This weekend I read another amazing children’s book. It is from a series called “Dead Famous”. For my posts on Relativity, I referred extensively from another book in this series called “Einstein and his inflatable universe”.
This book on scientists talks about various scientists from Aristotle to Einstein and their experiments. In doing this it wonderfully captures how science has progressed through the ages. Let me tell you some interesting facts about each of these scientists
Aristotle was the first scientist who postulated that all objects were made up of matter. He also said that people should observe the world carefully before trying to explain it. Today these are facts are fundamental to science, when he told it, it was a radical thought.
Galileo discovered that a pendulum takes the same time to swing, whether its swing was narrow or wide. This led to the invention of clocks. He was the first to observe the space through the telescope and discover the moons of Jupiter and the waxing and waning of Venus. He was the first scientist who felt that maths could be used to describe the universe.
Issac Newton apart from discovering Gravity also invented calculus. He invented a new type of telescope made of mirrors instead of lens.
Michael Faraday was the first to conceptualize the unified theory that scientist are grappling with even today. He said “ I am sure there is a basic simplicity underlying nature. I feel convinced that electricity, magnetism, gravity and other forces are all related in some way. Could they even be just different ways of looking at the same thing”
Charles Darwin as we all know came up with the theory of Natural Selection. Before
Darwin everyone thought that all animals were created as they are and don’t ever change. His theory helped in determining the real age of the earth which is 4.5 thousand million years old.
Gregor Mandel was the father of Genetics. He bred pea plants which came only two varieties, 200cm or 40cm tall and use them to come up with his theory on heredity. When he published his results it was not noticed at all. His work became well known only 16 years after his death.
Louis Pasteur was the first to discover that it is possible to deduce the molecular shape of crystals simply we observing the way they affected light. He proved that germs caused diseases and was the first to invent vaccination.
Marie Curie along with her husband Pierre discovered Radium. Radioactivity was used to cure cancer. She was a very patriotic lady and during the war she invented the mobile x-ray cars. She died due to constant exposure to radiation. Infact her notebooks are still so radioactive that you have to sign a form saying you are doing it at your own risk before you can look at it.
Finally Einstein explained the radioactivity which Curie discovered. His famous equation e-mc2 which implied that mass and energy can change into each other, revolutionized science. He also explained the connection between space and time in his general theory of relativity.
Dr Mike Goldsmith concludes this book as follows: The freedom to think things through for yourself and tell other people your ideas is unusual, but when people have this freedom it is amazing what they can come up with. To sort out the universe all people need is to be allowed to think what they like. Their cleverness, determination and fascination with the world around them will do the rest, given time.