Ernst Mach, Austrian physicist

Ernst Mach, Austrian physicist

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Credit: EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Ernst Mach (1838-1916), Austrian physicist and philosopher. Mach made important contributions to the understanding of the Doppler effect. He also proposed, and experimentally confirmed, that shock waves took the form of a cone with the projectile at the apex. Experiments in airflow led to the Mach angle and Mach number (ratio of a projectile's speed to the speed of sound) and thus sonic and supersonic speed measurements. He also discovered how the organs of the inner ear sensed balance. Mach's philosophy of science influenced many 19th and 20th century scientists, including Einstein.

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