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Friday, September 18, 2020

The Solvay Conference and the Smartest Photo Ever Taken


This photo is iconic of it showcased the gathering of intellectual giants of the 20th Century. These men of science made a significant impact in shaping our modern technological civilization. There are 17 Nobel Peace Prize-winning scientists in this photograph, and in the conference, scientific breakthroughs and theories were scrutinized and brought to light. This iconic photograph was taken at the Solway Conference has an interesting story on what unfolded and topics raised on the conference regarding quantum mechanics and other topics in chemistry, theoretical, and applied physics.

Solvay Conference, Scientists, Einstein, Smartest People
Image: Rare Historical Photos

In recent years, people poke fun of this photo for the photograph with the highest I.Q exceeding over 9000. This overstatement is understandable due to the notable intellectuals in the photograph. The most popular is Albert Einstein, the quintessential man of science. The other participants were quantum physicists who made some of the most groundbreaking findings, discoveries, and inventions that changed the world.



The Solvay Conferences had its roots in the prewar years of 1911 and first held in Brussels Belgium. The conference is the brainchild of Ernest Solvay, a chemist, philanthropist, and industrialist, basically the Elon Musk of his time. Solvay Conferences have a unifying theme and a chairman to lead the conference. The conference is held every 3 years and was put into a halt during years of the Great War and World War 2.

The ring leaders of the Fifth Solvay International Conference were Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr. Pioneers in the field of quantum physics such as Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrodinger, Max Planck, Paul Dirac, Wolfgang Pauli, and Neils Bohr also attended the conference had several debates regarding the two opposite factions of scientists who follow scientific realism and/or scientific instrumentalism.

To get a basic know-who of these figures of science here is a photograph with a label.

Solvay Conference, Smartest People, Einstein, Scientists
Image: Redbubble

At the back, we can see the key figures who pioneered quantum mechanics such as Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, and Erwin Schrödinger. In the middle, we can see Paul Dirac and Niels Bohr along with the crowd of chemists and physicists who have made significant discoveries and inventions from the late 19th Century, up to the 20th Century. And finally, at the front, we have the pioneers and most notable figures such as Marie Curie, Max Planck, and no other than Albert Einstein.



These conferences continue to shape our ever progressive technological civilization. Underrated and less known scientists have also made significant contributions in the most well documented 1927 conference. Scientists such as Louis de Broglie, Hendrik Lorentz, Paul Langevin have also aided the more popular figures like Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrodinger, and many others. 

The first conference had a theme of radiation and quanta, this was held in 1911. The last Solvay Conference held in 2017, it was titled The Physics of Living Matter: Space, Time, and Information. Almost all Solvay Conferences deals with the microcosm, but in two conferences in 1958 and 1964 respectively, The Structure and Evolution of the Universe and The Evolution of Galaxies the macrocosm was also put into emphasis by the world's greatest minds. The idea of the Solvay Conference or the gathering of the world's best minds contributed a lot to our progress and should be remembered for the years to come. It is also proof that not all scientists are recluse individuals, they share their findings and open for criticism to correct or improve a theory or hypothesis. 

Copyright by IFY Books

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