32 terms

From the "You Gotta Know" list here: http://www.naqt.com/YouGottaKnow/20th-century-physicists.html
All answers will be first and last names except for J. Robert Oppenheimer, who has that extra initial.

Niels Bohr

(1885-1962) Reconciled Rutherford's results from the gold foil experiment with Planck's quantum theory to create a model of the atom in which electrons resided in specific energy levels at specific stable radii.

Niels Bohr

His model of the atom was the basis for Balmer's work with spectroscopy and Rydberg's energy formula, which explicitly stated the frequency of light that an electron would emit if it went from a higher energy to a lower energy.

Niels Bohr

He and his son fled to the US in World War II under the pseudonym Baker and contributed to the Manhattan Project.

Albert Einstein

(1879-1955) In one year — 1905, called his annus mirabilis, or miracle year — he authored four papers that revolutionized modern physics.

Albert Einstein

The first explained the photoelectric effect in terms of discretized electromagnetic radiation. The second formed the foundation for modern statistical physics by explaining the seemingly-random motion of particles in a fluid, a behavior called Brownian motion. The third reconciled Maxwellian electrodynamics with classical mechanics by positing a finite, constant speed of light. This is now known as special relativity. The fourth paper contained his statement that the energy of a body is equal to its mass times the speed of light squared.

Albert Einstein

In 1915, he published his theory of general relativity, which generalized special relativity to account for gravitational fields.

Enrico Fermi

(1901-1954) He is best known to the public as a main contributor to the Manhattan Project, his work with statistical physics laid the groundwork for modern electronics and solid-state technologies.

Enrico Fermi

He applied the Pauli exclusion principle to subatomic particles to create Fermi-Dirac statistics, which accurately predicted the low-temperature behavior of electrons. Particles which obey Fermi-Dirac statistics are called fermions in his honor.

Enrico Fermi

He suggested the existence of the neutrino in order to balance nuclear beta-decay chains.

Richard Feynman

(1918-1988). He developed a mathematical formalism called the path integral formulation of quantum theory that utilized the "sum over histories," taking into account all possible paths a particle could take.

Richard Feynman

Created quantum electrodynamics and earned the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics. Used the "sum over histories" (taking account all possible paths a particle could take) in developing Feynman diagrams, which illustrate the interaction of subatomic particles.

Richard Feynman

Aside from being a prolific physicist, he was also an accomplished bongo player and sketch artist.

George Gamow

(1904-1968) One of the first to explain the implications of the Big Bang theory of cosmology. He correctly predicted the abundance of hydrogen and helium in the early universe, nicknamed Alpher-Bethe-Gamow theory (an intentional pun on the first three letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha, beta, and gamma, for which the otherwise unrelated physicist Hans Bethe was included)

George Gamow

Theorized that the the heat from the Big Bang would still be visible as the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Werner Heisenberg

(1901-1976) Most known for his matrix interpretation of quantum theory, which constructs observable quantities as operators, which act on a system.

Werner Heisenberg

His famous uncertainty principle (better translated, however, as "indeterminacy principle") states that the more accurately an object's position can be observed, the less accurately its momentum can. This is because shorter wavelengths of light (used as a sort of measuring-stick) have higher energies, and disrupt a particle's momentum more strongly.

Werner Heisenberg

Earned the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering the allotropic forms of hydrogen.

Max Planck

(1858-1947) Allowed quantum theory to move forward in the early 20th century by correctly modeling how an object radiates heat, solving the ultraviolet catastrophe, which was a predicted unbounded increase in the amount of radiation emitted at high frequencies.

Max Planck

His Law of Radiation superseded the Rayleigh-Jeans Law, which was used until that point. He suggested that electromagnetic energy could only be emitted in specific packages, called quanta (singular quantum, from the Latin for "how much"), positing that the energy of this photon was equal to its frequency times a fixed value h, now known as Planck's constant.

Max Planck

His constant is 6.62606957 × 10-34 m2 kg / s.

Ernest Rutherford

(1871-1937) His gold foil experiment provided the first evidence that the atom was made up of a large, positively-charged nucleus, surrounded by a cloud of negatively-charged electrons. He won the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work.

Ernest Rutherford

An early leader in nuclear fission techniques, having discovered the decay of carbon-14 and providing the impetus for modern carbon dating. As part of this research, he discovered the proton and neutron, the latter in cooperation with James Chadwick.

Ernest Rutherford

He is also the only native New Zealander with an element named after him (Rutherfordium, atomic number 104).

Erwin Schrödinger

(1887-1961) Contributed to the early formulations of quantum theory as a foil to Heisenberg, Bohr, and Dirac, criticizing their Copenhagen interpretation with thought experiments like his famous Schrödinger's Cat argument.

Erwin Schrödinger

Formulated both the time-independent and time-dependent Schrödinger equations, partial differential equations which described how quantum systems behaved.

Erwin Schrödinger

His work was the basis for Heisenberg's matrix formalism, Feynman's path integral formalism, and quantum mechanical perturbation theory, which considers the effects of a small disturbance to a quantum system.

Marie Curie

(1867-1945) rigorously isolated and experimented on radioactive materials, forming the basis for early nuclear and particle physics.

Paul Dirac

(1902-1984) One of the first to attempt a generalization of quantum theory to relativistic speeds, the result of which was the Dirac equation.

Murray Gell-Mann

(born 1929) Predicted the existence of quarks, which compose protons, neutrons, and other, heavier particles.

Robert Millikan

(1868-1953) Determined the charge of the electron by meticulously observing oil droplets in an electric field and noting the time it took them to fall a certain distance.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

(1904-1967) Oversaw much of the Manhattan project, but was later stripped of his security clearance during the McCarthy-era Red Scare, as a result of his acquaintance with communists and his enmity with Edward Teller.

Wolfgang Pauli

(1900-1958) His namesake exclusion principle prohibits most types of particles from occupying the same state, and forms the basis for chemical bonds.