Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ralph Alpher died

Ralph Alpher, a nearly forgotten co-father of the Big Bang, died at age of 86.
The Telegraph about his life and work
In 1948, he published papers about the primordial soup in which elements were created. In the same year, they essentially predicted the cosmic microwave background. In 1955, he left the Academia for 30 years: he worked in General Electric.

One paper he co-authored is famous also because of the names of the authors: Alpher, Bethe, Gamow (Alpher's advisor). While Bethe was only included for aesthetic reasons, at that time, Deltoid wasn't invited because it wasn't yet fashionable to collaborate with environmentalist nutcases.

At any rate, cosmology is unfortunately losing one of its icons, the first one in the Greek alphabet.

Two anniversaries

When I talk about the Greek alphabet, I should also mention that on August 30th, 1871, Ernest Rutherford was born in New Zealand. He discovered the atomic nucleus and classified radiation to alpha, beta, gamma. Around the nucleus, you may find electrons. Electrons were discovered by JJ Thomson who died on August 30th, 1940.

Radiation and health

John Gofman was a physicist who has argued that radiation was 20 times more unhealthy than the government said (can't check the numbers now). Nevertheless, he died of heart failure two weeks ago.

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