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

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Was the fractional model of quarks electric charge found before discovery of the $\Delta^{++}$?

From Wikipedia: Existence of the $\Delta^{++}$ , with its unusual +2 electric charge, was a crucial clue in the development of the quark model. the fractional model of Quarks electric charge was ...
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922 views

Historic derivation of Wien's law

Every book I've read, including a lot of websites, Wikipedia, etc, say that Wien derived this: $$\rho_\nu(T)=\rho(\nu,T)=\nu^3f\left(\frac{\nu}{T}\right)$$ Being $\rho_v(T)$ the spectral enegy ...
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490 views

When and how did the idea of the tensor product originate in the history quantum mechanics?

At some point in the history of quantum mechanics, it was accepted that a single particle is described by a wavefunction which is a function of the position of the particle $\mathbf{r}$, denoted: ...
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Phase functions non-existent in original (J. Strutt) Lord Rayleigh's work?

This is related to my previous Phys.SE question on the derivation of the phase function - upon sifting and scanning through 600 pages of John Strutt's collected work, there is absolutely no mention of ...
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406 views

How did Lord Rayleigh derive/determine the phase function for his scattering model?

I've been researching the question for quite some time, as I understand it the phase function is actually an approximation due to the particle-wave duality inherent in participating media such as the ...
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102 views

Who first provided a string realization of dual resonance models?

After the $N$-particle generalization of the Veneziano amplitude was written down and studied, who was the first (or who were among the first) to realize that the amplitudes could be understood in ...
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279 views

Was the choice of red/green colors for traffic lights a happy coincidence?

All of us have learned since secondary school that the reason we use red in the traffic lights for "Stop" is because it travels the furthest without dispersion. According to wikipedia which cites ...
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153 views

How come vibrations?

We all know that sound sensation is produced only when sound waves reach upto us. We all know that sound waves are disturbances propagating in air, Vibration is necessary for the generation of sound, ...
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784 views

First experiment which was used to prove existence of Electromagnetic waves

When I was in high school I heard from my physics teacher in the last year of high school when he was starting the chapter of electromagnetic waves that the first person who proved existence of ...
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144 views

Origin of Laue equations?

The Bragg condition (by Bragg in 1913) can be derived by the Laue equations that is making use of the Miller indices and all the latice/crystal stuff (so basically it's bringing Bragg's law to more ...
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134 views

Do stars appear to move with uniform motion?

The Ancient Greek astronomers had quite an obsession over uniform circular motion; I was wondering if there was a logical reason for this. Did it develop through actual observations of the stars? Do ...
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119 views

Nicholas Kollerstrom article on the history of Calculus

Today, Newton´s birthday, I read an article posted in the arXiv by Nicholas Kollerstrom http://www.arxiv.org/abs/1212.2666 That basically claims that Newton did not invent Calculus. The article does ...
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426 views

Was uncertainty principle inferred by Fourier analysis?

I would like to know: did Heisenberg chance upon his Uncertainty Principle by performing Fourier analysis of wavepackets, after assuming that electrons can be treated as wavepackets?
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166 views

Who used the concept of symmetries first?

Who "invented" the concept of symmetries? This article is quite extensive, but it blurs the history with the modern understanding. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/symmetry-breaking/ Some of the ...
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368 views

How did pre-Copernican astronomers accurately predict planetary position?

Copernican elements (circular orbital elements) are not very accurate. But Copernicus simplified our understanding a great deal by placing the Sun at the center of the system. Im astonished by the ...
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344 views

How accurate are Mayan astronomical “ephemerides”?

Because of the hype surrounding the "end" of the Mayan calendar (along with the usual cultural relativism and Western guilt) it is nearly impossible to find an objective quantitative assessment of the ...
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80 views

The Fraunhofer Measure

In a well known Maxwell paper he uses the units of wavelength which he calls the Fraunhofer Measure. He states it for the Fraunhofer D and F bands as $$\lambda_D = 2175 \text{ crazy units} = 589nm$$ ...
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196 views

Where did Karl Schwarzschild derived his solution?

Does anyone know more about circumstances of Karl Schwarzschild at the Russian front in 1915 where he allegedly derived his famous solution of the Einstein equations (describing a black hole)? Sources ...
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286 views

The notion called aether

I am trying to learn relativity theory and going through an introductory text on special relativity. I stumbled on the Michelson-Morley experiment. The book claims (accounts) that the result of this ...
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1k views

What came first, Rice Crispy or “Snap,” “Crackle,” and “Pop”? [closed]

The fourth, fifth, and sixth derivatives of position are called "Snap" "Crackle" and "Pop". What came first, the rice crispy characters, or the physics units?
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218 views

Integrals given by Landau [closed]

Discussion about Landau's "Theoretical Minimum" has already been posted here. Unfortunately I couldn't find much about some examples of questions he gave to students. There are three questions in the ...
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1answer
97 views

Is “Egyptian Year” the same as a modern sidereal year?

Copernicus uses the term "Egyptian Year" throughout his discussions of the movements of the Earth, and of his and other models of the movements of the planets; but is unclear from his text, or from ...
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1k views

How did Einstein derive general relativity?

How did Einstein derive general relativity (GR)? Did he use: the equivalence principle? The principle of least action? Anything else? Note, I'm not looking for a full mathematical derivation of GR! ...
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1answer
133 views

What are “cycles of anomaly” and “cycles of longitude”?

In several early (pre-1600) astronomical texts I read about "cycles of anomaly" and "cycles of longitude", but it us unclear to me what these terms mean. They were clearly familiar to authors at the ...
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129 views

What is the angular distance between Ptolemaic perigees of Mercury?

In his excellent treatment of the history of the science of astronomical distances and sizes, Albert van Helden says (p.29) that The complicated [Ptolemaic] model of Mercury has the curious ...
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593 views

Why is the partition function called ''partition function''?

The partition function plays a central role in statistical mechanics. But why is it called ''partition function''?
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532 views

How did Copernicus establish the relative distance to the superior planets?

I understand that the relative distances to the planets had been calculated using various methods since ancient times, and, in particular, that the assumptions of the Copernican model of the Solar ...
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1answer
265 views

Did Aristarchus take the radius of the Earth into account in calculating the distance to the Moon?

My text says that Aristarchus (310 BC – ~230 BC) measured the "angle subtended by the Earth-Moon distance at the Sun" ($\theta$ in the figure below) to establish the relative Earth-Moon and Earth-Sun ...
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177 views

How could Horrocks have measured the AU?

I have always understood that the great historical significance of the transits of Venus, and the reason for the expeditions mounted to observe it, were that, by observing it simultaneously from two ...
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383 views

When and how were relative distances to the planets first measured?

I understand that the absolute distance to a planet can be measured using earth-baseline (e.g., diurnal) parallax, and that the first reasonably accurate such measurement was made for Mars by Cassini ...
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365 views

Was Jupiter's mass “guessed at” by Kepler or Galileo?

Following Kepler's publication of his 3rd law of planetary motion1, $$p^2 / r^3 = 1$$ in 1619, it would have been possible to use telescopic observations to arrive at an estimate of the orbital ...
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593 views

The origin of femto, atto and zepto SI prefixes

Do you know why the SI prefixes: femto, atto, zepto have been accepted by Scientific Community, if this triad of metric units, is neither greek nor latin?
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2k views

Why did Einstein get credit for formulating the theory of special relativity?

See The Principle of Relativity here: The Principles of Mathematical Physics. This was written by Poincaré in 1904, a year before Einstein published his theory of relativity. It appears from this and ...
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1answer
191 views

Aharonov-Bohm vs de Witt

dewitt claimed in his paper Bryce S. DeWitt. Quantum theory without electromagnetic potentials, Phys. Rev. 125 no. 6 (1962), pp. 2189-2191, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRev.125.2189, that the discovery ...
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535 views

How Did Newton's Second Law Get Its Definition?

If I've read Newton's Laws of Motion correctly in the Principia, it seems that Newton attributed the "change in motion" (momentum) to the "impressed force". Mathematically this would be read as ...
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489 views

What were the intention/conclusions for Michelson-Morley experiment?

Which of the following were the intentions of M&M? to disprove the existence of aether. to show that the aether has no effect on matter and energy and therefore is as good as non-existent. ...
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1answer
145 views

What is the quantity in physics that is advanced from speed? [closed]

What is the quantity in physics that is advance from speed? i know one is velocity, one is speed, one is acceleration.
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691 views

Regarding string theory: how to refute the argument “if it cannot be tested experimentally then it is not science”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What differs string theory from philosophy or religion? I find a lot of people disbelieve in string theory, saying that since it cannot be tested experimentally then it ...
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3answers
105 views

When was the earliest understanding that the stars were similar to the Sun?

When did astronomers realise that the stars were similar to the Sun? I'm not asking for when this was established, but when also the hypothesis was first proposed.
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668 views

Combining Proportions to get Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation

I've read a little on the history of Newton's Law of Gravitation and noticed that the formula can be separated into 3 distinct parts that lead to the end result of $F_g = G \frac{m_1 m_2}{r^2}$; the ...
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126 views

What is the history behind the factors of 3 in the classification of electromagnetic radiation?

What is the history behind the factors of 3 in the classification of electromagnetic radiation? See e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_spectrum#By_frequency Is this (just) inherited from the ...
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1answer
99 views

How did Cook and other astronomers time the 1769 Venus transit?

The 1769 transit of Venus was observed and coordinated by over one hundred astronomers around the world. How did they measure time so accurately, key to the observations having any scientific value? I ...
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1answer
93 views

Is this claim from historician true for physicist point of view?

"The original Naxos I had a vertically polarized antenna, with poor results as the British radars initially used horizontal polarisation. (This seems to have been a case of the German designers being ...
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3k views

QM without complex numbers

I am trying to understand how complex numbers made their way into QM. Can we have a theory of the same physics without complex numbers? If so, is the theory using complex numbers easier?
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193 views

What does anthropic mean as in Anthropic principle? [closed]

I'm reading a book about string theory, and it describes anthropic principle. Idea is clear to me, I understand this principle describes certain constants in modern physics that are so fine tuned as ...
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1answer
706 views

The possibility of free electrical energy?

Please excuse my lack of knowledge/understanding. Question: Why Nikola Tesla's Free Energy concept was never worked upon? Even today. Context: Now that we know Nikola Tesla was a genius and did ...
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493 views

Where do the terms microcanonical, canonical and grand canonical (ensemble) come from?

Where do the terms microcanonical, canonical and grand canonical (ensemble) come from? When were they coined and by whom? Is there any reason for the names or are they historical accidents?
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211 views

Quantum experiments in the pre-industrial era

Could an 18th century or earlier scientist have come across phenomena which require quantum theories to explain them, given the apparatus available at the time? I'll choose 1805 as the cut-off date, ...
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437 views

Why didn't Newton just propose the 2nd Law and leave it at that?

Why didn't Newton just propose the 2nd Law ($F=\dot{p}$) and leave it at that? The 2nd Law implicitly contains the first, doesn't it? If so, it seems he wasn't following his own Rule #1 of Book 3 of ...
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419 views

Why don't most physics programs study the primary sources?

Why don't most physics programs study the primary sources? In other words: Why don't they include Newton's Principia, Lagrange's Analytical Mechanics, etc., in the curricula?