Sunday, March 1, 2009

Marie Curie

Marie Curie
Marie Curie(November 7, 1867- July 4, 1934) was born as Marie Sklodwska. She was a physicist and a chemist, brought up in Poland and had French citizenship. She was one of the first to work in the field of radioactivity. She was the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in two different sciences. She also was the first female proffessor at the University of Paris. Marie was born in Warsaw, Congress Poland in the Russian Empire. She lived there until she was the age of 24. In 1891, she went to study in Paris just like her older sister. There she obtained her science degrees and began her work. She founded the Curie Insitutes in Warsaw and Paris. She was the wife of Nobel Prize winner Pierre Curie and the mother of Nobel Prize winner Irene Joliot-Curie. Marie won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903. She won this award with her husband, Pierre Curie. They tied with Antoine Henri Becquerel. Becquerel won "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by his discovery of spontaneous radioactivity." The Curie family won "in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel." Pierre and Marie also won the Davy Medal in 1903. The Davy Medal is awarded each year by London's Royal Society. Those who win this award recieve for an outstanding discovery that year in any branch of chemistry. With the medal, reciptants also recieve GB__£__1,000. Marie and Pierre won the Mattueccini Medal in 1904. The Italian Society of Sciences established this with a donation from Carlo Mattueccini. The Mattueccini Medal is given to phyisicists who contribute to the field of physics. Marie won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. This year she herself won the award "for her discovery of radium and polonium." Though she was a loyal French citizen, she never denounced her Polish identity. She named her first found chemical element, polonium, after her Poland. She also found a Radium Insitute in her hometown, Warsaw.


Aristotle was born in Stagira, on the peninsula of Chalcidice in Macedon, N Greece (hence his nickname "the Stagirite"). His father was Nichomachus, court physician to Amyntas III of Macedonia (the father of Philip II of Macedon and grandfather of Alexander the Great), and he was no doubt introduced to Greek medicine and biology at an early age. In 367 B.C., after his father's death he was sent to Athens, and became first a pupil then a teacher at Plato's Academy. He remained there for 20 years, until Plato's death in 347 B.C., and gained a particular reputatoin in rhetoric. Plato was succeeded as head of the Academy by his nephew Speusippus. Perhaps in pique, but more probably because of the rise of anti-Macedonian feeling in Athens, Aristotle left the city to travel for some 12 years with other colleagues and friends from the Academy, notably Theophrastus (his own pupil and eventual successor at the Lyceum). He went first to the new town of Assus in Asia Minor, where Hermeias of Atarneus had invited him to help set up a new school, and where he worked particularly on political theory. He there married Hermeias' niece, Pythias, and after her early death either married Herpyllis or took her as his mistress. In addition to Pythias' daughter (also called Pythias), he and Herpyllis had a son, Nicomachus (named after his father). He was an affectionate and faithful husband, and a caring parent. After three years at the Assus Academy, Aristotle then moved to join a new philosophical circle at Mytilene on Lesbos, where he developed his interest in and study of biology. In c.343 B.C. he was invited by Philip II of Macedon to educate his son, the future Alexander the Great. he was tutor to Alexander for three years, but his influence seems to have been negligible. After a brief spell on his father's property at Stagira, Aristotle returned to Athens in 335 B.C. to found his own school, the Lyceum (near the temple of Apollo Lyceius), where he taught for the next 12 years. His followers became known as peripatetics, supposedly from his practice of walking up and down the peripatos (covered walkway) of the gymnasium during his lectures. He made the Lyceum into a major research center, specializing in history, biology, and zoology, thus complementing the mathematical emphasis of the Platonists at the Academy. Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C., and there was a strong anti-Macedonian reaction in Athens. Aristotle, of course, had long-standing Macedonian connections, and took refuge in Chalcis in Euboea, reportedly saying that he was saving the Athenians from sinning twice against philosophy (Socrates being their first victim). He died the following year. Aristotle's work represents an enormous encyclopedic output over virtually every field of knowledge: logic, metaphysics, ethics, politics, rhetoric, poetry, biology, zoology, physics, and psychology. Indeed, he established many of the areas of enquiry which are today recognizable as separate subjects; and in several cases gave them their names and special terminology. Particular themes which run through his work are the emphasis on teleological explanations, and his analyses of such fundamental dichotomies as matter and form, potentiality and actuality, substance and accident, and particulars and universals. His popular published writings are all lost, and the bulk of the work that survives consists of unpublished material in the form of lecture notes or students' textbooks which were edited and published by Andronicus of Rhodes in the middle of the 1st-C B.C. But even this incomplete corpus is extraordinary for its range, originality, systematization, and sophistication. It exerted an enormous influence on mediaeval philosophy (especially through Aquinas), on Islamic philosophy (especially through Averroes), and indeed on the whole Wetern intellectual and scientific tradition. During the Renaissance he was dubbed "the Master of those that know", or simply "the Philosopher". Aristotle's most widely read books today include the Organon (treatises on logic), Metaphysics (the book written after Physics), Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, Poetics, and De Anima.

James Watt

ames Watt was a genius of many talents who was at the heart of the technological and economic changes in 18th century Britain that have been described as the Industrial Revolution. He was born in Greenock, the son of James Watt (1698-1782), a prosperous merchant and prominent citizen of the Scottish port. He had a talent for mathematics, and trained as a maker of mathematical instruments in Glasgow, making a visit to London to gain professional experience in 1755-6. He gained the acquaintance of the celebrated Dr Joseph Black (1728-99) of Glasgow University who described him as ‘a young man possessing most uncommon talents for mechanical knowledge and practice’. He learned German and Italian, took an interest in several new technologies, including the manufacture of porcelain, and carried out surveys of several Scottish waterways, including the Caledonian Canal, that were subsequently praised by Thomas Telford. His main interest was in the improvement of the steam engine, and after erecting several Newcomen engines in Scotland in 1765-6, he took out his first patent, for the separate condenser, in 1769. He moved to Birmingham in 1774 where, he worked in partnership with Matthew Boulton (1728-1809), to develop the steam engine. The first engines to incorporate his improvements were erected in 1776. Initially the Boulton and Watt partnership supplied only drawings, some key components such as valves, and the services of erectors. Watt was only one of many engineers developing steam power in the late 18th century, and his application of sun-and-planet gearing to achieve rotative motion, patented in 1782, was dictated by the granting of a patent to James Pickard for the use of the crank for this purpose. Watt was concerned to ensure that high standards were achieved in his engines, and would use only Swedish iron purchased from merchants in Birmingham for some engine parts. He supplied his first overseas order in 1778, and by 1800, when his patents expired, Boulton & Watt had despatched 24 engines to customers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Russia.
In the 1790s it became evident that other engine builders, notably the ironmaster John Wilkinson, had infringed the Watt patents by building ‘pirate’ engines. Watt developed elements of paranoia over such infringements, but after the partners established their own engine-building facilities, by opening the Soho Foundry in 1796, he gradually retired from the business. In the interval of peace that followed the treaty of Amiens in 1802 he visited Frankfurt, Strasburg and Paris. Watt also developed a copying process in 1781. Copies were kept of engine drawings and of the outgoing letters of the partnership, while incoming letters were also preserved, making the Boulton & Watt Collection in Birmingham one of the most important archives of the Industrial Revolution.
Watt retained throughout his life interests in geology, mineralogy and chemistry, and was honoured for his scientific achievements in Russia, the Netherlands and France, but never regarded his own achievements as in any way heroic.