The Bogdanov affair was an academic dispute regarding the legitimacy of a series of theoretical physics papers written by French twins Igor and Grichka Bogdanov (alternately spelt Bogdanoff). These papers were published in reputable scientific journals, and were alleged by their authors to culminate in a proposed theory for describing what occurred at and before the Big Bang.
The controversy began in 2002, with an allegation that the twins, celebrities in France for hosting science-themed TV shows, had obtained PhDs with nonsensical work. Rumours spread on Usenet newsgroups that their work was a deliberate hoax intended to target weaknesses in the peer review system that physics journals use to select papers for publication. While the Bogdanov brothers continued to defend the veracity of their work, the debate over whether or not it represented a contribution to physics spread from Usenet to many other Internet forums, eventually receiving coverage in the mainstream media. A Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) internal report later concluded that their theses had no scientific value.
The incident prompted criticism of the Bogdanovs' approach to science popularization, led to multiple lawsuits, and provoked reflection among physicists as to how and why the peer review system can fail.
- "Bogdanov affair" | 2016-09-24 | 131 Upvotes 63 Comments
Chester Floyd Carlson (February 8, 1906 – September 19, 1968) was an American physicist, inventor, and patent attorney born in Seattle, Washington.
He is best known for inventing electrophotography, the process performed today by millions of photocopiers worldwide. Carlson's process produced a dry copy, as contrasted with the wet copies then produced by the mimeograph process. Carlson's process was renamed xerography, a term that means "dry writing."
- "Chester Carlson – Inventor of Xerography" | 2017-07-02 | 23 Upvotes 3 Comments
Donna Theo Strickland, (born 27 May 1959) is a Canadian optical physicist and pioneer in the field of pulsed lasers. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018, together with Gérard Mourou, for the invention of chirped pulse amplification. She is a professor at the University of Waterloo.
She served as fellow, vice president, and president of The Optical Society, and is currently chair of their Presidential Advisory Committee. In 2018, she was listed as one of BBC's 100 Women.
- "Donna Strickland won her Nobel prize in Physics before she got a wikipedia page" | 2018-10-02 | 41 Upvotes 24 Comments
Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni (German: [ˈɛʁnst ˈfloːʁɛns ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈkladnɪ]; 30 November 1756 – 3 April 1827) was a German physicist and musician. His most important work, for which he is sometimes labeled the father of acoustics, included research on vibrating plates and the calculation of the speed of sound for different gases. He also undertook pioneering work in the study of meteorites and is regarded by some as the father of meteoritics.
- "Chladni Figures" | 2018-07-24 | 41 Upvotes 9 Comments
Freeman John Dyson (15 December 1923 – 28 February 2020) was an English-born American theoretical physicist and mathematician known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. He was professor emeritus in the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, a member of the Board of Visitors of Ralston College and a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Dyson originated several concepts that bear his name, such as Dyson's transform, a fundamental technique in additive number theory, which he developed as part of his proof of Mann's theorem; the Dyson tree, a hypothetical genetically-engineered plant capable of growing in a comet; the Dyson series, a perturbative series where each term is represented by Feynman diagrams; the Dyson sphere, a thought experiment that attempts to explain how a space-faring civilization would meet its energy requirements with a hypothetical megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its power output; and Dyson's eternal intelligence, a means by which an immortal society of intelligent beings in an open universe could escape the prospect of the heat death of the universe by extending subjective time to infinity while expending only a finite amount of energy.
Dyson believed global warming is caused merely by increased carbon dioxide but that some of the effects of this are favourable and not taken into account by climate scientists, such as increased agricultural yield. He was skeptical about the simulation models used to predict climate change, arguing that political efforts to reduce causes of climate change distract from other global problems that should take priority. He also signed the World Climate Declaration that there "is no Climate Emergency".
- "Freeman Dyson Has Died" | 2020-02-28 | 91 Upvotes 2 Comments
John von Neumann (; Hungarian: Neumann János Lajos, pronounced [ˈnɒjmɒn ˈjaːnoʃ ˈlɒjoʃ]; December 28, 1903 – February 8, 1957) was a Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, computer scientist, engineer and polymath. Von Neumann was generally regarded as the foremost mathematician of his time and said to be "the last representative of the great mathematicians"; who integrated both pure and applied sciences.
He made major contributions to a number of fields, including mathematics (foundations of mathematics, functional analysis, ergodic theory, representation theory, operator algebras, geometry, topology, and numerical analysis), physics (quantum mechanics, hydrodynamics, and quantum statistical mechanics), economics (game theory), computing (Von Neumann architecture, linear programming, self-replicating machines, stochastic computing), and statistics.
He was a pioneer of the application of operator theory to quantum mechanics in the development of functional analysis, and a key figure in the development of game theory and the concepts of cellular automata, the universal constructor and the digital computer.
He published over 150 papers in his life: about 60 in pure mathematics, 60 in applied mathematics, 20 in physics, and the remainder on special mathematical subjects or non-mathematical ones. His last work, an unfinished manuscript written while he was in hospital, was later published in book form as The Computer and the Brain.
His analysis of the structure of self-replication preceded the discovery of the structure of DNA. In a short list of facts about his life he submitted to the National Academy of Sciences, he stated, "The part of my work I consider most essential is that on quantum mechanics, which developed in Göttingen in 1926, and subsequently in Berlin in 1927–1929. Also, my work on various forms of operator theory, Berlin 1930 and Princeton 1935–1939; on the ergodic theorem, Princeton, 1931–1932."
During World War II, von Neumann worked on the Manhattan Project with theoretical physicist Edward Teller, mathematician Stanisław Ulam and others, problem solving key steps in the nuclear physics involved in thermonuclear reactions and the hydrogen bomb. He developed the mathematical models behind the explosive lenses used in the implosion-type nuclear weapon, and coined the term "kiloton" (of TNT), as a measure of the explosive force generated.
After the war, he served on the General Advisory Committee of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and consulted for a number of organizations, including the United States Air Force, the Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory, the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. As a Hungarian émigré, concerned that the Soviets would achieve nuclear superiority, he designed and promoted the policy of mutually assured destruction to limit the arms race.
- "John von Neumann" | 2015-06-26 | 20 Upvotes 3 Comments
Clarence Leonard "Kelly" Johnson (February 27, 1910 – December 21, 1990) was an American aeronautical and systems engineer. He is recognized for his contributions to a series of important aircraft designs, most notably the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird. Besides the first production aircraft to exceed Mach 3, he also produced the first fighter capable of Mach 2, the United States' first operational jet fighter, as well as the first fighter to exceed 400 mph, and many other contributions to various aircraft. As a member and first team leader of the Lockheed Skunk Works, Johnson worked for more than four decades and is said to have been an "organizing genius". He played a leading role in the design of over forty aircraft, including several honored with the prestigious Collier Trophy, acquiring a reputation as one of the most talented and prolific aircraft design engineers in the history of aviation. In 2003, as part of its commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight, Aviation Week & Space Technology ranked Johnson eighth on its list of the top 100 "most important, most interesting, and most influential people" in the first century of aerospace. Hall Hibbard, Johnson's Lockheed boss, referring to Johnson's Swedish ancestry, once remarked to Ben Rich: "That damned Swede can actually see air."
- "The inventor of the SR-71's rules for project management" | 2014-12-18 | 126 Upvotes 56 Comments
Oliver Heaviside FRS (; 18 May 1850 – 3 February 1925) was an English self-taught electrical engineer, mathematician, and physicist who adapted complex numbers to the study of electrical circuits, invented mathematical techniques for the solution of differential equations (equivalent to Laplace transforms), reformulated Maxwell's field equations in terms of electric and magnetic forces and energy flux, and independently co-formulated vector analysis. Although at odds with the scientific establishment for most of his life, Heaviside changed the face of telecommunications, mathematics, and science.
- "Oliver Heaviside" | 2014-12-26 | 100 Upvotes 25 Comments
Thomas Gold (also known as Tommy Gold), (May 22, 1920 – June 22, 2004) was an Austrian-born astrophysicist, a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Society (London). Gold was one of three young Cambridge scientists who in 1948 proposed the now mostly abandoned "steady state" hypothesis of the universe. Gold's work crossed academic and scientific boundaries, into biophysics, astronomy, aerospace engineering, and geophysics.
- "Earth may be constantly producing oil" | 2009-09-13 | 13 Upvotes 60 Comments
Sir James Dewar (20 September 1842 – 27 March 1923) was a Scottish chemist and physicist. He is best known for his invention of the vacuum flask, which he used in conjunction with research into the liquefaction of gases. He also studied atomic and molecular spectroscopy, working in these fields for more than 25 years.
- "James Dewar" | 2020-04-01 | 20 Upvotes 2 Comments