It was on this date, January 31, 1881, that American chemist Irving Langmuir was born in Brooklyn, NY. Langmuir is chiefly remembered for coining in 1923 the physics term “plasma” to describe a fourth state of matter, distinct from solid or liquid or gas and present in stars and fusion reactions, such as that which powers the sun. He was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. A true scientist, Langmuir was deeply skeptical of shortcuts to knowledge. When asked about his inattention to religion, Langmuir once responded…
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Originally published January 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.
Hermann von Helmholtz (1821) It was on this date, August 31, 1821, that German physician and physicist Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz was born in Potsdam, Prussia, in what is now Germany. The son of a classics teacher of small means, Hermann was persuaded to set aside his love of natural science in favor of […]