It’s Nobel Prize week, and Wednesday’s announcement of this year’s award in Physics says, “The Nobel Prize in Physics 2015 recognises Takaaki Kajita in Japan andArthur B. McDonald in Canada, for their key contributions to the experiments which demonstrated that neutrinos change identities. This metamorphosis requires that neutrinos have mass. The discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe.” Lofty Ambitions celebrates five other physicists whose birthdays fall this week.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, born October 5, 1958
Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History
Ernest Walton, born October 6, 1903
Nobel Laureate in Physics in 1951 for work on particle accelerators to, as the saying goes, split the atom
Niels Bohr, born October 7, 1885
Nobel Laureate in Physics in 1922 for work on the atomic structure and quantum theory
From Anna Leahy’s poem “Notes on a Few Atomic Scientists”
IV. Enrico Fermi listens to Niels Bohr carefully. Who wouldn’t? He know that later he will not remember if he was surprised at the question. He straightens his jacket as if that is answer enough. To accept a Nobel Prize is rarely such a difficult choice. His wife will be pleased, he will have to write a speech, and the will live in Italy.
Mark Oliphant, born October 8, 1901
Early investigator of nuclear fusion and, later, politician and advocate for voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill (an issue in the news in California this week)
Max von Laue, born October 9, 1879
Nobel Laureate in Physics in 1914 for work with crystals and x-ray defraction