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A Forerunner of Einstein

Albert Abraham Michelson, the first American to be awarded a Nobel Prize in any of the categories of science (1907, in Physics), was born in Strelno in Prussia (now Strzelno, a part of Poland) on this date in 1852. Using an apparatus he had designed, now known as the “Michelson interferometer,” Michelson successfully computed the speed of […]

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Radiant Science, Dark Politics

Martin Kamen, a physicist who in 1940 co-discovered, with Sam Ruben, the isotope carbon-14, a crucial dating tool for biochemistry, was born in Toronto on this date in 1913. Three years after their discovery, Kamen was assigned to work on the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In 1945 he was accused of leaking nuclear weapons secrets […]

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Micro-Organisms and the Nobel Prize

Salvador Lurie, a Nobel Prize-winning Italian microbiologist who was shunned by Mussolini and forced to flee to the U.S. by Hitler, was born in Turin on this date in 1912. Lurie and his co-winners of the 1969 Nobel, Max Delbrück and Alfred Hershey, studied the genetic structures of viruses and bacteria. The 1943 Luria-Delbrück experiment showed that genetic mutations occur […]

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Little Green Men

Daniel S. Goldin, NASA administrator from 1992-2001, declared on this date in 1996 that “NASA has made a startling discovery that points to the possibility that a primitive form of microscopic life may have existed on Mars more than three billion years ago. The research is based on a sophisticated examination of an ancient Martian […]

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Nixon’s Surgeon General

Jesse L. Steinfeld, a professor of medicine who became the country’s eleventh Surgeon General during Richard Nixon’s first term as president and used his office to challenge the tobacco industry, died at 87 on this date in 2014. Dr. Steinfeld was a top official at the National Cancer Institute under President Johnson before becoming Surgeon General in […]

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The Mathematical Girl

Ruth Lawrence, a child prodigy in math who at the age of 10 placed first among 530 candidates in the Oxford University entrance exam in that subject, was born in Brighton, England on this date in 1971. Her parents were both computer consultants, and her father gave up his work when she was 5 to […]

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A Pioneer of Artificial Intelligence

Ray Solomonoff, a pioneer of artificial intelligence who developed the concept of algorithmic possibility, was born in Cleveland on this date in 1926. Solomonoff’s work anticipated the “singularity,” the point at which computers achieve greater intelligence than human beings, and developed “theoretical foundations of learning systems, focused on understanding how to generate and assign probabilities to sequences […]

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The Quantum Field Theoretician

Theoretical physicist Julian Schwinger, who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics with Richard Feynman and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga for their work reconciling quantum mechanics with Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity, was born to Polish Jewish émigrés in New York on this date in 1918. Schwinger received his Ph.D. (at age 21) at Columbia University, under the tutelage of Isidor […]

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The Russell-Einstein Manifesto

Albert Einstein was one of eleven signatories to what became known as the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, released by Bertrand Russell on this date in 1955 and signed by Einstein just days before his death on April 18th. The manifesto, which became the founding document of the Pugwash Conference two years later, was intended to raise international […]

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Herbert Simon and Artificial Intelligence

Political scientist and artificial intelligence innovator Herbert Alexander Simon, winner of the Turing Award in 1975 and the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1978, was born in Milwaukee on this date in 1915 to a Jewish father and a mother of mixed Jewish and Christian background. Simon spent most of his academic and research career […]

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