- The Photoelectric Effect
Light falling on a metal plate can lead to emission of electrons, called the "photoelectric effect". Experiments show for this to happen the frequency of the light needs to be above a threshold depending on the material. This was explained in 1905 by Albert Einstein who suggested that the light should be thought of as quanta whose energy is proportional to the frequency of the light, the constant of proportionality being Planck's constant. Einstein received the Nobel Prize in 1921 "for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect."
Recommended reading: Our post on the Photoelectric Effect and the Nobel Prize speech from 1921.
- The Casimir Effect
This effect was first predicted by Hendrik Casimir who explained that, as a consequence of quantum field theory, boundary conditions that may for example be set by conducting (uncharged!) plates, can result in measurable forces. This Casimir force is very weak and can be measured only at very small distances.
Recommended reading: Our post on the Casimir Effect and R. Jaffe's The Casimir Effect and the Quantum Vacuum.
- The Doppler Effect
The Doppler effect, named after Christian Doppler, is the change in frequency of a wave when the source moves relative to the observer. The most common example is that of an approaching ambulance, where the pitch of the signal is higher when it moves towards you than when it moves away from you. This does not only happen for sound waves, but also for light and leads to red- or blueshifts respectively.
Recommended reading: The Physics Classroom Tutorial.
- The Hall Effect
Electrons in a conducting plate that is brought into a magnetic field are subject to the Lorentz force. If the plate is oriented perpendicular to the magnetic field, a voltage can be measured between opposing ends of the plate which can be used to determine the strength of the magnetic field. First proposed by Edwin Hall, this voltage is called the Hall voltage, and the effect is called the Hall effect. If the plate is very thin, the temperature low, and the magnetic field very strong, a quantization of the conductivity can be measured, which is also known as the quantum Hall effect.
Recommended reading: Our post on The Quantum Hall Effect.
- The Meissner-Ochsenfeld Effect
The Meissner-Ochsenfeld effect, discovered by Walther Meissner and his postdoc Robert Ochsenfeld in 1933, is the expulsion of a magnetic field from a superconductor. Most spectacularly, this can be used to let magnets levitate above superconductors since their field lines can not enter the superconductor. I assure you this has absolutely nothing to do with Yogic flying.
Recommended watching: Amazing Physics on YouTube.
- Aharonov–Bohm Effect
A charged particle in an electromagnetic field acquires a phase shift from the potential of the background field. This phase shift is observable in interference patterns and has been experimentally confirmed. The relevant point is that it's the potential that causes the phase, not the field. Before the Aharonov–Bohm effect one could question the physical reality of the potential.
- The Hawking Effect
Based on a semi-classical treatment of quantum fields in a black hole geometry, Stephen Hawking showed in 1975 that black holes emit thermal radiation with a temperature inverse to the black hole's mass. This emission process of the black hole is called the Hawking Effect. This result has lead to a great progress in understanding the physics of black holes, and is still subject of research, see recent post at Cosmic Variance.
Recommended reading: Black Hole Thermodynamics by David Harrison and P.K. Townsend's lecture notes on Black Holes.
- The Zeeman Effect/Stark Effect
In the presence of a magnetic field, energy levels of electrons in atomic orbits that are usually degenerated (i.e. equal) can obtain different values, depending on their quantum number. As a consequence, spectral lines corresponding to transitions between these energy levels can split into several lines in the presence of a static magnetic field. This effect is named after the Dutch physicist Pieter Zeeman, who was awarded the 1902 physics Nobel prize for its discovery. The Zeeman effect is an important tool to measure magnetic fields in astronomy. For some historical reasons, the plain vanilla pattern of line splitting is called the Anomalous Zeeman effect.
A related effect, the splitting of spectral lines in strong electric fields, is called the Stark Effect, after Johannes Stark.
Recommended reading: HyperPhysics on the Zeeman effect and the Sodium doublet.
- The Mikheyev-Smirnov-Wolfenstein Effect
The Mikheyev-Smirnov-Wolfenstein effect, commonly called MSW effect, is an in-medium modification of neutrino oscillation that can for example take place in the sun or the earth. It it a resonance effect that depends on the density of the medium and can significantly effect the conversion of one flavor into another. The effect is named after Stanislav Mikheyev, Alexei Smirnov and Lincoln Wolfenstein.
Recommended reading: The MSW effect and Solar Neutrinos.
- The Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Effect
The Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect, first described by Rashid Sunyaev and Yakov Zel'dovich, is the result of high energy electrons distorting the cosmic microwave background radiation through inverse Compton scattering, in which some of the energy of the electrons is transferred to the low energy CMB photons. Observed distortions of the cosmic microwave background spectrum are used to detect the density perturbations of the universe. Dense clusters of galaxies have been observed with use of this effect.
Recommended reading: Max Planck Society press release Crafoord Prize 2008 awarded to Rashid Sunyaev and The Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect by Mark Birkinshaw.
- Bonus: The Pauli Effect
Named after the Austrian theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli, the Pauli Effect is well known to every student of physics. It describes a spontaneous failure of technical equipment in the presence of theoretical physicists, who should therefore never be allowed on the vacuum pumps, lasers or oscilloscopes.
Recommended reading: Our post Happy Birthday Wolfgang Pauli.
[This is a slightly updated and recycled post that originally appeared in March 2008.]