Fun Anecdotes about Scientists found in Newspaper Archives Published on May 2nd - An Engineer's Aspect


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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fun Anecdotes about Scientists found in Newspaper Archives Published on May 2nd

Michael Faraday and the Gunpowder

The Standard, Ogden, Utah, Tuesday Morning, May 2, 1898, Page 5.

His Cushion

Among the many anecdotes of Michael Faraday, the great scientist, is one which was originally in the "Proceedings of the Royal Society" in connection with other biographical facts chiefly derived from that eminent man's correspondence and notebooks.

It appears that he and Sir Charles Lyell were sent as government commissioners to watch the inquest upon those who had died by the explosion in the Haswell colliery in 1844. Faraday cross examined the witnesses very pertinently. Among other questions he asked how the rate of flow of air currents was measured.

An inspector in reply took a pinch of gunpowder from a box, as if it were snuff, and let it fall through the flame of a candle. His companion, with a watch, noted the time the smoke took to travel a certain distance.

The method satisfied Faraday, but he remarked upon the careless handling of the powder, and asked where it was kept.

"In a bag, tightly tied," was the reply.

"Yes, but where do you keep the bag?"

"You are sitting on it," answered the inspector carelessly.

The well meaning people, not being overstocked with chairs, had given the commissioner their best substitute for a cushion. Faraday's agility in vacating this seat of honor may be imagined.

Werner Heisenberg Receives Medal for the Principle of Uncertainty

The Bakersfield Californian, Thursday, May 2, 1929, Page 2.



Theory of Dr. Heisenberg Ranks With Einstein's Relativity




Young German Savant to Receive Research Medal for Achievement


By Morris Watson
(Associated Press Leased Wire)

CHICAGO, May 2.--From the brain of a courtly German professor, still under 30, there has come the "principle of uncertainty," ranking in scientific importance with Einstein's theory of relativity, and changing the general ideas of physical laws.

Dr. Werner Heisenberg on May 10 in New York will receive the medal of the Research Corporation of New York for outstanding scientific achievement during the year; it is his "principle of uncertainty" that has won for him this prize and the accompanying award of $2500.

Dr. Heisenberg shows by his theory that in measuring the electron a final boundary to human knowledge is met--and he asserts, paradoxical as it may seem, that without this boundary, i. e., the uncertain factor of either velocity or position, science would be faced with an unfathomable mystery in the atom.

The mystery, he explains, would be the contradiction in nature of light showing itself as projectiles of matter in one case and as waves in another; and the further contradiction of the same sort with electrons.

Dr. Heisenberg's study of atomic physics was begun in 1921 when he became interested in the quantum theory, which established light as matter.

P. W. Bridgeman, Hollis professor of mathematics and natural philosophy, Harvard university, said in a recent article: "The new theory of quantum mechanics has received implicit formulation in the principle of uncertainty of Heisenberg--a principle which, I believe, is fraught with the possibility of greater change in mental outlets than was ever packed into an equal number of words."

A Day in the Life of Marie Curie

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Indiana, Monday, May 2, 1932, Page 5.



(United Press Staff Correspondent)

PARIS, May 2. --(UP)--Despite the fact that Madame Marie Curie has passed her 64th birthday, she works 12 hours a day in her little laboratory at No. 1 Rue Pierre-Curie in the Pavillion named in her honor, Pavillion Curie.

This little white-haired woman, clad almost always in a straight tailored suit of black with a white blouse and a black four-in-hand tie fastened high at her throat, is at present working on a set of experiments that are destined to modify the theory that the world now holds regarding the universe. Her special prerogative is making constant and minute discoveries on the origin of cosmic rays.

An artificial ray, called the "gamma" ray, now is believed available from the atom, and cosmic rays originate from the formation of atoms out of a field of hydrogen at an unknown distance beyond the sun. By shooting alpha rays at an atom, at a point of the alpha's ray's impact with the atom, a gamma ray of great penetrating power is produced.

Dr. Holway, who has been working in collaboration, with Mme. Curie for a number of years, said that it was not certain that radium would entirely fulfill the ambitions held for it by scientists at its discovery, but that it always would be used for certain diseases such as cancer.

"Madame Curie is not working on anything connected with medicine at present. She is concerned entirely with research work in cosmic rays. What she finds we often take and make applicable to bacteriology and medicine. She is a tireless worker, a woman of very few words, but always willing to answer questions or talk about scientific matters."

She spends much time in traveling and lecturing, slipping in and out of countries and through crowds. So quietly and unostentatiously does she live her life and go about her work here, it was not known until she was back at her post again that she had been seriously ill for several days. She is quite well again now and according to physicians, "she seems to control her own health with the same force and determination that puts the reins of the cosmic rays of the universe in her fragile hands."

Professor Dodgson is Remembered as Lewis Carroll

The Ogden Standard-Examiner, Monday Eveining, May 2, 1932, Page 4.



(Copyright, 1931, King Features Syndicate, Inc.)




Columbia university will celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of Professor Dodgson who wrote "Alice in Wonderland" and signed it "Louis Carroll," thinking it too undignified for a professor of mathematics.

Sometimes undignified things are more important than others.

The learned Dodgson will be remembered for his "Alice," not for his books on Euclid.

Mrs. Hargreaves, the original "Little Alice," for whom the book was written, now 80 years old, comes to celebrate the anniversary of one who made her famous.


Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, learned head of the university, will address and congratulate Mrs. Hargreaves.

He might speculate on the strange things that she will see when she goes "through the looking glass" and into that greater "wonderland" on the other side of the grave. What kings and queens will she find there, what arrangements that will seem topsy turvy to her?

Albert Einstein Causes Confusion

New Castle, PA., News, Wednesday, May 2, 1945, Page 4.



Albert Einstein, 66-year-old scientist, has just been named professor emeritus of the faculty of Advanced Study at Princeton university.

That means that he has been relieved of his official duties, and will now be able to give as much time as he wants to his present undertaking, the study of "the theory of bi-vector field and other fields the structural elements of which depend upon two space-time points."


I haven't the slightest idea of what that means, nor do I have the slightest idea of what relativity is all about.

And to be perfectly truthful, do you know any more about it than I do?

Yet we both know that Professor Einstein is one of the most famous men in the world and has received more honors than most of us.

There is hardly a child in America who hasn't a clear picture of him in his mind--that bushy hair, that little mustache, that shy look and walk.

One of the country's great psychiatrists, Dr. George Hyslop, was asked the other day by a layman to explain "double consciousness".

"Well, to explain it simply," he said, "double consciousness we may say is due to a supposed inhibition of the amoeboid movement in the pseudopodic photoplasmic prolongations of the neurospongium."

Just as simply as that!


Well, after all, we would probably honor Professor Einstein less and pay Dr. Hyslop smaller fees if we did understand all the mysterious terms and principles which they use just as easily as the carpenter uses his T-square or the plumber his wrench.

The other day a woman wrote to me and asked:

"How can you sit down and write a column every day in the week? What is the mystery? What do you have to know to be able to do it?"

Whereupon I replied:

"How can you stand up and cook three meals a day every day in the week? How can you make a delicious hash out of some old corned beef or a succulent soup out of a lot of odds-and-end? What is the mystery? What do you have to know to be able to do it?"

I am going to show this to my wife when it is finished.

And do you know what she is going to say?

"I wonder whether you'll make me a Professor emeritus of Housekeeping when I get to Einstein's age."

Copyright, 1945, King Features Syndicate, Inc.