Somewhere in the world is housed what is thought to be the largest complete history of physics. I recall it being of some ridiculous length, something like hundreds or thousands of volumes. I cannot, however, recall the name of this "book", nor any further details.

Where is this collection held? What is its name?

  • $\begingroup$ something like hundreds or thousands of volumes --- There is definitely no such thing. Not even if "hundreds or thousands" is replaced by "dozens". I've browsed through the math and physics sections of enough university libraries (probably over 30, maybe over 40) in the past 45 years or so to say this with fair certainty, plus anything like this would certainly have been reviewed by Isis, or Archeion, or (continued) $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2020 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences, or British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, or one of several other similar journals I spent several years going through every volume in the library stacks about 10-15 years ago. (Actually, I was able to check out the volumes, which I did, about 8 to 10 volumes at a time, which I looked through at home and photocopied articles and reviews of interest to me at a nearby photocopy store.) $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2020 at 18:40
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe Wenner's collection of 4000 original physics papers and books? $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Nov 17, 2020 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Coinfold: The web page you cited has near the beginning "... ranch house on the eastern coast of Florida ...". Given the frequent hurricanes and flooding on Florida coasts, this is NOT a safe place for something as important as his collection of old manuscripts! I also note the large number of windows in the room, which is also scary when one is thinking what could happen during severe storms. (I was in the middle of this a few weeks ago. Fortunately, despite over an hour of 80+ mi/hr winds, none of my stuff got damaged.) $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2020 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Conifold Wenner published a PoD (792pp.) book called History of Physics (2nd rev. ed. 2018). $\endgroup$
    – Geremia
    Nov 18, 2020 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


This sounds like the physics equivalent of the Library of Babel by the Argentine author, Jorge Luis Borges and similarly, as fictive.

Perhaps in the future we can imagine some such 'Encyclopadia Principae Physicae' hyperlinked to every journal ever printed and instantly accessible to everyone and running to millions of pages and many thousands of volumes and updated in real-time by students and researchers alike, as well as the interested layman.

There is no such thing now - though, perhaps, Wikipedia comes closest.


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