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Geiger: What Does It Mean?

Although you may have never heard it before, the word “Geiger” can have many different meanings. From names to places to devices, here are some of the most common meanings for geiger:


Geiger is a classic French or German last name. Geiger actually means “violin player” in German, although people with the name Geiger have been much more than just that. Over 25 famous people in history have gone by the name Geiger, from writers, pilots, artists, and baseball players, all the way to botanists, chemists, climatologists, and sociologists. The name Geiger has travelled all over the globe, including Austria, America, and Australia. 


Geiger, Alabama is a little-known town in Sumter County, with a population of just over 150 people. This small town has a total land area of one single square mile. Although it is tiny, it has birthed a couple notable people. Both Jimmie Rodgers, a country yodeler in the early 1900s, and Bobby Williams, a player in the National Football League, were born and raised in Geiger, Alabama. 

For workers at NASA, Geiger holds more meaning than one small town in Alabama. Geiger is also the name of a lunar impact crater on the far side of the Moon. It lies just north of the crater Cyrano, and snug in between the two large walled plains Keeler and Gagarin. Named after Johannes H. W. Geiger, it is 34 km in diameter, and lies at 14.6 degrees S, 158.5 degrees E. Subsequently, there are four smaller satellite craters named after Geiger: K, L, R, and Y, based on their midpoint proximity.


Geiger was such a common name in the field of science that many inventions and theories have been named after it. 

The Geiger counter, also known as Geiger-Müller counter, is a device used to detect radiation. This tool is widely used in experimental physics and the nuclear industry to measure local radiation levels and keep workers safe. 

The Geiger-Mardsen experiment, also known as the Rutherford gold foil experiment, was conducted from 1908 to 1913 by physicists Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden. In these experiments, they discovered that every atom consisted of a nucleus that contained most of its mass and all of its positive charge. This discovery was groundbreaking for the field of physics, and still stands today as one of the most influential experiments of our time.

In nuclear science, the Geiger-Nuttall law plays a very important role. It states that the rate of decay of a radioactive isotope relates to the energy of the alpha particles emitted. This allows physicists to measure and calculate the decay constant and half-life of a radioactive particle. Although that may not seem important, it has immense implications for nuclear energy storage and other radioactive materials used in society.


Geiger has held a name in a few other walks of life as well.

Cordia sebestena, or the Geiger tree, is a shrub-like tree in the borage family. Native to the American tropics, it can be found in Central America and the Greater Antilles, all the way up to southern Florida. It can grow up to 30 feet at full maturity with multiple trunks up to 12 inches in diameter. It blooms vibrant orange flowers throughout the year, typically in the spring and summer. 

In the United States Navy, USNS Geiger was a transport ship named after General Roy Geiger. He bravely commanded the Marine Force Pacific Fleet from July 1945 to November 1946.

Geiger is also a lesser-known teenage Marvel Comics character from the Avengers: The Initiative series. The first issue was released in 2007, and it later became an ongoing series until 2010 with the end of the “Siege” storyline in issue #35.