Scientist of the century
Leonhard Euler was the greatest scientist of the 18th century. So claims Ed Sandifer in this month's Physics World where he looks at the achievements of the gifted Swiss scientist, who was born 300 years ago this month on 15 April 1707.
In an illustrious career that saw him write over 800 books and papers on optics and mechanics, Euler earned part of the famous longitude prize to help sailors navigate at sea, designed the fountains for Frederick the Great's palace in Potsdam and developed ways to build lenses for microscopes and telescopes that yielded images undistorted by coloured rainbow-like fringes. Even in retirement, when he went blind, Euler continued to carry out research, calculating the orbit of Uranus and working out the buoyancy of hot-air balloons on the very day he died. (p. 35)
We are the physics WAGs
Anyone who watched last years football World Cup in Germany will have been shocked at how poorly the England team performed. Off the pitch, however, the wives and girlfriends of the England players excelled, with the acronym "WAG" being coined in the light of their antics, usually involving drinking and shopping to excess. Welcome now to the "physics WAGs" - non-scientists like Laura Phillips, a librarian at the University of Bristol, who are attached to a physicist. She has found plenty of reasons to enjoy living with a physicist, including having a life "that takes on new depth and meaning" and having someone who "can answer all your 'why' questions". But physicists are far from nerdy, Phillips points out. "Most of my boyfriend’s colleagues are cool, interesting, fun people," she says. (p. 24)Also in this issue:
Helen MacBain | alfa
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