Tag archives: history of physics
By Matin Durrani
I have always felt a bit uncomfortable about the “heroic” view of science – the idea that the most significant progress depends on the work of individual geniuses. Unfortunately, this is the way in which many people view scientific history, with the contributions of lesser mortals dismissed and swept aside.
However, it is fair to say that some physicists do stand head and shoulders above all others – none more so than Abdus Salam, who was (and still is) Pakistan’s only Nobel prize-winner.
Now two Pakistani film producers, Omar Vandal and Zakir Thaver, are creating a feature-length documentary about Salam’s scientific contributions – but they need your help to finish the job.
By Hamish Johnston
Physicists have long been interested in how nature behaves under very cold conditions, and about 200 years ago the race began to realize the lowest temperature ever. Along the way, many new and amazing states of matter have been discovered, including superconductors, superfluids and Bose–Einstein condensates. More recently, access to extremely low temperatures has contributed to the current renaissance in the study of fundamental quantum mechanics and the development of quantum computers.
In his latest radio programme, the BBC’s resident polymath Melvyn Bragg looks at this race to the bottom, which really heated up in the late 19th century when physicists and chemists were feverishly liquidizing a wide range of gases include those cryogenic favourites nitrogen – and a little later in 1908 – helium.