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

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Recent missed opportunities à la Freeman Dyson

There is an excellent paper by Freeman Dyson from 1972 (here) and therein the author cites old talks by Hilbert (here) and Minkowski (chapter 2 here) speaking about similar topics, namely how ...
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87 views

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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347 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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1answer
254 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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321 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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2answers
3k 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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3answers
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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4answers
592 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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5answers
634 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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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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941 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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85 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
200 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
160 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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2answers
304 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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3answers
872 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
137 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
3k 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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2answers
587 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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1answer
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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2answers
77 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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1answer
50 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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1answer
141 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
182 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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1answer
107 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
57 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
210 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
78 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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1answer
46 views

How was the concept of work-energy developed? [duplicate]

I doubt that the concept of work-energy was actually discovered this way. However in the algebra based physics book I am reading, work done by a constant net force is defined as $W = fcos \theta s$ ...
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1answer
128 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
196 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
158 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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1answer
166 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 ...
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1answer
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
457 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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59 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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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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135 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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340 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
129 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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104 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
125 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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67 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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130 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 ...