The physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson passed away yesterday, February 28. His daughter Mia confirmed the news explaining that her father got injured after falling in his office in Princeton last Wednesday and complications led to his death.
In addition to theoretical studies, Freeman Dyson pursued various technological projects starting with the Orion Project, which aimed to build a nuclear-powered rocket, and subsequently to a class of nuclear reactors called TRIGA (Training, Research, Isotopes, General Atomics) for the production of isotopes for medical use.
Over the years, Freeman Dyson wrote articles that proposed ideas and projects such as the Dyson sphere, a structure built to completely surround a star to use all the energy it emits, and the Dyson tree, a plant created by engineering genetics to grow on a comet useful to create space habitats in which it would generate oxygen. Recently he proposed a variant of this project with the idea of creating plants that absorbed more carbon dioxide.
Isaac Asimov was born in the village of Petrovichi, near Smolensk, Russia. His birth date is unknown: the reconstructions indicate that he was born between October 4, 1919 and January 2, 1920 and the latter date was adopted as his birthday.
Isaac Asimov’s writing career began in 1939, with the publication of the short story “Marooned off Vesta” in the magazine “Amazing Stories”. He soon became famous thanks to the first stories about positronic robots, which were followed in subsequent years by the ones that formed the then Foundation Trilogy.
Isaac Asimov was one of the writers who brought science fiction out of the world of magazines and a great scientific popularizer with his many articles and essays. A humanist and rationalist atheist, he brought many of his ideas into his literary works too, becoming one of the first great authors of hard science fiction, gaining a fame that spread worldwide. He left an legacy estimated in about 500 books of various genres.
A technology developed by CERN to create detectors capable of counting and tracking particles also used by ESA in space missions found a very different application in the art field. InsightART, a company opened in Prague, in the Czech Republic, in ESA’s Business Incubation Center (BIC), adapted a chip based on that technology called Timepix to a device to find fake artworks and incorrectly attributed.
Richard Phillips Feynman was born on May 11, 1918 in New York, USA. Richard Feynman developed the mathematical tools that allowed him to arrive at quantum electrodynamics, the theory for which in 1965 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics. Over the years he received a number of national and international awards up to the National Medal of Science in 1979.
Richard Feynman died on February 15, 1988, leaving a considerable legacy in the scientific field for his contributions and also as a popularizer. In the following years he was remembered in various ways with tributes, biographies, new editions of his autobiographical works and much more.
Stephen Hawking, one of the most well-known figures in physics and astrophysics passed away in the night at his home in Cambridge, England.
Stephen Hawking’s studies on black holes for which he became famous remain crucial in the field of physics and astrophysics. I wonder if in the end he was still lucid enough to realize the bitter irony of dying on Albert Einstein’s birth anniversary. With his sense of humor perhaps his last emotion was amusement. He was an atheist so he didn’t have the comfort of a religion but that of the appreciation of life.