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

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

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?
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86 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 ...
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45 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 ...
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42 views

Has the knowlege of rainbows gained from snell's law ever been used in a practical way? [on hold]

So, I'm an AP physics 2 student at the moment, and I'm learning about Snell's law and refraction. Due to the changing speed of light (for these purposes; I am aware that C is constant) in water ...
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Who discovered that Helium had some effects on your voice? [migrated]

Would be interesting to know how this effect on our voice was discovered
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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 ...
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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 ...
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44 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 ...
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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.
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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 ...
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137 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 ...
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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 ...
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43 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 ...
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53 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 ...
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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 ...
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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? ...
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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, ...
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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 ...
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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?
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242 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 ...
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177 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!
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64 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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) ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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," ...
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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.
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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 ...
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43 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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175 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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492 views

How did Newton establish his famous third law of motion?

For every action,there is equal and opposite reaction . This is the famous Newton's third law of motion. But how did he come to this conclusion? We can prove 2nd law using calculus. But how did Newton ...
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Which scientists have managed to name their laws/terms after themselves? [closed]

It would be pretty vain for someone to name a scientific law, unit, or term after themselves. "Newtons" as the name for the measurement of force, for example, was adopted in 1948, so I don't expect ...
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Why is the specific notation used for term symbols useful?

This has bugged me for a long time. Term symbols describe electronic states of atoms which have well-defined total electronic angular momentum $J$ as well as total spin and orbital angular momenta ...
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239 views

What made Einstein think that gravity was caused by the curvature of spacetime?

What observation/thought experiment led him to think this?
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791 views

How did Isaac Newton figure out how the law of gravity worked? [duplicate]

There are this and this similar Phys.SE questions, but I didn't find what I'm looking for, nor was the person's question specific enough. How did Newton figure out $$F=GMm/ r^2~?$$ What was his ...
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How did Newton discover the universal law of gravitation?

I am having trouble comprehending how anyone could come up with this formula: $F = \frac{GMm}{d^2}$ Could someone walk me through this?
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Formulas for Haitz's law?

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 is for LED. There is a related Haitz's law: ...every decade, the cost per lumen (unit of useful light emitted) falls by a factor of 10, and the amount of light ...
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494 views

Who discovered that electromagnetic wave doesn't need a medium?

I have read that physicists in 19 century searching for the aether. They thought that light must have some medium to carry. When did they know that light and other electromagnetic wave doesn't need ...
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580 views

How Reynolds number was derived?

I'm studying fluid dynamics and recently the formula $Re=\frac{\rho vd}{\eta}$ was presented to me. I'm curious to know how Reynolds came up with this relations between this different variables. Did ...
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Magnesium Diboride - why was it missed?

In 2001 it was found to superconduct at 39K, which is about twice the record for materials up until the 1980s when the cuprate high temp superconductors were discovered/invented. My question is ...
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Why do we use kilograms instead of newtons to measure weight in everyday life?

What was the reason to use kilograms to measure weight (e.g. body weight, market vegetables etc.) instead of using newtons?