Fotoeins Fotografie

photography as worlds between words

Posts tagged ‘physics’

Christian Doppler, Doppler birth house, Dopplers Geburtshaus, Salzburg, Austria, Oesterreich,

Comings and goings: Christian Doppler born here

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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Ludwig Boltzmann, Wiener Zentralfriedhof, Vienna Central Cemetery, Vienna, Wien, Austria,

Spring in Vienna: finding Ludwig Boltzmann

I’m neither tragic nor hip, but I know a little bit about Canadian icon and band, The Tragically Hip, and specifically, a song of theirs called “Springtime in Vienna.”

I can’t play a musical instrument, but I especially liked listening to a performance of Johann Strauss II’s “An der schönen blauen Donau” (The Blue Danube) on an intercity river catamaran between Vienna and Bratislava.

What I’m totally convinced is when spring comes calling, I’m allergic to nature. I’m a living example to irritation and inflammation, and living consequence to nature’s response to spring.

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Erwin Schroedinger, Annemarie Schroedinger, Alpbach Cemetery, Heiliger Oswald, Pfarrkirche Alpbach, Alpbach, Tirol, Tyrol, Austria,

Finding Erwin Schrödinger

Localizing his final wavefunction, at rest in Alpbach

It took a little effort: a train out from Innsbruck to Brixlegg, followed by a regional bus into another valley of countless valleys, accompanied by the illumination of sharp morning light, in a blanket of meadows and buttercups, under a deep ocean of impossibly blue skies. And on both sides of this river valley are an endless series of mountains, these peaks the smaller cousins to larger Austrian Alps nearby.

In Alpbach, the weekday morning is quiet, as the town begins to stir with people starting their work day. The bank has just opened, fresh baked bread and pastry and roasted coffee emanate from the cafe from around the corner, a couple of trucks rumble into town with deliveries. An older couple walks by, and there are mutual sunny greets of “Grüss Gott”. The church steeple glows yellow at this hour, and it’s easy to imagine with its bell the church is an aural and visual beacon for miles.

I’m drawn to the church because that was always the plan, to look for someone who’s buried in the church cemetery. Ordered rows of headstones lie as you would expect, but by the northwest gate, I find a single plaque on the bordering stone wall. The plaque reads: “Erwin Schrödinger, Nobelpreis für Physik, 1933”, and next to the plaque is Erwin and Annemarie Schrödinger’s final resting spot1. Another academic pilgrimage completed.

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Nobel-Rondell, Nobel Rondel, Nobel Prize, Stadtfriedhof, Göttingen, Niedersachsen, Lower Saxony, Germany,

Göttingen: Physics & Chemistry Nobel-Prize Round-of-8

Göttingen is a university town in central Germany. Not only will I find a memorial to Nobel Prizes, I’m here also to acknowledge my academic training. I spent many years studying physics and astronomy, and while I’m no longer active in science research, I enjoy the search and discovery of the final resting spots for scientists whose work formed a significant part of my education. Visiting their graves provides direct historical connection to “academic predecessors”; to go beyond the abstraction of simply learning their names and contributions to science, the gravestones belong to real people with keen minds, family lives, and all too human imperfections.

To date, 45 Nobel Prize laureates have been or are connected with the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. That’s a phenomenal number, as this single institution accounts for 8 per cent of all Nobel Prizes (585 as of 2017).

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Bayerische Vertretung, Behrenstrasse 21, Euler-Haus, Berlin Mitte, Germany,

Berlin Mitte ‘Math’: where Euler lived for 23 years

In Berlin Mitte at address Behrenstrasse 21 is the Bayerische Vertretung, whose functions are described as “… die Aussenstelle der Staatskanzlei in der Bundeshauptstadt,” or “branch office of the Bavarian State Chancellery in the German capital.”

Swiss scientist Leonhard Euler spent some 20 years (1743-1766) in Berlin, living in this very building and working at the Académie Royale des Sciences et Belles-Lettres de Prusse (now, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences). Euler’s name is very familiar to anyone who’s encountered and studied mathematics and physics. He is well known for his study and work in the fields of physics, astronomy, and engineering. But for his contributions to notation, functional analysis, number theory, and graph theory, Euler is considered one of the greatest mathematicians in history. Euler departed Berlin in 1766, accepting an invitation from Russia’s Catherine the Great to return to St. Petersburg where he lived the rest of his life.

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