Our life today would have been quite different if it weren’t for the huge number of discoveries and inventions in the field of science. Various contributions of different scientists to this world have influenced our way of life in one form or the other. And needless to say, each one of us, at some point in our childhood, has started to admire one or more of them, be it the ‘Apple Man’ Newton or the ‘Genius’ Einstein or the ‘Light Giver’ Edison! Let us know a few facts about some of our favourite eminent researchers.
1. Albert Einstein
A man known not only for his great scientific discoveries, but also for the high levels of wit and sarcasm he possessed, Albert Einstein was a genius, but not from the very beginning!
- Einstein could not speak until he turned 4 years old and suffered from dyslexia as a child.
- He wrote his first scientific paper when he was 16 years old. The paper was titled “The Investigation of the State of Aether in Magnetic Fields.”
- In 1905, 4 of his papers were published in one of the best-known physics journals – the ‘Annalen der Physik’. The 4 papers that were published were Equivalence of Matter and Energy, Special Relativity, Brownian Motion and Photoelectric Effect. These papers eventually changed the interpretation of modern physics.
- It was in his paper on ‘Equivalence of Matter and Energy’ where Einstein gave his famous formula E=mc2.
- As we normally think, Einstein was not awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his Theory of Relativity. He was actually awarded the prize in 1921 for his extraordinary explanation of the photoelectric effect.
2. Marie Curie
Marie Curie is one of the most famous woman scientists known for her amazing discoveries in the field of radioactivity. A person who faced many difficulties during childhood, she grew up to win numerous awards and medals for her contributions.
- Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences.
- Her achievements included the development of the theory of radioactivity (a term that she coined), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium, and radium.
- She named the first chemical element that she discovered (Polonium), after her native country Poland.
- She shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with her husband Pierre Curie and with physicist Henri Becquerel. She won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911.
- She had carried test tubes containing radioactive isotopes in her pocket and stored them in her desk drawer. Curie was also exposed to X-rays from unshielded equipment while serving as a radiologist in field hospitals during World War I. She died on 4 July 1934 due to long-term exposure to radiation.
- Marie Curie’s century-old notebooks are still radioactive, so they’re kept in lead-lined boxes for protection against radiation exposure. Her body was also highly contaminated, so it was placed in a coffin lined with an inch of lead when she was buried at the Pantheon mausoleum in Paris.
- Poland and France declared 2011 the Year of Marie Curie, and the United Nations declared that this would be the International Year of Chemistry.
3. Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton is a person who requires no introduction. He is one of the most influential scientists of all time and played an active role during the scientific revolution. His contributions to the fields of classical mechanics and calculus are legendary. Newton’s laws of motion and Newton’s law of gravitation are the most fundamental in kinematics and the theory of gravity.
- The total credit for the famous Newton’s laws of motion doesn’t go to Newton. 1700 years of research in various scientific fields and the contributions of famous scientists like Johannes Kepler, Nicolaus Copernicus, and Galileo Galilei formed a foundation on which Newton built the theory and laws of motion.
- He discovered the origin of light, the nature of gravity, developed the subject of calculus and invented the first reflecting telescope.
- He must have become a farmer under the persuasion of his mother if not for Henry Stokes, a master at the King’s School, who persuaded his mother to send him back to school so that he might complete his education.
- Like we were all told, Newton did not discover gravity when an apple fell on his head while he was sitting under a tree. He actually saw the apple falling off a tree from a window in his room when the thought struck him.
- This is the tree from which it is reputed that Newton saw an apple fall in the late summer of 1666 and which caused him to speculate upon the nature of gravitation.
4. Thomas Alva Edison
- He is often regarded as ‘America’s greatest inventor’, ‘The Wizard of Menlo Park’ and is credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.
- Edison has 1,093 US patents and many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany in his name. (A patent is a document granting an inventor sole rights to an invention.)
- His school teacher called him dim and slow which frustrated Edison’s mother. She knew her son could learn and taught him at home after he left school.
- Edison often played with things by breaking them apart to see how they worked. This quality in him shaped him into the inventor he had become.
- Edison’s greatness lies not only in his inventions but also in his outlook towards failure. He always thought of failure as a process of learning and never gave up. He once said, ‘I have not failed. I have just found 9,999 ways that do not work’.
- After testing more than 3,000 designs of a light bulb, he came up with a final one in 1879.
Edison’s first successful light bulb model.
5. APJ Abdul Kalam
The beloved ‘People’s President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is the noblest person anyone can think of. From working as a paperboy to becoming the President of the largest democracy in the world, he inspired millions of young minds across the country and the world. And that was all he wanted, to ‘ignite’ young minds and he tried to spread his knowledge and learning till he took his last breath.
- A very humble man, Dr Kalam always refused to sit in special chairs at events.
- Once, he rejected the suggestion to put broken pieces of glass on the wall of a building, stating that birds couldn’t sit on the wall if it was done.
- He gave up all his life savings and salaries to a trust he had founded named PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas).
- He used to send thank-you cards to students and give replies to all his emails personally.
- He was an avid reader and wrote 12 books himself.
- The day Dr Kalam visited Switzerland, May 26, is commemorated as Science Day in the country. This declaration in his honour was made by the Swiss government after the sad demise of this great personality.
- Dr Kalam was offered doctorates by 40 different universities and was awarded the Padma Bhushan(1981), Padma Vibhushan(1990) and the Bharat Ratna(1997) by the government of India.