APS News

May 2011 (Volume 20, Number 5)

Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science

Willebrord Snellius, also known as Willebrord Snel (or Snell) van Royen


by Nicole Yunger Halpern

North of the Alps
and south of the fjords
lived a man
called Willebrord.

The University
of Leiden
conferred another
appellation:

Professor of
Mathematics,
he described
the erratic

behavior of
refracted light.
Thanks to his
enlightened insight,

optics pupils,
York to Utah,
know his surname
from his Law.

Yet another
moniker
belonged to this
trigonometer:

Like his title
of employment,
from Daddy came
the name van Royen.
Even if young
Snellius’s
successes kindle
jealiouses,

who could help
but choke and gag
if forced to own
this teacher’s tag?

I wonder if
the man could tell
that history
would favor “Snell.”

Nicole Yunger Halpern is a Modified Physics major at Dartmouth College.


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Editor: Alan Chodos

May 2011 (Volume 20, Number 5)

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Articles in this Issue
Promise Lies Ahead for Superconductivity After 100 Years
Fukushima Disaster Alters Dialogue at Nuclear Session
March Meeting Teems with Graphene Talks
New Awards Issue a Call for Nominations
APS Website Hosts Ethics Training Materials
Materials Physicists Attracted to Spider Webs
Spice Ingredient Touted as Explosive Detector
Physics Sheds Light on Cancer and Bacteria Evolution
Letters to the Editor
The Back Page
Viewpoint
Members in the Media
This Month in Physics History
The Education Corner
Inside the Beltway
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science
Profiles in Versatility