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

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Tycho's stellar parallax measurements

How, exactly, did Tycho Brahe do his measurements of (no) stellar parallax? All the descriptions of parallax that I have been able to find seem to talk about the change in position of a nearby star ...
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417 views

Why was the conversion factor of the metric unit bar chosen the way it was?

The unit bar for pressure is clearly a metric unit, but its order of magnitude is a bit strange. In the centimeter–gram–second system of units we have: ...
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218 views

Where did the concept of energy come from?

Energy seems to me to be a very abstract thing, and while it clearly works out very nicely, I don't understand how anyone would have thought to come up with it. Where does the concept of energy find ...
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231 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 ...
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83 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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130 views

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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77 views

Maxwell's Inspiration to think about fields

I was looking at a Wikipedia article which had the following statement Atomists, notably James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann, applied [...]. In modern literature Maxwell is often thought ...
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165 views

Questions about gravitational and inertial mass [duplicate]

What differences between gravitational mass and inertial mass? I cannot tell the differences between them. In history, which concept was put forward firstly? Are there some experiments to prove they ...
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39 views

How did experiments affect the development of quantum mechanics? [closed]

What were some of the major experiments that helped to develop Quantum Mechanics? I've read about the Stern-Gerlach experiment and double-slit experiment. But what role did experiments play? Did they ...
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107 views

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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86 views

When did people start to regard “time” as a physical quantity? [closed]

I was trying to figure out how people came to know about time then I realized that people started keeping track of time to know about sunset and sunrise. But I can't figure out how did time came into ...
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111 views

If the field concept was invented by Faraday, then how did Newton interpret the $g$?

This is Newton's law of universal gravitation. $F=G\frac{m_1.m_2}{r^2}$ Gravitational field $g$ is derived from this formula $g=G\frac{m_1}{r^2}$ This is named gravitational "field" strength. If ...
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History of QFT after 1973 [closed]

Where I can read about history of development quantum field theory after 1973? I'm interested in historical reviews, like as first chapter of the Weinberg's book.
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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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362 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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261 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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60 views

Did physical models of galaxies come before they were actually observed?

Black holes were first predicted by astrophysics, then observed. Was the existence of galaxies first predicted by astrophysics, or first observed by astronomers?
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4k views

How Reynolds number was derived?

I'm studying fluid dynamics and recently the formula $Re=\frac{\rho vd}{\eta}$ was presented to me. I'm curious to know how Reynolds came up with this relations between this different variables. Did ...
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329 views

Biggest experimental validations of postulates of Quantum Mechanics

What are some experimental results that validate postulates of Quantum mechanics completely beyond any doubt ? Since there are alternate theories being used by various physicists to describe the same ...
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1k 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 ...
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603 views

Video documentaries about physics? [closed]

Does anyone know about good video documentaries about physics, possibly on YouTube? I've seen a couple of them about string theory, but I could not find many others.
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637 views

On the foundations of quantum physics

Quantum physics has to be validated by experiments. But experiments are to be interpreted in the context of quantum physics. Isn'it like a snake biting its own tail? For example, using a scanning ...
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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 ...
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456 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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87 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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147 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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959 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 ...
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36 views

How did Fizeau control the cog's rotations per second?

In Fizeau's cog experiment to determine the speed of light, how would he have had a way to accurately determine the number of rotations per second of the cog, given the experiment was conducted in ...
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203 views

A James Clerk Maxwell Disproof

One of my favorite physicists to learn about was James Clerk Maxwell, for the fact that he unified the study of E&M in physics and he would often disprove theories that did not work as a ...
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163 views

Was Max Born the first to notice a connection between quantum mechanics and randomness?

Max Born introduced the Born Rule in a paper from 1926. But was this really the first time that a connection between quantum mechanics and randomness was noticed? Today, quantum mechanics and ...
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325 views

Who invented the perfume bottle thought experiment?

A common thought experiment used to explain the second law of thermodynamics, the "arrow of time", etc. is perfume escaping from an opened perfume bottle; the perfume is likely to diffuse into the ...
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946 views

How was Newton able to guess that gravitational force is inversely proportional to distance squared?

This question is puzzling me since I learnt about the gravitation law in school. Why did Newton guess/assume that gravitational force is inversely proportional to the square of distance? Did he ...
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141 views

Since when the term 'mass' is being used in physics?

I was wondering who used the term 'mass' in physics and in what context? The Online Etymology Dictionary says it is in use since 1704. According to the Wiki article the year is contemporary to the ...
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37 views

What are the tools used by Newton to measure motion?

I was wondering how did Sir Newton measured motion of objects (non celestial ones). What was his toolskit at the time?
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4k views

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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382 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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639 views

Who proposed the bulk-edge correspondence principle?

Who proposed the bulk-edge correspondence principle? The principle is often quoted in counting the number of zero energy states localized on the interface between two insulators with distinct band ...
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64 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 ...
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90 views

On Newton's discovery of the universal law of gravitation

I'm reading Peter Collier's book on relativity and was on the chapter where he describes how Newton figured out the law for universal gravitation. This is the cannonball referred to in the following ...
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83 views

What is really sought when we purpose Einstein's postulates in Special Relativity?

Special Relativity can be motivated by looking at Maxwell's Electrodynamics and noticing that there is some kind of inconsistency between it and Newtonian Mechanics. Indeed, as Einstein pointed out on ...
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91 views

How is Planck's radiation law related to $E=h\nu$

How did Planck conclude $E=h\nu$ from his radiation law?
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53 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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181 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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189 views

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 ...
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113 views

How did Planck use the concept of statistical entropy in trying to understand the meaning of his own law?

I was reading Introducing Quantum Theory: A graphic guide (by J.P.McEvoy & Oscar Zarate) and came across Planck's predicament of understanding his very own law that accurately explained the ...
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60 views

Prerequisites for Ptolemy's Almagest

I hope this is a valid question to ask on this website (since it's astronomy and not e.g. mechanics, I wasn't so sure). What prerequisites are needed for fully understanding Ptolemy's Almagest. Fully ...
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105 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 table?...
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214 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 ...
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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 ...
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252 views

Interpretation of QM as discrete derivative

In a couple of letters dated 1923, Pauli writes to Sommerfeld and Lande about Zeeman effect, and he describes (a piece of) quantisation in a peculiar way: the substitution of the "Differentialquotient"...