The historical development of physics concepts: who did what and when.

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Norsk Hydro and heavy water - what was the perceived threat?

Through various raids and acts of sabotage during WWII, the Allies succeeded in preventing Germany from coming into possession of large quantities of heavy water produced by the Norsk Hydro plant in ...
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0answers
39 views

Concepts in Gabriel Kron's later papers

Gabriel Kron was an important research electrical engineer known for applying differential geometry and algebraic topology to the study of electrical system. Towards the end of his career he published ...
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1answer
53 views

How did Fizeau make his famous speed-of-light experiment?

I heard once in a TED talk how Fizeau measured the speed of light in the 19th century. Here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8UFGu2M2gM You can read about it here in Wikipedia: ...
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124 views

Story about a mathematician, a dinner party, and the three-body problem

I remember dimly hearing a story, coincidentally also at a dinner party, and I was trying recently to track the details down with no success. I was hoping someone here might have also heard this story ...
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0answers
48 views

Physics classics [closed]

I would like some help to find good and detailed books on the history of physics. Which are the classics in this domain? Which are your favorite?
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2answers
31 views

What are the analogies between pitch and color? [closed]

I suppose there are some similarities to be made, what with sound vs light waves and I further suppose that lots of other people have thought of this before. When did these similarities (whatever they ...
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1answer
57 views

Where does either Bohr or Heisenberg mention the idea of the wave function collapsing?

Could someone reference a paragraph written either by Heisenberg or Bohr where they mention the idea of the wave function collapsing?
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2answers
68 views

Who proposed the bulk-edge correspondence principle?

Who proposed the bulk-edge correspondence principle? The principle is often quoted in counting the number of zero energy states localized on the interface between two insulators with distinct band ...
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3answers
127 views

How was Newton able to guess that gravitational force is inversely proportional to distance squared?

This question is puzzling me since I learnt about the gravitation law in school. Why did Newton guess/assume that gravitational force is inversely proportional to the square of distance? Did he ...
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75 views

Recent missed opportunities à la Freeman Dyson

There is an excellent paper by Freeman Dyson from 1972 (here) and therein the author cites old talks by Hilbert (here) and Minkowski (chapter 2 here) speaking about similar topics, namely how ...
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2answers
90 views

Is a “shift in the meaning” of Accuracy and Precision occurring?

Accuracy and precision are among the most fundamental concepts in experimental physics, and, I always believed, completely unambiguous. Recently I found that the Wikipedia article on Accuracy and ...
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2answers
58 views

Is fission reaction considered natural or artificial? [closed]

As I learned, nuclear fission doesn't occur without the control of a human made nuclear reactor, by hitting a neutron to a fissile isotope. Thus, the fission reaction is considedred as a part of ...
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1answer
99 views

E&M and geometry - a historical perspective

Recently, I was contemplating the beautiful formulation of electromagnetism (specifically Maxwell's equations) in terms of differential forms: $$F=\mathrm{d} A\implies \mathrm{d}F=0 ...
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2answers
395 views

Why is the second the SI base unit for time?

Specifically, during the moves towards Le Système international d'unités in the 18th and 19th centuries, why didn't anyone attempt to move us away from the definition of there being 24 hours in a day? ...
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1answer
75 views

George Green's definition of Green's function

This is a curious question about the way George Green could have defined his Green's function. All the definitions I see have only Dirac-delta $\delta(x−x′)$ function as their source on the RHS. But ...
6
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1answer
183 views

History of the names “Feynman-gauge” & “Landau-gauge”. How arised & how settled?

Warning: Students, stay away from antiquities. The aim to learn is to survive. Hi. Today the nomenclatures Feynman gauge and Landau gauge seem established, but could you explain the history? It's ...
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3answers
100 views

Special relativity and imaginary coefficient of the time coordinate

I read somewhere that part of Minkowski's inspiration for his formulation of Minkowski space was Poincare's observation that time could be understood as a fourth spatial dimension with an imaginary ...
2
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0answers
38 views

Newton and the change of mass with time [duplicate]

I always thought that $force$ is $mass * acceleration$. Well, that's what I learnt at school a while back. Now, I have been enlightened that force is in fact the rate of change of momentum. What ...
6
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1answer
66 views

Is there is a specific original source where the “quantum operator ordering issue” is stated?

During my research, when the quantum operator ordering ambiguity is mentioned is deemed usually in the likes of "the well-known problem of ordering in quantum mechanics". However, could anybody point ...
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0answers
28 views

Difference between action-at-a-distance and a field according to Maxwell?

My question is more on a historical note that involves Maxwell’s equations. Besides the information that I have obtained from textbooks, I am mainly getting it from History of Maxwell's Equations and ...
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3answers
135 views

Didn't anybody see an apple falling before Isaac Newton? [closed]

We all know that Isaac Newton developed the gravitational theory (as is often told) when an apple fell on his head. But my question is, didn't anyone before him notice it?
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1answer
84 views

Newton's original proof of gravitation for non-point-mass objects

Suppose we have two bodies, one very large (Earth), and one very small (a cannon ball). If the cannon ball is some distance away from the Earth, to find out the force produced on the cannot ball, we ...
17
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3answers
573 views

The path integral and Feynman diagrams

This question is somewhat of a historical one, but it also contains some physics. I am curious to find how exactly the concept of Feynman diagrams arose (I assume from Feynman's path integral)? The ...
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1answer
31 views

Predicting Faraday's law, Changing Fields

Are there other equations that we can predict Faraday's law from? I know that each of Maxwell's equations are 'fundamental', but I feel like Gauss's law and Ampere's Law are very "nice", and for some ...
3
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1answer
62 views

Velocity distribution in ion source (electron bombardment) for Bainbridge mass spectrometer

Consider the following schematics of a Bainbridge mass spectrometer (Source: ...
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0answers
48 views

How was physics taught in the past? [closed]

Were there physics teaching aids used in the past? Or did professors just basically follow the textbook the students read? In other words: How was physics was taught in the past?
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5answers
357 views

Infinities in Newtons law of gravity (for point particles)

Newtons law of gravity for two particles of mass $m_1$ and $m_2$ is: $G\frac{m_1.m_2}{r^2}$. Supposing that the particles are point particles then gravitional attraction will bring them closer ...
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2answers
53 views

Origin of the word Permittivity

Who coined the word "permittivity"? It appears that first usage was in 1887. Please cite your source.
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42 views

History of Physics books [closed]

I would like some book reference regarding the history of physics. I'm a civil engineering student, and I want to have some basics on the type of developments regarding my field of specialization ...
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6answers
1k views

Which experiment gave scientists reason to believe nuclear fission/fusion produced energy?

Every piece of knowledge in science has a beginning lying in someone's experiment. I would like to know which experiment gave scientists the reason to believe nuclear fission/fusion existed and was ...
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0answers
46 views

Dingle vs. Bondi: Twin Paradox Debate on BBC radio?

Herbert Dingle and H. Bondi debated the twin paradox on BBC radio before 1971. Does anyone have a link to the audio of this debate? thanks
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40 views

Any photon colliders in the past?

People have been thinking about a photon-photon collider (see this and this) as an add-on or to supplement the ILC, the next generation linear collider. My question is, have there been any ...
5
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3answers
365 views

Why didn't we replace our SI units with a better system? [closed]

Intro It seems to me that the SI units we use today are nothing but the result of a historical 'coincidence'. I recently began researching about natural (absolute) systems of units, which are ...
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1answer
114 views

Definition of metre

We know that 1 meter is the distance travelled by light in vacuum within a time interval of 1/299,792,458 second. My question is why we didn't take a simpler number like 1/300,000.000 or why not just ...
4
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1answer
163 views

Did Maxwell invent the math to describe the ideas of electromagnetism?

Did he invent surface and line integrals, or did they already exist when he formulated his equations. If they did, already exist, how did they come about in pure math?
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45 views

Were Maxwell's equations first formulated by McCullough?

Some years ago, I heard a talk about a an Irish or Scottish physicist named McCullough who had formulated Maxwell's equations several years before Maxwell. This fellow was recognized for his work, ...
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2answers
144 views

Alpha particle deflection by 180 degree in Rutherford's gold foil experiment

Did some of the aplha particles back trace their path after hitting the gold foil ? (Turn by 180 degrees.) If so, how were they detected ?
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0answers
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Helmholtz's “Ueber die Bewegungsgleichungen der Elektricität für ruhende leitende Körper” in English?

Is Helmholtz's 1870 paper "Ueber die Bewegungsgleichungen der Elektricität für ruhende leitende Körper," Journal für die reine und angewandte Mathematik 72:57-129 translated into English anywhere? ...
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1answer
62 views

Why so much geometry in principia and others

I was recently reading 'On the the shoulders of giants' by stephen hawking and looked at many physics(mechanics) problems solved by Copernicus,Newton etc. why is there so much of geometry used by ...
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2answers
58 views

Could Charles-Augustin de Coulomb measure the charge in Coulombs?

Did Charles-Augustin de Coulomb know: Coulomb's constant Coulomb (as a unit) if not then what was the first time it was measured?
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2answers
309 views

Where does this term “shell” with prefix “on-/off-” come from?

Is there some historical reasons or is there a specific reason behind it? This question is connected to: Why on-shell vs. off-shell matters?
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1answer
141 views

Lorentz's Amsterdam Proceedings 12:986 (1904) paper?

I am looking for this paper by H. A. Lorentz: Amsterdam Proceedings 12 (1904) 986. (See also Arch. Neér. Sciences Exactes et Naturelles 25 (1882) 363.) I have also seen it cited using the ...
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1answer
72 views

Why does milli- mean 1/1000 [closed]

I suppose this is also an English question, but I'll ask it here first. Why does the milli- prefix mean 1/1000 when it sounds so much like million? According to the internet, this dates back to the ...
5
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1answer
60 views

How did Lyman discover his series?

How did Lyman discover his series in hydrogen atom? How did he know that the final energy level is the first level and not the second or the third or etc.? Or how did the other scientists know which ...
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0answers
58 views

What is the event in history where iterated functions became appropriate for modeling physics?

Wolfram as well as Aldrovandi and Freitas 1 maintain that iterated functions $f^t(x)$ are a valid alternative to PDEs for modelling physics. Instead of just citing 1, I want to be able to cite the ...
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1answer
58 views

How big was the first transistor?

The first working point-contact transistor made in 1947 by Bell Labs. I'm looking for specific dimensions, all I've been able to find is "Fits in the palm of your hand".
3
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1answer
220 views

Why have $n$, $\ell$, $m_\ell$, $m_s$ been picked as quantum number symbols $\mathbf{\text{in this order}}$?

I’m learning about electron configurations and don’t quite understand why $n$, $\ell$, $m_\ell$, $m_s$ have been picked as symbols for the quantum numbers. As far as I understand it, the principal ...
2
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0answers
136 views

How did the scientific community receive Einstein's theories when he published them? [closed]

By now, we have had multiple indications through observations and experiments that Einstein's theories on general and special relativity are correct. We recently had our second observation of ...
2
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1answer
86 views

Lennard-Jones induced pseudo-molecules

It can be shown that the Lennard-Jones potential - which describes the interaction between particles in non-ideal gases - gives rise to pseudo-molecules: after a triple "collision" of three ...
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Why isn't general relativity the obvious thing to try after special relativity?

To preface my question, I ask this as a mathematics student, so I don't have a very good sense of how physicists think. Here is the historical context I'm imagining (in particular taking into account ...