Posts Tagged ‘EINSTEIN

5 Of Physics’s Greatest Sex Scandals

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Physicists need love, too. Just ask Paul Frampton, the physics professor who was sentenced recently after an alleged scam involving drugs and a bikini model.
We know it can be hard to resist the temptation of bikini models on the Internet, but physicist Paul Frampton was duped pretty bad. The University of North Carolina professor flew to Bolivia to meet up with model Denise Milani, but Milani never showed up. Instead, a man with a briefcase claiming to be Milani’s intermediary sent Frampton on a drug smuggling mission. Frampton was arrested before he made it back the United States and convicted last week. We’re all fools in love, huh?

Frampton isn’t the only physicist to get caught up in a love scandal. Though most of them haven’t ended up in an Argentine prison, some did have awkward run-ins with the media. Check out these physicists who probably wish their sex lives were as invisible as dark matter.

Albert Einstein’s theory of relatives
The father of relativity wasn’t very good to his second first wife, Mileva Maric. He made her do all the housework, and in return, she got… well, nothing much in the love department. That’s because he was too busy taking lovers, including his cousin Elsa whom he later married. When asked about his love life, he would probably say, “It’s all relatives.” Zing!

Marie Curie’s radioactive love
Apparently, two Nobel prizes aren’t enough to get people off your back about that one affair you had. After Marie Curie’s husband died, she fell in love with his former student, Pierre Langevin. The man was married, so the French press made a big stink about it and started calling her a homewrecker and a Jew. For the record, Curie was not cheating on anyone herself (and was also not Jewish.)

Erwin Schrodinger’s mistresses
Here we have another physicist who wanted little do with his wife. Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger had several mistresses, one being the wife of his assistant, Arthur March. The weird part: March was cool with it and stepped in as the father of the child while his wife Hilde moved into the Schrodinger household.

Stephen Hawking and the sex clubs
It doesn’t really seem fair to pick on Hawking for a few reasons, the main one being that he currently doesn’t have a wife to cheat on, but the media did it anyway. Hawking apparently frequents the sex clubs, and the only reason that’s a scandal is because it is now horrendously public. No one’s getting hurt here, at the very least.
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November 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Why Einstein never received a Nobel prize for relativity

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Nobel prizes often attract controversy, but usually after they have been awarded. Albert Einstein’s physics prize was the subject of argument for years before it was even a reality

Albert Einstein το 1920. Θα λάβει το βραβείο Νόμπελ Φυσικής το επόμενο έτος, αλλά όχι για τη σχετικότητα. Φωτογραφία: Roger Viollet / Getty Images

Stuart Clark –

There was a lot riding on Einstein winning a Nobel prize. Beyond his academic reputation, and that of the Nobel Institute for recognising greatness, the wellbeing of his former wife and their two sons depended upon it.

In the aftermath of the first world war, defeated Germany was being consumed by hyper-inflation. The government was printing more money to pay the war reparations and, as a result, the mark went into freefall against foreign currencies. Living in Berlin, Einstein was naturally affected by the crisis.

He had divorced Mileva in 1919, several years after she had returned to Switzerland with the boys, Hans-Albert and Eduard. As part of the settlement, Einstein pledged any eventual Nobel prize money to her for their upkeep. As the hyper-inflation bit ever deeper, so he needed that cash.

By this time, Einstein had a decade’s worth of Nobel nominations behind him. Yet each year, to mounting criticism, the committee decided against his work on the grounds that relativity was unproven. In 1919, that changed. Cambridge astrophysicist Arthur Eddington famously used a total eclipse to measure the deflection of stars’ positions near the Sun. The size of the deflection was exactly as Einstein had predicted from relativity in 1915. The prize should have been his, but the committee snubbed him again.

Why? Because now dark forces were at work.

Antisemitism was on the rise in Germany; Jews were being scapegoated for the country’s defeat in the war. As both Jew and pacifist, Einstein was an obvious target. The complexity of relativity did not help either. Opponents such as Ernst Gehrcke and Philipp Lenard found it easy to cast doubt upon its labyrinthine mathematics.

The situation reached crisis point in 1921 when, paralysed by indecision, the Nobel Committee decided it was better not to award a prize at all than to give it to relativity. The arguments raged for another year until a compromise was reached.

At the suggestion of Carl Wilhelm Oseen, Einstein would receive the deferred 1921 prize, but not for relativity. He would be given it for his explanation of the photoelectric effect, a phenomenon in which electrons are emitted from a metal sheet only under certain illuminations. The work had been published back in 1905.

It has been argued that this work, which introduced the concept of photons, has had more impact than relativity. I’m not sure. With relativity, Einstein gave us a way to understand the Universe as a whole. It was a staggering leap forward in our intellectual capability.

The Nobel citation reads that Einstein is honoured for “services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. At first glance, the reference to theoretical physics could have been a back door through which the committee acknowledged relativity. However, there was a caveat stating that the award was presented “without taking into account the value that will be accorded your relativity and gravitation theories after these are confirmed in the future”.

To many, and to Einstein himself, this felt like a slap in the face. Hadn’t Eddington proved the theory? Yes, but the trouble was Eddington’s observations had not been perfect and he had discarded data he considered poor from his final analysis. To some, as related in Jeffrey Crelinsten’s Einstein’s Jury, this smacked of cooking the books in Einstein’s favour. In reality it was just good scientific practice.

There is also another way to read the Nobel caveat. Could it have been that the committee was leaving the door open for a second Nobel prize in the future, once relativity had been more rigorously tested? We will never know. As Einstein’s fame spread, so he alienated himself from the physics community by refusing to accept quantum theory. A Nobel prize for relativity was never awarded.

The final twist in this story is that Einstein did not attend his prize giving. Despite being informed that he was about to receive the prize, he chose to continue with a lecture tour of Japan. Partly, this was because he no longer valued the prize and partly it was because he needed to disappear.

German foreign minister Walther Rathenau had been murdered by anti-Semites. In the subsequent investigation, the police had found Einstein’s name on a list of targets. In the face of such a death treat, leaving Germany to spend months in the Far East, rather than a few days in Stockholm, must have seemed prudent.

In the end, perhaps the best thing that came out of Einstein’s Nobel prize was the money. It went towards keeping Mileva and the boys secure, and became essential when Eduard developed schizophrenia as a young adult and needed to be hospitalised.

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded on Tuesday. This week’s prize schedule is here. You can watch each announcement live in the viewer below.

Stuart Clark is the author of forthcoming Einstein novel, The Day Without Yesterday (Polygon)

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October 8, 2012 at 9:21 am

Albert Einstein: The Size and Existence of Atoms

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March 16, 2012 at 7:00 am


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Reactionaries and Einstein’s Fame…

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…. “German Scientists for the Preservation of Pure Science,” Relativity, and the Bad Nauheim Meeting

Albert Einstein on the first page of the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung of December 14, 1919

Jeroen van Dongen
Two important and unpleasant events occurred in Albert Einstein’s life in 1920: That August an antirelativity rally was held in the large auditorium of the Berlin Philharmonic, and a few weeks later Einstein was drawn into a tense and highly publicized debate with Philipp Lenard on the merits of relativity at a meeting in Bad Nauheim, Germany. I review these events and discuss how they affected Einstein in light of new documentary evidence that has become available through the publication of Volume 10 of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein…..
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November 12, 2011 at 8:36 am

Why Einstein was wrong about being wrong

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There really is a mysterious antigravity force. Einstein’s only mistake was in rejecting it.

By Michael D. Lemonick
If you want to get your mind around the research that won three astronomers the Nobel Prize in physics last week, it helps to think of the universe as a lump of dough — raisin-bread dough, to be precise — mixed, kneaded and ready to rise. Hold that thought.
Now consider Albert Einstein — not the wild-haired, elderly, absent-minded professor he became in his later years but a young, dashing scientist in his 30s. It’s 1916, and he’s just published his revolutionary general theory of relativity. It’s not necessary to understand the theory (thank goodness). You just have to accept that it gave scientists the mathematical tools they needed to forge a better understanding of the cosmos than they’d ever had.

There was just one problem. Relativity told physicists that the universe was restless. It couldn’t just sit there. It either had to be expanding or contracting. But astronomers looked, and as far as they could tell, it was doing neither. The lump of dough wasn’t rising, and it wasn’t shrinking.

The only way that was possible, Einstein realized, was if some mysterious force was propping up the universe, a sort of antigravity that pushed outward just hard enough to balance the gravity that was trying to pull it inward. Einstein hated this idea. An extra force meant he had to tinker with the equations of general relativity, but the equations seemed so perfect just as they were. Changing them in any way would tarnish their mathematical beauty…… Read the rest of this entry »

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October 14, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Einstein’s dream surpassed

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A constant stabilization experiment of a quantum state has been successfully carried out for the first time by a team from the Laboratoire Kastler Brossel headed by Serge Haroche. The researchers succeeded in maintaining a constant number of photons in a high-quality microwave cavity. The results of their study are published in the online journal Nature on September 1, 2011.

Scheme of the quantum feedback set-up

The photon, the basic unit of light, can normally only be observed when it disappears. The eye absorbs photons, destroying them and translating the information they carry as it is recorded. However, this destruction is not indispensable. Four years ago, a team from the Laboratoire Kastler Brossel made a major breakthrough: observing, hundreds of times, a single and same microwave photon trapped in a box.

In their new work, the researchers have gone even further: they have succeeded in stabilizing a given number of photons in a “photon box”, a cavity formed of two superconducting mirrors. It is the first complete experiment of quantum stabilization. Generally speaking, stabilizations ensure the operation of the systems that surround us. In the case of an oven, its heating temperature is dependent on a set value: as long as the ideal temperature has not been reached, the oven continues to heat up then maintains its state according to the thermostat readings.

The transfer of these concepts to the microscopic quantum world comes up against an obstacle: the measurement – the thermometer – changes the state of the system. Quantum stabilization consists in a measurement performed through the injection of atoms, ultrasensitive probes, into the cavity. This measurement does not fix the number of photons, but provides a vague estimation. Like any quantum measurement, it however modifies the state of the cavity. A monitor – the thermostat – takes into account this information as well as the perturbation of the measurement and controls a conventional microwave source – the oven’s heating elements. In this way, the cavity is taken or returned to a state where the number of photons has exactly the prescribed value.

Einstein had a dream: to trap a photon in a box for a period of around one second. This quantum stabilization has now enabled the LKB group to go even further in fulfilling this dream by maintaining, in a permanent manner, a given number of in the box. This experiment represents an important step in the control of complex quantum states.

More information: Real-time quantum feedback prepares and stabilizes photon number states, C. Sayrin, et al.Nature, 1st September 2011.

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September 2, 2011 at 3:31 pm


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Did Einstein discover E = mc2?

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Who got there first?

Who discovered that E = mc2? It’s not as easy a question as you might think. Scientists ranging from James Clerk Maxwell and Max von Laue to a string of now-obscure early 20th-century physicists have been proposed as the true discovers of the mass–energy equivalence now popularly credited to Einstein’s theory of special relativity. These claims have spawned headlines accusing Einstein of plagiarism, but many are spurious or barely supported. Yet two physicists have now shown that Einstein’s famous formula does have a complicated and somewhat ambiguous genesis – which has little to do with relativity.

One of the more plausible precursors to E = mc2 is attributed to Fritz Hasenöhrl, a physics professor at the University of Vienna. In a 1904 paper Hasenöhrl clearly wrote down the equation E = 3/8mc2. Where did he get it from, and why is the constant of proportionality wrong? Stephen Boughn of Haverford College in Pennsylvania and Tony Rothman of Princeton University examine this question in a paper submitted to the arXiv preprint server.

Hasenöhrl’s name has a certain notoriety now, as he is commonly invoked by anti-Einstein cranks. His reputation as the man who really discovered E = mc2 owes much to the efforts of the antisemitic and pro-Nazi physics Nobel laureate Philipp Lenard, who sought to separate Einstein’s name from the theory of relativity so that it was not seen as a product of “Jewish science”.

‘Leading Austrian physicist of his day’

Yet all this does Hasenöhrl a disservice. He was Ludwig Boltzmann’s student and successor at Vienna, and was lauded by Erwin Schrödinger among others. “Hasenöhrl was probably the leading Austrian physicist of his day”, Rothman told He might have achieved much more if he had not been killed in the First World War….. Read the rest of this entry »

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August 24, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Test of the Einstein Equivalence Principle

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The S Stars in the Galactic-center region are found to be on near-perfect Keplerian orbits around presumably a supermassive black hole, with periods of 15–50 yr. Since these stars reach a few percent of light speed at pericenter, various relativistic effects are expected, and have been discussed in the literature. We argue that an elegant test of the Einstein equivalence principle should be possible with existing instruments, through spectroscopic monitoring of an S star concentrated during the months around pericenter, supplemented with an already-adequate astrometric determination of the inclination. In essence, the spectrum of an S star can be considered a heterogeneous ensemble of clocks in a freely-falling frame, which near pericenter is moving at relativistic speeds…. Read more:

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May 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm