Biographies, history, personal accounts

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  • #36
Schrödinger harbored a harem in his home. I don't recall whether the count was two or three. The man who created the Wonder Woman character had a similar lifestyle.

When Schrödinger came up with his equation he didn't know that the values were related to probabilities.
 
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  • #37
Hornbein said:
Schrödinger harbored a harem in his home. I don't recall whether the count was two or three. The man who created the Wonder Woman character had a similar lifestyle.

When Schrödinger came up with his equation he didn't know that the values were related to probabilities.
It is worse than that. He's got a record of having sexual encounters with minors. Rooms and buildings of some universities are no longer called "Schrödinger" for this reason.
 
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  • #38
pines-demon said:
It is worse than that. He's got a record of having sexual encounters with minors. Rooms and buildings of some universities are no longer called "Schrödinger" for this reason.
News to me, but if true - and I seldom doubt two members on here being in agreement - that is indeed pretty disgusting. The man just went on my "list".
 
  • #40
BWV said:
Fritz Haber is a fascinating and tragic figure. On one hand, his eponymous process saved 2.7 billion human lives by some estimates. However he also led the German chemical weapons program in World War One and developed Zyklon B, which the Nazis used some 25 years later to murder his surviving family members
I saw a documentary on Einstein and remember Haber having a heart attack. Pretty sure he was portrayed as being remorseful that his talents were used to kill soldiers in the trenches.

I was wrong apparently

"during peace time a scientist belongs to the world, but during war time he belongs to his country". F. Haber.

His family founded of what was to become BASF, https://www.basf.com/global/en/who-we-are/history/chronology/1902-1924/1913.html
 
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  • #41
My work with Millikan on the oil-drop experiment
by Harvey Fletcher
(Physics Today, June 1962)
http://www.ub.edu/hcub/hfq/sites/default/files/fletcher.pdf

I remember one of the (visitors to the lab) was the great Charles Steinmetz from the General Electric Company. He was one who did not believe in electrons. He could explain all the electrical phenomena in terms of a strain in the Ether. After watching these little oil droplets most of one afternoon, he came and shook my hand and said, shaking his head, "I never would have believed it. I never would have believed it" and then left.

Video by Dr. Jorge S. Diaz:

 
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  • #43
Swamp Thing said:
My work with Millikan on the oil-drop experiment
by Harvey Fletcher
(Physics Today, June 1962)
http://www.ub.edu/hcub/hfq/sites/default/files/fletcher.pdf



Video by Dr. Jorge S. Diaz:


I can appreciate their enthusiasm doing real, down-to-basics, bareboned physics. Applying both theory and experiment.

On top of that I can actually follow the math!
 
  • #44
Boffin : a personal story of the early days of radar, radio astronomy, and quantum optics
R. Hanbury Brown

https://archive.org/details/boffinpersonalst0000brow/page/n5/mode/2up

To a surprising number of people the idea that the arrival of photons at two separated detectors
can ever be correlated was not ony heretical but patently absurd... If science had a Pope we would have been excommunicated.
 
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  • #45
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  • #46
Frabjous said:
“Landau’s Theoretical Minimum, Landau’s Seminar, ITEP in the Beginning of the 1950’s”
By Boris Ioffe
https://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0204295

Nice find! And from one of the less soft sections of arXiv even. ;)
 
  • #48
Swamp Thing said:
Edwin Hall on his discovery of the Hall Effect:

https://web.archive.org/web/20070208040346/http://www.stenomuseet.dk/skoletj/elmag/kilde9.html

Although published as a scientific paper, it reads in part like a personal narrative... It would be fun if papers were written in that style today. Or like the old Royal Society papers.
Well, that was 1879. Scientific publishing was different then. A lot more was published.

I once read an article, probably from the late 1800's, about some guy working in a lab that had some cockroaches in it which were pissing him off.
The lab had gas lights on tubes coming out of the wall. When he found cockroaches on tubes, he would see what they would do when he heated up the tube near the wall (they went the other direction).
This got published in a scientific journal.
It was funny but stupid.
 
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  • #51
History of the scanning electron microscope

 
  • #53
Millikan's experimental confirmation of Einstein's photoelectric effect & equation

 
  • #54
I have read that re-analysis of Eddington's eclipse data that allegedly confirmed general relativity were inconclusive.
 
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  • #55
Hornbein said:
I have read that re-analysis of Eddington's eclipse data that allegedly confirmed general relativity were inconclusive.
Source?

I don't have any idea, but Wiki says
It has been claimed that Eddington's observations were of poor quality, and he had unjustly discounted simultaneous observations at Sobral, Brazil, which appeared closer to the Newtonian model, but a 1979 re-analysis with modern measuring equipment and contemporary software validated Eddington's results and conclusions.[12] The quality of the 1919 results was indeed poor compared to later observations, but was sufficient to persuade contemporary astronomers. The rejection of the results from the expedition to Brazil was due to a defect in the telescopes used which, again, was completely accepted and well understood by contemporary astronomers.[13]

12. Kennefick, Daniel (5 September 2007). "Not Only Because of Theory: Dyson, Eddington and the Competing Myths of the 1919 Eclipse Expedition". Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A. arXiv:0709.0685. Bibcode:2007arXiv0709.0685K. doi:10.1016/j.shpsa.2012.07.010. S2CID 119203172.

13. Kennefick, Daniel (1 March 2009). "Testing relativity from the 1919 eclipse – a question of bias". Physics Today. 62 (3): 37–42. Bibcode:2009PhT....62c..37K. doi:10.1063/1.3099578.
 
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  • #56
gmax137 said:
Source?

It has been claimed that Eddington's observations were of poor quality,
 
  • #57
Polish Astrophysics: The First Half-Century, 1923-1973

"An attempt is made to evaluate progress of the Polish astrophysical research of stars and of the inter-stellar medium (ISM) on the basis of scientific paper citations in the ADS database. Rather modest citation levels were observed in the years before the mid-1950's. In the years 1958 - 1973, thanks to the partly opened foreign contacts and to strong support from astronomers of the older generation, work of a number of young, energetic enthusiasts reached the world science levels and formed a strong basis for the well recognized, international successes of the next generations."
 
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  • #60
I admit this one is pretty sought but at least it is history-related.

Jan Veth's paintings of Jacobus Kapteyn

"Jacobus C. Kapteyn is regarded as one of the coryfees of the University of Groningen. Part of his legacy is two paintings of him by Dutch painter Jan Pieter Veth. One, showing him at his desk, decorates the Kapteyn Room in the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, and the other one, displaying him in academic attire, is in the University's gallery of professors in the central Academy Building. The first was offered to the Kapteyns on the occasion of his 40-th anniversary as professor in 1918 and the second to the University after his retirement in 1921.
It has been suggested that there must have been a third portrait that now is lost. Former director Adriaan Blaauw has proposed that the one in the Academy Building actually was first offered in 1918, but at Mrs. Kapteyn's request replaced by the one now in the Kapteyn Room. The first version was then later adapted to the requirements of the gallery of professors by Veth himself by overpainting it with academic attire. A preliminary trial version by Veth, in the possession of Kapteyn's greatgrandson, shows what it would have looked like before the adaption.
The following reports on new evidence: the biography of Jan Veth that historian Johan Huizinga, friend of Veth, wrote, and letters Veth wrote to his wife while he was working on these paintings. This provides strong support of Blaauw's sequence of events with a few modifications. No third painting has ever been produced."
 
  • #61
A Triumvirate of AI Driven Theoretical Discovery by Yang-Hui-He

Subject:
History and Overview (math.HO); Artificial Intelligence (cs.AI); High Energy Physics - Theory (hep-th); History and Philosophy of Physics (physics.hist-ph)

Synopsis:
"Recent years have seen the dramatic rise of the usage of AI algorithms in pure mathematics and fundamental sciences such as theoretical physics. This is perhaps counter-intuitive since mathematical sciences require the rigorous definitions, derivations, and proofs, in contrast to the experimental sciences which rely on the modelling of data with error-bars. In this Perspective, we categorize the approaches to mathematical discovery as "top-down", "bottom-up" and "meta-mathematics", as inspired by historical examples. We review some of the progress over the last few years, comparing and contrasting both the advances and the short-comings in each approach. We argue that while the theorist is in no way in danger of being replaced by AI in the near future, the hybrid of human expertise and AI algorithms will become an integral part of theoretical discovery."

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I find this interesting (although admittedly much of it goes over my head). Specifically, what surprises me with the author's angle is that, as I've understood the usefulness of AI, it is useful mostly within language and graphics. Disciplines which somewhat came as a surprise to those who foresaw that AI (and perhaps machine learning) would show their strengths within mathematics and logic. That it turns out to be so helpful in the realm of mathematics and physics somewhat surprises me. It might be a tall order to ask you to conclude something from a single arXiv preprint but can it really be so?
 
  • #62
I'ts not that I don't think people are unable to find the physics.hist-ph section on arXiv themselves. (Though I've seen some pretty derogatory comments from physicists regarding philosophy in general.), but it's like I've worked up a pretty good inertia so I migh as well continue:

Myths of German Graphite in World War II, with Original Translations

"We re-examine the common narrative that a 1941 experimental error by physicists Walther Bothe and Peter Jensen led Germany to abandon graphite as a reactor moderator during World War II. We first detail the history of both German and American graphite experiments, noting that the Americans faced similar setbacks but succeeded only at the end of a costly 18-month graphite purification program. We then use Monte Carlo N-Particle simulations to reconstruct Bothe's 1941 experiment. We find the thermal absorption cross section of Bothe's Siemens electrographite to be 12.2 mb, in contrast to his reported 7.9 mb. This discrepancy arises because the neutrons in Bothe's experiment did not reach thermal equilibrium, leading to an underestimation of neutron absorption. Additionally, despite misconceptions that the Germans were unaware of boron impurities, we share evidence that Wilhelm Hanle accurately measured boron and cadmium impurities in the electrographite. To support our findings, we provide 9 excerpted and 3 complete English translations of classified wartime reports by Heisenberg, Joos, Bothe, Jensen, Höcker, Hanle, and Kremer. Our work aims to illuminate the rational constraints behind Germany's decision to forgo graphite moderation.""
 
  • #63
The elision of the subject and the manifestation of the world

(Quantum Physics (quant-ph); History and Philosophy of Physics (physics.hist-ph)

"Owing to the contextuality of the properties of quantum objects, quantum mechanics does not appear to countenance the elision of the thinking and perceiving subject. If quantum objects owe their properties to the experimental conditions in which they are observed, the experimental apparatus cannot owe its properties to the quantum objects of which it is commonly said to be composed. It follows that neither quantum objects nor measuring instruments can be regarded as property-carriers existing independently of conscious subjects. However, if the difference between the classical domain and the quantum domain is understood as essentially the difference between the manifested world and what is instrumental in its manifestation, the elision of the subject can again be achieved."

 

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