This is a re-post of a piece I wrote on my old blog, Topography of Ignorance, back in 2007. It’s a list I compiled of the types of things you could get named after you that come in the form [Name][Type of thing], as in the word “Law” from “Moore’s Law.” There are the obvious ones like “equation” but the unusual terms are more interesting because there might be only a single example. The title is itself an adaptation of an obscure word, eponym, which I loosely interpreted to mean “anything named after someone.” I don’t think it’s a real word, and using it probably confused readers (it also could have confused them that it’s basically just a massive list with very little prose). To preserve the classic 2007 “feel” of the original post, I’m keeping the poorly-chosen title and format. Plus, lists are now back in a big way! (What with your Buzzfeeds et al.) So it seemed like an appropriate time to bring it back. Will animate with Jennifer Lawrence GIFs as soon as I’m able…
A physicist wanting to make an impact on the field most often imagines his or her name attached to an Equation, or a Theory. Or even, if they really want to move mountains, a Law. I have no idea what mathematicians think about, but I would assume that they are hoping to come up with Theorems and Conjectures. Of course, not everyone is an Einstein or a Kepler, able to remake a subject and declare a Law. But if you carve out a niche for yourself, or invent a novel way of dealing with a certain topic, you’re virtually assured of getting something. For an elegant discovery, you could have an Angle named after you, or a Number. Or in a more bizarre direction, a Sea or Paradox. de Sitter has an entire Universe! Me? If I could become the first person since Isaac Newton with an eponymous Bucket I would consider myself a success. There are so many strange things you could find named in your honor that I have compiled an extensive list of them with some examples namesakes on the right-hand side.
First, some of the most common:
|[A Unit]||Newton, Gauss, Joule|
|[A Constant]||Planck, Boltzmann|
|Effect||Mössbauer, Stark, Bohr,
And then of course, there are rarer terms. These trend very roughly from less to more obscure.
|Field||Fermionic, Bosonic, Higgs|
|Principle||Copernican, Pauli Exclusion|
||Minkowski, Fock, Hilbert|
|Distribution||Wigner, Bose-Einstein, Fermi-Dirac|
|___-ian||Laplace, Hamilton, Riemann|
|Experiment||Milikan Oil Drop|
|Number||Avogadro, Chandrasekhar, Euler|
|Scattering||Compton, Rayleigh, Thompson
|Variable||Cepheid, RR Lyrae|
|Test||Tolman surface brightness
||Einstein, Fermi, Curie, Mendeleev, Lawrence, Nobel
|Zone||Brillouin, (also see, List of Zones)|
|Universe||de Sitter, Lemaître
If anyone else is able to repeat that last one, I will be highly impressed. I would also like to point out that the Higgs boson may be the only phenomenon or concept that has two namesakes, since the term boson originally comes from Satyendra Bose! If you can think of anything else let me know and I’ll add it.
Pairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cooper
Focus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cassegrain, Nasmyth