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October Photos of the Month

This October, I want to use the Photos of the Month to share an important reminder with our readers in the U.S. about voting!

Here’s the reminder: Vote! Do it!!

Join me in looking at some ESVA photos of physicists meeting former Presidents. I hope they will serve as a little inspiration for us all to take the necessary steps to make our voices heard in the upcoming 2020 election!

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The Emilio Segrè Visual Archives presents favorite images as backgrounds!
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We’re all spending more time on our computers these days in video chats for class, work, and the good old chinwag with friends and family. If you need a new virtual background, don’t fear! Our staff has chosen some of our favorite images from the Emilio Segrè Visual Archives and made them available, sized to fit perfectly in your video chat tool of choice (Zoom, Teams, etc.). If you are a teacher, you could even use one of these backgrounds to introduce a topic!

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“I am the first Muslim who has got the prize for science, breaking the barrier, taking away that sense of inferiority that, over the centuries, has come over the Muslim youth. This has been done by somebody who feels no conflict between his religion, his culture and science.”
- Abdus Salam, quoted in the film Salam - The First ****** Nobel Laureate, see [1] for full citation.

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September Photos of the Month

In an effort to elevate my mood - and yours, too, if you have been feeling like me - I’m choosing some happy, laughter-filled images for us to view for the September Photos of the Month. A little positivity can only help, right? Join me as I try to prove that, even when captured in a still image, laughter can be infectious.

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Inclusions from the history of physics in undergraduate physics courses made an impact on me. I vividly remember one class in which my professor projected an H-R diagram (a magnitude vs temperature plot of stars), and took the time to credit the Harvard computers for their work on stellar classification that has been historically overlooked because of their gender. Following that class, I realized that small stories can make big differences and can change the way students think about the development of physics. 

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Q and A with a real, live Niels Bohr Library & Archives book researcher!
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World War II was the first war in history to be decided by weapons that did not exist at the start of the conflict. Everyone knows the story of the atomic bomb, but the bomb had no effect on the European war. 12 Seconds of Silence tells the story of the secret invention that did: the proximity fuse. It’s been called the first “smart” weapon. It’s important to understand that at the beginning of the war, Allied antiaircraft guns were pretty much worthless. In the early weeks of the Blitz, it reportedly took an astounding 20,000 shots on average to bring down a single German bomber. The idea behind the proximity fuse was to install a little sensor inside an explosive antiaircraft shell that would go off automatically if a plane was within 70 feet. In effect, the device made Luftwaffe bombers look like 50-times-bigger targets. By the end of the war, the secret device was taking down a German aircraft with every 100 shots. The book focuses on the group of scientists and inventors who built the fuse, against very long odds.

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Since this is my first post to this blog, I wanted to share photos that capture the intersection of my two interests: the history of physics and the history of biology. That theme is broader than it might seem at first, so to narrow it down, I'll focus on one topic in particular: the effects of radiation on living organisms.  

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For the last two months, I have worked as an intern with the Center for History of Physics (CHP) and the Niels Bohr Library & Archives (NBLA) at the American Institute of Physics (AIP). This internship was part of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) Internship Program. The most significant take-away from my two months at AIP can be summarized with the word “unifying.”

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The process of discovering the unity of forces in physics is central to the history of physics. Here the story of unification is presented using images from the Emilio Segrè Visual Archives (ESVA). It is not always chronological and it is not yet complete. Nevertheless, there are many converging pieces from all over the globe, and universe, in the story of unification. 

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In the midst of July’s relentless heat, I’ve been thinking about different ways to cool off. A personal favorite is the classic ice-cold glass of lemonade. While refreshing, an iced beverage is relatively mild in the grand scheme of coolants. Liquid nitrogen, on the other hand, packs a much colder punch.