Science & Education

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 559–568 | Cite as

How Did Loránd Eötvös Choose a Research Topic?

  • Gyula J. Randnai

Abstract

Loránd Eötvös (1848–1919) wasthe best-known Hungarian scientist ofthe turn of the century, made worldfamous by his investigations on gravitation.His high accuracy measurements of theproportionality between gravitational andinertial mass performed using the torsionpendulum designed by himself provokedthe admiration of Einstein.

So far, we have not known why Eötvösstarted investigating gravitation: in hispublications, he only indicates the exactyear (1888) when he started. Historians ofphysics have so far considered 1886 as thebeginning of this research, since this wasthe year when he last made publications inhis previous research topic, capillarity.What happened between 1886 and 1888?This will be treated in the following.

It will turn out that the main motivationfor Eötvös for the scientific researchon gravitation was the intention to populariseuniversity education and science.We might also say: the desire for``Science as Culture''.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gyula J. Randnai
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General PhysicsEötvös Loránd University of SciencesBudapestHungary

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