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History of Science Web Exhibits

The Ralph V. L. Hartley Papers

This exhibit explores Hartley’s multi-decade endeavor to publish his challenges to Einsteinian relativity. In his efforts, we see the process of scientific debate and closure that rendered the classical mechanical understanding of the propagation of light a vestigial science.

Climate Change in the 1970s

This exhibit describes the rise and fall of a large-scale research program on anthropogenic climate change. The program was organized and funded by the U.S. federal government in the late 1970s. The exhibit is based on the paper of William P. Elliott, an atmospheric scientists who was closely involved in the research effort.

Voyages of the R/V Vema

Follow the journey of the R/V Vema that traveled more than 1 million nautical miles over a quarter century. This exhibit brings together oral history interviews, geographical mapping, and historical and scientific data to highlight some of the most memorable events and discoveries that occurred aboard the Vema.

Bright Idea: The First Lasers

A multimedia look at the history behind the creation of the maser and laser, covering initial military demands to physics theories. Learn how the technology came to be with interviews of scientists and inventors. Text, photos, and audio from the American Institute of Physics' Center for History of Physics and the Niels Bohr Library & Archives.

Sakharov: Soviet Physics, Nuclear Weapons & Human Rights

Andrei Sakharov, the father of the Soviet Union’s hydrogen bomb, went on to struggle for human rights, peace and democracy, sacrificing his high position for exile and repression. His remarkable pilgrimage is explained by his biographer and illuminated with rare photos.

Heisenberg / Uncertainty

The “uncertainty principle” that Werner Heisenberg used to explain quantum theory is explained with text, pictures and voice clips. Heisenberg’s leading biographer tells the full story of this eventful life, including the physicist’s controversial role in Nazi Germany's nuclear program.

Rutherford's Nuclear World

The story of Ernest Rutherford's lifetime of exploring the structure of the atom: radioactivity, the discover of the nucleus, and the invention of the nuclear age. Enhanced with voice clips and photographs.

Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity

Her discovery of radium changed our understanding of matter and energy and brought a new era for medicine. The extraordinary romance of her life is illustrated with many pictures and basic explanations.

Albert Einstein: Image and Impact

His astounding theories and his thoughtful philosophy rose above a turbulent life. The story, checked for accuracy by leading historians, will interest all readers. Enhanced with striking pictures, voice clips, and essays, this is a one-stop source for Einstein information.

A Cosmic Journey: A History of Scentific Cosmology

From the ancient Greeks to the Hubble Space Telescope - the story of the colorful individuals, startling ideas and ingenious tools that brought us knowledge of the vast and strange universe we inhabit. Written by leading historians of astronomy, richly illustrated.

Transistorized! History of the Transistor

Find how three physicists in the 1940s developed the device that created our information age. The story, combining science, biography and social inputs, is told by top science journalists and enlivened by a variety of multi-media clips and supplements. (Teaching Guides Available)

Lawrence and the Cyclotron

As he built machines to study subatomic particles, Ernest O. Lawrence created modern "Big Science." After helping make the first atomic bombs, he became a leader of Cold War science. His biography is illustrated with pictures, simple science explanations and a song.

Papers of Great American Physicists

See science in action by reading actual reproductions of some of the greatest physics papers of all time, by physicists including Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Henry, Albert Michelson, Robert Millikan and Arthur Holly Compton. With brief biographies and explanations.

Discovery of the Electron

How do you discover a particle so small that nobody has ever seen one? J. J. Thomson ingeniously figured out the chief properties of this particle, basic to modern life. The story of his work (and of Thomson’s life as a whole) tells much about science and our world.

Discovery of Global Warming

This hyperlinked set of 30 essays, the only one of its kind, explains from many angles the century of scientific and social challenges that made the world’s scientists conclude that climate change is very likely to become a severe problem.

Moments of Discovery: Fission, Pulsars, and Superconductivity

Follow discoveries hour by hour, even minute by minute, through the scientists' own words. Famous physicists recall the discovery of nuclear fission. Two young astronomers recorded on the spot their momentous first use of a telescope. A theorist tells how his team explained superconductivity. (Teaching Guides Available)