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Science Namesakes

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  • Isaac

    Sir Isaac Newton 1643-1727 English developed theories of gravitation and mechanics, and invented differential calculus

  • Galileo

    Galileo Galilei 1564-1642 Italian performed fundamental observations, experiments, and mathematical analyses in astronomy and physics; discovered mountains and craters on the moon, the phases of Venus, and the four largest satellites of Jupiter: Io, Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede

  • Benjamin

    Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790 American the first American physicist; characterized two kinds of electric charge, which he named ``positive'' and ``negative'

  • Kelvin

    Lord Kelvin 1824-1907 British proposed absolute temperature scale, of essence to development of thermodynamics

  • Nikola

    1857-1943 Serbian-born American created alternating current

  • Tesla

    1857-1943 Serbian-born American created alternating current

  • Rayleigh

    Lord Rayleigh (born John William Strutt) 1842-1919 British discovered argon; explained how light scattering is responsible for red color of sunset and blue color of sky

  • Max

    Max Planck 1858-1947 German formulated the quantum theory; explained wavelength distribution of blackbody radiation

  • Albert

    Albert Einstein 1879-1955 German-born American explained Brownian motion and photoelectric effect; contributed to theory of atomic spectra; formulated theories of special and general relativity

  • Niels

    Niels Bohr 1885-1962 Danish contributed to quantum theory and to theory of nuclear reactions and nuclear fission

  • Erwin

    Erwin Schrödinger 1887-1961 Austrian contributed to creation of quantum mechanics; formulated the Schrödinger wave equation

  • Arthur

    Arthur Compton 1892-1962 American discovered the increase in wavelength of x rays when scattered by an electron

  • Felix

    Felix Bloch 1905-1983 Swiss-born American contributed to development of the NMR technique; measured the magnetic moment of the neutron; contributed to the theory of metals

  • Richard

    Richard P. Feynman 1918-1988 American co-developed quantum electrodynamics; created a new formalism for practical calculations by introducing a graphical method called Feynman diagrams

  • Tycho

    Tycho Brahe 1546-1601 Danish observed a supernova now known as ``Tycho's supernova''; made the most precise observations of stellar and planetary positions then known

  • Kepler

    Johannes Kepler 1571-1630 German established the most exact astronomical tables then known; established the three laws of planetary motion

  • Giovanni

    Giovanni Cassini 1625-1712 Italian-born French measured rotational periods of Jupiter and Mars; discovered four satellites of Saturn and the gap in Saturn's rings now known as ``Cassini's division''

  • Cassini

    Giovanni Cassini 1625-1712 Italian-born French measured rotational periods of Jupiter and Mars; discovered four satellites of Saturn and the gap in Saturn's rings now known as ``Cassini's division''

  • Edmond

    Edmond Halley 1656-1742 British used his theory of cometary orbits to predict that the comet of 1682 (later named ``Halley's comet'') was periodic

  • Halley

    Edmond Halley 1656-1742 British used his theory of cometary orbits to predict that the comet of 1682 (later named ``Halley's comet'') was periodic

  • Charles

    Charles Messier 1730-1817 French discovered 19 comets, 13 being original and 6 independent co-discoveries; compiled a famous catalog of deep-sky objects

  • Herschel

    William Herschel 1738-1822 British discovered Uranus and its two brightest moons, Titania and Oberon; discovered Saturn's moons, Mimas and Enceladus; discovered the ice caps of Mars, several asteroids and binary stars; cataloged 2,500 deep sky objects

  • Caroline

    Caroline Herschel 1750-1848 British discovered several comets and was first woman to discover a comet

  • Thomas

    Thomas Henderson 1798-1844 Scottish first to measure distance to a star (Alpha Centauri)

  • Maximilian

    Maximilian Wolf 1863-1932 German discovered hundreds of asteroids using photography

  • Henrietta

    Henrietta Swan Levitt 1868-1921 American discovered the period-luminosity relation for Cepheid variables

  • Karl

    Karl Schwarzchild 1873-1916 German first to give an exact solution of Einstein's equations of general relativity, giving an understanding of the geometry of space near a point mass; also made the first study of black holes

  • Walter

    Walter Sydney Adams 1876-1956 American identified Sirius B as the first white dwarf star known

  • Edwin

    Edwin Hubble 1889-1953 American first to measure distance to the Andromeda nebula, establishing it to be a separate galaxy; later measured distances to other galaxies and discovered that they recede at a rate proportional to their distance (Hubble's law)

  • Harlow

    Harlow Shapley 1885-1972 American discovered the size of our galaxy and the direction of its center by studying the distribution of globular clusters; determined the orbits of many eclipsing binary stars

  • Fritz

    Fritz Zwicky 1898-1974 Swiss-American observed Coma cluster of galaxies and determined that most of the cluster must be ``dark matter''; proposed existence of and then observed dwarf galaxies; proposed existence of supernovas (a term he coined) and that their collapse might lead to neutron stars; anticipated discovery of quasars by proposing that compact blue galaxies might be mistaken for stars; anticipated that dark matter could be studied by observing galaxies that acted as gravitational lenses

  • Cecelia

    Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin 1900-1979 English discovered that stars are composed primarily of hydrogren, with helium the second-most abundant element

  • Vera

    Vera Rubin 1928- American measured rotation curves for distant galaxies and ultimately concluded that 90% or more of the universe is made of invisible dark matter

  • Carl

    Carl Sagan 1934-1996 American was a leader in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence; contributed to most of the space missions to explore Mars and the outer planets; warned that all-out nuclear war could lead to a ``nuclear winter''

  • Kip

    Kip S. Thorne 1940- American contributed to the theoretical understanding of black holes and gravitational radiation; co-founded the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory Project (LIGO)

  • Alan

    Alan H. Guth 1947- American developed the theory of cosmic evolution known as the inflationary universe