Physics Trivia

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This Danish born scientist built the most recognized yet inaccurate model of the hydrogen atom. He founded the modern quantum theory of matter and worked under Ernest Rutherford in Manchester, England. In 1939 he was elected president of the Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters. He also helped in the British-American atomic bomb project at Los Alamos.

Formerly, he received only a primary education yet he develped the modern theory of electromagnetic fields. Beyond his success in the then theoretical branch of physics, this gentleman created a series of lectures aimed at children. Those lectures discussed "The Chemical History of a Candle."

Though initially uninterested, Niels Bohr conviced him to pursue research in quantum theory. During the Nazi reign in Germany, he became the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. He headed the Germany nuclear arms project. However, he didn't focus solely on physics. He extended his mind into philosophy.

His credentials extend into the heart of mathematical representations. He developed calculus. What we recogonize as derivatives, he labeled fluxions. What we call integral, he apropriately chose inverse fluxions. The notation familiar to many mechanical engineers, the "dot" notation representing derivatives, was created by this gentleman. Beyond math, he pioneered representing light as a particle.

His given name is John William Strutt. Strutt, however, was so stricken with disease, that he was not expected to live past his youth. Fortunately, he lived long enough to build a substantial reputation. He spent six years of his life as the President of a government committe on explosives, was once a Chancellor of Cambridge University and became a Justice of the Peace.

This Fellow of the Royal Society was a professor of anatomy and physiology at Bonn in 1858. He helped to show how heat is related to mechanical energy and was first to study the propagation speed of nerve impulses in frogs. He once was quoted saying "Whoever in the pursuit of science, seeks after immediate practicle utility may rest assured that he seeks in vain."

This 1900 graduate of Zurich Polytechnic earned a degree as a secondary school teacher of math and physics. He published much of his work while employed in a patent office. He was a professor at the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft. He spent the remainder of his professional life in a research position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.