Joseph Erlanger was born in 1874 in St. Francisco. In 1899, he was qualified at Johns Hopkins University to practice medicine and engaged in the research of blood pressure. Later on, he headed the Physiology Department at the Schools of Medicine of Wisconsin and Washington Universities.
In 1944, Joseph Erlanger and his colleague, Herbert Gasser, were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology “for their discoveries relating to the highly differentiated functions of single nerve fibers”.
Erlanger and Gasser were the first to succeed in performing a detailed measurement of the action potential of a signal nerve cell, by means of an oscilloscope device built by them from a cathode ray tube and an amplified.
Their measurements exposed 3 main types of nerve fibers, and also that the velocity of the electrical current varies according to a direct relation with the width of the fiber. Inasmuch as the fiber is wider, the velocity is increased.
The experiments conducted by Erlanger and Gasser as from 1921 served as a basis to the modern knowledge on action potentials in nerves and were very important in the understanding of various functions of nerve tissues.
Joseph Erlanger died in 1965.
Herbert Gasser was born in 1888 in Wisconsin, USA. He received his medical degree in 1915 from Johns Hopkins University and was professor of pharmacology and physiology at Washington and Cornell Universities. From 1935, he directed the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research.
In 1944, Herbert Gasser and his colleague Joseph Erlanger were jointly awarded the Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine “For their discoveries, relating to the highly differentiated functions of single nerve fibers.”
Gasser and Erlanger were the first to succeed in performing a detailed measurement of the action-potential of a single nerve cell, using an amplified oscilloscope that they built.
Their measurements revealed three types of nerve fibers, as well as a direct relation between the fiber’s thickness and the speed of the electrical signal passing along it. Inasmuch as the fiber is wider, the velocity is increased.
Gasser and Erlanger’s experiments formed the cornerstone of modern knowledge on neural action potentials and were vital to our understanding of the different functions of the nerve system.
Herbert Gasser passed away in 1963.
Isidor Rabi was born in 1898 in Rymanow, then Austro-Hungary, to-day Poland. When he was one year old, his family immigrated to the United States. His parents were extremely orthodox and hoped that he would become ordained as a rabbi, but he showed an interest in technology and science.
He began to study chemistry and later physics, and in 1928 was awarded his doctorate from Columbia University. After receiving his doctorate, he left for Europe to work with some of the world’s greatest physicists who were developing the quantum theory. He later returned to Columbia University and in 1940 was elected to the American Academy of Science.
During World War Two, Rabi turned down an invitation to participate in the project for the development of the atomic bomb, and after the war he was active in support of civilian supervision of nuclear power.
Isidor Rabi was awarded the 1944 Nobel prize in physics, “For his resonance method for recording the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei”, a method that provided valuable information for research on the detection of magnetic infection of crystals. This method is also used in medicine and biology for the identification of materials in tissues.
When he was awarded the Nobel prize, it was said that he had “established radio contact with the sub-nuclear world“.
Isidor Rabi passed away in 1988.