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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

5
votes
1answer
245 views

Michelson–Morley @ Home

The Michelson-Morley experiment seems to have taken many years, resources and a nervous breakdown to complete. Is it possible to recreate a variation of this experiment at home for say, under $1000, ...
5
votes
1answer
323 views

How did Newton find out force has something to do with acceleration?

Its about Newton's second law of motion, $$F=ma.$$ It says the acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the net force and is inversely proportional to the object's mass. Yes I can ...
-1
votes
4answers
1k views

Why there is no “Edison” unit in physics? [closed]

In the popular culture the XIX-XX century competition between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla is well-known. The example could be the Prestige movie, where there are some "Edison's agents" who sabotage ...
2
votes
1answer
54 views

Why did Otto Hahn use neutrons to generate transuranium?

In physics textbooks with chapters about nuclear fission there is often a historical introduction about Otto Hahn. That he tried to generate transuranium but discovered the nuclear fission. If you ...
6
votes
4answers
342 views

Why a day is divided by 12/24 hours? Why the number 12?

Why a day is divided by 12/24 hours? Why the number 12? Why not using 10 or 6 or 14, 16? Who invented this? Any physical reasons behind this?
1
vote
1answer
231 views

Difference between nautical and terrestrial miles

Does someone know the historical reason behind the difference in physical units between nautical and terrestrial miles?
3
votes
2answers
5k views

Electric field of a negative charge

How was it discovered that the electric field of a negative charge points towards the charge itself? Is it true? (Courtesy of wikipedia)
3
votes
3answers
347 views

Results of Statistical Mechanics first obtained by formal mathematical methods

I have a question that seems natural in Physics and Mathematics mainly in Statistical Mechanics of Equilibrium. Results that are proven by formal mathematical methods that were already seem intuitive ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the details around the origin of the string theory?

It is well-known even among the lay public (thanks to popular books) that string theory first arose in the field of strong interactions where certain scattering amplitudes had properties that could be ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Work of Marie Curie?

I've been reading about the work of Marie Curie recently after a friend filled me in on what she did (never having had much of an idea previously) and it's all very interesting. What I can't ...
1
vote
1answer
67 views

What was the first ionization radiation?

While trying to make somewhat of a timeline of the history of ionizatig radiation, i am wondering about the following questions: The first photoelectrical effect was found 1839 by Alexandre ...
3
votes
1answer
151 views

A Book about the Bohr-Einstein debate?

A book about the Bohr-Einstein debate? Is there any book that details the correspondence between the two? The only books I could find are popular science books, I wonder if there is a book that lists ...
3
votes
1answer
109 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
606 views

What made us think that Earth moves around the Sun?

Trying to observe the night sky for a few weeks, the motion of the Sun and the stars pretty much fits into the Geocentric Theory i.e. All of them move around the Earth. What then, which particular ...
4
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
717 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: ...
1
vote
0answers
31 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
125 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
822 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
467 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
223 views

Has a human ever perished in space?

Apollo 13 returned safely. The Challenger was leaving when it exploded. The Columbia was coming back when it burned up, as was that Russian guy who was profiled on National Public Radio (NPR) and that ...
11
votes
3answers
309 views

Why did the ancients fail to discover that the Earth orbits the Sun?

The ancients observed that the Sun and the 'fixed' stars rotated about the Earth. They were also aware that the Earth was spherical. They performed many astronomical measurements on the planets - ...
1
vote
4answers
171 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, ...
4
votes
5answers
770 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
155 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
122 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
528 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?
12
votes
7answers
5k views

Tesla's theory of gravity

I was reading up on Tesla's Wikipedia page last night, and I came across this: When he was 81, Tesla stated he had completed a "dynamic theory of gravity". He stated that it was "worked out ...
1
vote
1answer
248 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
845 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?
1
vote
1answer
199 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
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 $$\lambda_D = 2175 \text{ crazy units} = 589nm$$ ...
9
votes
2answers
457 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
99 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
501 views

Is the historical method of teaching physics a “legitimate, sure and fruitful method of preparing a student to receive a physical hypothesis”? [closed]

The French physicist, historian, and philosopher of physics, Pierre Duhem, wrote:The legitimate, sure and fruitful method of preparing a student to receive a physical hypothesis is the historical ...
13
votes
1answer
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?
3
votes
0answers
256 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
2k 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! ...
1
vote
1answer
146 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
132 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
570 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
750 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
318 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
204 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
686 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
815 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. ...
5
votes
2answers
323 views

Did anyone claim that quantum theory meant lasers would never work

I've been reading 'How the Hippies saved Physics', which describes a design for a superluminal communication device, of which the crucial part was a laser which duplicated an incoming photon many ...
-1
votes
1answer
147 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.
14
votes
4answers
2k views

History of Electromagnetic Field Tensor

I'm curious to learn how people discovered that electric and magnetic fields could be nicely put into one simple tensor. It's clear that the tensor provides many beautiful simplifications to the ...
2
votes
2answers
135 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 ...