Society: Arts and Science – December 20

Today is International Thanksgiving Day! A day to celebrate your life in a special way…

Swedish and Norwegian committees bestow Nobel Prizes in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. In 1895, the will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Ferdinand Édouard Buisson was born on this date in 1841 in Paris. He was a French academic, educational bureaucrat, pacifist and Radical-Socialist (left liberal) politician. He presided over the League of Education from 1902 to 1906 and the Human Rights League (LDH) from 1914 to 1926. In 1927, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to him jointly with Ludwig Quidde. Philosopher and educator, he was Director of Primary Education. He was the author of a thesis on Sebastian Castellio, in whom he saw a “liberal Protestant” in his image. Ferdinand Buisson was the president of the National Association of Freethinkers . In 1905, he chaired the parliamentary committee to implement the separation of church and state. Famous for his fight for secular education through the League of Education, he coined the term laïcité (“secularism”).
Jaroslav Heyrovský was born on this date in 1890. He was a Czech chemist and inventor. Heyrovský was the inventor of the polarographic method, father of the electroanalytical method, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in 1959. His main field of work was polarography. Jaroslav Heyrovský was born in Prague on December 20, 1890, the fifth child of Leopold Heyrovský, Professor of Roman Law at the Charles University in Prague, and his wife Clara, née Hanl von Kirchtreu. He obtained his early education at secondary school until 1909 when he began his study of chemistry, physics, and mathematics at the Charles University in Prague. From 1910 to 1914 he continued his studies at University College, London, under Professors Sir William Ramsay, W. C. McC. Lewis, and F. G. Donnan taking his B.Sc. degree in 1913. He was particularly interested in working with Professor Donnan, on electrochemistry. During the First World War Heyrovský worked in a military hospital as a dispensing chemist and radiologist, which enabled him to continue his studies and to take his PhD degree in Prague in 1918 and D.Sc. in London in 1921. Heyrovský started his university career as an assistant to Professor B. Brauner in the Institute of Analytical Chemistry of the Charles University, Prague; he was promoted to Associate Professor in 1922 and in 1926 he became the University’s first Professor of Physical Chemistry. Heyrovský’s invention of the polarographic method dates from 1922 and he concentrated his whole further scientific activity on the development of this new branch of electrochemistry. He formed a school of Czech polarographers in the University and was himself at the forefront of polarographic research. In 1950 Heyrovský was appointed Director of the newly established Polarographic Institute which has since been incorporated into the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences since 1952.
John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. died on this date in 1968. He was an American author of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories. He is widely known for the comic novels Tortilla Flat (1935) and Cannery Row (1945), the multi-generation epic East of Eden (1952), and the novellas Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Red Pony (1937). The Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath (1939), widely attributed to be part of the American literary canon, is considered Steinbeck’s masterpiece. In the first 75 years since it was published, it sold 14 million copies. The winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, he has been called “a giant of American letters”. His works are widely read abroad and many of his works are considered classics of Western literature. Most of Steinbeck’s work is set in southern and central California, particularly in the Salinas Valley and the California Coast Ranges region. His works frequently explored the themes of fate and injustice, especially as applied to downtrodden or everyman protagonists.
Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin OM KBE PRS died on this date 1998. He was an English physiologist and biophysicist, who shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Andrew Huxley and John Eccles.

Society: Arts and Science – December 5

Today is International Thanksgiving Day! A day to celebrate your life in a special way…

Swedish and Norwegian committees bestow Nobel Prizes in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. In 1895, the will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Władysław Stanisław Reymont died on this date in 1925. He was a Polish novelist and the 1924 laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature. His best-known work is the award-winning four-volume novel Chłopi (The Peasants).
Werner Karl Heisenberg was born on this date in 1901. He was a German theoretical physicist and one of the key creators of quantum mechanics. He published his work in 1925 in a breakthrough paper. In the subsequent series of papers with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, during the same year, this matrix formulation of quantum mechanics was substantially elaborated. In 1927 he published his uncertainty principle, upon which he built his philosophy and for which he is best known. Heisenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1932 “for the creation of quantum mechanics”.[1] He also made important contributions to the theories of the hydrodynamics of turbulent flows, the atomic nucleus, ferromagnetism, cosmic rays, and subatomic particles, and he was instrumental in planning the first West German nuclear reactor at Karlsruhe, together with a research reactor in Munich, in 1957. Considerable controversy surrounds his work on atomic research during World War II. Following World War II, he was appointed a director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, which soon thereafter was renamed the Max Planck Institute for Physics. He was director of the institute until it was moved to Munich in 1958 when it was expanded and renamed the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics. Heisenberg was also president of the German Research Council, chairman of the Commission for Atomic Physics, chairman of the Nuclear Physics Working Group, and president of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Joseph Erlanger died on this date in 1965. He was an American physiologist who is best known for his contributions to the field of neuroscience. Together with Herbert Spencer Gasser, he identified several varieties of nerve fibre and established the relationship between action potential velocity and fibre diameter. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1944 for these achievements.
Carl Ferdinand Cori, ForMemRS was born on this date in 1896. He was a Czech biochemist and pharmacologist born in Prague (then in Austria-Hungary, now Czech Republic) who, together with his wife Gerty Cori and Argentine physiologist Bernardo Houssay, received a Nobel Prize in 1947 for their discovery of how glycogen (animal starch) – a derivative of glucose – is broken down and resynthesized in the body, for use as a store and source of energy. In 2004 both were designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark in recognition of their work that elucidated carbohydrate metabolism.
Cecil Frank Powell, FRS was born on this date in 1903. He was a British physicist, and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his development of the photographic method of studying nuclear processes and for the resulting discovery of the pion (pi-meson), a subatomic particle. Powell was born in Tonbridge, Kent, England, the son of a local gunsmith, and educated at a local elementary school before gaining a scholarship to the Judd School, Tonbridge, which now has one of its four houses named after Powell (the house colour is green), and awards the Powell Physics and Mathematics Prize to an upper sixth form student every year in his honour. Following this he attended Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, graduating in 1925 in the natural sciences. After completing his bachelor’s degree he worked at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, under C.T.R. Wilson and Lord Rutherford, conducting research into condensation phenomena, and gaining his PhD in Physics in 1927. In 1928 he took up a post as Research Assistant to A.M. Tyndall in the H.H. Wills Physical Laboratory at the University of Bristol, later being appointed lecturer, and in 1948 appointed Melville Wills Professor of Physics. In 1932 Powell married Isobel Artner, and the couple had two daughters. In 1936 he took part in an expedition to the West Indies as part of a study of volcanic activity, and where he appears on a stamp issued in Grenada. During his time at Bristol University Powell applied himself to the development of techniques for measuring the mobility of positive ions, to establishing the nature of the ions in common gases, and to the construction and use of a Cockcroft generator to study the scattering of atomic nuclei. He also began to develop methods employing specialised photographic emulsions to facilitate the recording of the tracks of elementary particles, and in 1938 began applying this technique to the study of cosmic radiation, exposing photographic plates at high-altitude, at the tops of mountains and using specially designed balloons, collaborating in the study with Giuseppe Occhialini, H. Muirhead and young Brazilian physicist César Lattes. This work led in 1946 to the discovery of the pion (pi-meson), which proved to be the hypothetical particle proposed in 1935 by Yukawa Hideki in his theory of nuclear physics. In 1949 Powell became a Fellow of the Royal Society and received the society’s Hughes Medal the same year. In 1950 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics “for his development of the photographic method of studying nuclear processes and his discoveries regarding mesons made with this method”. From 1952 Powell was appointed a director of several expeditions to Sardinia and the Po Valley, Italy, utilising high-altitude balloon flights. In 1955, Powell, also a member of the World Federation of Scientific Workers, added his signature to the Russell-Einstein Manifesto put forward by Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein and scientist Joseph Rotblat and was involved in preparations for the first Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs. As Rotblat put it, “Cecil Powell has been the backbone of the Pugwash Movement. He gave it coherence, endurance and vitality.” Powell chaired the meetings of the Pugwash Continuing Committee, often standing in for Bertrand Russell, and attended meetings until 1968. In 1961 Powell received the Royal Medal, and served on the Scientific Policy Committee of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) that year, and in 1967 he was awarded the Lomonosov Gold Medal by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (now Russian Academy of Sciences) “for outstanding achievements in the physics of elementary particles”. Powell died on 9 August 1969, whilst out walking in the foothills of the Alps near the Valsassina region of Italy, where he had been staying with friends. A bench with a commemorative plaque was erected near the site of his death and dedicated to his memory.

Society: Arts and Science – October 20


The Nobel Prize is bestowed annually in categories as selected by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac OM FRS died on this date in 1984. He was an English theoretical physicist who made fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, a member of the Center for Theoretical Studies, University of Miami, and spent the last decade of his life at Florida State University. Among other discoveries, he formulated the Dirac equation, which describes the behaviour of fermions and predicted the existence of antimatter. Dirac shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1933 with Erwin Schrödinger, “for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory”. He also did work that forms the basis of modern attempts to reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics. He was regarded by his friends and colleagues as unusual in character. Albert Einstein said of him, “This balancing on the dizzying path between genius and madness is awful”.[4 His mathematical brilliance, however, means he is regarded as one of the most significant physicists of the 20th century.
Arthur Henderson PC died on this date in 1935. He was a British iron moulder and Labour politician. He was the first Labour cabinet minister, the 1934 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and served three terms as the Leader of the Labour Party. He was popular among his colleagues, who called him “Uncle Arthur” in acknowledgement of his integrity, devotion to the cause and unperturbability. He was a transition figure whose policies were closer to the Liberal Party and the trade unions rejected his emphasis on arbitration and conciliation and thwarted his goal of unifying the Labour Party and the trades unions.
Sir James Chadwick, CH, FRS was born on this date in 1891. He was an English physicist who was awarded the 1935 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the neutron in 1932. In 1941, he wrote the final draft of the MAUD Report, which inspired the U.S. government to begin serious atomic bomb research efforts. He was the head of the British team that worked on the Manhattan Project during the Second World War. He was knighted in England in 1945 for his achievements in physics. Chadwick graduated from the Victoria University of Manchester in 1911, where he studied under Ernest Rutherford (known as the “father of nuclear physics”). At Manchester, he continued to study under Rutherford until he was awarded his MSc in 1913. The same year, Chadwick was awarded an 1851 Research Fellowship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. He elected to study beta radiation under Hans Geiger in Berlin. Using Geiger’s recently developed Geiger counter, Chadwick was able to demonstrate that beta radiation produced a continuous spectrum, and not discrete lines as had been thought. Still in Germany when the First World War broke out in Europe, he spent the next four years in the Ruhleben internment camp. After the war, Chadwick followed Rutherford to the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, where Chadwick earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree under Rutherford’s supervision from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge in June 1921. He was Rutherford’s assistant director of research at the Cavendish Laboratory for over a decade at a time when it was one of the world’s foremost centres for the study of physics, attracting students like John Cockcroft, Norman Feather, and Mark Oliphant. Chadwick pursued a line of research that led to his discovery of the neutron in 1932, and went on to measure its mass. He anticipated that neutrons would become a major weapon in the fight against cancer. Chadwick left the Cavendish Laboratory in 1935 to become a professor of physics at the University of Liverpool, where he overhauled an antiquated laboratory and, by installing a cyclotron, made it an important centre for the study of nuclear physics. During the Second World War, Chadwick carried out research as part of the Tube Alloys project to build an atomic bomb, while his Liverpool lab and environs were harassed by Luftwaffe bombing. When the Quebec Agreement merged his project with the American Manhattan Project, he became part of the British Mission, and worked at the Los Alamos Laboratory and in Washington, D.C. He surprised everyone by earning the almost-complete trust of project director Leslie R. Groves, Jr. For his efforts, Chadwick received a knighthood in the New Year Honours on 1 January 1945. In July 1945, he viewed the Trinity nuclear test. After this, he served as the British scientific advisor to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission. Uncomfortable with the trend toward Big Science, Chadwick became the Master of Gonville and Caius College in 1948. He retired in 1959.
Carl Ferdinand Cori, ForMemRS died on this date in 1984. He was a Czech biochemist and pharmacologist born in Prague (then in Austria-Hungary, now Czech Republic) who, together with his wife Gerty Cori and Argentine physiologist Bernardo Houssay, received a Nobel Prize in 1947 for their discovery of how glycogen (animal starch) – a derivative of glucose – is broken down and resynthesized in the body, for use as a store and source of energy. In 2004 both were designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark in recognition of their work that elucidated carbohydrate metabolism.