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Bridgman, Percy Williams (21 April 1882–20 August 1961), physicist and philosopher of science, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Raymond Landon Bridgman, an author and journalist, and Mary Ann Maria Williams. As a boy, Bridgman was shy but independent and competitive. He participated in track and field sports, played chess, and studied the piano. Although his family was deeply religious (Congregational), the young Bridgman, to the great disappointment of his father, rejected religion as being factually unverifiable. Raymond Bridgman later came to accept his son’s commitment to honesty and intellectual integrity as a moral equivalent to religion. A good student, Percy Bridgman attended the public schools of Newton, Massachusetts, and upon graduation in 1900 entered Harvard College, earning an A.B. summa cum laude in 1904. He remained at Harvard to study physics, receiving an A.M. in 1905 and a Ph.D. in 1908, and was subsequently appointed research fellow in the Department of Physics. He became instructor in 1910. In 1912 he married Olive Ware, of Hartford, Connecticut, daughter of Edmund Asa Ware, founder and first president of Atlanta University. The couple had two children. Bridgman was made assistant professor in 1913, full professor in 1919, Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in 1926, Higgins University Professor in 1950, and professor emeritus in 1954....

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Frank, Philipp G. (20 March 1884–21 July 1966), scholar of physics and philosophy of science, was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Hans Frank, a chemist, and Marta Hoffmann. Frank received his doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of Vienna in 1907, having studied under Ludwig Boltzmann. During that year he published the essay “Kausalgesetz und Erfahrung” ( ...

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Harnwell, Gaylord Probasco (29 September 1903–17 April 1982), physicist and university president, was born in Evanston, Illinois, the son of Frederick William Harnwell, a lawyer, and Anna Jane Wilcox, a playwright. The family later moved to Frederick, Maryland, where Harnwell attended public schools. At his parents’ urging, he then attended Haverford College, where he received a B.S. in physics in 1924. Receiving a Cope Fellowship from Haverford, he studied for a year with the distinguished physicist Ernest Rutherford at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, where the scientists were carrying out early studies of bombarding elements with alpha particles into disintegration. Harnwell entered Princeton University in 1925 for graduate work. There he developed a series of instruments for use in gaseous electronics and received an M.A. in 1926 and a Ph.D. in physics in 1927. Also in 1927 he married Mary Louise Rowland; they had four children, one of whom died in childhood....

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Maltby, Margaret Eliza (10 December 1860–03 May 1944), physicist, college professor, and administrator, was born on the family farm in Bristolville, Ohio, the daughter of Edmund Maltby and Lydia Jane Brockway. She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1882 and spent the next year in New York City at the Art Students League. She then returned to Ohio and taught in high schools for four years....

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Nichols, Ernest Fox (01 June 1869–29 April 1924), physicist and university president, was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, the son of Alonzo Curtis Nichols, a photographer, and Sophronia Fox. Nichols, described as a frail and delicate youth, was schooled at home. His parents died when he was in his teens, and in 1884 he went to live with his maternal uncle, General Simeon M. Fox of Manhattan, Kansas. Shortly after his arrival he was accepted into Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan....

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Pegram, George Braxton (24 October 1876–12 August 1958), university administrator and physicist, was born in Trinity, North Carolina, the son of William Howell Pegram, a professor of chemistry at Trinity College, and Emma Lenore Craven, daughter of the founder of that college, which later became Duke University. Pegram attended Trinity College, from which he received the A.B. in 1895. He taught in secondary schools in North Carolina until 1899, when he entered Columbia University for graduate studies. He received the Ph.D. in physics in 1903, with his dissertation “Secondary Radioactivity in the Electrolysis of Thorium Solutions.”...

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Schiff, Leonard Isaac (29 March 1915–19 January 1971), physicist and academic statesman, was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Schiff, the owner of a department store, and Mathilda Brodsky, a gifted pianist and composer. Both families were of Lithuanian Jewish descent, the father coming from a long line of rabbinical scholars. Schiff was a prodigy who was already well versed in calculus when he entered Ohio State University at the age of fourteen in 1929. He also had considerable musical talent; he was and remained a fine clarinetist, and he liked to remark in later life that he knew three languages: English, mathematics, and music. Young as he was, he joined many student activities, becoming captain of the university shooting team. He also adopted early on an active Christian faith, to which he held firmly throughout his life while remaining conscious of and close to his Jewish heritage....

Article

Seitz, Frederick (4 July 1911–2 Mar. 2008), physicist, university president, and scientific consultant, was born in San Francisco, California to Frederick and Emily Hofman Seitz, who ran a small local bakery successful enough to offer their only child a comfortable middle-class upbringing. Seitz attended Monroe Elementary School and Lick-Wilmerding High School, where he served as class president and from which he graduated a semester early in December ...