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

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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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0answers
47 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
50 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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0answers
41 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 ...
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3answers
398 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
136 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 ...
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1answer
166 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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62 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
223 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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29 views

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
64 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
62 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
317 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
147 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
102 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
64 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
60 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
71 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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1answer
231 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 ...
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0answers
146 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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0answers
95 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
423 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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0answers
57 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
168 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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5answers
682 views

What was Feynman's “much better way of presenting the electrodynamics” — which did **not** appear in the Feynman lectures?

Does anyone know what Feynman was referring to in this interview which appears at the beginning of The Feynman Tips on Physics? Note that he is referring to something that did not appear in the ...
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4answers
98 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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21 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
67 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
100 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
156 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
132 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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1answer
156 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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647 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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25 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
138 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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110 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
124 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), ...
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1answer
206 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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1answer
70 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
153 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
106 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
520 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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2answers
482 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
25 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
166 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
283 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
38 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
236 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 ...