Physics in History

Historical Events

Appointment of Interest

1770-03-31 Immanuel Kant is appointed Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at the University of Königsberg

  • 1900-12-14 Birth of Quantum Physics: German Physicist Max Planck presents a theoretical derivation of his black-body radiation law

Nobel Prize

1901-12-10 First Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to Wilhelm Röntgen for his discovery of X-rays

Nobel Prize

1903-12-10 Nobel Prize for physics awarded to Pierre and Marie Curie for their study of spontaneous radiation

Nobel Prize

1904-12-10 John William Strutt [Lord Rayleigh] and William Ramsay are presented with the Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery of Argon

Historic Event

1905-03-17 Albert Einstein finishes his scientific paper detailing his Quantum Theory of Light, one of the foundations of modern physics

  • 1905-09-27 The physics journal Annalen der Physik publishes Albert Einstein's paper "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?", introducing the equation E=mc².

Nobel Prize

1910-12-10 Dutch Physicist Johannes van der Waals wins the Nobel Prize for physics

Nobel Prize

1912-12-10 Nobel Prize for Physics awarded to Gustaf Dalén for inventing automatic regulators for gas accumulators for lighthouses and buoys

  • 1913-12-10 Dutch scientist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes receives Nobel prize for physics

Nobel Prize

1922-12-10 Nobel prizes awarded to Danish physicist Niels Bohr for his work on the structure of atoms, Francis William Aston for Chemistry and a Peace Prize to Fridtjof Nansen for his work on behalf of displaced victims of World War I at a ceremony in Copenhagen

  • 1930-12-10 Indian Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman is presented with the Nobel Prize for Physics for work on light scattering - first Asian and non-white to win a Science Nobel

Nobel Prize

1933-12-10 Nobel Prize for Physics is presented to Paul Dirac and Erwin Schrödinger "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory"

Nobel Prize

1935-12-10 James Chadwick is awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery of the neutron

  • 1937-11-11 Nobel prize for physics awarded to American Clinton Joseph Davisson and Briton George Paget Thomson "for their experimental discovery of the diffraction of electrons by crystals"

Nobel Prize

1938-12-10 Italian scientist Enrico Fermi receives the Nobel Prize for Physics (work on reduced radioactivity)

  • 1939-11-09 Nobel Prize for physics awarded to American Ernest Lawrence for his invention of the cyclotron

Nobel Prize

1950-12-11 British Physicist Cecil Frank Powell awarded Nobel Prize in Physics for his study of nuclear processes and the discovery of the pion

  • 1951-03-25 E Purcell & EM Ewen detect 21-cm radiation at Harvard physics lab
  • 1953-11-05 Nobel prize for physics awarded to Frederik Zernicke
  • 1954-11-03 Nobel for physics awarded to Max Born & Walter Bothe

Historic Publication

1959-12-11 Emilio G. Segrè publishes his discovery of the antiproton, a sub-atomic antiparticle for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1959

  • 1960-07-20 The head of the Physics Department at the Israel Institute of Technology, Kurt Sitte, is arrested for espionage

Nobel Prize

1961-12-10 Robert Hofstadter and Rudolf Ludwig Mössbauer win the Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering studies of electron scattering in atomic nuclei and discoveries concerning the structure of the nucleon

  • 1967-10-18 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to German-American nuclear physicist Hans Bethe
  • 1968-10-30 Nobel prize for physics awarded to Luis Alvarez (bubble chamber)

Nobel Prize

1976-12-10 Samuel C. C. Ting is the first person to deliver a Nobel Prize lecture in Mandarin, during the ceremony to award him and Burton Richter the Nobel Prize for Physics for discovering the J/ψ particle

Nobel Prize

1981-10-19 Nicolaas Bloembergen and Arthur Schawlow win Nobel Prize for Physics (laser)

  • 1988-10-19 3 Americans win Nobel in physics; 3 W Germans win chemistry Nobel
  • 1991-11-01 Three faculty, and one staff member of the department of physics and astronomy, were killed, along with one administrator, when physics graduate student Gang Lu went on a shooting rampage at the University of Iowa.
  • 1993-10-13 Nobel prize for physics awarded to Russel Hulse & Joseph Taylor
  • 2004-02-13 The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics discovers the universe's largest known diamond, white dwarf star BPM 37093.
  • 2012-10-09 Serge Haroche and David Wineland win the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics for work on quantum optics

Historic Event

2012-12-11 British physicist, Stephen Hawking, wins the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize, the most lucrative academic prize in the world

  • 2013-03-20 First Breakthrough Prizes, world's most generous science prize worth $3 million, awarded in Mathematics, Life Sciences and Physics established by Julia and Yuri Milner
  • 2013-10-08 Peter Higgs and François Englert win the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on the origin of the mass of subatomic particles
  • 2014-10-07 Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura win the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing blue light emitting diodes
  • 2015-10-06 Nobel prize for Physics awarded to Takaaki Kajita (Japan) and Arthur McDonald (Canada) for work on neutrinos
  • 2017-10-03 Nobel Prize for Physics awarded to Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves"
  • 2018-07-26 Observation of a black hole by The Very Large Telescope in Chile proves Albert Einstein's prediction of "gravitational redshift", published in "Journal Astronomy & Astrophysics"
  • 2018-10-02 Nobel prize in Physics awarded to Arthur Ashkin (optical tweezers), Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland (both for laser beams)
  • 2019-03-25 Teacher of the Year awarded to rural Kenyan math and physics teacher and Franciscan brother Peter Tabichi in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • 2019-10-08 Noble Prize for Physics awarded to James Peebles (work on evolution of the universe), and Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz (discovery of planet 51 Pegasi b, orbiting another star)
  • 2020-10-06 Nobel Prize for Physics awarded to Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea M. Ghez for work on black holes
  • 2021-10-05 Nobel Prize for Physics awarded to Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi for pioneering work that warned of climate change

Famous Birthdays

  • 1858-04-23 Max Planck, German physicist, father of Quantum Physics (Planck Constant, Nobel 1918), born in Kiel, Duchy of Holstein (d. 1947)
  • 1862-03-04 Robert Emden, Swiss astronomer and physicist (book on Gas Spheres), born in St. Gallen, Switzerland (d. 1940)

Gustaf Dalén

1869-11-30 [Nils] Gustaf Dalén, Swedish physicist and industrialist (AGA, Nobel Prize in Physics 1912), born in Stenstorp, Sweden (d. 1937)

Ernest Rutherford

1871-08-30 Ernest Rutherford [1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson], New Zealand physicist and father of nuclear physics (Nobel 1908), born in Brightwater, New Zealand (d. 1937)

  • 1872-05-28 Marian Smoluchowski, Polish physicist (pioneer of statistical physics), born in Vorder-Brühl, Austria-Hungary (d. 1917)
  • 1877-06-07 Charles Glover Barkla, English physicist (1917 Nobel Prize for Physics for X-ray scattering), born in Widnes, England (d. 1944)
  • 1879-02-06 Carl Ramsauer, German physicist (Ramsauer-Townsend effect), born in Oldenburg, Germany (d. 1879)
  • 1882-04-21 Percy Williams Bridgman, American physicist (Nobel 1946 - physics of high pressure), born in Cambridge, Massachusetts (d. 1961)
  • 1882-08-26 James Franck, German-American physicist (Nobel Prize for Physics 1925), born in Hamburg, Germany (d. 1964)
  • 1882-10-05 Giorgio Abetti, Italian astronomer (Solar physics), born in Padua, Italy (d. 1982)

Niels Bohr

1885-10-07 Niels Bohr, Danish physicist who expanded quantum physics (Nobel Prize 1922), born in Copenhagen, Denmark (d. 1962)

  • 1887-04-05 Hedwig Kohn, Jewish physics pioneer, born in Breslau, Province of Silesia (Poland) (d. 1964)
  • 1890-12-06 Yoshio Nishina, Japanese physicist (known as the founding father of modern physics research in Japan), born in Satoshō, Okayama (d. 1951)
  • 1892-08-15 Louis Victor de Broglie, French quantum physicist (studied electrons, Nobel Prize for Physics, 1929), born in Dieppe, France (d. 1987)
  • 1892-09-10 Arthur Compton, US physicist (1927 Nobel Prize for Physics for Compton Effect), born in Wooster, Ohio (d. 1962)
  • 1894-07-17 Georges Lemaître, Belgian Catholic Priest, astronomer and physics professor, who initially proposed the universe expansion and big-bang theories, born in Charleroi, Belgium (d. 1966)
  • 1902-11-17 Eugene Wigner, Hungarian American physicist and mathematician (1963 Nobel Prize for Physics, worked on the Manhattan Project), born in Budapest, Austria-Hungary (d. 1995)

Carl David Anderson

1905-09-03 Carl David Anderson, American physicist (1936 Nobel Prize for physics), born in NYC, New York (d. 1991)

  • 1905-09-30 Nevill Francis Mott, English physicist (Nobel Prize for Physics 1977 for work on amorphous semiconductors), born in Leeds, England (d. 1996)
  • 1905-10-23 Felix Bloch, Swiss-American nuclear physicist (1st Director of CERN, Nobel Prize for Physics 1952), born in Zürich, Switzerland (d. 1983)
  • 1918-02-12 Julian Schwinger, US physicist (1965 Nobel Prize in Physics for quantum electrodynamics), born in New York City (d. 1994)

Arthur Leonard Schawlow

1921-05-05 Arthur Leonard Schawlow, American physicist, shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics for his pioneering work with lasers, born in Mount Vernon, New York (d. 1999)

  • 1921-05-25 Jack Steinberger, American physicist (1988 Nobel Prize for Physics - Neutrinos), born in Bad Kissingen, Germany (d. 2020) [1]
  • 1922-09-02 Arthur Ashkin, American scientist (Nobel Prize for Physics 2018 Optical Tweezers), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • 1922-09-22 Chen Ning Yang, Chinese physicist (disproved parity, Nobel Prize for Physics 1957), born in Hofei, Anwhei, China

Jack Kilby

1923-11-08 Jack Kilby, American electrical engineer (Nobel Prize in Physics, 2000 - handheld calculator, integrated circuit), born in Jefferson City, Missouri (d. 2005)

  • 1923-12-15 Freeman Dyson, American physicist (known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering), born in Crowthorne, Berkshire, England (d. 2020)
  • 1924-08-01 Georges Charpak, Polish-French physicist who invented and developed subatomic particle detectors (Nobel 1992), born in Paris, France (d. 2010)
  • 1925-11-24 Simon van der Meer, Dutch physicist who won the 1984 Nobel Prize in Physics with Carlo Rubbia, born in The Hague, Netherlands (d. 2011)
  • 1926-09-19 Masatoshi Koshiba, Japanese physicist (2002 Nobel Prize for Physics for neutrinos), born in Yokosuka, Japan (d. 2020) [1]
  • 1926-12-09 Henry Way Kendall, American physicist (Nobel 1990-pioneering investigations concerning deep inelastic scattering of electrons on protons and bound neutrons, which have been of essential importance for the development of the quark model in particle physics), born in Boston, Massachusetts (d. 1999)
  • 1928-02-01 Sir Samuel "Sam" Edwards, Welsh physicist (condensed matter physics), born in Swansea, Wales (d. 2015)
  • 1930-03-15 Zhores Alferov, Soviet-Russian physicist (2000 Nobel Prize in Physics), born in Vitebsk, Soviet Union (d. 2019)
  • 1930-11-11 Hugh Everett, American physicist (many-worlds-interpretation of quantum physics), born in Washington D.C. (d. 1982)
  • 1931-08-08 Roger Penrose, English physicist (2020 Nobel Prize for Physics for work on black holes), born in Colchester, England
  • 1931-09-21 Sykuro Manabe, Japanese-American meteorologist (2021 Nobel Prize for Physics for pioneering work on climate change), born in Ehime, Japan
  • 1931-09-29 James Cronin, American nuclear physicist (Physics Nobel Prize 1980), born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 2016)
  • 1931-10-06 Riccardo Giacconi, Italian American astrophysicist, Nobel Prize for Physics 2002 for X-ray astronomy, born in Genoa, Italy (d. 2018)
  • 1931-10-25 Klaus Hasselmann, German oceanographer (2021 Nobel Prize for Physics for pioneering work on climate change), born in Hamburg, Germany
  • 1935-04-25 James Peebles, Canadian American astrophysicist (Ostriker–Peebles criterion), 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics, born in Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • 1936-06-08 Kenneth G. Wilson, American physicist (Nobel Prize in Physics, 1982), born in Waltham, Massachusetts (d. 2013)
  • 1938-03-26 Anthony James Leggett, English physicist, (Nobel Prize for Physics 2013 for superfluidity), born in London, England
  • 1942-01-12 Michael Mayor, Swiss astrophysicist (discovered 1st exoplanet), 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics, born in Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 1944-06-22 Gérard Mourou, French scientist (Nobel Prize for Physics 2018, lasers), born in Albertville, France
  • 1948-08-04 Giorgio Parisi, Italian theoretical physicist (2021 Nobel Prize for Physics for pioneering work on climate change), born in Rome, Italy
  • 1952-03-24 Reinhard Genzel, German astrophysicist (2020 Nobel Prize for Physics for work on black holes), born in Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, West Germany
  • 1961-11-10 Rudolf Grimm, Austrian physics professor (Bose–Einstein condensation of molecules), born in Mannheim, West Germany
  • 1965-06-16 Andrea M. Ghez, American astronomer (2020 Nobel Prize for Physics for work on black holes), born in New York City
  • 1966-02-23 Didier Queloz, Swiss astronomer (discovered 1st exoplanet), 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics, born in Switzerland

Famous Deaths

  • 1917-09-05 Marian Smoluchowski, Polish physicist (pioneer of statistical physics), dies at 45

Gustaf Dalén

1937-12-09 [Nils] Gustaf Dalén, Swedish physicist and industrialist (AGA, Nobel Prize in Physics 1912), dies at 68

  • 1940-10-08 Robert Emden, Swiss astronomer and astrophysicist (Gaskugeln), dies at 78
  • 1942-04-17 Jean Baptiste Perrin, French physicist, (1926 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovery of sedimentation equilibrium), dies at 71
  • 1944-10-23 Charles Glover Barkla, English physicist (1917 Nobel Prize for Physics for X-ray scattering), dies at 67
  • 1947-10-04 Max Planck, German physicist, father of Quantum Physics (Planck Constant, Nobel 1918), dies at 89
  • 1951-01-10 Yoshio Nishina, Japanese physicist (known as the founding father of modern physics research in Japan), dies at 60
  • 1961-08-20 Percy Williams Bridgman, American physicist (Nobel 1946 - physics of high pressure), dies at 79

Niels Bohr

1962-11-18 Niels Bohr, Danish physicist who expanded quantum physics (Nobel Prize 1922), dies at 77

  • 1964-03-26 Hedwig Kohn, Prussian-born Jewish physics pioneer, dies at 77
  • 1964-05-21 James Franck, German-born American physicist (Nobel Prize for Physics 1925), dies at 81

Leó Szilárd

1964-05-30 Leo Szilard, Hungarian-German-American nuclear physicist (Manhattan Project) and peace activist, dies at 66

  • 1966-06-20 Georges Lemaître, Belgian Catholic Priest, astronomer and physics professor, who initially proposed the universe expansion and big-bang theories, dies at 71
  • 1968-10-27 Lise Meitner, Austrian-Swedish physicist (discovered the nuclear fission of uranium, dies at 89
  • 1982-08-24 Giorgio Abetti, Italian astronomer (Solar physics), dies at 99
  • 1983-09-10 Felix Bloch, Swiss-American nuclear physicist (1st Director of CERN, Nobel Prize for Physics 1952), dies at 77
  • 1984-10-14 Martin Ryle, English radio astronomer, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics (b. 1918)
  • 1987-03-19 Louis Victor de Broglie, French quantum physicist (studied electrons, Nobel Prize for Physics, 1929), dies at 94
  • 1994-07-16 Julian Schwinger, American physicist (1965 Nobel Prize in Physics for quantum electrodynamics), dies at 76
  • 1995-01-01 Eugene Wigner, Hungarian-American physicist (Nobel prize for physics-1963), dies at 92
  • 1996-08-08 Nevill Francis Mott, British physicist (1977 Nobel Prize for Physics for work on amorphous semiconductors), dies at 90
  • 1998-08-26 Frederick Reines, American physicist, (1995 Nobel Prize for Physics for co-discovering the Neutrino), dies at 80
  • 1999-02-15 Henry Way Kendall, American physicist (Nobel 1990-pioneering investigations concerning deep inelastic scattering of electrons on protons and bound neutrons, which have been of essential importance for the development of the quark model in particle physics), dies at 72

Arthur Leonard Schawlow

1999-04-28 Arthur Leonard Schawlow, American physicist who shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics for his pioneering work with lasers, dies of leukemia at 77

  • 2002-01-08 Alexander Prochorow, Nobel Prize in Physics laureate (b. 1916)
  • 2003-10-15 Bertram N. Brockhouse, Canadian physicist, (1994 Nobel Prize for Physics for neutron spectroscopy), dies at 85

Jack Kilby

2005-06-20 Jack Kilby, American electrical engineer (Nobel Prize in Physics, 2000 - handheld calculator, integrated circuit), dies at 81

  • 2011-03-04 Simon van der Meer, Dutch physicist who won the 1984 Nobel Prize in Physics with Carlo Rubbia, dies at 85
  • 2015-05-07 Sir Samuel "Sam" Edwards, Welsh physicist (condensed matter physics), dies at 87
  • 2016-08-25 James Cronin, American nuclear physicist (Physics Nobel Prize, 1980), dies at 84
  • 2018-12-09 Riccardo Giacconi, Italian American astrophysicist, Nobel Prize for Physics 2002 for X-ray astronomy, dies at 87
  • 2019-03-01 Zhores Alferov, Soviet/Russian physicist (2000 Nobel Prize in Physics), dies at 88
  • 2020-02-28 Freeman Dyson, American physicist (known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering), dies at 96
  • 2020-11-12 Masatoshi Koshiba, Japanese physicist (2002 Nobel Prize for Physics for neutrinos), dies at 94 [1]
  • 2020-12-12 Jack Steinberger, American physicist (1988 Nobel Prize for Physics - Neutrinos), dies at 99 [1]