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

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Maxwell's Equations-Relativity

How did Maxwell develop the magnetic field without relativity? Was it purely experimental? I don't see how else he would have developed any understanding for the magnetic field.
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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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129 views

Dirac's remark that inspired Feynman when formulating path integral

When Feynman was trying to formulate path integral of quantum mechanics, he was inspired by Dirac's remark which roughly states that $e^{i\frac{S}{\hbar}}$corresponds to the transition amplitude, ...
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71 views

How big was the first transistor?

The first working point-contact transistor made in 1947 by Bell Labs. I'm looking for specific dimensions, all I've been able to find is "Fits in the palm of your hand".
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Newtonian physics vs Special relativity - what is the most “relative”?

This might be a question purely of words and the meaning of them but isn't Newtonian physics more "relative" than Einstein's Special relativity? Newtonian physics predicts that laws of momentum & ...
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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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160 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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156 views

Who popularized $E=mc^2$?

When asking a layman for a mathematical or physical equation you will almost certainly get the answer "$E$ equals $m$ $c$ squared". In fact, $E=mc^2$ is something like a symbol of physics in popular ...
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177 views

Complex Versus Real Wave Velocities in Quantum Mechanics

There's a fantastic quote in Schrodinger's second 1926 paper1 that apparently provides some motivation for the discrete energy levels (I think) that I'm having trouble interpreting: I would not ...
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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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307 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 ...
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55 views

Origin of the word Permittivity

Who coined the word "permittivity"? It appears that first usage was in 1887. Please cite your source.
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Developement of modern condensed matter physics [closed]

Do you know any resources describing historical aspects of developments of modern condensed matter physics (many body physics etc)? Thanks.
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What cause scientists to study Black Body Radiation?

After spending hours understanding what exactly Black Body radiation and Ultraviolet catastrophe is, I cannot help myself asking what was the reason that make scientists such as Wilhelm Wien and Max ...
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140 views

recommendation for a physics history/non-fiction book [closed]

I know that there are a lot theses being published on lives of physicists. Is there a history/non-fiction book that tracks the development of a problem chronologically? Like pieces of a puzzle. I ...
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149 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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145 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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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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Availability of the Larkin's paper: Application of superconductivity theory methods to the problem of the masses of elementary particles (1961)

Discussing with colleagues (mostly condensed matter ones), we were astonished there is no mention about the work by Larkin in the announcement of the Nobel Prize committee this year. The title of the ...
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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 ...
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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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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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466 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 ...
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Deriving Ampère's Circuital Law from Ampère's Force Law?

Ampère's force $d^2\vec{F_{21}}$ of current element $i_2d\vec{\ell_2}$ on $i_1d\vec{\ell_1}$ is$$d^2\vec{F_{21}}=-\frac{\mu_0}{4\pi}i_1i_2\frac{\hat{r}}{r^2}\left[2(d\vec{\ell_1}\cdot ...
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Concepts in Gabriel Kron's later papers

Gabriel Kron was an important research electrical engineer known for applying differential geometry and algebraic topology to the study of electrical system. Towards the end of his career he published ...
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Story about a mathematician, a dinner party, and the three-body problem

I remember dimly hearing a story, coincidentally also at a dinner party, and I was trying recently to track the details down with no success. I was hoping someone here might have also heard this story ...
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Difference between action-at-a-distance and a field according to Maxwell?

My question is more on a historical note that involves Maxwell’s equations. Besides the information that I have obtained from textbooks, I am mainly getting it from History of Maxwell's Equations and ...
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How was physics taught in the past? [closed]

Were there physics teaching aids used in the past? Or did professors just basically follow the textbook the students read? In other words: How was physics was taught in the past?
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History of Physics books [closed]

I would like some book reference regarding the history of physics. I'm a civil engineering student, and I want to have some basics on the type of developments regarding my field of specialization ...
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Any photon colliders in the past?

People have been thinking about a photon-photon collider (see this and this) as an add-on or to supplement the ILC, the next generation linear collider. My question is, have there been any ...
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Were Maxwell's equations first formulated by McCullough?

Some years ago, I heard a talk about a an Irish or Scottish physicist named McCullough who had formulated Maxwell's equations several years before Maxwell. This fellow was recognized for his work, ...
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110 views

How did gunsmiths create revolver cylinders in 1850's without the use of electrical drill? [closed]

How did gunsmiths create revolver cylinders holes in 1850's without the use of electrical drill? Which referces/ books specialize providing knowledge in similar molding method?
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What is the origin of the kinetic theory of temperature?

Count Rumford's experiments with canon barrels are often cited here, but the kinetic theory certainly precedes them. Another candidate is Daniel Bernoulli, who, in his 1738 book Hydrodynamica showed ...
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Obtaining a measurement very indirectly [closed]

While answering a question I came to reflect on the fact that in science experimental setups measure things indirectly. Example: the setup of the Pound-Rebka experiment. The amount of absorption was ...
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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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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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254 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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148 views

Didn't anybody see an apple falling before Isaac Newton? [closed]

We all know that Isaac Newton developed the gravitational theory (as is often told) when an apple fell on his head. But my question is, didn't anyone before him notice it?
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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?
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Goodwins “proof” and space time

I read about Goodwin's "proof" that $\pi = 3.20$, it's BS and I know that. What I am wondering is whether his technique may have stumbled on something ( a warped space) years before Einstein. So I ...
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696 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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What did Marie Curie do for atomic theory?

There appears to be a distinct lack of agreement in the physics community on what exactly Marie Curie did for atomic theory. Many journals state that Curie was responsible for shifting scientific ...
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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
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516 views

Planck's distribution and Bose-Einstein distribution?

If the application of the Bose-Einstein distribution is in blackbody radiation, then what is Planck's distribution? Are they same? How did Planck know that he should use a Bose-Einstein distribution ...
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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?
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How did Newton discover the universal law of gravitation?

I am having trouble comprehending how anyone could come up with this formula: $F = \frac{GMm}{d^2}$ Could someone walk me through this?
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Definition of metre

We know that 1 meter is the distance travelled by light in vacuum within a time interval of 1/299,792,458 second. My question is why we didn't take a simpler number like 1/300,000.000 or why not just ...
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When experimental search for exotic dark matter-like particles began exactly?

I am looking for information about : what was the first experiment that claimed to look specifically for non baryonic dark matter particles ; when occurred the first serious(*) reporting of an ...
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561 views

How was Newton's third law discovered?

How did Newton's third law came into being? Was it his original finding like the second law? Or was it more of a restatement of someone else like the 1st one coming from Galileo? In either case what ...
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Why is it easier to measure the specific charge of an electron over the charge?

The electron was discovered in 1897 and the $e/m$ ratio was measured at that time ,but the charge $e$ itself was measured in 1911. Why was it not possible to measure it earlier?