Posts Tagged ‘Nobel laureate.’

Sir Edward V Appleton (1892-1965) British,


Appleton was an English physicist and Nobel prize winner (1947) who discovered the ionosphere.

In 1924 Appleton began research into the strength of the radio signals received at Cambridge from the BBC station in London. He soon discovered that the strength of the signal was constant during the day but varied during the night, rising and falling in an almost regular manner. He suggested that, at night, the Cambridge apparatus was receiving not one but two waves, one travelling directly and the other being reflected by the atmosphere. The existence of a reflecting layer had first been suggested around forty years earlier by Balfour Stewart. In 1902 Oliver Heaviside and A.E. Kennelly had independently postulated the theory of a conducting layer of the atmosphere: the Kennelly-Heaviside Layer. Following their lead Appleton began a series of experiments, which proved the existence of that layer in the upper atmosphere now called the ionosphere. Moreover, by a slight change of wavelength it was possible to measure the time taken by the waves to travel to the upper atmosphere and back. The position of the reflecting layer was thus identified and its height (60 miles above ground) determined. The method used was what is now called “frequency-modulation radar”. The ionosphere was thus the first “object” detected by radiolocation, and this led to a great development of radio research and to a military invention of the greatest importance in World War II


Further experiments which led to the possibility of round-the-world broadcasting were carried out and in 1926 he discovered a further atmospheric layer 150 miles above ground, higher than the Heaviside Layer and electrically stronger. This layer, named the Appleton Layer after him, reflects short waves round the earth. Three years later Appleton made an expedition to Northern Norway for radio research, studying the Aurora Borealis and in 1931 he published the results of further research on determining the height of reflecting layers of the ionosphere, including the use of a transmitter that sent out “spurts” of radio energy, and the photography of the received echo-signals by cathode ray oscillography.(Ack: Nobelprize.org, BBC.Co.UK-history)

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My five years’ old daughter Mini cannot live without chattering. I really believe that in all her life she has not wasted a minute in silence. Her mother is often vexed at this, and would stop her prattle, but I would not. To see Mini quiet is unnatural, and I cannot bear it long. And so my own talk with her is always lively.

One morning, for instance, when I was in the midst of the seventeenth chapter of my new novel, my little Mini stole into the room, and putting her hand into mine, said: “Father! Ramdayal the doorkeeper calls a crow a krow! He doesn’t know anything, does he?”

Before I could explain to her the differences of language in this world, she was embarked on the full tide of another subject. “What do you think, Father? Bhola says there is an elephant in the clouds, blowing water out of his trunk, and that is why it rains!”

And then, darting off anew, while I sat still making ready some reply to this last saying, “Father! what relation is Mother to you?”

“My dear little sister in the law!” I murmured involuntarily to myself, but with a grave face contrived to answer: “Go and play with Bhola, Mini! I am busy!”

The window of my room overlooks the road. The child had seated herself at my feet near my table, and was playing softly, drumming on her knees. I was hard at work on my seventeenth chapter, where Protrap Singh, the hero, had just caught Kanchanlata, the heroine, in his arms, and was about to escape with her by the third story window of the castle, when all of a sudden Mini left her play, and ran to the window, crying, “A Kabuliwallah! a Kabuliwallah!” Sure enough in the street below was a Kabuliwallah, passing slowly along. He wore the loose soiled clothing of his people, with a tall turban; there was a bag on his back, and he carried boxes of grapes in his hand.

I cannot tell what were my daughter’s feelings at the sight of this man, but she began to call him loudly. “Ah!” I thought, “he will come in, and my seventeenth chapter will never be finished!” At which exact moment the Kabuliwallah turned, and looked up at the child. When she saw this, overcome by terror, she fled to her mother’s protection, and disappeared. She had a blind belief that inside the bag, which the big man carried, there were perhaps two or three other children like herself. The pedlar meanwhile entered my doorway, and greeted me with a smiling face.

So precarious was the position of my hero and my heroine, that my first impulse was to stop and buy something, since the man had been called. I made some small purchases, and a conversation began about Abdurrahman, the Russians, the English, and the Frontier Policy.

As he was about to leave, he asked: “And where is the little girl, sir?”

And I, thinking that Mini must get rid of her false fear, had her brought out.

She stood by my chair, and looked at the Kabuliwallah and his bag. He offered her nuts and raisins, but she would not be tempted, and only clung the closer to me, with all her doubts increased.

This was their first meeting.

One morning, however, not many days later, as I was leaving the house, I was startled to find Mini, seated on a bench near the door, laughing and talking, with the great Kabuliwallah at her feet. In all her life, it appeared; my small daughter had never found so patient a listener, save her father. And already the corner of her little sari was stuffed with almonds and raisins, the gift of her visitor, “Why did you give her those?” I said, and taking out an eight-anna bit, I handed it to him. The man accepted the money without demur, and slipped it into his pocket.

Alas, on my return an hour later, I found the unfortunate coin had made twice its own worth of trouble! For the Kabuliwallah had given it to Mini, and her mother catching sight of the bright round object, had pounced on the child with: “Where did you get that eight-anna bit? ”

“The Kabuliwallah gave it me,” said Mini cheerfully.

“The Kabuliwallah gave it you!” cried her mother much shocked. “Oh, Mini! how could you take it from him?”

I, entering at the moment, saved her from impending disaster, and proceeded to make my own inquiries.

It was not the first or second time, I found, that the two had met. The Kabuliwallah had overcome the child’s first terror by a judicious bribery of nuts and almonds, and the two were now great friends.

They had many quaint jokes, which afforded them much amusement. Seated in front of him, looking down on his gigantic frame in all her tiny dignity, Mini would ripple her face with laughter, and begin: “O Kabuliwallah, Kabuliwallah, what have you got in your bag?”

And he would reply, in the nasal accents of the mountaineer: “An elephant!” Not much cause for merriment, perhaps; but how they both enjoyed the witticism! And for me, this child’s talk with a grown-up man had always in it something strangely fascinating.

Then the Kabuliwallah, not to be behindhand, would take his turn: “Well, little one, and when are you going to the father-in-law’s house?”

Now most small Bengali maidens have heard long ago about the father-in-law’s house; but we, being a little new-fangled, had kept these things from our child, and Mini at this question must have been a trifle bewildered. But she would not show it, and with ready tact replied: “Are you going there?”

Amongst men of the Kabuliwallah’s class, however, it is well known that the words father-in-law’s house have a double meaning. It is a euphemism for jail, the place where we are well cared for, at no expense to ourselves. In this sense would the sturdy pedlar take my daughter’s question. “Ah,” he would say, shaking his fist at an invisible policeman, “I will thrash my father-in-law!” Hearing this, and picturing the poor discomfited relative, Mini would go off into peals of laughter, in which her formidable friend would join.

These were autumn mornings, the very time of year when kings of old went forth to conquest; and I, never stirring from my little corner in Calcutta, would let my mind wander over the whole world. At the very name of another country, my heart would go out to it, and at the sight of a foreigner in the streets, I would fall to weaving a network of dreams, –the mountains, the glens, and the forests of his distant home, with his cottage in its setting, and the free and independent life of far-away wilds.

Perhaps the scenes of travel conjure themselves up before me, and pass and repass in my imagination all the more vividly, because I lead such a vegetable existence, that a call to travel would fall upon me like a thunderbolt.

In the presence of this Kabuliwallah, I was immediately transported to the foot of arid mountain peaks, with narrow little defiles twisting in and out amongst their towering heights. I could see the string of camels bearing the merchandise, and the company of turbaned merchants, carrying some of their queer old firearms, and some of their spears, journeying downward towards the plains. I could see–but at some such point Mini’s mother would intervene, imploring me to “beware of that man.”

Mini’s mother is unfortunately a very timid lady. Whenever she hears a noise in the street, or sees people coming towards the house, she always jumps to the conclusion that they are either thieves, or drunkards, or snakes, or tigers, or malaria or cockroaches, or caterpillars, or an English sailor. Even after all these years of experience, she is not able to overcome her terror. So she was full of doubts about the Kabuliwallah, and used to beg me to keep a watchful eye on him.

I tried to laugh her fear gently away, but then she would turn round on me seriously, and ask me solemn questions.

Were children never kidnapped?

Was it, then, not true that there was slavery in Kabul?

Was it so very absurd that this big man should be able to carry off a tiny child?

I urged that, though not impossible, it was highly improbable. But this was not enough, and her dread persisted. As it was indefinite, however, it did not seem right to forbid the man the house, and the intimacy went on unchecked.

Once a year in the middle of January Rahmun, the Kabuliwallah, was in the habit of returning to his country, and as the time approached he would be very busy, going from house to house collecting his debts. This year, however, he could always find time to come and see Mini. It would have seemed to an outsider that there was some conspiracy between the two, for when he could not come in the morning, he would appear in the evening.

Even to me it was a little startling now and then, in the corner of a dark room, suddenly to surprise this tall, loose-garmented, much bebagged man; but when Mini would run in smiling, with her, “O! Kabuliwallah! Kabuliwallah!” and the two friends, so far apart in age, would subside into their old laughter and their old jokes, I felt reassured.

One morning, a few days before he had made up his mind to go, I was correcting my proof sheets in my study. It was chilly weather. Through the window the rays of the sun touched my feet, and the slight warmth was very welcome. It was almost eight o’clock, and the early pedestrians were returning home, with their heads covered. All at once, I heard an uproar in the street, and, looking out, saw Rahmun being led away bound between two policemen, and behind them a crowd of curious boys. There were blood-stains on the clothes of the Kabuliwallah, and one of the policemen carried a knife.

Hurrying out, I stopped them, and enquired what it all meant. Partly from one, partly from another, I gathered that a certain neighbour had owed the pedlar something for a Rampuri shawl, but had falsely denied having bought it, and that in the course of the quarrel, Rahmun had struck him. Now in the heat of his excitement, the prisoner began calling his enemy all sorts of names, when suddenly in a verandah of my house appeared my little Mini, with her usual exclamation: “O Kabuliwallah! Kabuliwallah!” Rahmun’s face lighted up as he turned to her. He had no bag under his arm today, so she could not discuss the elephant with him. She at once therefore proceeded to the next question: “Are you going to the father-in-law’s house?” Rahmun laughed and said: “Just where I am going, little one!” Then seeing that the reply did not amuse the child, he held up his fettered hands. ” Ali,” he said, ” I would have thrashed that old father-in-law, but my hands are bound!”

On a charge of murderous assault, Rahmun was sentenced to some years’ imprisonment.

Time passed away, and he was not remembered. The accustomed work in the accustomed place was ours, and the thought of the once-free mountaineer spending his years in prison seldom or never occurred to us. Even my light-hearted Mini, I am ashamed to say, forgot her old friend. New companions filled her life. As she grew older, she spent more of her time with girls. So much time indeed did she spend with them that she came no more, as she used to do, to her father’s room. I was scarcely on speaking terms with her.

Years had passed away. It was once more autumn and we had made arrangements for our Mini’s marriage. It was to take place during the Puja Holidays. With Durga returning to Kailas, the light of our home also was to depart to her husband’s house, and leave her father’s in the shadow.

The morning was bright. After the rains, there was a sense of ablution in the air, and the sun-rays looked like pure gold. So bright were they that they gave a beautiful radiance even to the sordid brick walls of our Calcutta lanes. Since early dawn to-day the wedding-pipes had been sounding, and at each beat my own heart throbbed. The wail of the tune, Bhairavi, seemed to intensify my pain at the approaching separation. My Mini was to be married to-night.

From early morning noise and bustle had pervaded the house. In the courtyard the canopy had to be slung on its bamboo poles; the chandeliers with their tinkling sound must be hung in each room and verandah. There was no end of hurry and excitement. I was sitting in my study, looking through the accounts, when some one entered, saluting respectfully, and stood before me. It was Rahmun the Kabuliwallah. At first I did not recognise him. He had no bag, nor the long hair, nor the same vigour that he used to have. But he smiled, and I knew him again.

“When did you come, Rahmun?” I asked him.

“Last evening,” he said, “I was released from jail.”

The words struck harsh upon my ears. I had never before talked with one who had wounded his fellow, and my heart shrank within itself, when I realised this, for I felt that the day would have been better-omened had he not turned up.

“There are ceremonies going on,” I said, “and I am busy. Could you perhaps come another day?”

At once he turned to go; but as he reached the door he hesitated, and said: “May I not see the little one, sir, for a moment?” It was his belief that Mini was still the same. He had pictured her running to him as she used, calling “O Kabuliwallah! Kabuliwallah!” He had imagined too that they would laugh and talk together, just as of old. In fact, in memory of former days he had brought, carefully wrapped up in paper, a few almonds and raisins and grapes, obtained somehow from a countryman, for his own little fund was dispersed.

I said again: “There is a ceremony in the house, and you will not be able to see any one to-day.”

The man’s face fell. He looked wistfully at me for a moment, said “Good morning,” and went out. I felt a little sorry, and would have called him back, but I found he was returning of his own accord. He came close up to me holding out his offerings and said: “I brought these few things, sir, for the little one. Will you give them to her?”

I took them and was going to pay him, but he caught my hand and said: “You are very kind, sir! Keep me in your recollection. Do not offer me money!–You have a little girl, I too have one like her in my own home. I think of her, and bring fruits to your child, not to make a profit for myself.”

Saying this, he put his hand inside his big loose robe, and brought out a small and dirty piece of paper. With great care he unfolded this, and smoothed it out with both hands on my table. It bore the impression of a little band. Not a photograph. Not a drawing. The impression of an ink-smeared hand laid flat on the paper. This touch of his own little daughter had been always on his heart, as he had come year after year to Calcutta, to sell his wares in the streets.

Tears came to my eyes. I forgot that he was a poor Kabuli fruit-seller, while I was–but no, what was I more than he? He also was a father. That impression of the hand of his little Parbati in her distant mountain home reminded me of my own little Mini.

I sent for Mini immediately from the inner apartment. Many difficulties were raised, but I would not listen. Clad in the red silk of her wedding-day, with the sandal paste on her forehead, and adorned as a young bride, Mini came, and stood bashfully before me.

The Kabuliwallah looked a little staggered at the apparition. He could not revive their old friendship. At last he smiled and said: “Little one, are you going to your father-in-law’s house?”

But Mini now understood the meaning of the word “father-in-law,” and she could not reply to him as of old. She flushed up at the question, and stood before him with her bride-like face turned down.

I remembered the day when the Kabuliwallah and my Mini had first met, and I felt sad. When she had gone, Rahmun heaved a deep sigh, and sat down on the floor. The idea had suddenly come to him that his daughter too must have grown in this long time, and that he would have to make friends with her anew. Assuredly he would not find her, as he used to know her. And besides, what might not have happened to her in these eight years?

The marriage-pipes sounded, and the mild autumn sun streamed round us. But Rahmun sat in the little Calcutta lane, and saw before him the barren mountains of Afghanistan.

I took out a bank-note, and gave it to him, saying: “Go back to your own daughter, Rahmun, in your own country, and may the happiness of your meeting bring good fortune to my child!”

Having made this present, I had to curtail some of the festivities. I could not have the electric lights I had intended, nor the military band, and the ladies of the house were despondent at it. But to me the wedding feast was all the brighter for the thought that in a distant land a long-lost father met again with his only child.


The End


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Pen Portraits-Paul Dirac

PAUL DIRAC (1902-1984)

Theoretical Physicist

While sailing on an ocean liner to Japan in 1929 Paul Dirac found Werner Heisenberg, both in their 20s and unmarried, as companion. Heisenberg gregarious as ever loved dancing. One day Dirac asked why he danced and got the unsurprising answer that it was a pleasure to dance with nice girls. After about five minutes of silence, he asked: ‘Heisenberg, how do you know beforehand that the girls are nice?'”
Dirac was the unlikely hero and he still is widely declared the second greatest scientist of the 20th century. He proposes anti-matter not on the basis of physical observation, but because his own mathematical logic tells him that it must exist. Even this day anti-matter remains elusive.*

His great achievement was to provide Physics with the modern mathematics now used universally to cope with its most fundamental problems. Dirac began work on the new quantum mechanics as soon as it was introduced by Heisenberg in 1925 independently producing a mathematical equivalent for calculating atomic properties – and wrote a series of papers on the subject. This led up to his relativistic theory of the electron (1928) and the theory of holes (1930). This latter theory required the existence of a positive particle having the same mass and charge as the known (negative) electron. This positron also was discovered experimentally at a later date (1932).
At a time quantum theory based on matter and radiation was causing a ripple in the academic world , -there were two versions extant, one that of Schroedinger, de Broglie and the other of Bohr , this Lucasian Professor of Mathematics showed Einstein’s theory of relativity as well as the other two were a different aspect of a more general mathematical concept of the atom (1926-1932).
In 1933 he received Nobel Prize along with Schroedinger for his Relativistic theory of the electron(1928)
Dirac established the relativistic equation for the electron, which now bears his name. The remarkable notion of an antiparticle to each particle – i.e. the positron as antiparticle to the electron – stems from his equation. He was also the first to develop quantum field theory, which underlies all theoretical work on sub-atomic or “elementary” particles today, work that is fundamental to our understanding of the forces of nature.
Excerpt from the Guardian:
“Here’s a puzzle. Bristol boy– has an unhappy childhood, but doesn’t mention it for 50 years; learns to speak French, German and Russian, but becomes famous for his long silences; embarks on the wrong career; gets interested in mathematics and ends up at Cambridge, where he becomes famous for his even longer silences; hears about Einstein and gets into advanced physics; and then goes to Copenhagen to meet Niels Bohr, who grumbles to Ernest Rutherford, “This Dirac, he seems to know a lot of physics, but he never says anything.”

Somehow this silent, solemn, young beanpole earns the enthusiastic friendship and admiration of vibrant and merrymaking geniuses such as Bohr himself, Robert Oppenheimer, Werner Heisenberg, George Gamow, Peter Kapitza and so on, is a proof of super-symmetry at quantum level can well accommodate genius although devoid of reciprocal entertainment or conversation.

in Nov.2010 an international team of 42 scientists trapped 38 antihydrogen atoms – one by one – for a fraction of a second. The goal is to test fundamental theories of physics and to potentially unravel one of the great mysteries of science. Physicists theorize that there was an equal amount of matter and antimatter created at the Big Bang, yet antimatter somehow vanished.


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GEORGE BEADLE (1903-1989) American

George Wells Beadle the son of a Nebraska farmer was the first to pioneer the chemistry of genetics. He with Tatum demonstrated the role of genes in regulating biochemical events within cells.

Beadle abandoned the idea of farming for science. While at the California Institute of Technology at Pasadena(1931 until 1936)he began working in collaboration with Professors Th. Dobzhansky, S. Emerson, and A.H. Sturtevant, on maize and fruit flies. During this period he continued his work on Indian corn and then in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. In 1935 Beadle visited Paris for six months to work with Professor Boris Ephrussi at the Institut de Biologie physico-chimique. Together they began the study of the development of eye pigment in Drosophila which later led to the work on the biochemistry of the genetics of the fungus Neurospora for which Beadle and Edward Lawrie Tatum were together awarded the 1958 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.
Their association began at Stanford University that eventually led to winning the Prize for their work
Beadle and Tatum’s key experiments involved exposing the bread mold Neurospora crassa to x-rays, causing mutations. In a series of experiments, they showed that these mutations caused changes in specific enzymes involved in metabolic pathways. These experiments led them to propose a direct link between genes and enzymatic reactions, known as the “one gene, one enzyme” hypothesis.
His work eventually led to research on genetic code and genome project

(Ack:From Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1942-1962, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1964)
Genomics Timeline

2004 Rat*
2002 Mouse
2001 30,000 Genes
2000 The Human Genome
1999 Fruit Fly
1998 Worm
1996 An Extremophile
1996 Yeast
1995 Haemophilus
1991 Venter
1986 Human Genome
1986 Hood
1983 Mullis
1978 Botstein
1977 Gilbert & Sanger
1973 Boyer & Cohen
1972 Berg
1970 Smith
1970 Temin & Baltimore
1969 Beckwith
1967 Weiss & Green
1961 Jacob & Monod
1961 Nirenberg
1960 mRNA
1957 Crick
1956 Kornberg
1953 Crick & Watson
1950 Chargaff
1944 Avery
1943 Delbruck & Luria
1941 Beadle & Tatum
1934 Bernal
1927 Muller
1913 Sturtevant
1910 Morgan
1909 Johannsen
1908 Garrod
1904 Bateson
1902 Boveri & Sutton
1900 Rediscover Mendel
1888 Boveri
1882 Flemming
1876 Galton
1869 Miescher
1866 Mendel
1859 Darwin
* The rat genome is smaller than the human genome but larger than the mouse version. All three species—the first mammals to be sequenced—have roughly the same number of genes, between 25,000 and 30,000. (ack:www.genomenewsnetwork.org/resources/timeline)


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SIR LAWRENCE BRAGG  (British) (1890  –  1971)

Son of William Bragg with whom he revealed the molecular architecture of crystals, was born in Adelaide. He took a first in physics at Trinity, Cambridge in 1911 and that year started his work on the ‘von Laue phenomenon’.
For three years he collaborated closely with his father. Nobel prize was ‘for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of x-rays’.
After the war in which he won the M.C. he became professor of physics at Manchester University, where he stayed until 1937, then director of the National Physical Lab for one year, before moving to Cambridge.
Professor Emeritus at the Royal Institution until his death, he directed research until 1966 on x-ray analysis of the structure of the protein molecules, work which is fundamental to the understanding of the complex molecules of living matter. The Braggs, father and son, provided the tools for visualising the intricate architecture of molecules.

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Man as Blaise Pascal would say, is a thinking reed. He thinks and gives his thoughts a shape and fashions it into something tangible. Man sees crises between nations and sets up a crisis management centre. He may have had no backing of the nations who are ratcheting up quarrel that has the potential of a war. If he did succeed to use his contacts and bring the nations to sit face to face and hold a dialogue what shall we say? He is a man of peace and has sown peace where there was a likelihood of a conflict. It is a man’s response to his world and as he thought so has he remedied a part of evil that existed in his midst. Naturally the world honors the former Finnish president with a Nobel prize for peace. His thinking gave shape in holding peace between two nations who are talking of war. He did it in Kosovo and in Acheh, north of Sumatra. Nobel Laureate Martti is a thinking reed but someone who could make a difference to his world.
A sculptor like Michelangelo fashioned the statue of Moses out of marble. His creative vision gave a slab of marble grandeur that it never had. Of course a piece of marble has its beauty that needs to be brought out by careful handling. Nature gives a jagged piece of rock roundness as it is worked over and over by river flowing over it again and again. Perhaps million years it works on each of its treasures. Beauty of nature has its own language which a flower or pebble shall speak to one who is tuned to understand them. Coming back to Moses when one looks at the prophet he or she sees quite something else. Moses is a sublime example of man who has learnt to speak with his heart, mind and with his hands. It is however done by a thinking reed. But in the way Michelangelo excelled himself to create a work that is grand as well as having power in itself to communicate what are we to assume? He made his work to prove what he thought or in which true calling was. His genius required time, discipline and perseverance. Because he mastered himself he could makes his works speak to future generations though as a reed he succumbed to the way of all flesh. His death however could have no sway over what he had achieved with his life.
If Martti Ahtisaari and Michelangelo could so could any one who is willing to pay the price.
In our modern age however everyone knows what money can buy. Madoff’s alleged $50 billion fraud, hit the headlines only yesterday. It is a symptom of the times. Mr. Madoff apparently knew how the system worked rather than his own power and wisdom.
Perhaps modern education and social structure have let many of us down. If the brightest minds of our age fresh out of college should run off to join the bandwagon of Wall Street (and all want to be millionaires before they hit thirty) I dare say that they have missed their true calling. They have sold their precious gifts for a trifle. Their lives cannot amount to much.

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