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

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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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4answers
578 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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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 ...
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5answers
627 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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2answers
146 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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2answers
924 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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2answers
81 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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1answer
198 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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1answer
159 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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277 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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1answer
133 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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1answer
2k 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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489 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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779 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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1answer
103 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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1answer
178 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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96 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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1answer
52 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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2answers
103 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 ...
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1answer
62 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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1answer
208 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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1answer
251 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 ...
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1answer
127 views

Why Newton wanted lines to be generated by continued motion of points rather than by apposition of parts?

The following passage has been extracted from the Newton's (John Stewart's English translated version) "Sir Issac Newton's two Treatises: Of the Quadrature of Curves, and Analysis by equations of an ...
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1answer
181 views

When was the first time that superconducting quasiparticles were called Majorana fermions?

Since a number of years, the field of superconductivity has a growing obsession with Majorana fermions. I wonder how far back we can go: When was the first time that superconducting quasiparticles ...
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1answer
156 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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1k 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
438 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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23 views

Which date the twin paradox was formulated first time? [migrated]

Any research about real measurements with faster moving than me systems - like GPS for example - leads to a mix of different sideway phenomenons like different gravitational potential on earth and in ...
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56 views

What are the reasons for accepting Coulomb's law? [duplicate]

I read the Coulomb's first memoir on Electricity and Magnetism (Louis L. Bucciarelli english translated version), and found it to contain only three trials (as complained by many) to reach the ...
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23 views

What is the origin of the naming convention for the various branches in vibration-rotational spectroscopy?

In vibration-rotational spectroscopy, the different spectral lines are grouped into branches for different changes in the total angular momentum, i.e. $$ \begin{array}{rrrrrr} & \mathrm{O} & ...
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132 views

Which problem is Oppenheimer working on in this picture? [closed]

Does anybody recognize the equations on the blackboard? Above his hand, with the $\gamma_k$ term and its complex conjugate, it looks like a written out matrix representation of a Hamiltonian $U$, ...
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332 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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1answer
116 views

How did Kepler formulate his second law from data?

It's amazing that Kepler derived his three laws emperically and then Newton rederived them from his own laws of motion. Its conceivable how Kepler derived the first and third laws, but the second law? ...
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102 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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1answer
123 views

Einstein's space-time theory [closed]

I'm a high school student who never studied any relativity before, but I'm just wondering what was THE question that Einstein asked himself before going into this field. I knew he has done lots of ...
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2answers
1k views

How did Newton establish his famous third law of motion?

For every action,there is equal and opposite reaction . This is the famous Newton's third law of motion. But how did he come to this conclusion? We can prove 2nd law using calculus. But how did Newton ...
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63 views

Which scientists have managed to name their laws/terms after themselves? [closed]

It would be pretty vain for someone to name a scientific law, unit, or term after themselves. "Newtons" as the name for the measurement of force, for example, was adopted in 1948, so I don't expect ...
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124 views

Formulas for Haitz's law?

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 is for LED. There is a related Haitz's law: ...every decade, the cost per lumen (unit of useful light emitted) falls by a factor of 10, and the amount of light ...
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70 views

Was Tesla familiar with Helmholtz, Maxwell, and Hertz (or vice versa)? [closed]

Was Tesla familiar with the theories or experiments of Helmholtz, Maxwell, and Hertz (or vice versa)?
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275 views

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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178 views

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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75 views

Physics classics [closed]

I would like some help to find good and detailed books on the history of physics. Which are the classics in this domain? Which are your favorite?
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0answers
43 views

Newton and the change of mass with time [duplicate]

I always thought that $force$ is $mass * acceleration$. Well, that's what I learnt at school a while back. Now, I have been enlightened that force is in fact the rate of change of momentum. What ...
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85 views

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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31 views

Helmholtz's “Ueber die Bewegungsgleichungen der Elektricität für ruhende leitende Körper” in English?

Is Helmholtz's 1870 paper "Ueber die Bewegungsgleichungen der Elektricität für ruhende leitende Körper," Journal für die reine und angewandte Mathematik 72:57-129 translated into English anywhere? ...
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245 views

How did the scientific community receive Einstein's theories when he published them? [closed]

By now, we have had multiple indications through observations and experiments that Einstein's theories on general and special relativity are correct. We recently had our second observation of ...
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103 views

Lennard-Jones induced pseudo-molecules

It can be shown that the Lennard-Jones potential - which describes the interaction between particles in non-ideal gases - gives rise to pseudo-molecules: after a triple "collision" of three ...
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James Joule's Conservation of Energy

Is there a manifest or documentation of the original Conservation of Energy as stated by James Joule word for word? Edit 1.1: I found Joule's Memoir on google, skimming through to find any conclusive ...
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331 views

Why the letter $B$ for magnetic fields? [closed]

Is there a reason behind the usage of this letter to represent magnetic fields, or is it a randomly made choice?