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December 15 Science History

Science History of December 15


Learn about the history of science by reading about the significant scientific events that took place on this day in history.

1958 - Wolfgang Pauli died.

Wolfgang Pauli (1900 - 1958)
DOE/Fermi National Laboratory
Pauli was an Austrian physicist who discovered an atom's electrons each have their own unique quantum state. This is now known as the Pauli exclusion principle and would earn him the 1945 Nobel Prize in Physics.

He is also famous for the "Pauli Effect". Things would go wrong like experimental equipment would break down, vacuum tubes would burn out or mysterious malfunctions when he was in the vicinity. It happened enough times where his colleagues took notice and named the effect after him.

1916 - Maurice Wilkins was born.

Wilkins was a New Zealand biophysicist who shares the 1962 Nobel Prize in Medicine with Francis Crick and James Watson for determining the molecular structure of DNA. Wilkins worked with x-ray diffraction techniques to examine DNA molecules from calf thymus and produced photographs of long, thin DNA molecules. He worked with Crick and Watson to improve the x-ray sensitivity and ultimately determine the structure of the molecule.

1860 - Niels Ryberg Finsen was born.

Niels Ryberg Finsen (1860 - 1904)
Finsen was a Danish physician who was awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his treatment of diseases with light radiation. He started investigations in the treatment of diseases with sunlight and heat lamps. He later devised new treatments for small pox using red light and a treatment for lupus.

1852 - Antoine Henri Becquerel was born.

Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852-1908)
Nobel Prize Foundation
Becquerel was a French physicist who was awarded half the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of radioactivity. He placed a sample uranium and a photographic plate in a black bag into a drawer while waiting for clear weather to expose the uranium to sunlight for an experiment. When he developed the plate a couple days later, he found an image of the uranium rocks demonstrating the existence of radioactivity.

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