxidation numbers which popularized terms like cathode, ion and electrode.
Lets dive into what he’s known for, starting with, Faraday’s law of induction. What’s that all about? Essentially referring to electromagnetic induction, it shows the production of voltage across a conductor when it is exposed to a varying magnetic field. This field of electromagnetism is part of the four fundamental interactions in nature, the other three are the Strong and Weak Nuclear interaction and finally what holds my butt to my seat, gravitation. Specifically, electromagnetic induction is a basic law of electromagnetism predicting how a magnetic field will interact with an electric circuit to produce an electromotive force (EMF). It is the fundamental operating principle of transformers, inductors, and many types of electrical motors,generators and solenoids.
Electrochemisty, a branch of chemistry that primarily focuses on the reactions of chemicals which take place in a solution at the midst of an electron conductor and an ionic conductor both receptively called by Faraday, the electrode and the electrolyte.
In the Faraday Effect, the interaction light and a magnetic field in a medium. This “effect causes a rotation of the plan of polarization” this concludes that light and electromagnetism are related, this theoretical basis of electromagnetic radiation was finished by James Clerk Maxwell in the 1860s and 70s.
Other contributions include,
The Faraday constant, showing the magnitude of electric charge per pole of electrons.
The Faraday Cup, a metal cup created to catch charged particles in a vacuum. This allows the cup to determine the number of ions or electrons actually hitting the cup.
The ion, a atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons which would obviously give the net positive or negative charge.
Laws of Electrolysis:
First Law – “The mass of a substance altered at an electrode during electrolysis is directly proportional to the quantity of electricity transferred at that electrode. Quantity of electricity refers to the quantity of electrical charge, typically measured in coulomb.”
Good to know right?!
So, very well know as a science communicator, he became a Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Faraday’s affect on England was huge, being granted knighthood for his achievements, he declined. Then, refusing to the British government once more for requesting his expertise for chemical weaponry for the Crimean War (1853–1856).
One fateful day in the year 1822, Gregor Mendel, the Father of Genetics, is born! Founder of the science, genetics, Mendel gained his fame, posthumously. Bummer.
His experimented on plant hybridization led him to create the Mendelian inheritance (Individual possesses a pair of alleles; one of a number of alternative forms of the same gene, containing two complete sets of chromosomes, one from each parent), the two laws are called the Law of Segregation and the Law of Independent Assortment.
He published a paper “Experiments on Plant Hybridization” which received favorable reviews. Unfortunately missing the eyes of Darwin, the paper was unnoticed for approximately thirty-five years. After being rejected at first, Mendel’s work not widely accepted until after he died.
“It was not until the early 20th century that the importance of Mendel’s ideas was realized. During his own lifetime, most biologists held the idea that all characteristics were passed to the next generation through blending inheritance, in which the traits from each parent are averaged together. Instances of this phenomenon are now explained by the action of multiple genes with quantitative effects. Charles Darwin tried unsuccessfully to explain inheritance through a theory of pangenesis.”
Sir Isaac Newton, English physicist and mathematician, one of the most influential scientists ever. No kidding. NO kidding! Born in 1642, Newton was not in times of science. Starting young in the mathematics, Newton’s first gig began with Optics. Newton was interested especially in light and its refraction and also understanding light from a macro and micro standpoint.
Theorizing for sometime, lecturing, his knowledge started to grow as he began to understand the classical mechanics behind matter with mass. Though he did not know of quantum mechanics, Newton was correct about light being made up of small particles; what he call “corpuscles” but did not fully understand light at the quantum scale (obviously).
Thanks to Feynman and his work in Quantum Electrodynamics, now what physicists call photons can now be better understood. (Read Feynman’s Short Bio) Being the key figure in the scientific revolution, at the age of 45 (some hope for you older people?) Isaac published three books in a volume titled “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” in 1687. Introducing the foundation for classical mechanics, Newton described in elegant detail the physical laws describing the motion of celestial bodies.
It states the three universal laws of motion, law of universal gravitation and the derivation of Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. With his invention of calculus, (some say Leibniz is the inventor, see sources) his mathematics have assisted in the scientific revolution I mentioned earlier.
Later in his life, at the time as many should, Newton was incredibly religious and spending some time with literal interpretations of the Bible, he disputed the Trinity with John Locke and number of other interesting events concerning religion.
Charles Darwin, the well know English naturalist was born in 1809 in Shropshire, United Kingdom. His most famous work include what most people know him for, his publication of the 1859 book “On the Origin of Species”. One of the most controversial books, even today, Charles Darwin introduces the idea of a branching pattern of evolution resulting from natural selection. This theory suggests that all species of life have come from a common ancestry.
You might ask yourself why someone might’ve taken this interest to begin with. Mr. Darwin began his interest in nature which distracted his studies at the University of Edinburgh. Instead of his medical education, his interest spiked as he began to study marine invertebrates. Later he furthered his interest in natural science at the University of Cambridge.
Finding how unique nature is, he found the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils fascinating. This curiosity berthed the idea of natural selection in 1838. 1839, after publishing his travel journal “The Voyage of the Beagle”, Darwin started to become well-known as an author. Later, collaborating with Alfred Russel Wallace, “On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection” thus was introduce the idea of natural selection and evolution in 1858. This collection of papers motivated Charles to condense his work on Natural Selection naming his publication “On the Origins of Species” in 1859.
1871, Darwin began another adventure. This time acquiring knowledge in sexual selection, emotions in man and animals and also researched in the field of ecology. Charles Darwin died in 1882 due to heart failure. His last words were “I am not the least afraid of death – Remember what a good wife you have been to me – Tell all my children to remember how good they have been to me”.
Darwin, C. (2009). The origin of species by means of natural selection: or, the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life. W. F. Bynum (Ed.). AL Burt.
Darwin, C. (2005). The Autobiography of Charles Darwin. Barnes & Noble Publishing.
Darwin, C. (2004). The descent of man. Digireads. com.
Darwin, C. (1998). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. Oxford University Press.
‘Are Us’ Fact: In 1969, Carl Sagan wrote under the Pseudonym “Mr. X” about the virtues of cannabis. (Article link)
Favorite Quote: “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1934, Sagan came into the world from two immigrants settling in the United States. Fascinated by stars at a young age, Carl received a library card from his mother, this eventually sparked on a journey to know.
At the University of Chicago, Sagan received four degrees, completing his Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics in 1960. During his time at University, Carl become fond in working with the origins of life, later writing his thesis on the origins of life with collaboration H. C. Urey.
Later, Sagan eventually became a full professor at Cornell in 1971 and taught there until his death in 1996. Some main contributions to his career include his advocacy for NASA. (Pictured: Pioneer Plaque, a plaque mounted onto both robotic space probes Pioneer 10 & 11.) He assisted in briefing the Apollo crew as they ensued their voyage to the moon. Publishing over 600 scientific papers, Sagan contributed to the notion of a hot surface on Venus, hypothesize Titan, one of Saturn’s moons with the possibility of an oceans and many more contributions.
Though Dr. Carl Sagan did much research, he was also heavy in science communication. Winning the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for his Book “Dragons of Eden: Speculation of the Evolution of Human Intelligence” Sagan was viewed, revolutionary. Three years later he had won an Emmy for his work on the 1980’s 13 part series “Cosmos”. In 1997, his book “Contact” was made into a feature film dedicating his life in science, communication, curiosity and so forth. Here’s to you Sagan.
Sagan, C., & Steele, F. R. (1996). The demon-haunted world: Science as a candle in the dark. New York: Headline.
Sagan, C. (2012). Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the evolution of human intelligence. Ballantine Books.
‘Are Us’ Fact: There’s a unit of measurement called ‘The Dirac’ . One Dirac = One word spoken per day, in reference to the fact that Paul Dirac was so taciturn and shy! (Thanks to georgsaliba for his comment.)
Favorite Quote: “Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star.”
Born in Bristol, England in 1902, Dirac came into physics at an important time. Einstein finished his paper on Special Relativity (The Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies) in 1905 and later published his paper on General Relativity (Geometric Theory of Gravity) in 1916. During this development in physics, something interesting arose. Quantum Field Theory was underway in the 20’s, something in which Dirac played a huge role.
Studying electrical engineering at the University of Bristol, he completed his degree in 1921 then returning once more to study mathematics free of charge. While he was there, Dirac began his passion for general relativity under the supervision of Ralph Fowler.
Paul Dirac began the most general theory of quantum mechanics which was introduced to him by Werner Heisenberg in 1925. In 1926, Dirac received his doctorate degree from Cambridge, the title of his thesis “Quantum Mechanics” was praised and now sits, handwritten, at Dirac’s Science Library, Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Thanks to his research advisor, Ralph Fowler was able to get the paper for Dirac to carefully look over. Establishing this theory, Dirac discovered the relativistic equation for the electron currently named after himself (Dirac Equation) in 1928.
He thought of the positron; the antiparticle to the electron, which also derive from his equations. Being the first to fully develop the quantum field theory, his work is the foundation for all elementary particles, this helps us understand the fundamental forces of nature. Without this theory, enormous projects like the Large Hadron Collider operated by CERN in Geneva, Switzerland would not have happened. Dirac also suggested the concept of a magnetic monopole (a hypothetical particle that is an isolated magnet with only one magnetic pole). With this suggestion, it would bring great symmetry to Maxwell’s equations on the force of nature known as electromagnetism.
One of his most important works relies on his wave equation, this equations introduced special relativity to Erwin Schrodinger’s wave equation. Schrodinger and Dirac shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory. One year prior going to Werner Heisenberg, for his creation of quantum mechanics. Dirac also attempted to glue quantum mechanics and general relativity, a problem that still persists today.
Later in his life, Dirac became a professor, beginning his career at the University of Cambridge as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. Afterwards, he moved to the United States and became a member for the center of theoretical study at the University of Miami in Florida. He spent the last decade of his life in Tallahassee, Florida teaching at Florida State University. Thanks to his contribution at FSU, the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory was erected in 1994. A statue stands outside the Dirac Science Library commemorating his achievement in the fields of physics.
“Paul A.M. Dirac – Biography”. Nobelprize.org. 7 Jun 2013 http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1933/dirac-bio.html
Dirac, Paul Adrien Maurice. “The principles of quantum mechanics.” The International Series of Monographs on Physics, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 19471 (1947).
Dirac, Paul AM. “The quantum theory of the electron.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Containing Papers of a Mathematical and Physical Character 117.778 (1928): 610-624.
Favorite Quote: “The highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion.”
Born in New York in 1918, Feynman grew up in the golden age of physics. Einstein just published his paper on general relativity in 1916 and this began a revolution, the world was starting to get a better understanding of the natural world. Richard fortunately had a great mentor, his father. Feynman’s father taught Richard what it is truly like to know something, to understand in great detail the functionality of something. Most importantly, Richard’s father Carl showed him how the world worked, and how interesting it is.
Thanks to his father, Richard began to have an interest in fixing radios and taught himself advanced algebra, trigonometry, differential and integral calculus all at the age of 15. As a senior in high school, young Feynman began to apply for universities. Applying for Columbia and MIT, Feynman was accepted only to MIT. Big woop right? At MIT, Feynman’s first consisted on trying to decide on an area to study. Beginning in mathematics, Feynman didn’t find that particularly inspiring. Afterwards, he tried engineering before finally falling into the event horizon of physics. Feynman did incredibly well as an undergraduate leaving his adviser suggesting on graduate study. His adviser, Manuel Vallanta, suggested to explore the world and to not return to MIT for graduate work. After much convincing, Feynman’s parents agreed on the terms leaving Feynman the decision to attend Princeton. At Princeton, Feynman met his doctoral adviser, physicist, John Wheeler. While at Princeton, group leader Robert Wilson encouraged Feynman to participate in the Manhattan Project. Richard reluctantly agreed concerned Nazi Germany was close to developing one as well.
Feynman moved to Los Alamos to begin work, alongside other great scientists. Richard was assigned to Han’s Beth’s theoretical division and together they formed the Beth-Feynman formula which calculated the yield of the fission bomb.
After the success of the project, Feynman decided to follow Beth and teach theoretical physics at Cornell University from 1945-1950. Desiring to live in a mild climate, Feynman declined many prestigious offers and instead accepted an offer to teach theoretical physics at California Institute of Technology.
At Cal Tech, Richard Feynman did incredible work including his completion of Quantum Electrodynamics. Completing the theory; Feynman, Schwinger (Doctoral Adviser during Feynman’s time at Princeton) and Tomonaga were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. Feynman used two distinct formulations, first being path integral formation and second, the formulation of his “Feynman Diagrams”. This strange theory of light and matter gave insight on the weird interactions of photons. (Particles of light)
Later in his life, Feynman got into the government business once more. This time, involving NASA and the Challenger Disaster of 1986. Feynman played an enormous role in the investigation, eventually figuring out the source of the problem. During a televised hearing, Feynman demonstrated that the O-Ring material that was used on the shuttle became less resilient in cold weather. Because of this, the cold launch in 1986 explains the causation of such catastrophe. In an appendix to the report of the incident, Feynman famously ending with this quote.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.
Krauss, L. M. (2012). Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science (Great Discoveries). WW Norton & Company.
Gleick, J. (2011). Genius: The life and science of Richard Feynman. Open Road.
Feynman, R. P. (1988). An outsider’s inside view of the Challenger inquiry.Physics Today, 41(2), 26-37.
Feyman, R. P. (1985). QED: The strange theory of light and matter. Universities Press.
Feynman, R. P., Hibbs, A. R., & Styer, D. F. (1965). Quantum mechanics and path integrals (Vol. 2). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Source: Custom Painting
A composition of my favorite scientists being interviewed, lecturing and awe inspiring. Take a look!