Sunday, 21 October 2018

Controversies and facts about Nobel Peace Prize winners

The 2016 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded October 7, 2016, to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who became president in 2010 and signed a historic peace deal with FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono in September.
The deal was hailed as an end to 52 years of war, which has cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to 6 million people. It also provided a pathway for FARC to disarm and become a political party. Although the peace deal was rejected at a referendum by a tiny margin of 50.23% to 49.76%, both sides have said they will try to salvage the accord.
The prize worth 8 million Swedish crowns ($930,000) was announced at the Norwegian Nobel Institute and will be presented in Oslo on December 10.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee each year awards the Nobel Peace Prize "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the 1895 will of Alfred Nobel (who died in 1896), awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature, peace, and physiology or medicine.
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 97 times to 130 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2016, 104 individuals and 26 organizations. Since the International Committee of the Red Cross has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize three times (in 1917, 1944 and 1963), and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize two times (in 1954 and 1981), there are 23 individual organizations which have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
For the past 10 years the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to:
2015. National Dialogue Quartet "for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011"
2014. Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education"
2013. Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) "for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons"
2012. European Union (EU) "for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe"
2011. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work"
2010. Liu Xiaobo "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China"
2009. Barack H. Obama "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples"
In a move called “a stunning surprise” by the New York Times, Barack Obama was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize only 12 days after he took office in 2009. When he actually won the prize only months into his first term in office, many accused the Nobel Peace Prize Committee of being politically motivated since the president was chosen to receive the award for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” rather than any concrete achievements.
2008. Martti Ahtisaari "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts"
2007. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change"
Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize win was, according to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, awarded because “he is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted” regarding climate change and global warming. The problem was many felt Gore was undeserving of the award since he hardly practiced what he preached, The CheatSheet says. In 2006, shocking electric and gas bills from the Gore household showed that his 20-room home and “pool house” were eating up over 20 times the national average electricity usage.
2006. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank "for their efforts to create economic and social development from below"
2005. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Mohamed ElBaradei "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way"
The first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901 to Frédéric Passy (a French economist) and Henry Dunant (the founder of the Red Cross).
Among the most controversial Nobel Peace Prize winners are U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger(1973) and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (1994).
The U.S. Secretary of State during both the Nixon and Ford administrations was a joint winner in 1973 with North Vietnamese leader Le Duc Tho. Le Duc Tho rejected the award, given for the pair’s peace work in South Vietnam, because he felt that peace had not yet been achieved in the area — and doubly, didn’t want to share the award with Kissinger, who accepted the award “with humility,” but many felt that it should never have been offered to him in the first place. There were two reasons for this controversy. Kissinger was accused of war crimes for his alleged role in America’s secret bombing of Cambodia between 1969 and 1975. His win was also called premature since North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam two years after the prize was awarded, voiding his work. Two Norwegian Nobel Committee members resigned to protest Kissinger’s win.
“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” wrote TIME of the heated debate surrounding Yasser Arafat’s controversial Nobel Peace Prize win. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, sharing the award with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres for the trio’s work on the Oslo Peace Accords, a document meant to create “opportunities for a new development toward fraternity in the Middle East.” Criticism has been heaped on the committee for this award not only because of the failure of the Oslo accords but because of Arafat himself. Although Arafat publicly spoke out against terrorism, he’s been called “The worst man to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize” by his critics.
Some interesting facts
Among the Nobel Laureates, the two most common dates for birthdays are May 21 and February 28. The average age of all Nobel Peace Prize Laureates between 1901 and 2015 is 61 years. To date, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate is Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 years old when awarded the 2014 Peace Prize. The oldest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to date is Joseph Rotblat, who was 87 years old when he was awarded the Prize in 1995.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Which scientists were robbed of a Nobel Prize?

Dr. Yellapragada Subba Row (1895–1948) was worth not just one, but arguably 4 Nobel Prizes. His work includes:
  • Discovery of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) as the primary source of energy in the cell
  • Based on Lucy Wills’ work, he synthesized Folic acid (Vitamin B9)
  • He synthesized Methotrexate - still used as a chemotherapy agent for Cancer (with Sidney Farber)
  • Hetrazan for Filariasis, and
  • A broad spectrum tetracycline antibiotic Aureomycin (with Benjamin Duggar)
Each one of the aforementioned is Nobel-worthy and he might very well have won it for Aureomycin, had he not died young (at 53). He was also well known for his humility in not claiming intellectual rights, even as others would claim credit and went onto win the Nobel.
Dr. Subba Rao is a remarkable human being as Doron Antrim writes "You've probably never heard of Dr. Yellapragada Subbarao. Yet because he lived, you may be alive and are well today. Because he lived, you may live longer."
Personal Note: I am especially proud of this man’s achievements as he is my maternal grand-uncle.
Source: quoran

In physics, Nobel Prizes are viewed as impacting people’s legacies to science rather than any financial rewards. Most physicists aren’t particularly concerned with money — they’re paid fairly and have a good life. They care more about their research funding than their take home pay. Most physicists care about their legacies at some level and so the impact of being “robbed” of a Nobel Prize should be viewed as having their legacies being diminished.
At the same time, no one expects a Nobel Prize — one can make a lifetime of important contributions and never have the stars align for it be “Nobel”-worthy.
There are two famous examples in the Physics Nobel Prize:
Lise Meitner is the worse example. She was arguably the intellectual leader of the group that discovered Uranium fission. Because she was a Jewish woman in Nazi Germany, she suffered immense discrimination. The Nobel Committee opened the deliberations into the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and determined that her exclusion from Otto Hahn’s prize was “unjust.” See this Physics Today article[1] for additional details:
Meitner's exclusion, however, points to other flaws in the decision process, and to four factors in particular: the difficulty of evaluating an interdisciplinary discovery, a lack of expertise in theoretical physics, Sweden's scientific and political isolation during the war, and a general failure of the evaluation committees to appreciate the extent to which German persecution of Jews skewed the published scientific record.
Vera Rubin measured the galactic rotation curves of galaxies and discovered that there was not enough visible matter to correspond to the implied gravity. This became the first basis for existence of dark matter (there is so much more now). It is completely baffling why by the late 1990s or early 2000s this wasn’t considered minimally a discovery that requires gravity to change its behavior (arguably a more radical discovery) or a new form of gravitating matter that makes up the majority of the mass in the Universe. The discovery of dark energy was awarded the Nobel Prize before Vera Rubin’s death, even though it is no more significant and arguably less established (though still deserving of a Nobel Prize).
Another less clear and less known example is Erick Weinberg — he was a precocious graduate student at Harvard working on tons of important work in Quantum Field Theory in the 1970s. Politzer, his fellow student, was given a problem by their graduate advisor, Sydney Coleman. Erick Weinberg didn’t have bandwidth to do the problem himself, but he helped David Politzer. The lore is that Erick ended up doing the whole problem — though didn't realize that lasting impact that -11/3 (the result of the calculation) would be (is arguably the most important result in theoretical physics in the second half of the 20th century). That result became known as asymptotic freedom and discovered the origin of the Strong Force. Politzer shared the Nobel Prize with Frank Wilczek and David Gross in 2004. Amusingly Wilczek and Gross initially got the sign wrong and no one believed Politzer’s results. Politzer doggedly convinced Coleman that he was right and Wilczek and Gross found their mistake. This account is contested: Politzer claims that he never saw Weinberg’s result, Weinberg claims it was in his thesis. Weinberg put his thesis online in 2005[2](after the Nobel speech by Politzer called the Dilemma of Attribution in 2004[3] ) which had the result — I personally haven’t gone to the Harvard Library to confirm Erick Weinberg’s thesis hasn’t been altered, but he has always seemed very honest and he would have more to lose (he’s editor of Physical Review D and would lose his standing in the field with a fabrication). This should be relegate to historians to figure out (it may already have been) — chances are both of these accounts are true and false.
All mathematicians, many theoretical physicists. There is no Nobel Prize in Mathematics. Why who knows? There is the Fields Medal, though that is arguably of a different nature. There are historical reasons for leaving off mathematics, but the list of prizes has grown over the years (notably medicine in 1901 and economics in 1968).
To win a Nobel Prize in Physics as a theoretical physicist, you must have your theory experimentally established. This has precluded many luminaries like Ed Witten and Steven Hawking from winning Nobel Prizes though their work is far more significant than many awarded Nobel Prizes. This has led to bizarre reasoning for some theoretical physicists winning the Nobel Prize — ’t Hooft and Veltman had to wait until the discovery of the top quark to come up with an “experimental” verification of their work that established broken gauge theories are renormalizable. This was stupid — there was zero, literally zero, doubt that their work was right and the experiment did nothing to convince anyone that their work was more right.

source: quoran

Which scientists deserved to win a Nobel Prize but never won?

Nobel Prize has the distinction of being the most sought after prize and the fame that it gives for the recipients is incredible. There are many prizes which are older than Nobel Prize (for e.g. Copley Medal of the Royal Society) and also which gives higher prize money than Nobel Prize (for e.g. Breakthrough Prize), yet these prize could not match the glamour of the Nobel prize. Well as a matter of fact, many times it is not the award that a person has received that counts, but the work that one did. For e.g., do you know the person who won the Nobel Prize in 1955? I don’t know, unless I search for it. In the similar manner, do you know what is the contribution of Alfred Kastler towards physics, who has won the Nobel Prize in 1966? My answer to this question will also be no, unless I google it. On the other hand, it is quite known to all people that bosons are name after Satyendra Nath Bose, it was Edwin Hubble who discovered that galaxies are moving away from each other and Ludwig Boltzmann single-handedly created the classical statistical mechanics. This list can go on. So it’s quite clear that, after a long time it is not the medals or awards that will judge one’s discovery/invention- the discovery/ invention itself will speak for its creator.
And also it is strange that Nobel Prize is not awarded in the case of mathematics, which is regarded as “the queen of Science” [as quoted in Gauss zum Gedächtniss (1856) by Wolfgang Sartorius von Waltershausen] through which all the benefits of mankind can be achieved (please note that Alfred Nobel's reads as “prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind”).
So, the emphasis of this answer is not to tell that how important Nobel prize is, rather I will assume that it is an award worthy of getting some attention from the people. Now, that being said, these are the people whom I deem worthy of awarding the Nobel Prize in Physics, but was not awarded.
  1. Henri Poincaré (1854- 1912):
Photo Courtesy: Henri Poincaré
The ruling out Poincare as a Nobel Prize winner will remain as a permanent blot on Nobel committee. He was nominated for 51 times in a time spanning from 1904 to 1912 [in a single year different nominator can nominate same person and also single nominator can nominate multiple person. That is how in 8 years, he got 51 nominations! See this link also]. To get better understanding of procedure to award Nobel Prize, it is better on look at these being done. Only one thing is has to be specified: The Academy usually approves the recommendations made by Nobel Committee, but it is not mandatory that every time Academy has to accepts the recommendations. During the course of many years, the Academy members really enjoyed in exercising this ‘veto’ power. In 1910, out of the 58 nomination that has been received, Poincaré was nominated by 34 people with a majority of 59%. But, the Nobel Prize in that year went to Johannes Diderik van der Waals, who just got only one nomination (seriously?!). And, this is not first and last time. During time spanning between 1901 and 1966, Academy favoured the majority’s decision only 29 times [see How Nobel favorites have fared]. As to why and how Poincaré didn't receive the award, I would like to quote from above reference:
Poincaré also failed to secure the support of the most influential committee member, Chairman Svante Arrhenius. Largely to oppose a rival in the academy who had initiated the campaign for Poincaré, Arrhenius pushed the candidacy of countryman Knut Ångström. Even Ångström’s death before the announcement of the prize couldn’t save Poincaré; according to Friedman, Arrhenius just dug up documentation in support of Johannes van der Waals, who had long been dismissed as a candidate and whose critical research had taken place in the 1870s. (Alfred Nobel’s bequest requires that the awards be based on achievements “during the preceding year.”) A single 1910 nomination from Harvard physicist Theodore Richards was all van der Waals needed to win the prize. Poincaré received additional votes before his death in 1912 but never won the Nobel.
2. Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839- 1903):
Photo Courtesy: Josiah Willard Gibbs
His work in mathematics, thermodynamics and related branches has made him one among the foremost scientist. Once Einstein was asked were the greatest men, the most powerful thinkers he had known, he replied, “‘Lorentz,' and added, 'I never met Willard Gibbs; perhaps, had I done so, I might have placed him beside Lorentz'” [ Pais, Abraham (1982). Subtle is the Lord. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 73]. He was not even nominated for this prize.
3. Ludwig Boltzmann (1844- 1906):
Photo Courtesy: Ludwig Boltzmann
He is mainly known for his pioneering works in statistical mechanics. Boltzmann was the person who uncovered the microscopic meaning of entropy in second law of thermodynamics. Boltzmann also laid foundation for Maxwell- Boltzmann statistics and conceived the idea of Boltzmann equation. Boltzmann could not stand up the criticism from other people, which led to his suicide in 1906. Was nominated in 1903, 1905 and 1906, but has not received the award. The famous Boltzmann equation linking macroscopic entropy to statistics of molecules is engraved in his tomb.
4. Jagdish Chandra Bose (1858- 1937):
Photo Courtesy: Jagdish Chandra BosePhoto of J.C. Bose, centre, with his students Meghnad Saha, J.C. Ghosh (both sitting), S. Dutta (from Left, standing), S.N. Bose, D.M. Bose, N.R. Sen, J.N. Mukherjee and N.C. Nag.
The person who was communicating with plants. He was a polymath who has researched into physics, botany and radio science. He was can be named as the first biophysicist in India (not sure whether there are any other) who found out that plants do indeed have life cycle and invented a instrument called crescograph for measuring the growth in plants. During a November 1894 public demonstration at Town Hall of Kolkata, Bose ignited gunpowder and rang a bell at a distance using millimetre range wavelength microwaves, much before Guglielmo Marconi tried to send electromagnetic waves through air. For this reason Bose is sometimes known as father of wireless telecommunication [ see also: the unsung Hero of Radio Communication and ]. He also was never nominated for the prize.
5. Arnold Sommerfeld (1868 – 1951):
Photo Courtesy: Born, Max. "Arnold Johannes Wilhelm Sommerfeld. 1868-1951." Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 8.21 (1952): 275-296.
A great pioneer in the field of old quantum theory. Also, a great teacher who has produced a plethora of excellent scientists. He was nominated for a record of 84times in between 1917 and 1951, still academy couldn’t find that he is worthy enough to give award. It is interesting to note that many of his students went on to become Nobel Laurates. Max von Laue was his post graduate student at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) under Sommerfeld. Lau got Nobel in 1914 and he had this strange fate to nominate his teacher for an award that he got- Laue nominated Sommerfeld for 5 time in the time spanning 1917-1933. Don’t worry, Nobel Committee has a reason to tell about this:
he had no single, great achievement that the committee could point to, even though his collective body of work stacked up to those of contemporaries who won the prize [see: How to almost win the physics Nobel ].
6. Lise Meitner (1878–1968):
Photo Courtesy: Frisch, Otto Robert. "Lise Meitner. 1878-1968." Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 16 (1970): 405-420.
Famously known as “German Marie Curie” [as called by Einstein]. In 1938, Otto Han and Fritz Strassmann showed that when you bombard Uranium with neutron, element Barium is formed. But it was Meitner and her nephew who interpreted the results correctly, thereby coining the term ‘fission’ in physics for the first time []. Her contribution were abated when Nobel Committee awarded Nobel Prize for Chemistry to Otto Han in 1944 "for his discovery of the fission of heavy nuclei". She was nominated for 48 times in the time spanning from 1937 to 1948, without any success. Also, one more point worth to note: note that she was Boltzmann’s student.
7. Emmy Noether (1882–1935):
Photo Courtesy: Emmy Noether
Symmetry of mathematical equation gives rise to a conserved quantity. Simple as it sound, this theorem (known as Noether’s theorem) had helped us to sort out various fundamental particles and to identify them. She was highly regarded by Einstein, Hermann Weyl, David Hilbert and Felix Klein. Her application for admission as a faculty to University of Gotteingen created much furore and it led David Hilbert to utter this words:
“I do not see that the sex of the candidate is an argument against her admission as privatdozent. After all, we are a university, not a bath house”.
She, too, was not even nominated for Nobel Prize.
8.Edwin Hubble (1889-1953):
Photo Courtesy: Edwin Hubble
Warning: Smoking is injurious to health.
Ever expanding universe in all the way was a paradigm shifting observation. Edwin Hubble found out this observation using Carnegie Institute’s Mount Wilson Observatory. Though Einstein himself found out that the Universe was expanding using his own theory of relativity, he put forward a factor (cosmological constant) to prove that Universe is static. But Hubble’s observation forced Einstein to accept the fact that Universe is expanding and made him to tell that introduction of cosmological constant was biggest blunder in his life. He got nomination for in 1953, but couldn’t convince the Committee that he is worth for it.
9. Meghnad Saha (1893–1956):
Photo Courtesy: Kothari, D. S. "Meghnad Saha. 1893-1956." Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 5 (1960): 217-236.
Let me quote Svein Rosseland, in the introduction to his well-known Theoretical Astrophysics: Atomic Theory and the Analysis of Stellar Atmospheres and Envelopes:
Although Bohr must thus be considered the pioneer in the field [of atomic theory], it was the Indian physicist Meghnad Saha who (1920) first attempted to develop a consistent theory of the spectral sequence of the stars from the point of view of atomic theory. . . . The impetus given to astrophysics by Saha’s work can scarcely be overestimated, as nearly all later progress in this field has been influenced by it and much of the subsequent work has the character of refinements of Saha’s ideas”.
He was nominated by 7 times.
10. Satyendra Nath Bose (1894- 1974):
Photo Courtesy: Satyendra Nath Bose with P. A. M Dirac
The whole world we live is filled with the particle that has been named after him. But academy could see it. He was nominated by in 1956, 1959 and 1962. It is interesting to note that both Saha and Bose was classmates in Presidency College, Calcutta along with P. C. Mahalanobis, where they were taught by J. C. Bose. In the final year exam, Bose came as first and Saha came second. Also, along with Saha, Bose produced the first English translation ever published of relativity papers by Einstein and Minkowski in 1919.
11. L. H. Germer (1896- 1971):
Photo Courtesy: L. H. Germer
Clinton Davisson (left) and Lester Germer (right) with tube used in electron diffraction work, taken at West Street, New York City, New York.
de Broglie suggested, by combining Planck’s law and relativity theory, that matter particle (for e.g. electrons) have wave like properties. The decisive test of this idea was conducted by Davisson and Lester H Germer in USA and independently by G. P Thomson from England in 1927 (ironically G. P Thomson’s father had showed that electrons are particles!). For this path breaking experiments, Davissson and Thomson got Nobel Prize in 1937, but Nobel Committee refused to give it to Germer, though he was nominated along with Germer.
12. George Uhlenbeck (1900-1988)/ Samuel Goudsmit (1908-1978):
Photo Courtesy: Pais, Abraham. George Uhlenbeck and the discovery of electron spin. na, 1989.
Seen in the above picture is George Uhlenbeck (L) with Hendrik Kramers (C) and Samuel Goudsmit (R).
The whole world of elementary particle that now we see has been classified on the basis of spin of fundamental particles. Yet the people who proposed it didn't get the award. Uhlenbeck was nominated for 47 times and Goudsmit was nominated 48 times yet success eluded them.
13. George Gamow (1904–1968):
Photo Courtesy: My world line- An informal autobiography by George Gamow
The original creator of big bang theory, one of the best popular science writer, a pioneer in QM, nuclear physicist… Gamow was not that much successful in securing the nomination itself: he was nominated for the prize for in 1943 and 1946.
14. Robert H. Dicke (1916-1997) and Jim Peebles (1935- ):
Photo Courtesy: Robert Dicke (up) & James E. Peebles (down)
Cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR), which is the electromagnetic radiation left over by big bang, has an interesting story to tell. The extreme hot, dense early universe would have expanded and temperature would have drooped down substantially. Alpher (1921- 2007) and Herman (1919-1997) in 1948 have found that temperature of this thermal background would be 5K. Since their theory could not account for the abundance of other heavier elements, this theory was forgotten. Not knowing this, Dicke and his colleague Peeble carried out the calculation and came to conclusion that the temperature of the radiation will be in the microwave range. As excellent experimentalist, Dicke tried to build a microwave receiver to detect it at Princeton. The success eluded them and it was strange coincidence that another 2 people found it, accidentally. Arno Allan Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson were trying to clear out the noise that they were receiving in their microwave receiver. But seems like, this is not the effect of any other parameters like components of antenna or bird droppings. Penzias discussed this issue with Bernard Burke, who was his colleague radio astronomy, who in turn referred to Dicke. When contacted Robert Dicke, Penzias and Wilson discovered that they were listening to ‘echo’ of big bang, which Robert Dicke carried out theoretical framework and was searching for. Dicke and Peebles was happy that to see their theoretical prediction becoming reality, but sad that they couldn’t find it. Penzias and Wilson were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1977, just because they accidentally discovered it. Nobel committee didn’t give a damn about the people who laid the theory for it!
As a matter of fact, it is often said that Dicke nearly missed many Nobels [ See the neat article written by Vasant Natarajan].
15. E. C. George Sudarshan (1931- 2018):
Photo Courtesy: E. C. George Sudarshan
We know him for his proposition of elementary particle which moves faster than light, which we call as tachyons. But his expertise is not limited to relativistic physics. His range of contribution ranges from Optical coherence, Sudarshan-Glauber representation, V-A theory, Tachyons, Quantum Zeno effect, Open quantum system, Spin-statistics theorem. For Sudarshan-Glauber representation, Roy J. Glauber has received the Noble in 2005, but Sudarshan was denied of it. It was a subject of big controversy (see: and )
There may be other physicists who were worth of receiving this prize, but these are images which comes to my mind when hearing about those people who missed the Nobel…

source: quoran

Which professor advised most number of Nobel laureates?

Ernest Rutherford

Considered by many the bests experimentalist and the father of Nuclear Physics - Got a Nobel Prize in Chemistry!! It appears he trained eleven Nobel Prize winners during his lifetime - a record. His  students include:

James Chadwick (Physics '35)
John Cockroft (Physics '51)
Edward Appleton (Physics '47)
Niels Bohr (Physics '22)
C.F. Powell (Physics '50)
Ernest Walton (Physics '51)
Patric Blackett (Physics '48)
Otto Hahn (Chemistry '44)
Pyotr Kapitsa (Physics '78)
Frederick Soddy (Chemistry '21)

Source: quoran

Friday, 5 October 2018

What are some misconceptions about quantum physics?

Here are some I’ve heard or read, time and time again :
  1. Quantum physics is the physics of microscopic scale.
    This is true, but misleading. Quantum physics work at all scales, but we see quantum effects occur naturally when the action is low.
    In fact, nanophysics and meta-materials, and quantum information all involve endeavours to extend quantum properties (coherence) to larger scales of space, time and energy.
  2. It is impossible to simultaneously know the position and the momentum of a system.
    This is also misleading. It’s not a matter of knowledge, it’s a matter of definition. Heisenberg’s inequalities do not mean that you don’t have access to both informations simultaneously, they mean that those quantities are not defined simultaneously below a given uncertainty.
    Also, I’d rather call them Heisenberg’s inequalities rather than principle. Calling them principle makes it sound like scientists created it as some sort of axiom, and that they would live in the fear that one day, Heisenberg’s inequalities may be violated.
    In fact, it’s kind of the other way around. Exepriments hinted at a wave-like behaviour for low actions, and so the wavefunction formalism was established. The principle is the fact that quantum systems are represented by an abstract wavefunction. And the automatic consequence, by Fourier analysis, are the Heisenberg inequalities.
  3. Quantum mechanics and relativity are incompatible.
    Again. This is misleading. Quantum mechanics and relativity are compatible, and one of the most important equations in physics is simultaneously quantum and relativistic : the Klein Gordon equation. It’s the basis upon which quantum field theories, like QED and QCD, are built, and their predictive power is undisputed.
    The real issue is gravity for which the best model is General Relativity. But we would like to explain this interaction with a particle (graviton) and understand it with a quantum theory of gravity. In the same way the electron is an excitation of the electron-field, we would like the graviton to be an excitation in spacetime.

source and credits: quora

Thursday, 4 October 2018

What Is Quantum Mechanics?

Quantum mechanics is the body of scientific laws that describe the wacky behavior of photons, electrons and the other particles that make up the universe.
Credit: agsandrew | ShutterstockBy  | 

Quantum mechanics is the branch of physics relating to the very small. 
It results in what may appear to be some very strange conclusions about the physical world. At the scale of atoms and electrons, many of the equations of classical mechanics, which describe how things move at everyday sizes and speeds, cease to be useful. In classical mechanics, objects exist in a specific place at a specific time. However, in quantum mechanics, objects instead exist in a haze of probability; they have a certain chance of being at point A, another chance of being at point B and so on.
Quantum mechanics (QM) developed over many decades, beginning as a set of controversial mathematical explanations of experiments that the math of classical mechanics could not explain. It began at the turn of the 20th century, around the same time that Albert Einstein published his theory of relativity, a separate mathematical revolution in physics that describes the motion of things at high speeds. Unlike relativity, however, the origins of QM cannot be attributed to any one scientist. Rather, multiple scientists contributed to a foundation of three revolutionary principles that gradually gained acceptance and experimental verification between 1900 and 1930. They are:
Quantized properties: Certain properties, such as position, speed and color, can sometimes only occur in specific, set amounts, much like a dial that "clicks" from number to number. This challenged a fundamental assumption of classical mechanics, which said that such properties should exist on a smooth, continuous spectrum. To describe the idea that some properties "clicked" like a dial with specific settings, scientists coined the word "quantized."
Particles of light: Light can sometimes behave as a particle. This was initially met with harsh criticism, as it ran contrary to 200 years of experiments showing that light behaved as a wave; much like ripples on the surface of a calm lake. Light behaves similarly in that it bounces off walls and bends around corners, and that the crests and troughs of the wave can add up or cancel out. Added wave crests result in brighter light, while waves that cancel out produce darkness. A light source can be thought of as a ball on a stick being rhythmically dipped in the center of a lake. The color emitted corresponds to the distance between the crests, which is determined by the speed of the ball's rhythm. 
Waves of matter: Matter can also behave as a wave. This ran counter to the roughly 30 years of experiments showing that matter (such as electrons) exists as particles.
In 1900, German physicist Max Planck sought to explain the distribution of colors emitted over the spectrum in the glow of red-hot and white-hot objects, such as light-bulb filaments. When making physical sense of the equation he had derived to describe this distribution, Planck realized it implied that combinations of only certain colors (albeit a great number of them) were emitted, specifically those that were whole-number multiples of some base value. Somehow, colors were quantized! This was unexpected because light was understood to act as a wave, meaning that values of color should be a continuous spectrum. What could be forbidding atoms from producing the colors between these whole-number multiples? This seemed so strange that Planck regarded quantization as nothing more than a mathematical trick. According to Helge Kragh in his 2000 article in Physics World magazine, "Max Planck, the Reluctant Revolutionary," "If a revolution occurred in physics in December 1900, nobody seemed to notice it. Planck was no exception …" 
Planck's equation also contained a number that would later become very important to future development of QM; today, it's known as "Planck's Constant."
Quantization helped to explain other mysteries of physics. In 1907, Einstein used Planck's hypothesis of quantization to explain why the temperature of a solid changed by different amounts if you put the same amount of heat into the material but changed the starting temperature.
Since the early 1800s, the science of spectroscopy had shown that different elements emit and absorb specific colors of light called "spectral lines." Though spectroscopy was a reliable method for determining the elements contained in objects such as distant stars, scientists were puzzled about why each element gave off those specific lines in the first place. In 1888, Johannes Rydberg derived an equation that described the spectral lines emitted by hydrogen, though nobody could explain why the equation worked. This changed in 1913 when Niels Bohr applied Planck's hypothesis of quantization to Ernest Rutherford's 1911 "planetary" model of the atom, which postulated that electrons orbited the nucleus the same way that planets orbit the sun. According to Physics 2000 (a site from the University of Colorado), Bohr proposed that electrons were restricted to "special" orbits around an atom's nucleus. They could "jump" between special orbits, and the energy produced by the jump caused specific colors of light, observed as spectral lines. Though quantized properties were invented as but a mere mathematical trick, they explained so much that they became the founding principle of QM.
In 1905, Einstein published a paper, "Concerning an Heuristic Point of View Toward the Emission and Transformation of Light," in which he envisioned light traveling not as a wave, but as some manner of "energy quanta." This packet of energy, Einstein suggested, could "be absorbed or generated only as a whole," specifically when an atom "jumps" between quantized vibration rates. This would also apply, as would be shown a few years later, when an electron "jumps" between quantized orbits. Under this model, Einstein's "energy quanta" contained the energy difference of the jump; when divided by Planck’s constant, that energy difference determined the color of light carried by those quanta. 
With this new way to envision light, Einstein offered insights into the behavior of nine different phenomena, including the specific colors that Planck described being emitted from a light-bulb filament. It also explained how certain colors of light could eject electrons off metal surfaces, a phenomenon known as the "photoelectric effect." However, Einstein wasn't wholly justified in taking this leap, said Stephen Klassen, an associate professor of physics at the University of Winnipeg. In a 2008 paper, "The Photoelectric Effect: Rehabilitating the Story for the Physics Classroom," Klassen states that Einstein's energy quanta aren't necessary for explaining all of those nine phenomena. Certain mathematical treatments of light as a wave are still capable of describing both the specific colors that Planck described being emitted from a light-bulb filament and the photoelectric effect. Indeed, in Einstein's controversial winning of the 1921 Nobel Prize, the Nobel committee only acknowledged "his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect," which specifically did not rely on the notion of energy quanta.
Roughly two decades after Einstein's paper, the term "photon" was popularized for describing energy quanta, thanks to the 1923 work of Arthur Compton, who showed that light scattered by an electron beam changed in color. This showed that particles of light (photons) were indeed colliding with particles of matter (electrons), thus confirming Einstein's hypothesis. By now, it was clear that light could behave both as a wave and a particle, placing light's "wave-particle duality" into the foundation of QM.
Since the discovery of the electron in 1896, evidence that all matter existed in the form of particles was slowly building. Still, the demonstration of light's wave-particle duality made scientists question whether matter was limited to acting only as particles. Perhaps wave-particle duality could ring true for matter as well? The first scientist to make substantial headway with this reasoning was a French physicist named Louis de Broglie. In 1924, de Broglie used the equations of Einstein's theory of special relativity to show that particles can exhibit wave-like characteristics, and that waves can exhibit particle-like characteristics. Then in 1925, two scientists, working independently and using separate lines of mathematical thinking, applied de Broglie's reasoning to explain how electrons whizzed around in atoms (a phenomenon that was unexplainable using the equations of classical mechanics). In Germany, physicist Werner Heisenberg (teaming with Max Born and Pascual Jordan) accomplished this by developing "matrix mechanics." Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger developed a similar theory called "wave mechanics." Schrödinger showed in 1926 that these two approaches were equivalent (though Swiss physicist Wolfgang Pauli sent an unpublished result to Jordan showing that matrix mechanics was more complete).
The Heisenberg-Schrödinger model of the atom, in which each electron acts as a wave (sometimes referred to as a "cloud") around the nucleus of an atom replaced the Rutherford-Bohr model. One stipulation of the new model was that the ends of the wave that forms an electron must meet. In "Quantum Mechanics in Chemistry, 3rd Ed." (W.A. Benjamin, 1981), Melvin Hanna writes, "The imposition of the boundary conditions has restricted the energy to discrete values." A consequence of this stipulation is that only whole numbers of crests and troughs are allowed, which explains why some properties are quantized. In the Heisenberg-Schrödinger model of the atom, electrons obey a "wave function" and occupy "orbitals" rather than orbits. Unlike the circular orbits of the Rutherford-Bohr model, atomic orbitals have a variety of shapes ranging from spheres to dumbbells to daisies.
In 1927, Walter Heitler and Fritz London further developed wave mechanics to show how atomic orbitals could combine to form molecular orbitals, effectively showing why atoms bond to one another to form molecules. This was yet another problem that had been unsolvable using the math of classical mechanics. These insights gave rise to the field of "quantum chemistry."
Also in 1927, Heisenberg made another major contribution to quantum physics. He reasoned that since matter acts as waves, some properties, such as an electron's position and speed, are "complementary," meaning there's a limit (related to Planck's constant) to how well the precision of each property can be known. Under what would come to be called "Heisenberg's uncertainty principle," it was reasoned that the more precisely an electron's position is known, the less precisely its speed can be known, and vice versa. This uncertainty principle applies to everyday-size objects as well, but is not noticeable because the lack of precision is extraordinarily tiny. According to Dave Slaven of Morningside College (Sioux City, IA), if a baseball's speed is known to within a precision of 0.1 mph, the maximum precision to which it is possible to know the ball's position is 0.000000000000000000000000000008 millimeters.
The principles of quantization, wave-particle duality and the uncertainty principle ushered in a new era for QM. In 1927, Paul Dirac applied a quantum understanding of electric and magnetic fields to give rise to the study of "quantum field theory" (QFT), which treated particles (such as photons and electrons) as excited states of an underlying physical field. Work in QFT continued for a decade until scientists hit a roadblock: Many equations in QFT stopped making physical sense because they produced results of infinity. After a decade of stagnation, Hans Bethe made a breakthrough in 1947 using a technique called "renormalization." Here, Bethe realized that all infinite results related to two phenomena (specifically "electron self-energy" and "vacuum polarization") such that the observed values of electron mass and electron charge could be used to make all the infinities disappear.
Since the breakthrough of renormalization, QFT has served as the foundation for developing quantum theories about the four fundamental forces of nature: 1) electromagnetism, 2) the weak nuclear force, 3) the strong nuclear force and 4) gravity. The first insight provided by QFT was a quantum description of electromagnetism through "quantum electrodynamics" (QED), which made strides in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Next was a quantum description of the weak nuclear force, which was unified with electromagnetism to build "electroweak theory" (EWT) throughout the 1960s. Finally came a quantum treatment of the strong nuclear force using "quantum chromodynamics" (QCD) in the 1960s and 1970s. The theories of QED, EWT and QCD together form the basis of the Standard Model of particle physics. Unfortunately, QFT has yet to produce a quantum theory of gravity. That quest continues today in the studies of string theory and loop quantum gravity.

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