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Development of Physics and Astronomy in the 19 th Century. By Hannah Diehl. Michael Faraday.

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michael faraday
Michael Faraday

Michael Faraday is the physicist accredited for the discoveries of electro-magnetic induction, electro-magnetic rotation, the magneto-optical effect, diamagnetism, field theory, as well as many others. He was born in London’s Newington Butts on September 22, 1791. When Faraday was fourteen, he was apprenticed as a bookbinder to George Riebau. During the seven years of his apprenticeship, Faraday took a deep interest in science, specifically chemistry. He was able to conduct chemical experiments and build an electro-static machine. Faraday was able to obtain tickets to hear Sir Humphry Davy’s lectures and approached him for a job in the science field. Davy did not have any positions available at the time, but a year later Davy called Faraday for another interview, and he was able to fill the position of Chemical Assistant at the Royal Institution.From October 1813 to April 1815, Davy embarked on a scientific tour of the continent and received passports for himself, his wife, her maid, and a valet. Faraday reluctantly agreed to fill the latter role. From 1816 to 1817 Faraday continued to work under Davy and learned from Brande, occasionally helping Davy directly as with the Miner’s Safety Lamp. Between 1818 and 1822 Faraday worked on improving the quality of steel with surgical instrument maker James Stoddart. On May 21, 1821 Faraday was promoted in the Royal Institution to be Superintendent of the House. Twelve days later, he got married to Sarah Bernard. Faraday’s most important contribution was his discovery of electromagnetic induction, in which he found that electric currents are produced by changing magnetic field and magnetic field are produced by electric currents. This is the basic principle that lead to the invention of electric motors.

james clerk maxwell
James Clerk Maxwell

James Clerk Maxwell is acclaimed to be the father of modern physics. He was born on June 13th, 1831 in Edinburg on 14 India Street in a part of Edinburg’s Georgian New Town, but shortly after his birth, his family moved to their house at Glenlair and Maxwell enjoyed a country upbringing. Even as a small child, Maxwell exhibited a great curiosity and he wanted to know hoe everything worked. When he was eight, Maxwell’s mother died and his parents hopes to homeschool him until age 13, fell through and it was decided that Maxwell would go to Edinburg Academy. At age 14, Maxwell wrote his first paper on ovals, defining ellipses and curves with multiple foci. His paper was read to the Royal Society of Edinburg. His work was not fully original, but it was remarkable for a 14 year old. At 16, Maxwell started taking classes at the University of Edinburg. It was record that he had borrowed many books while he was an undergraduate student, including books on differential calculus, geometry, optics, mechanics, and the principles of mechanism. Later Maxwell decided to go to Trinity College, where he believed it would be easier to obtain a fellowship there. He indeed did earn his fellowship and graduated with a mathematics degree form the Trinity College in 1854. Maxwell applied for many positions as professors, and was also offered many jobs as a professor, and he held numerous different positions.One of Maxwell’s greatest works was expounding on the theories of Michael Faraday on electric and magnetic lines of force. Maxwell had found that a few simple mathematical equations could express the behavior of electric and magnetic forces. Although Maxwell was best know for his work on electromagnetism, he also studied many other topics, such as color and astronomy. Maxwell can up with a system of classification of colors based on four variables, hue, intensity, brightness, and tint. Maxwell also worked on astronomy, winning the Adams prize on his paper On the Stability of the Motion of Saturn’s Rings in 1870. He was the first to show that the rings of Saturn were made of particles. Maxwell’s most famous work was his Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, contain all the basic equations used in electromagnetism. The work also develops the idea that electric currents produce magnetic field and vice versa. Also Maxwell worked on the second law of thermodynamics, coming up with a paradox to show that the second law of thermodynamics is a statistical law describing the properties of large numbers of particles.

ludwig boltzmann
Ludwig Boltzmann

Ludwig Boltzmann was born on February 20, 1844 in a house on the main street of the Landstrasse of Vienna in Austria. His father was a tax collector, and his grandfather came from Berlin. His mother’s side of the family came from Salzburg. Boltzmann, who was an ambitious, curious student, interested in everything nature, attended high school in Upper Austria. When he was 15, Boltzmann’s father died. After high school, Boltzmann went on to study physics at the University of Vienna. In 1866, he received his doctorate and became a lecturer in the year following. Two years later, we as appointed to be the Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Graz. Boltzmann worked with many other famous scientists including Bunsen, Konigsberg, Kirchhoff, and Helmholtz. Later in his life, Boltzmann worked with Maxwell, trying to explain the thermodynamics of gases. Boltzmann most profound contribution was in kinetics, working again with Maxwell on molecular speeds in gasses. Boltzmann also studied the distribution of over energy, which is a fundamental part of classical statistical mechanics. Boltzmann also, according to some other scientists, the first to state the logarithmic connection between entropy and probability in his kinetic theory of gases. Boltzmann’s constant was named in honor of his work on statistical mechanics.

christian doppler
Christian Doppler

Christian Andreas Doppler was born on November 29th, 1803 in Salzburg, Austria. Doppler was intended to continue his family’s stonemasonry business, but poor health and enfeeblement prevented him from following the tradition. Doppler attended primary school and secondary school in Salzburg and Linz respectively. He then went on to study mathematics at the Vienna Polytechnic Institute. There he excelled in his mathematic studies as well as in all other subjects. He gradated from the Polytechnic three years later. He then frequently attended philosophy lectures at the Salzburg Lyceum and went on to study mathematics, mechanics, and astronomy at the University of Vienna. After his studies, Doppler became a temporary assistant professor of higher mathematics. He published four mathematical papers there, one being A contribution to the theory of Parallels. Doppler had applied to many teaching positions, but did not succeed in his early attempts. Giving up, Doppler had decided to emigrate to America, but shortly before he left, he received an offer to teach arithmetic, algebra, theoretical geometry, and accountancy at the Technical Secondary School in Prague. Still, Doppler was unenthusiastic towards teaching elementary arithmetic. He ended up receiving a position teaching higher math at the polytechnic, but it did not work out when students complained of overly-difficult exanimation and Doppler was investigated and reprimanded. When teaching mathematics did not work out for Doppler, he feel back on a paper he wrote, On the coloured light of the double stars and certain other stars of the heavens. This paper represented the Doppler principal relating frequency to velocity towards or away from and observer, the Doppler Effect. This was applied to the color-shifting of the stars according to their velocity, and could also be applied to other waves, such as sound. The theory on changes of color could not be tested at the time, but the theory was applied to sound using musicians on moving trains, and observers writing down the apparent note of the instruments. Doppler also published papers on electricity and magnetism, but none of his work parallels his first discovery. The Doppler Effect is applied to this day.

benjamin franklin
Benjamin Franklin

Franklin was the fifteenth born in his penurious family in 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts. Although his family could only afford to allow two years of formal schooling, Franklin became and avid reader. After apprenticing with his brother as a printer, Franklin moved to Philadelphia and began more of a scientific career, studying many things from meteorology, with predicting storm paths and charting the Gulf Stream, to studying electricity. His kite experiment that inquired on lightning being in an electrical form, gained him international recognition. Franklin also proposed, on the contrary to the common belief that electric and magnetic phenomena were explained by separate weightless fluids attracting and repulsing, that electricity was produced by one fluid flow of energy from one body to another, which he named first as being positive and negative. He was also the first to discover the conservation of charge. Although it is not clear that Franklin himself had ever executed such, in 1750 he published the famed experiment to prove that lightning was electrical. This has remained part of his legacy with his image of holding a kite in a thunderstorm. The experiment was successfully carried out by a Frenchmen, not with a kite, but a 40-foot iron rod. Franklin’s studies on electrical conductors lead to his invention of a pointed lightning rod to protect buildings, including Independence Hall.

william herschel
William Herschel

Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel, know as William Herschel, was born in 1738 in Hanover, Germany. Herschel’s father was in a musician in a band which he later joined as well as an oboist. When he was 34, Herschel moved to Bath. Herschel began reading books on astronomy and optics and consequentially became a skilled telescope-maker. He built some of the most powerful telescopes in his time and observing the sky for himself. On of the fist objects Herschel saw was the Orion Nebula which he had read about. In March of 1781, Herschel discovered what he first believed to be a comet, but later found that it was actually the planet Uranus. His discovery had lead him to be elected to the Royal Society where he received a grant from King George III of England, allowing him to give up being a musician and focus completely on astronomy. When presented with a copy of Messier’s Catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters, Herschel began investigating the objects with his telescopes. He also surmised that many other nebulae where out there, but yet to be discovered. He started on a scan of the sky to find uncharted objects. His search was successful when he found, a small galaxy in the constellation Aquarius. Within the next 1.5 years, Herschel cataloged another 1,000 objects, a second 1,000 in 1789, and finally another 500 in 1802. Herschel also published observations that lead to the discovery of Solar Motion and that our solar system was moving among the stars. Herschel, with his telescope, discovered two of Uranus’s moons in 1787, Titania and Oberon. In 1789, Herschel had built his largest telescope yet, measuring 48 inches in length, and discovered Saturn’s sixth and seventh know moons, Enceladus and Mimas respectively. He also went on to discover many more cosmic phenomena such as spiral galaxies. Herschel died in Slough, England on August 25, 1822. He has three craters named after him, one on the moon, one on Mars, and one on Saturn’s moon Mimas, and an asteroid.

daniel kirkwood
Daniel Kirkwood

American astronomer Daniel Kirkwood was born on September 27, 1814 in Harford County, Maryland. As a child, he worked unhappily on a farm, which lead him to his local school. He graduated in mathematics form the York County Academy and taught there for the next five years. After being the principle for Lancaster High School and Pottsville Academy, Kirkwood became a Professor of Mathematics at Delaware College and then Indiana University. As an astronomer, Kirkwood studied asteroids, comets, meteor showers, and Saturn’s rings. Kirkwood arranged the discovered asteroids based upon their distance from the sun and found several gaps of with little to no asteroids. He found that these gaps were result of orbital resonance from Jupiter. These gaps are now named the Kirkwood Gaps in his honor. Kirkwood was also the first to suggest that meteor showers were debris form comets and that the Cassini Division in Saturn’s ring system was due to resonance form one of Saturn’s moons. Kirkwood also discovered a pattern relating a planets distance form the sun and their rotational periods, which is now called Kirkwood’s Law, but more recent research has proved that the pattern does not hold throughout the solar system. Throughout his career, Kirkwood wrote 129 publications, including three books and he has a law, an asteroid, a moon crater, a street, and an observatory named in his honor.

josiah willard gibbs
Josiah Willard Gibbs
  • Josiah Willard Gibbs was born February 11, 1839 in New Haven, Connecticut. His father was a professor of sacred literature at Yale University. As a child, Gibbs was friendly, but socially withdrawn and had little social involvement as he was very dedicated to academics. Gibbs entered Yale receiving honors for achievement in Latin and mathematics. At Yale, Gibbs studied engineering and wrote his thesis on the geometrical methods to designing gears and became the first to receive an Engineering doctorate in the United States. After tutoring Latin and then Natural Philosophy at Yale for several years, Gibbs went to Europe to study science in Paris, Berlin, and Heidelberg, where he learned from Kirchhoff and Helmholtz. When he returned to America, he became professor of mathematical physics at Yale, ironically before he had published anything on the topic. Gibbs’ first paper Graphical Methods in the Thermodynamics of Fluids and his second was A Method of Geometrical Representation of the Thermodynamic Properties of Substances by Means of Surface, which was impressive even to Maxwell. His third and most famous publication was on about equilibrium in heterogeneous substances that was not recognized for its true value as it was difficult for many to understand using rigorous deduction and a difficult mathematical form. Gibbs also contributed to vector analysis, astronomy, statistical mechanics, and the electromagnetic theory of light. Gibbs designed a vector analysis method that was much more easily applied to physics then the previous method by Hamilton. He used his vector methods to find the orbit of a comet, particularly Swift’s Comet, from three observations using much less computation than was needed with Gauss’s methods.
joseph henry
Joseph Henry
  • Joseph Henry was born in 1797 in Albany, New York. As a child, Henry lived with his grandmother in a small town forty miles away from Albany where he worked at in a general store after school hours until he was apprenticed as a watchmaker when he was 13 years old. Henry had intentions of being a professional actor, but his interests in science lead him to pursue education in the subject to a point where he was assisting in the teaching of science. After teaching for many years, Henry became a Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. Henry did work similar to Michael Faraday on electromagnetism and induction, but was slow to publish his work and does not receive the same recognition. Even though many scientist of his time were also studying electro-magnetism, Henry was the first to find that winding an insulated wire around an iron core creates an extremely strong electromagnet. He ended up building one himself that was capable of lifting 1.15 tons. He was also to discover the inertial characteristics of electric currents through self-induction that prevents a current form changing. Throughout his career, Henry also studied in phosphorescence, sound, capillary action, and ballistics. Henry also made major contributions while he was the director of the Smithsonian Institute and has the unit of measure “henrys” named after him.