The Beverly Clock is a clock situated in the 3rd floor lift foyer of the Department of Physics at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. The clock is still running despite never having been manually wound since its construction in 1864 by Arthur Beverly.
- "Beverly Clock" | 2018-02-20 | 289 Upvotes 53 Comments
The Calutron Girls were a group of young women, mostly high school graduates who joined the World War II efforts in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1945.
Although they were not allowed to know at the time, they were monitoring dials and watching meters for a calutron, a mass spectrometer that separates uranium isotopes. The enriched uranium was used to make the first atomic bomb.
Calutron Girls were trained and employed at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Wartime labor shortages forced the Tennessee Eastman Corporation to hire women to work at the Y-12 plant.
According to Gladys Owens, one of the few Calutron Girls, a manager at the facility once told them: "We can train you how to do what is needed, but cannot tell you what you are doing. I can only tell you that if our enemies beat us to it, God have mercy on us!"
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
The Oxford Electric Bell or Clarendon Dry Pile is an experimental electric bell that was set up in 1840 and which has run nearly continuously ever since. It was one of the first pieces purchased for a collection of apparatus by clergyman and physicist Robert Walker. It is located in a corridor adjacent to the foyer of the Clarendon Laboratory at the University of Oxford, England, and is still ringing, though inaudibly due to being behind two layers of glass.
The pitch drop experiment is a long-term experiment which measures the flow of a piece of pitch over many years. 'Pitch' is the name for any of a number of highly viscous liquids which appear solid; most commonly bitumen. At room temperature, tar pitch flows at a very low rate, taking several years to form a single drop.
- "Pitch Drop Experiment" | 2020-02-06 | 97 Upvotes 30 Comments
The Wow! signal was a strong narrowband radio signal received on August 15, 1977, by Ohio State University's Big Ear radio telescope in the United States, then used to support the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The signal appeared to come from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius and bore the expected hallmarks of extraterrestrial origin.
Astronomer Jerry R. Ehman discovered the anomaly a few days later while reviewing the recorded data. He was so impressed by the result that he circled the reading on the computer printout, "6EQUJ5", and wrote the comment "Wow!" on its side, leading to the event's widely used name.
The entire signal sequence lasted for the full 72-second window during which Big Ear was able to observe it, but has not been detected since, despite several subsequent attempts by Ehman and others. Many hypotheses have been advanced on the origin of the emission, including natural and human-made sources, but none of them adequately explains the signal.
Although the Wow! signal had no detectable modulation—a technique used to transmit information over radio waves—it remains the strongest candidate for an alien radio transmission ever detected.
The Einstein–Szilárd letter was a letter written by Leó Szilárd and signed by Albert Einstein that was sent to the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 2, 1939. Written by Szilárd in consultation with fellow Hungarian physicists Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner, the letter warned that Germany might develop atomic bombs and suggested that the United States should start its own nuclear program. It prompted action by Roosevelt, which eventually resulted in the Manhattan Project developing the first atomic bombs.