Einstein’s 1905 chronology

Talk about a busy man, I have trouble achieving anything let alone breaking new ground in a scientific field that often:

January 6: Second anniversary of marriage to Mileva Maric.

Early March: Begins to submit one-paragraph reviews of recent scientific papers on heat theory to the Beiblätter zu den Annalen der Physik — mainly summaries, with occasional critical remarks. By the end of the year 21 of these reviews were published.

March 14: His 26th birthday.

March 17: Sends Annalen der Physik his photoelectricity paper, “On a Heuristic Point of View concerning the Production and Transformation of Light.” Received March 18, published June 9.

May 14: First birthday of son, Hans Albert.

April 30: Submits his University of Zurich doctoral dissertation, “A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions.” (Published in 1906.)

May: Sends Annalen der Physik his Brownian Motion paper, “On the Movement of Small Particles Suspended in Stationary Liquids Required by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat.” Received May 11, published July 18.

Mid-May: Conceives special relativity theory (he later recalled that he sent the paper in for publication five or six weeks after the idea came to him).

June: Sends Annalen der Physik his special relativity theory paper, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies.” Received June 30, published 26 September.

July 27: Doctorate is approved unanimously by University of Zurich Philosophy II faculty (the degree was formally awarded January 15, 1906).

August: Sends Annalen der Physik his doctoral dissertation on size of molecules, received August 19, published with slight revisions February 8, 1906. This would become one of Einstein’s most frequently cited papers. It shows how to use fluid phenomena to determine Avogadro’s Number, which is related to the size of atoms (and for skeptics, their reality).

Late summer: Travels to Serbia with Mileva and their son, visiting friends and Mileva’s family.

September: Sends Annalen der Physik his mass-energy equivalence paper, “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend upon Its Energy Content?” Received September 27, published November 21. This paper contains the concept which would later be written E=mc².

October-November: Earns a little money by tutoring a student on electricity.

December: Sends Annalen der Physik another paper “On the Theory of Brownian Motion,” received December 19, published February 8, 1906. This paper improves and extends his mathematical development of the theory.

From aip.org

Via Kottke


Alan Turing and the Ace computer

Yet more interesting reading on Britain’s contribution to early computing.

[Ace] ran for the first time on 10 May 1950. By modern standards it was sluggish but in its day was the fastest in the world.


And, whilst investigating how it could be used, the team uncovered another problem that looked set to dog greater use of computers – how accurate were they?


“When you put decimal numbers in a computer they have to be converted to binary,” said Professor Maurice Cox, who also worked on Ace and its descendants. “The conversion is not exact.”


“Errors in the data can build up,” said Professor Cox. “Those errors can explode if you have an unstable method of calculation.”


Jim Wilkinson took on and defeated that uncertainty. Remembered with affection by everyone that worked with him, his work has been overshadowed by Turing.


“He was brilliant in his own right,” said Clive Hall, a former colleague of Mr Wilkinson and who oversees some of the computer archives at NPL. “The problem was that he came to NPL when Alan Turing was there.”


By splitting data into packets and threading them on the same line, the carrying capacity of that link could be boosted and the whole network made more powerful.


Roger Scantlebury, who worked with Dr Davies, presented the ideas about “packet switching” to a conference in the US, where they were picked up by the creators of the nascent Arpanet, the fledgling internet.


Does that mean Britain invented the internet?


“Yes and no,” said Mr Scantlebury. “Certainly the underlying technology of the internet, which is packet switching, we did invent.”

Chalk another couple of milestones up to the Brits.


Why do people often vote against their own interests?

[Drew Westen] uses the following exchange from the first presidential debate between Al Gore and George Bush in 2000 to illustrate the perils of trying to explain to voters what will make them better off:

Gore: “Under the governor’s plan, if you kept the same fee for service that you have now under Medicare, your premiums would go up by between 18% and 47%, and that is the study of the Congressional plan that he’s modelled his proposal on by the Medicare actuaries.”

Bush: “Look, this is a man who has great numbers. He talks about numbers.

“I’m beginning to think not only did he invent the internet, but he invented the calculator. It’s fuzzy math. It’s trying to scare people in the voting booth.”

Mr Gore was talking sense and Mr Bush nonsense – but Mr Bush won the debate. With statistics, the voters just hear a patronising policy wonk, and switch off.

For Mr Westen, stories always trump statistics, which means the politician with the best stories is going to win: “One of the fallacies that politicians often have on the Left is that things are obvious, when they are not obvious.

“Obama’s administration made a tremendous mistake by not immediately branding the economic collapse that we had just had as the Republicans’ Depression, caused by the Bush administration’s ideology of unregulated greed. The result is that now people blame him.”