Fotoeins Fotografie

faces of home & place-story

Posts from the ‘Science’ category

Lise Meitner, Arkadenhof, Universitaet Wien, University of Vienna, physicist, physics, Vienna, Wien, Oesterreich, Austria, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday at Uni Vienna: Lise Meitner

Throughout the month, I’m highlighting notable physicists who’ve been memorialized within the Arcade Courtyard in the main building of the University of Vienna:

2 Apr: Lise Meitner;
9 Apr: Christian Doppler, Erwin Schrödinger;
16 Apr: Joseph Littrow, Karl Littrow;
23 Apr: Josef Stefan;
30 Apr: Ludwig Boltzmann.

These are all names whose work and discovery form the historical and scientific basis of my university education in the field of physics.


Lise Meitner (1878-1968) was an Austrian physicist whose work with chemist Otto Hahn produced breakthroughs in our understanding of atomic and nuclear physics. Meitner overcame obstacles blocking women from studying and working at universities in the early 20th-century. She wanted to study at the University of Vienna, and thanks to her parents’ support, she studied on her own and successfully passed the university’s entrance examination in 1901. She studied physics over the next five years; physicist Ludwig Boltzmann was one of her instructors and advisors. In 1906, Meitner became the 3rd woman at the university to receive a doctorate in physics (after Olga Ehrenhaft-Steindler and Selma Freund). In 1907, she moved to Berlin where she would stay for over 30 years. In 1926, she became one of the first women appointed to associate professor at Berlin University and the first woman as professor of physics in Germany. Her Jewish lineage meant loss of title and employment, and in mid-1938, a hasty departure from Germany and exile to Sweden. In 1939, she and her nephew physicist Otto Frisch published a short breakthrough paper with their theoretical analysis of the newly discovered process of “nuclear fission” in experiments with uranium and thorium by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann. Later, she refused to help with the construction of an atomic bomb and objected to the use of nuclear weapons for the rest of her life.

Like many, I believe Lise Meitner should have been honoured as co-Laureate for the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded solely to Otto Hahn. In mid-2016, the University of Vienna unveiled a monument in her honour.

The university’s historical main building is inside the city’s Old Town which has been inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. I made the photo above on 16 May 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime and the following settings: 1/60-sec, f/9, ISO1000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-iFJ.

Very Large Array, VLA, Plains of San Agustin, Socorro, New Mexico, USA, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday on NM US-60: Plains of Agustin

On US-60 in New Mexico, on our day-long drive from Tucson, AZ to Santa Fe, NM.

We’re in west-central New Mexico, and we’ve descended after crossing the continental divide, the spine of North America. Leaving behind the Datil mountains and the town of Datil, the next “landmark” is Magdalena, and before us is the flat expanse that is the Plains of Agustin, once the bed of Lake San Agustin (up to 20-thousand years ago, Pleistocene epoch). Fact is we’re still up at over 2100 metres (7000+ feet) above sea level.

The sun pokes out from behind the clouds, and lights up the white dishes of the Very Large Array (VLA) radio observatory in the distance. Today, the VLA is in a compact “engineering” configuration which is useful to see all of the dishes together, but it would’ve been nice to see the dishes spread out miles apart in an observing configuration. Guess I’ll have to come back …

I made the picture above on 19 October 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime and the settings: 1/1000-sec, f/11, ISO1000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-dXd.

Albert Einstein, Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Dům U Kamenného beránka, At the stone lamb, Staromestske namesti, Old Town Square, Prague, Prag, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

My Prague: Brod, Einstein, & Kafka at Fanta Salon

Above/featured: it’s as if I just pointed out a famous meeting place to her right (left for the reader).

Prague’s Old Town Square is one of the most visited landmarks, dominated by the two tall spires of the Church of our Lady before Týn, Old Town Hall, and a prominent sculpture dedicated to Czech icon Jan Hus at the centre of the square.

At the southeast corner of the square is a building called (Dům) U Kamenného beránka or “At the Stone Lamb” at address Staroměstské námesti 551/17 #. To the right of the building’s main entrance is a memorial plaque with an inscription in both Czech and English. The memorial plaque was created by Czech sculptor Zdenĕk Kolářský and unveiled in 1998. Looking closer, you’ll recognize Albert Einstein’s face and his famous physics equation stating mass-energy equivalence and written in cursive script: E = mc2.

Over a 16-month period from 1911 to 1912, Albert Einstein lived in Prague with his family and was full professor of theoretical physics at the German Charles-Ferdinand University. Einstein enjoyed hanging out at a number of cafes for conversations, exchanges, and music, and he was a frequent visitor to this building where Czech liberal and intellectual Berta Fanta operated a literary-philosophical salon or lounge. The salon saw visits by many intellectuals, both domestic and international. “Domestic” writers Franz Kafka and Max Brod would have come here for the discourse as well, but it turns out little is actually known about whether all three arranged to meet or would have met here at the same time.

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Würzburg: Röntgen, X-rays, & 1st Nobel Prize in Physics

On my list and map, I placed the museum’s location as a “possible” to visit in the city. If I had time, I’d swing by and have a look, appealing to my fondness for science and the history of science.

Many arrive in Würzburg to visit the Residenz UNESCO world heritage site. On a daytrip from Frankfurt am Main, I duly visited the Residenz, and easily completed my initial visit requirements, as I knew I would. That’s when my inner voice (a.k.a., the spirit of B.Sc. ’90) reminded me insistently the museum was “simply and conveniently” on the return walk to the city’s central train station to fully complete my visit requirements.

I walked north from the Residenz, and followed the signs into the building for the Röntgen-Gedächtnisstätte (Röntgen Memorial) where X-rays were discovered. Standing inside the former laboratory space, I’m surrounded by artifacts, books, papers, tubes, equipment, and photographs.

I also feel a part of my undergraduate physics education has come full circle.

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Christian Doppler, Doppler birth house, Dopplers Geburtshaus, Salzburg, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

My Salzburg: Christian Doppler’s birth house

In crossing the pedestrian bridge over the Salzach river, every step takes me away from the famous view of the fortress over Old Town classics of steeples and baroque in Salzburg. Before I get to where I want to be, I have to cross a busy street in the afternoon rush which has come to a halt. Wailing sirens approach and recede as red and white “Rettungswagen” race to the emergency situation somewhere in the city. The cyclical lights are in my favour, and upon turning the corner, I see the sign that tells me I’ve arrived.

One self-assigned goal during three weeks of travel within Austria was the search for places associated with physicists and mathematicians of my youth. And by youth, I mean the tender twenties when all I cared about was a succinct explanation of the natural world through various equations1. In Alpbach, I found Erwin and Annemarie Schrödinger’s grave. In Vienna, I found Ludwig Boltzmann’s grave. Here in Salzburg across the street from the Mozart family house, I found Christian Doppler after whom the Doppler effect is named.


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