Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Search challenge (2/4/15): Who else is in that family tree?

Family tree of Jesse. Chartres cathedral.
Sometimes you're lucky ...
and you're born into a family that has connections, lives in an interesting place.  Or perhaps you're born into a family has a few remarkable family members.  

Today's Search Challenge investigates one such family tree.  Your first challenge is to investigate the family of the brothers who first showed the existence of the piezoelectric effect. That's the physical effect behind many gas lighters installed on backyard barbecue grills, the quartz beating heart of many watches, and radar transponders.  Basically, when you squeeze certain crystals, they produce electricity that can be turned into sparks, or very slight mechanical movements that happen very precisely (as is the case for watches).  

It turns out that these brothers were part of a large, VERY interesting family that includes a number of Nobel prize winners. In fact, a remarkable number of Nobel prize winners.  

Today's questions are simple (#1), and slightly more complicated (#2). 

Caution:  You can easily spend hours and hours having fun with this.  I spent waaay too much time investigating the family tree.  This is a great jumping off point for hours of reading and investigation.  

1.  Who ELSE in the family worked in the sciences?  What areas are they best known for?  (And, for extra credit, who in this extended family had an affair with his PhD thesis advisor's wife? Just to keep things interesting, her granddaughter and his grandson were married years later.)  Can you draw a diagram to keep track of who's-who in this remarkable family? 
2.  It turns out that remarkable families seem to center on a particular theme or domain of interest.  The Bach family (for instance, Johann Sebastian, Carl Phillip Emmanuel, Johann Christoph Friedrich, etc etc) were synonymous with music from 1600 until 1800.  Can you find another remarkable family with 8 or more members who distinguished themselves in math?  (Or, if you prefer, some other area...)  

When you find your answer, be sure to tell us HOW you found the answer and post it into the comment thread.  What led you from clue-to-clue?  What questions did you ask yourself, and how did you answer them? 

(Note that we're all interested in what you really did, not what you think you should be doing.  If you asked someone, that's totally fine--just tell us!)  

Search on! 


  1. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers


    [piezoelectric effect discovery]

    The first experimental demonstration of a connection between macroscopic piezoelectric phenomena and crystallographic structure was published in 1880 by...

    [Pierre and Jacques Curie] in images found the next link.
    “It is easy to overlook those who have not the active support of influential persons.”--Marie Curie

    Remembering Tasha 3 rule: [Pierre curie,Jacques Curie, marie curie]

    This Month In Physics History

    [curie family nobel]

    Marie Curie’s Immediate Family Won a Total of Five Nobel Prizes

    Nobel Prize Facts There followed:

    Marie and Pierre Curie and the Discovery of Polonium and Radium

    [curie family genealogy]
    The Curie family tree

    [marie sklodowska genealogy]
    The Sklodowska Family Tree (Marie Curie) with movement

    [curie family expertise]

    Radioactivity and more

    [curie affair]

    CTRL- F "affair"

    [marie curie pierre langevin]


    1. Who ELSE in the family worked in the sciences? What areas are they best known for? (And, for extra credit, who in this extended family had an affair with his PhD thesis advisor's wife?

    A. Pierre Curie’s grandfather, Paul Étienne François Gustave, and father, Eugène, were physicians. Physics and Chemistry. Marie Sklodowska (Marie Curie) with Pierre Langevin

    Can you draw a diagram to keep track of who's-who in this remarkable family?

    The Curie family tree I didn't draw, but here it is.

    Question 2. I will work it later.

  2. 1.
    Via the Wikipedia article on Piezoelectricity I found the brothers names: Pierre and Jacques Curie.
    Google search on [pierre jacques curie genealogy tree ext:pdf] =>

    Google Image search on [curie family tree] =>

    The Curie's Family Tree... The curies were an extraordinary family.:

    Which Famous Scientist’s Family Has Won The Most Nobel Prizes?
    Answer: Marie Curie
    If amassing Nobel Prizes was a contest in and of itself, the Curie family would be world-class champions at it. The most famous scientist in the family is the matriarch Marie Curie herself, best known for her work with radioactivity and as the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physics (her first Nobel Prize was shared with her husband). In addition to winning the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics, she also won the 1911 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
    Further, her oldest daughter Irene and her husband Frédéric Joliot-Curie won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935. Her youngest daughter Eve’s husband, Henry Labouisse, accepted a Nobel Prize on behalf of UNICEF in 1965. The total accepted Nobel Prizes attributed to Curie and her extended family then, rests currently at five; quite the respectable showing for a family of prolific scientists.


    Google search [famous family mathematics brothers]
    Bernoulli family
    From Wikipedia:
    Niklaus Bernoulli had three sons, who (two of them) became the foundation of the dynasty of mathematicians: Two brothers; Jacob and Johann.
    In addition to those mentioned above, the Bernoulli family produced many notable artists and scientists, in particular a number of famous mathematicians in the 18th century.
    Johann’s three sons Nicolaus, Daniel and Johann II, and his two grandchildren Jacob II and Johann III, were all accomplished mathematicians and teachers..

    Google search [famous family scientists brothers]:
    A. Huxley family
    From Wikipedia:
    The Huxley family is a British family of which several members have excelled in scientific, medical, artistic, and literary fields. The family also includes members who occupied senior public positions in the service of the United Kingdom.
    The patriarch of the family was the zoologist and comparative anatomist Thomas Henry Huxley (referred to here as THH). THH's grandsons include Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World and Doors of Perception, his brother Julian Huxley, evolutionist and first director of UNESCO, and Nobel laureate physiologist Andrew Huxley.
    B. Darwin–Wedgwood family
    From Wikipedia:
    The Darwin–Wedgwood family is actually two interrelated English families, descended from the prominent 18th-century doctor, Erasmus Darwin, and Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the pottery firm, Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, the most notable member of which was Charles Darwin. The family contained at least ten Fellows of the Royal Society and several artists and poets (including the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams). Presented below are brief biographical sketches and genealogical information with links to articles on the members. The individuals are listed by year of birth and grouped into generations. The relationship to Francis Galton and his immediate ancestors is also given. Note the tree below does not include all descendants or even all prominent descendants.

  3. Question #1
    Query [genealogy tracing famous people] It’s likely that these families have been traced & documented.
    Query [piezoelectric] Wide net approach
    Result Pierre Currie

    Bio of Pierre Currie (Physics Nobel), Marie Currie (Physics,Chemistry Nobels) (wife), Jacques(Physics) (Brother) all Nobel winners

    Daughter Irene (Chemist Nobel) with husband Frederic Joliot

    Daughter Eve married Henry Labouisse (Nobel Peace)

    Image search Query [pierre currie marie currie]

    Query [nobel winner currie affair] which Currie had an affair? Marie Currie (widowed) to Paul Langevin
    Result Grandchildren Helene & Pierre married.

    1. Question #2
      Nobel Laureates
      Determined to find a table with family members winning Nobel prizes

      Result showing all Nobel winners

      Query “nobel prize by family” (lists seen of country, discipline, schools so perhaps by family as well)
      Result - Wikpediai Heading - Family Laureates -

      Query [family oriented mathematical genius] Expanding away from Nobel winners
      SERP The Bernouli Family

      Query [famous family geniuses]
      SERP 1-Book Genius The Natural History of Creativity By H. J. Eysenck Interesting discussion

      SERP 2 -Book - The Genetics of Genius -

    2. I just remembered a site we used for a previous challenge. The Mathematics Genealogy Project so I entered Bernoulli and got this result

      That lead me to Query [science genealogy project] finding this result

      Looking at all the links I can see this could open a huge list of possibilities. Perhaps not a family tree bute like the Bernoullis they likely can produce similar results.

  4. "Sometimes you're lucky ... "… I am not.
    but it appears something may be cutting off the roots of the family trees - 2of2, tl;dr, and seems fitfully scary; e.g.,
    We have what may be an extremely difficult problem with an unknown time to solve it, on which quite possibly the entire future of humanity depends. — Nick Bostrom oh, could apply that to multiple topics… and why is it said like it's a bad thing? besides the Queen isn't getting any more Corgis… all may be lost… at least in the realm of our experience… off to wring hands…>AI tree?
    I'm thinking they might know… afterall 2+2=3…
    "There's no fate…uhhh, pâté but what we make for ourselves." - Biff Reese, Kyle's math challenged brother

  5. piezoelectric discoverer American Physical Society has dandy biography of the Curie brothers.

    curie genealogy family history Another dandy article: Pierre Curie 1859-1906. Biography of the family. Includes the Family Tree Chart!

    Nobel winners using the aforementioned Chart produces Pierre 1903 physics which his wife Marie also received. Daughter Irene Nobelled 1935 chemistry. As did he husbnad 1935 also chemistry. Daughter Eve's husband Henri Labouisse nobelled 1965 peace. Irene's son in law Michel Langevin had an affair with her mother Marie.

    Paul Langevin, previously a doctoral student of Pierre Curie and later a lover of Marie Curie

    family famous for math

    turns up Bernoulli's had a lot of mathematically inclined kin.

    This is indeed a fascinating Challenge. The guts of the response took only a few minutes but, of course, reading up on a lot of these people took a bit longer

    jon tU

  6. A search in Google Advanced: family history, genealogy Pierre and Jacques Curie, Pierre Curie, Jacques Curie
    led to March 1880: The Curie Brothers Discover Piezoelectricity
    led to The Forgotten Curies
    led to Paul Langevin, Wikipedia

    A search in Google Advanced:family talent, OR talent OR gift, OR mathematics, OR "Nobel Prize" "eight members"
    led to Does Exceptional Talent Run in Families
    led to Darwin-Wedgwood Family in Wikipedia

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