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

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Why wasn't the theory that light's velocity depended on its source very popular?

Before special relativity, it was believed that light having a specific velocity meant it had to travel through something. My question is, why wasn't the idea that light depended on its source very ...
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201 views

The role of anharmonic oscillator(s) in Heisenberg's 1925 paper

I am talking about the most famous paper of Heisenberg, which I know from the translation of van der Waerden (Sources in Quantum mechanics, North Holland, 1967). After introducing matrix mechanics ...
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370 views

Did Einstein plagiarize Poincare? [closed]

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/esp_einstein.htm This site makes such claims including: Jules Henri Poincaré (1854 - 1912) was a great scientist who made a significant contribution to special ...
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144 views

What was the motivation behind the work formula?

Surely there must be a reason we decided to use this as a metric for mechanical energy.How was it developed and what made it more acceptable than other work formula candidates (Like force over time, ...
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379 views

Was Leverrier-Adams prediction of Neptune a lucky coincidence?

According to historians both Adams and Leverrier used Bode's law to guess the distance to Neptune, which led to a vast overestimation of its orbital period (Adams - 227 years, Le Verrier - 218 years, ...
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129 views

Why Newton wanted lines to be generated by continued motion of points rather than by apposition of parts?

The following passage has been extracted from the Newton's (John Stewart's English translated version) "Sir Issac Newton's two Treatises: Of the Quadrature of Curves, and Analysis by equations of an ...
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385 views

Why was the Stark effect discovered much later than the Zeeman effect?

This is strange. The Zeeman effect involves the magnetic field. The Stark effect involves the electric field. In the course of classical electrodynamics, we get the impression that for many physical ...
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152 views

How did people discover the conservation of mechanical energy?

I want to write about the history of energy, and am focusing on mechanical energy at the moment. My question is: Can I attribute the conservation of mechanical energy to the power of maths, ...
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388 views

Do we have a deeper understanding of Fermat's Principle?

Fermat's principle says that light travels between two points along the path that requires least time as compared to other nearby paths. But why this is so? Why can't light follow other paths? How ...
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118 views

Why Aristotle made mistake about motions law? [closed]

Hi I was studying Aristotle motions law and comparing them with Newton. He states that heavier body fall faster than slow ones. I really can't understand how he could committed such a mistake...I mean ...
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130 views

Was quantum mechanics made to fit the Bell violations or they just happen to fit them?

Entangled bipartite states can violate the CHSH inequality upto $2\sqrt{2}$ with suitable measurements. Is it that in nature we don't witness violation of CHSH more than this and quantum mechanics ...
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Books on Faraday, Maxwell

Can you recommend a/some good book(s) on Faraday for the lay person? In particular, in relation to his 'Experimental Researches in Electricity'. Also, any books explaining how Maxwell explained ...
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488 views

Is John Nash's “Interesting Equation” really interesting?

As recently mentioned in the news, before his passing, John Nash worked on general relativity. According to the linked article John Nash's work is available online from his webpage. His work is ...
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Differences between empiric laws of Galileo and Kepler

Although in both cases we encounter empiric laws, as far as I know Galileo's laws of motion differ in some way from Kepler's laws of planetary movements. In what way?
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79 views

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

How did Newton figure out the law of gravity? I know there are two other questions answering the same question but I did not understand anything from the answers Is there a third way of knowing how ...
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1answer
359 views

How did Schrödinger come up with his equation? [duplicate]

So all of the people who studied QM know the famous Schrödinger equation. I have read that it was not derived, but it is a postulate; something that is just real. Some people have tried to explain ...
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1k views

How did Newton find out gravity is proportional to the product of two masses? [duplicate]

I am going to ask a really stupid question here. It is a very well known fact that gravity is inversely proportional to the distance squared between two masses. I understand how he arrived at this ...
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103 views

Maxwell, speed of light and the electric permittivity and magnetic constants

When Maxwell found that the already-measured speed of light could also be derived from the already-measured electric and magnetic constants, what were the electric and magnetic constants measured to ...
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50 views

Franck-Hertz experiment what transition takes place?

For the Franck-Hertz experiment there is a voltage drop at $4.9\rm\,V$. What transition does this represent in the mercury? Looking at the energy levels it seems to be from the ground to the 2nd ...
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143 views

Resource on history of acoustics

Shortly: I am looking for a good resource (article, book, chapter in a book, introduction in an article...) about history of acoustics, I will be glad for any recommendations. By acoustics I mean the ...
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207 views

Mass and distance of the bodies of the solar system?

This might be a bit of a historical question in nature. Obviously given that we know the constant G, the mass of the sun, and the distance between a solar body and the sun we can calculate it's mass. ...
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1answer
108 views

What was the improvement that Maxwell did to the electromagnetic field equations and why?

What was the improvement that Maxwell did to the electromagnetic field equations and why? I understand that he combined the main equations so that you could get a wave equation for the vectors of ...
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2answers
85 views

Alternatives to the neutrino in the beta spectrum?

It is well known that the neutrino appeared to explain the power distribution in the beta decay spectrum. (see PSE) What other explanations candidates were available? It is stated that the ...
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254 views

Blackbody cavity relationship between energy of oscillators and EM radiation

This question is based on Planck's view of blackbody radiation in a cavity. Here is a quote from here: ...where $\langle E \rangle$ is the average energy of the oscillators present on the walls of ...
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143 views

Planck's postulate for oscillators or for light?

I know that Planck originally postulated that the energy of an oscillator in a black body was quantised to $E=nh\nu$ but did he know at the time that this meant the energy of light was also quantised ...
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Was Nikola Tesla right about his ether theory?

There are a lot of articles on the net that mention Nikola Tesla's ether (aether) theories, such as this quote: Only the existence of a field of force can account for the motions of the bodies ...
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427 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 ...
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219 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 ...
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382 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 ...
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196 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 ...
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335 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 ...
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160 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 ...
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62 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 ...
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124 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 ...
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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 ...
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173 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?
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340 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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60 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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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? [duplicate]

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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105 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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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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236 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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209 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 ...
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98 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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80 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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272 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, but not the distance to ...
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129 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? ...
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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 ...