AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXX, No. 2, Fall 1998


Biographical Information and Exhibits Available on the Web

To get to the following, go to our Exhibit Links page.

For several years it has been possible to get biographical information about many scientists at various sites on the World-Wide Web, but usually this comprises only summaries, a few sentences long and not always accurate. Now more substantial information is coming online. A good example is the site created for the American Geophysical Union on honored geophysicists. Here one can find biographies of the eminent people for whom medals and awards were named, and also the citations for recent honorees. The citations are a rich source of information, and we hope other societies will take note of this good example.

Nobel Prizewinners have been well served not only by a site maintained by the Nobel Foundation itself, but by other sites including a new "NobelChannel" with excellent multimedia for those who have the necessary bandwidth and plugin media software. Individual sites with substantial resources have been created by institutions or hobbyists for especially admired physicists such as Albert Einstein (including the AIP Center's award-winning exhibit, which has drawn over 100,000 hits a month), Richard Feynman, and Galileo Galilei. This last site was recently augemented by a well-crafted and scholarly online edition of Galileo's famous "notes on motion" manuscripts, created by the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale and Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza in Florence and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.

The AIP Center is currently constructing two major biographical exhibits. One on Werner Heisenberg has text by David Cassidy, author of a recently published and definitive Heisenberg biography. Another, on Andrei Sakharov, has text by Gennady Gorelik, whose major biography of Sakharov is in preparation. Both exhibits will be available this winter. We advise checking our Website every few months for these and other new items.

Historians and educators will increasingly make use of the Web to communicate their knowledge to students, the general public, and even their professional colleagues. Much of what is now on the Web is of dubious reliability (a search for "Einstein" will turn up relativity cranks alongside useful sources). Scholars associated with trusted institutions and professional organizations can do a good service by building Websites.

Still one of the fastest ways to get basic biographical information is by contacting the reference desk of the Center's Niels Bohr Library. The Center's mission is to serve physicists, scholars and the public, and the library's comprehensive reference collection often allows the staff to answer a simple query within a few minutes. Phone 301-209-3177; Fax 301-209-3144; e-mail

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AIP History Center Center for History of Physics
Phone: 301-209-3165
American Institute of Physics 2003 American Institute of Physics, One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740-3843. Email: Phone: 301-209-3100; Fax: 301-209-0843