Sunday, 7 October 2012

Happy 127th, Niels Bohr!

If you teach science, you must teach your students about scientists, making sure that they understand they are scientists themselves as you investigate together. You must, of course, also teach them about well-known scientists who have made huge contributions to our understanding of the natural world.

Today is Niels Bohr's birthday. Bohr won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922, fled the Nazis in 1943, and worked on the Manhattan Project. CNET's Chris Matyszczyk calls today's Google Doodle in his honor "beautifully random and humorous (since it) is not some especially significant milestone in the Bohr family. It is not the 100th anniversary of his birth or death, nor his 150th. It's just that Niels Bohr would have been 127 today."

Matyszczyk seems to think this appropriate, calling Bohr a scientist with a sense of humor, citing a Washington Post article that includes "some of his more pithy observations, ones that make one imagine Bohr would have been anything but a bore in company." Here are some of my favorites:

“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

“No, no, you’re not thinking — you’re just being logical.”

“How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.”

“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes, which can be made, in a very narrow field."
“We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct. My own feeling is that it is not crazy enough.”
Intelligent, intuitive, influential, and yes, funny. A man who so inspired one of his sons that he also received a Nobel Prize. Show your students this short YouTube video tomorrow to introduce them to the amazing man who was Niels Henrik David Bohr:

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