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Feeling the Heat

5 April 1999 7:30 pm
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Frederick Alexander Lindemann, a German-born British physicist who made key discoveries in the study of heat, was born on 4 April 1886. At the age of 25, Lindemann and German physical chemist Walther Hermann Nernst built a novel calorimeter that, at very low temperatures, could measure specific heat--the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of a substance 1 degree Celsius. Working at the University of Berlin, the duo confirmed Einstein's prediction, based on quantum theory, that the specific heats of solids approach zero near a temperature of absolute zero.

Lindemann also derived an eponymous formula defining the relationship between the melting point of a crystalline solid and the amplitude of the vibration of its atoms. As an airplane pilot, Lindemann validated a theory on how to recover from a tailspin. He was a scientific adviser to Winston Churchill and the British government during World War II. He died in 1957.

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