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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

0
votes
0answers
36 views

Since when do humans know about electric charge? [migrated]

We know that the electron was discovered in 1897 by J.J. Thomson. So was the knowledge about charge, current, electricity and all those terms related to it which we study today discovered after it, or ...
0
votes
0answers
55 views

Understanding Millikan's oil-drop experiment

This is quoted from A.P. French's Newtonian Mechanicsabout Millikan's oil-drop experiment: The droplets randomly produced in a mist of oil vapor are of various sizes. The ones that Millikan found ...
4
votes
1answer
65 views

Historical Survey of Statistical Mechanics

Statistical mechanics is a subject with a particularly rich history. I think of the early debates of Boltzmann and Loschmidt, the rather confusing differences between the approaches of Gibbs and ...
1
vote
4answers
63 views

Why is charge of the electron negative?

How did scientists figure out that the charge of the electron was indeed negative? I know how the cathode ray tube experiment works, but how did Thompson know that the plate that the cathode ray beam ...
2
votes
2answers
123 views

How did Planck derive his formula $E=hf$?

Some time ago I asked my quantum physics lecturer the question: How did Planck derive his formula, the Planck–Einstein relation $$E=hf$$ with constant of proportionality $h$, the Planck ...
1
vote
1answer
79 views

When was the first time that superconducting quasiparticles were called Majorana fermions?

Since a number of years, the field of superconductivity has a growing obsession with Majorana fermions. I wonder how far back we can go: When was the first time that superconducting quasiparticles ...
0
votes
0answers
18 views

Physicists who were criticised for their works but later celebrated by the people [migrated]

"Life of Galileo Galilei was not simple, predictable, or rational. Being as great as he was, Galileo, for example, did not accept Kepler's laws of planetary motion. At the same time, he believed with ...
1
vote
2answers
56 views

How do we know that the Law of Cooling is true?

According to James Stewart's Calculus book (exercise 14, page 609), Newton’s Law of Cooling states that the rate of cooling of an object is proportional to the temperature difference between the ...
0
votes
2answers
61 views

How did the concept of energy evolve with the years?

The concept of energy is quite common today but this was not the case before. As far as I know, even Newton, for example, didn't use this concept and Liebnitz just noticed that $mv^2$ was conserved ...
7
votes
0answers
55 views

Was there a period of doubt in the history of the Higgs mechanism? [migrated]

As the LHC begins its second run this year, the physics community seems to be significantly split between those who are confident that SUSY exists and those who believe it doesn't, given its failure ...
1
vote
2answers
35 views

When was Electromagnetically Induced Transparency first introduced?

The oldest paper I know regarding this topic was published in 1997 by Stephen E. Harris. But I am not sure if he is the first to introduce this idea. Could you tell me when and by who did introduce ...
1
vote
1answer
60 views

Physics involved in the DNA-structure discovery

In 1962 Francis Crick, James Dewey Watson and Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins won the Nobel Prize: For their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for ...
4
votes
2answers
299 views

Before Einstein came up with General Relativity, were there serious reasons to doubt Newton's theory?

Before Einstein came up with General Relativity, was there any serious reason to doubt Newton's theory (and its various developments)? I only know about the discrepancy in Mercury's orbit, which may ...
1
vote
1answer
51 views

Engravings in “Wandering the Immeasurable” sculpture outside the CERN globe? [closed]

Does anyone have a PDF or a file that shows all of the engravings on the "Wandering the Immeasurable" sculpture by Gayle Hermick outside of the CERN globe of science and initiative?
2
votes
1answer
135 views

What was Feynman's famous formula?

In Welton(1983), Memories of Feynman, Welton mentions two formulas which he denotes as Feynman's Famous Formula (FFF) and FFF #2. Which famous formulas is he talking about? Is he maybe talking about ...
0
votes
1answer
47 views

Have scientists always known that the Sun was not a fuel+air system?

Astronomy is far older than nuclear physics. So there was a long time in which fire was a reasonable explanation for the sun burning. Has any scientist figured out the sun cannot possibly be a normal ...
3
votes
1answer
77 views

How did special relativity change physicists views on the two prominent inverse square laws (ie Newton grav and Coulomb's law)?

On page 107 in Hartle's Gravity -- An introduction to Einstein's General Relativity, he says the following With the success of special relativity it became apparent that the Newtonian theory of ...
3
votes
0answers
39 views

What are the alternative explanations for the indirect evidence of gravitational waves?

Even though the consensus is that gravitational waves almost definitely exist, it has been well documented that there is no direct evidence. My question; what are the alternatives to gravitational ...
0
votes
0answers
54 views

What kind of thing did Lummer and Wien use as a 'black body'?

When I was reading about the experiments on the black body, I was wondering what such a black body would look like. When I google for the black body used during these experiments by Wien and Lummer, I ...
1
vote
0answers
32 views

When did the casual definition of the three laws of thermodynamics first appear? [closed]

Who is credited as the source, and when were the laws first stated in this form? (1st Law) You can't win. (2nd Law) You can't break even. (3rd Law) You can't get out of the game.
4
votes
2answers
140 views

What made Kepler think that orbits are not circular which came to be elliptical?

Kepler formulated his laws in a sort of time where human began to believe in heliocentric universe and telescope was not yet invented/ discovered. So what made Kepler think that orbits aren't ...
4
votes
3answers
147 views

Why do we need matrices in the Dirac equation?

Consider the following equation: \begin{equation} \nabla^2 - \frac{1}{c^2}\frac{\partial^2}{\partial t^2} = \left(A \partial_x + B \partial_y + C \partial_z + \frac{i}{c}D \partial_t\right)\left(A ...
2
votes
1answer
68 views

Gauss's Law of Electric Field how it actually works? & How Gauss derived it?

I want to know how Gauss derived his equation of Electric Field. Did he derive it from Coulomb's law? I don't think so. Please tell me some details about how this law works? inside a Gaussian ...
1
vote
1answer
44 views

How did steady-state universe deal with entropy?

Until the 1960's the general consensus was that the universe is infinite years old (steady-state). The second law of thermodynamics says that entropy always increases, so we'd expect that within a ...
1
vote
1answer
56 views

What was Einstein's 1923 Nature paper “The Theory of the Affine Field” about?

After his divorce with Mileva, Einstein published a paper in Nature entitled "The Theory of the Affine Field." Allegedly it confused renowned scientists. Why? What did the paper accomplish? What was ...
6
votes
0answers
69 views

How did Kepler infer three-dimensional positions from Tycho Brahe's data?

This has bugged me for some time. Tycho Brahe's data on planetary observations, presumably, consisted of the direction in which a planet was observed at a given date and time. What techniques did ...
2
votes
1answer
58 views

How did Kepler formulate his second law from data?

It's amazing that Kepler derived his three laws emperically and then Newton rederived them from his own laws of motion. Its conceivable how Kepler derived the first and third laws, but the second law? ...
3
votes
0answers
44 views

Why is an Ampere an SI unit? [duplicate]

It has always annoyed me that an Ampere is an SI unit, rather than a Coulomb. Why is this the case? Was current discovered first historically? I believe that the standards were published in the 1960s, ...
2
votes
1answer
140 views

How did Einstein arrive at the right hand side of his general relativity tensor equation?

It seems Einstein postulated the right hand side of his field equations… I see in books that tell the story of how he arrived at what to put on the right hand side of his tensor equations, the physics ...
1
vote
0answers
62 views

Why did Heaviside eliminate the magnetic potential from Maxwell's Equations?

Maxwell's original equations had magnetic potential, but Heaviside eliminated this variable. What was the reason for Heaviside's removal of the magnetic potential?
4
votes
1answer
245 views

What is reduced momentum in “A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field” by James Clerk Maxwell?

I was reading Maxwell's paper titled [A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field][1]. In part 2, section 3 ("Dynamical Illustration of Reduced Momentum"), Maxwell discusses a mechanical ...
-1
votes
2answers
178 views

What's the symbol behind Einstein's head? [closed]

What's the symbol called that's behind and to the right of Einstein's head in this picture? Bonus if you can tell me what the whole formula is!
3
votes
0answers
65 views

When did people start to regard “time” as a physical quantity? [closed]

I was trying to figure out how people came to know about time then I realized that people started keeping track of time to know about sunset and sunrise. But I can't figure out how did time came into ...
3
votes
2answers
169 views

How were the ratios of distances between planets and the Sun first calculated?

I was reading some literature and I found that long before the actual distances between other planets and Earth or distance between Sun and Earth were known, physicists had calculated the ratios ...
2
votes
0answers
81 views

If the field concept was invented by Faraday, then how did Newton interpret the $g$?

This is Newton's law of universal gravitation. $F=G\frac{m_1.m_2}{r^2}$ Gravitational field $g$ is derived from this formula $g=G\frac{m_1}{r^2}$ This is named gravitational "field" strength. If ...
5
votes
3answers
193 views

What theoretical predictions took the longest to be experimentally confirmed? [closed]

Looking forward to Einstein's general relativity centennial in 2015, I was thinking about how cool it would be if LIGO detects gravitational waves in 1916 (centennial of Einstein's "weak field" paper) ...
2
votes
6answers
587 views

On the foundations of quantum physics

Quantum physics has to be validated by experiments. But experiments are to be interpreted in the context of quantum physics. Isn'it like a snake biting its own tail? For example, using a scanning ...
5
votes
2answers
248 views

How did the operators come about?

This relates a little bit to my previous question (Experimentally, what categorizes a measurement as corresponding to a certain observable?), but it's different in a way and more historical. One of ...
3
votes
1answer
101 views

Einstein's space-time theory [closed]

I'm a high school student who never studied any relativity before, but I'm just wondering what was THE question that Einstein asked himself before going into this field. I knew he has done lots of ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

How did Rutherford's gold foil disprove the plum pudding model?

What stops one of the two following scenarios from happening, consistent with the plum pudding model? The $\alpha$ particle, attracted by the electrons on the outer shell of the pudding, orbits ...
0
votes
0answers
58 views

debates on “infinity” in contemporary physics?

During the seventeenth century many philosopher-scientists, such as Leibniz, were preoccupied with the philosophy and mathematics of infinity. Famous problem were the "labyrinth of the continuum," ...
3
votes
0answers
96 views

History of QFT after 1973 [closed]

Where I can read about history of development quantum field theory after 1973? I'm interested in historical reviews, like as first chapter of the Weinberg's book.
3
votes
1answer
69 views

Maxwell's Inspiration to think about fields

I was looking at a Wikipedia article which had the following statement Atomists, notably James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann, applied [...]. In modern literature Maxwell is often thought ...
2
votes
1answer
45 views

How did Planck use the concept of statistical entropy in trying to understand the meaning of his own law?

I was reading Introducing Quantum Theory: A graphic guide (by J.P.McEvoy & Oscar Zarate) and came across Planck's predicament of understanding his very own law that accurately explained the ...
0
votes
0answers
29 views

Everything moves at the speed of light? [duplicate]

Whatever happened to that idea? Presumably it came from a concept known as Zitterbewegung. As wiki says, a theoretical rapid motion of elementary particles, in particular electrons, that obey the ...
1
vote
0answers
32 views

What is the history of the multichannel analyzer?

I'm doing a presentation over multichannel analyzers and one of the topics is "A Brief History of Multichannel Analyzers" and I am having great difficulty finding anything on the subject. I have done ...
2
votes
1answer
46 views

Prerequisites for Ptolemy's Almagest

I hope this is a valid question to ask on this website (since it's astronomy and not e.g. mechanics, I wasn't so sure). What prerequisites are needed for fully understanding Ptolemy's Almagest. Fully ...
5
votes
2answers
195 views

How exactly does applying the Equipartition Theorem to radiation leads to UV catastrophe?

I'm reading a book by George Gamow, "Thirty years that shook Physics" and have trouble understanding his way of describing the UV catastrophe. In a first part he points out that applying the ...
4
votes
0answers
52 views

Where do Newton's laws come from? [duplicate]

I have studied physics for about three years at university but after these years I still don't know how Newton derived his laws. I know that he tried to find the best model to describe the motions ...
29
votes
2answers
5k views

What are Stephen Hawking's main contributions to research-level physics?

Without a doubt, Stephen Hawking is the most famous living scientist; indeed, his public visibility in all of history seems to be rivaled only by Einstein and easily eclipses giants of physics such as ...