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

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Velocity selector and charge to mass ratio of an electron

I recently read that J.J. Thompson used a velocity selector to find the charge to mass ratio of an electron. Having learnt the principle behind the velocity selector, I see no relation between these ...
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273 views

What theoretical predictions took the longest to be experimentally confirmed? [closed]

Looking forward to Einstein's general relativity centennial in 2015, I was thinking about how cool it would be if LIGO detects gravitational waves in 1916 (centennial of Einstein's "weak field" paper) ...
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392 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 ...
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1answer
161 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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180 views

Doppler effect of matter waves

We all know that the relativistic mass of a moving object in Special relativity increases for an observer who is measuring it for a moving object. We also know the the concept of particle-wave ...
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1answer
138 views

Bohr on wholeness?

I vaguely remember that it was Bohr who insisted that in a quantum experiment the whole experimental situation (but excluding the classical preparation and detection devices) must be considered as a ...
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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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1answer
43 views

When were quarks discovered?

I know this sounds stupid. Especially to those of you who are actual physicists. I am a 7th grade above-level student who knows a little bit more that the basics of physics. I have recently discovered ...
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420 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 ...
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61 views

How is father of physics appointed? [closed]

I've tried Google, but couldn't figured out exactly whether its Newton, Einstein or Galileo. What is the criteria for appointment of father for a particular subject?
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49 views

Why are there a billion “Master equations”? [closed]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_equation The article describes pretty well how many there are and what kind of equations are called "Master equations". Does anyone know where the term ...
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11 views

Hadrian's wall? [migrated]

How did 2nd century Romans decide where to build Hadrian's wall? It is located exactly at the narrowest east-west section of the island. They had no laser theodolites, lenses, arial observation ...
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39 views

Earnshaw's Theorem and Plum Pudding

I'm trying to understand what Thompson's motivation for his Plum-pudding model was. He chose the nucleus to be a sphere of uniform charge because it was mathematically nice, and chose the charge to be ...
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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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30 views

How did people think of the universe before Hubble? [closed]

Did they think the universe had always existed? And was there even any serious scientific inquiry into the question, or was it pure speculation?
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3answers
1k 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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3answers
913 views

Accidental, unplanned breakthroughs in physics [closed]

There is possibly some idiom or saying like this, "If you try too hard for something, you will never get it. If you do not aim for something, it may fall on you accidentally, not as you originally ...
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232 views

What is the status of Everett's Thought Equation?

Here is Hugh Everett's PhD Thesis: http://philosophyfaculty.ucsd.edu/faculty/wuthrich/PhilPhys/EverettHugh1957PhDThesis_BarrettComments.pdf On page 9 he says: "We have the task of making ...
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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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81 views

Historical vs modern presentation of special relativity

I have noticed that historical or brief introductions of special relativity will discuss it in terms of inertial frames and postulates: Principle of Relativity - (from Einstein's 1905 paper) "the ...
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How was the “vibrating string” studied?

The vibrating string is used to derive a lot of theory regarding strings, such as the theory about harmonics. However, since the string movement and specifically the phenomenon of harmonics seems ...
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36 views

Experimental Bases for Schrodinger Equation and Matrix Mechanics

I am curious about the motivation for developing the Schrodinger equation (SE), and its subsequent acceptance. Are the primary experimental findings that led to the development of the SE: 1) the ...
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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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42 views

Reading about how Einstein ended up with GR [closed]

I would like to learn about the road that Einstein's train-of-thought traveled from special relativity to general :). I am also interested in dead ends and stuff. Can someone recommend articles, ...
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246 views

How did Kepler infer three-dimensional positions from Tycho Brahe's data?

This has bugged me for some time. Tycho Brahe's data on planetary observations, presumably, consisted of the direction in which a planet was observed at a given date and time, but not the distance to ...
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History of Renormalization Group

I want to study from an historical point of view the renormalization group (starting from statistical mechanics). Are there any historical (but also technical) books about this? Thanks.
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Why is “dark matter” theory accepted? Why wasn't general relativity rejected?

Dark matter was made up to account for unexplained effects such as gravitational lensing, the speed of expansion of the universe, or the rate of rotation of certain galaxies. However, as Feynman ...
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71 views

What is the origin of the Maxwell's wheel? [closed]

Tried to find it online, but nothing. Every refers to it and that it's named after the famous James Clerk Maxwell (of the maxwell electromagnetic laws and some other things) but it's like the ...
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103 views

George Green's derivation of Poisson's equation

I was reading George Green's An Essay on the Application of Mathematical Analysis to the Theories of Electricity and Magnetism, and I got confused on one step in his derivation of Poisson's Equation. ...
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106 views

Le Sage's Theory of Gravitation, is “drag” the only reason why this theory fails? [closed]

Le Sage's Theory of Gravitation was originally proposed allready 1690 by Nicolas Fatio, and has ever since been studied by remarkable scientists; Leonhard Eluer once remarked that it was "infinitely ...
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85 views

Proof for quantized angular momentum [duplicate]

In Bohr's model, Bohr stated that the angular momentum of the electron is quantized and stated that $$L=\frac{nh}{2\pi}$$ So what is the proof for that equation or, in other words, how did he derive ...
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1answer
28 views

Have hypothetical particles with gravitational mass unequal to their inertial mass been proposed in the past, e.g. as candidates for dark matter?

This is a question about history. To my understanding the equivalence of intertial and gravitational mass for all known particles is a weird empirical coincidence that has been confirmed to high ...
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1answer
91 views

Who told us how to measure torque?

We all know that force and torque are physical quantities which we have defined according to our purpose of work. Now we are all aware that Newton's Second Law from his Laws of Motion states how to ...
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Original papers on Hydrogen spectral lines

I am trying to find original experiments that had observed spectral lines from hydrogen or other gases. I am looking into experiments that motivated Niels Bohr to write his ideas on the hydrogen atom, ...
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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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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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164 views

How did Cook and other astronomers time the 1769 Venus transit?

The 1769 transit of Venus was observed and coordinated by over one hundred astronomers around the world. How did they measure time so accurately, key to the observations having any scientific value? I ...
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1answer
45 views

Reference for Kirchhoff's Circuit Laws

Does anyone know the reference where Gustav Kirchhoff published his famous circuit laws?
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The origin of femto, atto and zepto SI prefixes

Do you know why the SI prefixes: femto, atto, zepto have been accepted by Scientific Community, if this triad of metric units, is neither greek nor latin?
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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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63 views

Why wasn't the theory that light's velocity depended on its source very popular?

Before special relativity, it was believed that light having a specific velocity meant it had to travel through something. My question is, why wasn't the idea that light depended on its source very ...
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349 views

Was Leverrier-Adams prediction of Neptune a lucky coincidence?

According to historians both Adams and Leverrier used Bode's law to guess the distance to Neptune, which led to a vast overestimation of its orbital period (Adams - 227 years, Le Verrier - 218 years, ...
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2k views

Why is the second the SI base unit for time?

Specifically, during the moves towards Le Système international d'unités in the 18th and 19th centuries, why didn't anyone attempt to move us away from the definition of there being 24 hours in a day? ...
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Lev Landau's “Theoretical Minimum”

The great russian physicist Lev Landau developed a famous entry exam to test his students. This "Theoretical Minimum" contained everything he considered elementary for a young theoretical physicist. ...
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The role of anharmonic oscillator(s) in Heisenberg's 1925 paper

I am talking about the most famous paper of Heisenberg, which I know from the translation of van der Waerden (Sources in Quantum mechanics, North Holland, 1967). After introducing matrix mechanics ...
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Why do we use kilograms instead of newtons to measure weight in everyday life?

What was the reason to use kilograms to measure weight (e.g. body weight, market vegetables etc.) instead of using newtons?