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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

3
votes
0answers
245 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
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! ...
1
vote
1answer
141 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
459 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
646 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
296 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
195 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
619 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
619 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
292 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
146 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
132 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
94 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

What was Einsteins reasons for the work on Viscosity/Brownian Motion

About 1905 Einstein published a work about diffusion of hard spheres and brownian motion. One effluence of that is the so called "Viscosity Equation" which was/is very important for dertermining ...
1
vote
1answer
234 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
528 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?
5
votes
1answer
879 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
515 views

Why were the SI base quantities chosen as such?

The reasons for choosing length, mass, time, temperature, and amount as base quantities look (at least to me) obvious. What I'm puzzling about is why current (as opposed to resistance, electromotive ...
1
vote
3answers
263 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, ...
3
votes
2answers
475 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
482 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?
5
votes
1answer
317 views

What in Newtons three laws of motion original to himself and not a paraphrasing of his predecssors

The three laws are: First law: The velocity of a body remains constant unless the body is acted upon by an external force. Second law: The acceleration a of a body is parallel[disambiguation needed ...
3
votes
2answers
223 views

How did ancient physicists around 500 BC decide that the earth is spherical?

One of the standard stories that is given for this (and is mentioned in Aristotle) is that the hull of a ship disappears first as it sails towards the horizon on a calm sunny day. Is this a myth, or ...
5
votes
1answer
313 views

Historical and philosophical reflexions about the concept of energy? [closed]

Perhaps you know the books: Concepts of Mass in Contemporary Physics and Philosophy Concepts of Force: A Study in the Foundations of Dynamics by Max Jammer, which discusses mass and force from a ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

How did Halley calculate the distance to the Sun by measuring the transit of Venus?

What numbers did Halley, Cook, et al. have? What was the strategy by which they calculated the AU?
0
votes
1answer
161 views

How was Dorsey able to measure speed of light with 3 significant digits?

How was Dorsey able to measure speed of light with 3 significant digits in the year of 1907?
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Gabriele Veneziano, strong nuclear force and beta-function

Background to the question: From The History of String Theory: Gabriele Veneziano, a research fellow at CERN (a European particle accelerator lab) in 1968, observed a strange coincidence - many ...
6
votes
0answers
297 views

Why is Werner Heisenberg smiling? [closed]

This is not a joke. It is something I have wondered about for a long time. Nearly every picture of Werner Heisenberg shows him smiling. This is unusual. The difference between Heisenberg and ...
3
votes
1answer
461 views

The most challenging physical phenomena [closed]

What are examples of endeavors, in the history of mankind, to understand physical phenomena with models which were proved to be incorrect later, reformed significantly, or are still under ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

“Dear radioactive ladies and gentlemen” - Letter by Wolfgang Pauli

In 1930, Wolfgang Pauli wrote a letter to Lise Meitner for a convention in Tübingen, considering the problem of beta decay. Does anybody know, where to find the original letter online ?
1
vote
3answers
582 views

Is it correct to say that electromagnetic waves does not require a medium?

I can conceive of a particle existing in empty spacetime, but not a wave. A wave appears to me at least, to insist upon a medium for its very definition. I understand that the 19C physicists ...
5
votes
1answer
421 views

Lorentz force law in Newtonian relativity

I know that in special relativity Electric and Magnetic fields mix together in different reference frames, but my question is about classical mechanics. It seems weird to me is that the Lorentz Force ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Newton's corpuscular theory

Where did Newton get the idea that light had a particle nature and not a wave nature? At those times, AFAICT there were no phenomena that showed particle nature. But wave nature is much easier to ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

What inspired Schrödinger to derive his equation?

I have almost no background in physics and I had a question related to Schrodinger's Equation. I think, it is not really research level so feel free to close it, but I would request you to kindly ...
5
votes
7answers
887 views

Evolution in the interpretation of the Dirac equation

As I understand, Dirac equation was first interpreted as a wave equation following the ideas of non relativistic quantum mechanics, but this lead to different problems. The equation was then ...
1
vote
6answers
2k views

Did Einstein prove $E=mc^2$ correctly? [closed]

In his book "Einstein's mistakes" H. C. Ohanian, the author, holds that Einstein delivered 7 proofs for $E=mc^2$ in his life that all were in some way incorrect. This despite the fact that correct ...
3
votes
2answers
784 views

Who first realized the uncertainty principle allows for virtual particle pair production?

For all I've read about Quantum Field Theory I've never seen the concept of the living vacuum accredited to someone in particular. Given the importance of this very application of the uncertainty ...
3
votes
2answers
680 views

Why did Schrodinger never budge on the meaning of $|\Psi|^2$

Schrodinger believed that the phisical interpretation of the wavefunction $\Psi$ was the vibration amplitude and $ |\Psi|^2 $ was the electric charge density. While no-one disagrees with his ...
9
votes
8answers
1k views

Myths in the history of Physics

As an example of such a historical myth that we all learned, there is the story that in his confrontation with Cardinal Bellarmine in 1632, Galileo had all the evidence on his side, won the ...
7
votes
0answers
239 views

Who invented the term “Coulomb logarithm”?

Who is the author of the term "Coulomb logarithm"? In fact, Coulomb logarithm was computed by Langmuir in his paper of 1928 where the term "plasma" was introduced into physics, but the term "Coulomb ...
1
vote
2answers
301 views

History of the use of the concept of phase space in engineering

Engineering textbooks constantly use the concept of 'phase space' (see e.g. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~baraff/sigcourse/notesc.pdf). That is, they think of the state of a mechanical system as a ...
0
votes
1answer
900 views

Natural phenomenon which inspired science? [closed]

I'm looking for a list of natural phenomenon which inspired science and technology like how bat inspired the radar concept....Any idea ? Thx for helping, Stephane
7
votes
2answers
451 views

Accidental benefits of seeking perpetual motion? (Science history)

Newton spent much of his life in the fruitless pursuit of alchemy, but along the way discovered and worked-out much else that was real, practical science. And I was thinking about why it is that we ...
1
vote
2answers
442 views

Significance of isolation of radium? [duplicate]

This is an extension of my previous question here. Marie Curie isolated radium in 1903, which paved the way for the development of the theory of radioactivity. In regards to the techniques she used ...
2
votes
1answer
186 views

Did classical applications of density functional theory precede its use as an electronic structure method?

Density Functional Theory (DFT) is usually considered an electronic structure method, however a paper by Argaman and Makov highlights the applicability of the DFT formalism to classical systems, such ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

How Did Paul Dirac Predict The Existence of Antiproton?

The existence of the antiproton with -1 electric charge, opposite to the +1 electric charge of the proton, was predicted by Paul Dirac in his 1933 Nobel Prize lecture. Quotation by Wikipedia. ...
5
votes
3answers
344 views

Supergravity calculation using computer algebra system in early days

I was having a look at the original paper on supergravity by Ferrara, Freedman and van Nieuwenhuizen available here. The abstract has an interesting line saying that Added note: This term has now ...
4
votes
3answers
489 views

The Superconducting Super Collider: what went wrong?

The Superconducting Super Collider was famously cancelled in 1993 after running enormously over budget. According to the wikipedia page: During the design and the first construction stage, a ...