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

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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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261 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
124 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
52 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 ...
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1answer
39 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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49 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
48 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".
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36 views

Biographical question on Newton [migrated]

It is said that Isaac Newton, at the age of 23, came home and made his famous discoveries. Who sponsored him? Or did he farm while doing his research?
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1answer
152 views

Why have $n$, $\ell$, $m_\ell$, $m_s$ been picked as quantum number symbols *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 ...
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91 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 ...
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1answer
62 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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2answers
273 views

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 ...
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47 views

Actions at a distance vs. contact interaction

The ancestors could not imagine an action at a distance (in German: "Fernwirkung"). Today physicists don't take serious its opposite anymore (in German: "Kontaktwechselwirkung"). So my first question ...
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1answer
64 views

Electrons skip randomly around their orbits

I read where the electron (as well as a few other particles) skips around in its orbit randomly rather than move around the orbit smoothly. This effect has been repeatedly observed in the laboratory ...
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4answers
80 views

Newtonian physics vs Special relativity - what is the most “relative”?

This might be a question purely of words and the meaning of them but isn't Newtonian physics more "relative" than Einstein's Special relativity? Newtonian physics predicts that laws of momentum & ...
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0answers
18 views

Why does Leyden jars have a high breakdown voltage

I have often heared, that Leyden jars are used because they have a high breakdown voltage. For that reason the are used for example in Whimshurst machines. But what is the physical reason that they ...
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2answers
52 views

How do you know which atoms are in a specific piece of matter?

If you have a piece of matter in front of you, how can you know of which atoms it consists? And starting from nothing, how can I discover all the elements (or just a lot of them) of the periodic ...
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1answer
77 views

How did Kepler arrive at his laws?

How did Kepler arrive at his laws? If one already knows the distances to the planets (and the eccentricity of the orbits etc.) it is understandable how one might proceed to establish the second and ...
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1answer
93 views

Electrostatics-Coulomb's Law

Coulomb's Law is an experimental result $$F=k_e\frac{q_1 q_2}{d}.$$ How did or What did Coulomb do to verify this law as it is applicable for point charges at rest and in reality charges won't be at ...
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1answer
89 views

How Hamilton's Principle was found?

Hamilton's principle states that the actual path a particle follows from points $p_1$ and $p_2$ in the configuration space between times $t_1$ and $t_2$ is such that the integral $$S = ...
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3answers
1k views

Schrödinger's cat; why was it necessary?

Could someone please explain to me the idea that Schrödinger was trying to illustrate by the cat in his box? I understand that he was trying to introduce the notion of the cat being both alive and ...
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1answer
145 views

Who popularized $E=mc^2$?

When asking a layman for a mathematical or physical equation you will almost certainly get the answer "$E$ equals $m$ $c$ squared". In fact, $E=mc^2$ is something like a symbol of physics in popular ...
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4answers
542 views

Hilbert, Gödel, and “God equations” - a 19th century lesson for 21st century physicists?

It seems there are a lot of respected physicists appearing on pop-sci programs (discovery channel, science channel, etc.) these days spreading the gospel of "we can know, we must know." Three ...
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21 views

Origin of the names for the decay chains

Is there any reason for the names of the decay chains? As shown in this chart (larger version here): only the Thorium chain starts on an isotope of the element it takes its name from, and it can ...
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0answers
33 views

James Joule's Conservation of Energy

Is there a manifest or documentation of the original Conservation of Energy as stated by James Joule word for word? Edit 1.1: I found Joule's Memoir on google, skimming through to find any conclusive ...
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1answer
128 views

Are there correct physical predictions made only from thought experiments other than in General Relativity? [closed]

When Einstein started to think about gravitation, he completely created a new theory that no experiment supported. He based his reasoning, as he explained it later, on small thought experiments ...
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1answer
79 views

How is a standard unit divided into equally smaller or fractional units physically/experimentally?

Consider the standard unit of length: meter. How was it divided into decimeter, centimeter, millimeter, etc. when there were no shorter lengths than the standard ? What is the physical/experimental ...
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75 views

How did gunsmiths create revolver cylinders in 1850's without the use of electrical drill? [closed]

How did gunsmiths create revolver cylinders holes in 1850's without the use of electrical drill? Which referces/ books specialize providing knowledge in similar molding method?
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2answers
97 views

Is Galilei's reasoning on free fall valid?

Galileo Galilei discovered by experiments that all bodies tend to fall with the same rapidity (I use it in an intuitive sense, you can replace it by 'acceleration' used in today's physics language), ...
6
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1answer
155 views

How would a physicist measure temperature of molten metals in 1850-1920s?

How would a physicist measure temperature of molten metals in 1850-1920s? What equipment would be used?
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37 views

Development/history of Mesoscopic Physics/quantum transport

I am studying mesoscopic physics/quantum transport. Now I am wondering (out of interest): how did this field emerge and what made it such a huge field? I couldn't find this somewhere clear on the web ...
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0answers
86 views

Why the letter $B$ for magnetic fields? [closed]

Is there a reason behind the usage of this letter to represent magnetic fields, or is it a randomly made choice?
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2answers
94 views

Who first verified Coulomb's Law for electron+proton interaction?

Who first verified Coulomb's Law for the interaction of a proton and electron? Was it Rutherford? Bohr?
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2answers
209 views

Planck's distribution and Bose-Einstein distribution?

If the application of the Bose-Einstein distribution is in blackbody radiation, then what is Planck's distribution? Are they same? How did Planck know that he should use a Bose-Einstein distribution ...
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3answers
309 views

Did Einstein know about Michelson-Morley experiment?

The second postulate of special relativity deals with constancy of light in inertial reference frames. But, how did Einstein came to this conclusion? Did he knew about the Michelson-Morley experiment? ...
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0answers
21 views

What were the immediate consequences Yang-Lee work on Weak Interaction?

I am studying the history of Modern Physics and Yang-Lee earned their Nobel the next year after the Cobalt experiments. I am familiar with the chronology, but am not clear what those findings meant to ...
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2answers
160 views

Goodwins “proof” and space time

I read about Goodwin's "proof" that $\pi = 3.20$, it's BS and I know that. What I am wondering is whether his technique may have stumbled on something ( a warped space) years before Einstein. So I ...
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2answers
269 views

Who is usually credited for the creation of QFT?

I read in a book just now that says: [...] but it was not explained until the invention of quantum field theory by Richard Feynmann [sic] and others in the 1940's. I have been under the ...
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1answer
36 views

When experimental search for exotic dark matter-like particles began exactly?

I am looking for information about : what was the first experiment that claimed to look specifically for non baryonic dark matter particles ; when occurred the first serious(*) reporting of an ...
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2answers
128 views

What is the logic behind the Fahrenheit scale?

The Fahrenheit scale is defined by fixed points on the scale. What interests me is the apparent arbitrary chosen numbers in these fix-points. First wikipedia wites from 32 to 212. -and later in the ...
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1answer
60 views

Free 'fall' on an Inclined Plane

I guess we can say that two identical balls on the same inclined plane with different heigths reach the ground at the same time. So, who was the first one to observe it? ...
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0answers
43 views

How bright was the AGN eruption at the center of the Milky Way ~2 Ma ago?

The black hole at the center of the Milky Way is believed to have erupted as an active galactic nucleus approximately 2 million years ago, at which time it would have been visible to early humans. How ...
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1answer
176 views

How did Newton find the relationship between force, mass and acceleration? [duplicate]

I have been told always that $F$ is directly proportional to acceleration. My question is that for finding such a relationship there should be source that produces desired force and in which the ...
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0answers
52 views

What is the origin of the kinetic theory of temperature?

Count Rumford's experiments with canon barrels are often cited here, but the kinetic theory certainly precedes them. Another candidate is Daniel Bernoulli, who, in his 1738 book Hydrodynamica showed ...
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1answer
65 views

Example for bias in experiments due to “social pressure”

I remember the example for the bias in experiments: A famous physicist got a wrong result for a constant. Due to his fame, the published results of other experimenters only slowly reached the correct ...
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73 views

Why supra-conductivity became super-conductivity?

The original article by the Kammerling Onnes team in Leiden does not give a name to the new effect: Kammerling Onnes, H. Further experiments with liquid helium. C. On the change of electric ...
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1answer
352 views

How was Newton's third law discovered?

How did Newton's third law came into being? Was it his original finding like the second law? Or was it more of a restatement of someone else like the 1st one coming from Galileo? In either case what ...
7
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1answer
176 views

How did Eratosthenes know the suns rays are parallel?

Eratosthenes famously observed that the suns rays were perpendicular to the ground in one location, yet non-perpendicular to the ground at a location some miles to the north. On the assumption that ...
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1answer
174 views

Why are lab Magnets painted red?

Wy are lab magnets painted red in color? I tried searching everywhere but couldn't get a satisfactory answer.
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80 views

Victorian cosmology after the second law of thermodynamics but before relativity?

In the 19th century, most astronomers adopted an island universe model, in which our galaxy was the only object in an infinite space. They didn't know that the "spiral nebulae" were other galaxies. ...