About this Exhibit [back to top]
This exhibit is based on the book, Selected Papers of Great American Physicists: The Bicentennial Commemorative Volume of The American Physical Society, edited by Spencer Weart and published for APS by the American Institute of Physics in 1976.
Copyright ©1976 The American Physical Society.
Exhibit Editors: Spencer Weart
Patrick McCray
Design: Linda Wooliever
The portraits were chosen to show the physicists as they looked around the time they wrote the papers which we have reproduced. That of Franklin is a detail from a painting by Robert Feke, courtesy of the Harvard University Portrait Collection. The rest are from collections deposited at the AIP's Emilio Segrč Visual Archives.

For further information
on the physicists commemorated in this book, or indeed on any significant scientist of the past, the first thing to do is to look up their names in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography (1970- ), a multivolume reference work. The thorough bibliographies in these articles include the sources we have used for each physicist, except for a few sources mentioned below.

The quote from Franklin's Autobiography is borrowed from I. Bernard Cohen's edition of Franklin's Experiments and Observations (1941), p.19; further information on Franklin's work will be found in John L. Heilbron, Electricity in the 17th and 18th Centuries (1979). The letter from Henry is in Nathan Reingold, ed., Science in Nineteenth Century America (1964), p.71. The Rowland trial quote was furnished by John D. Miller from his Oregon State University thesis, Henry Augustus Rowland and his Electromagnetic Researches (1970), p. 330; the apocryphal story is in Dorothy Michelson Livingston, Master of Light, A Biography of Albert A. Michelson (1973), p. 104-05, and another version is in Helen Wright, Explorer of the Universe, A Biography of George Ellery Hale (1966), p. 60 -- both excellent books. The quote about Gibbs is from Pierre Duhem, Josiah-Willard Gibbs (1908), p.26, translated by the editor; the first quote by Gibbs is from the American Journal of Science, ser. 3, vol.16,1878, p.441, while the quote from Gibbs' letter is in Martin Klein's article "Gibbs" in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol.5, p.391-92. The Millikan quote is from his Autobiography (1950), p. 69. The advice of Compton's father is borrowed from Roger H. Stuewer, The Compton Effect, Turning Point in Physics (1975), p.92. For statistics on physicists see Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences, vol. 5 (1975); the National Academy of Sciences report Physics in Perspective (1972); and reports by Beverly Porter of the Statistics Division of the American Institute of Physics.

Further information on the history of physics can be obtained from the AlP's Center for History of Physics in College Park, MD.

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