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Questions tagged [physicists]

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8 votes
3 answers
22k views

Did Einstein really say: "If I were wrong, it would only take one."

The story is that Einstein was shown a German newspaper that claimed "One hundred German physicists claim Einsteins theory of relativity is wrong." Einsteins reply was supposedly, "If I were wrong, it ...
13 votes
12 answers
10k views

Which physicists died very young or in a tragic way?

Inspired by Which mathematicians died very young or in a tragic way? , I wonder which physicists had similar fates. A quick search lead me to Heinrich Hertz who died from a malignant bone condition at ...
2 votes
1 answer
392 views

Who discovered Maxwell-Faraday equation, $\nabla\times E=-\frac{\partial B}{\partial t}$? Was it Maxwell or Neumann?

I have been trying to find out who discovered Maxwell-Faraday equation, $\nabla\times E=-\frac{\partial B}{\partial t}$. Was it Maxwell himself, or was it Franz Ernst Neumann who derived it? The ...
5 votes
1 answer
315 views

On the naming of quantum chromodynamics

A theory of strong interaction is called quantum chromodynamics (QCD). Particles interacting strongly are supposed to have color charge, for example quarks appear in three "mutations" - red, green and ...
3 votes
1 answer
253 views

On early US patriotism to choose quark color charge labels

Sean Carroll has a video about gauge theory (2020) in his series about Greatest Ideas of the Universe, where he claims that early in the development of quantum chromodynamics, some physicists tried to ...
0 votes
0 answers
79 views

Who made the first (recorded) axiomatic model of nature?

Neil Degrasse Tyson has claimed that, via his Principia, Isaac Newton was the first person (on record) to make a "modern" theory of physics, in the sense that Newton made an axiomatic ...
7 votes
2 answers
5k views

Did Feynman win the Putnam by a "large margin"?

From James Gleick's Genius: the life and science of Richard Feynman: One of Feynman’s fraternity brothers was surprised to see him return home while the examination was still going on. Feynman ...
3 votes
1 answer
160 views

Who was the first woman to complete the physics and mathematics program in Zürich?

According to descriptions of Mileva Marić, Einstein's first wife, she was the second woman to complete the mathematics and physics program at the Zürich Polytechnikum. However, nobody points out who ...
8 votes
12 answers
4k views

Who were some physicists with musical background?

Inspired on this post: Who were some mathematicians who have a musical background? I want to now ask if there were any famous physicists who had a particular musical background. Looking in Google I ...
2 votes
0 answers
187 views

Who was the first to understand that there is not a net flux of energy between Sun and Earth, but of entropy?

According to Penrose's Cycles of Time, he starts by reminding the usefulness of the second law of thermodynamics and how it applies to everyday life. In particular, how the net energy of Earth is a ...
3 votes
1 answer
127 views

Was Martin Packard of Varian Associates related to David Packard of Hewlett-Packard?

I came across an entry for the Proceedings of the American Physical Society which was published in Phys. Rev. volume 93 page 939 (1954) under the heading "Minutes of the Stanford Meeting December ...
3 votes
1 answer
220 views

Did any "classical era" physicist foresee that a theory such as Quantum Mechanics is logically inescapable?

I am interested in knowing if in the era preceding the observations that lead to the advent of Quantum Mechanics, anyone foresaw logically that a theory such as Quantum Mechanics is in a sense, "...
4 votes
1 answer
680 views

Names of the electromagnetic units in SI

The unit of electric charge is the coulomb, named after Charles Augustin de Coulomb. This makes sense because Coulomb's law talks about the force between two charges. Likewise, it also makes sense to ...
3 votes
6 answers
295 views

What are some physicists that wrote literary works?

As usual when I see an article about asking about mathematicians, I cannot help to ask what about physics? Inspired by Literary works authored by mathematicians what are some physicist that also were ...
2 votes
0 answers
212 views

Why did Einstein's teacher say that Einstein's presence alone undermined his authority?

Based on the excellent answer from @njuffa in the post Is it true that Albert Einstein was kicked out of high school due to his "peacefulness"? there is a quote from what the "home-room ...
5 votes
0 answers
210 views

On Bryce Seligman DeWitt's Name Change

Weinberg, in his memoir on Bryce Seligman DeWitt (available at https://www.nasonline.org/publications/biographical-memoirs/memoir-pdfs/dewitt-bryce.pdf) states that In 1950 two major but totally ...
5 votes
6 answers
823 views

Are there any well known mathematicians who were fascists?

I only recently learned that Pascual Jordan, a well known physicist, with significant contributions to the development of early quantum mechanics was a paid up member of the Nazi Party. He in fact ...
2 votes
0 answers
763 views

Einstein's "answers have changed"

I remember first seeing this anecdote a few years ago in a newspaper article, now I am seeing more frequently in motivational content over the internet, every time with very few additional details. ...
1 vote
1 answer
208 views

Why did Sylvester Gates choose the name Adinkra?

Sylvester James Gates was one of the co-discoverers of Adinkras. These are graphical representations of susy (supersymmetry) algebras. They are named after a West African people — the Akan of Ghana ...
1 vote
0 answers
96 views

First example of regularization

Background: I like to think of L'Hospital as one of the earliest authors of least-squares regression. L'Hospital, G. (1696). L'analyse des infiniment petits pour l'intelligence des lignes courbes. I'm ...
1 vote
0 answers
142 views

Presocratics from the view of mathematicians and physicists

I am interested in a book that has all the fragments of pre-socratics but the notes etc. in the translation are from a mathematician or physicist relating with how each point affected the evolution of ...
1 vote
0 answers
103 views

Doubt on women behind the development of wormhole physics

Ludwig Flamm $[1]$, Albert Einstein-Natan Rosen $[2]$, Hermann Weyl $[3]$, John Wheeler-Fuller $[4,5]$, Homer G. Ellis $[6]$, K. Bronnikov $[7]$, Michael Morris-Kip Thorne$[8]$, M. Visser $[9]$, ...
19 votes
1 answer
4k views

What did Schroedinger try to say with the cat thought experiment?

In many books one finds different explanations. Specifically popular seems to be that he "argued against the Copenhagen interpretation". But what did he really intend to communicate? I for ...
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why is it said that Marie Curie died due to her work but the same isn't said for Fermi?

I learnt in school that Marie Curie died from her work at 66 years. On the other hand, Enrico Fermi, who also handled a lot of radioactive substances died of stomach cancer at the age of just 53. It ...
0 votes
0 answers
210 views

Galileo's discovery of the independence of motion

It is well-known that Galileo was the first one to state that motions in different dimensions (or components) are independent of one another. Where is this in Galileo's writings?
1 vote
0 answers
99 views

What physicist was famous for his out-of-the-box problem solving methodology using concept maps?

I remember having read on Wikipedia some time ago the page of a 20th century physicist. There was a subsection about his strategy for problem solving that involved drawing a concept map of the objects ...
3 votes
1 answer
357 views

Where did Fermi get the U235 for the first nuclear pile?

I am puzzled as to where or who produced the U235 for the first nuclear pile. I read that graphite was used as a neutron moderator but only .7 % of natural uranium is U235. He must have gotten it ...
7 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why is magnetic flux density named after Nikola Tesla?

I have my respect for Mr Tesla, but it seems weird that "he" was chosen to be the units of magnetic flux density. I mean, he didn't contribute much to magnetic fields theory, nor did he work ...
3 votes
1 answer
232 views

Demystifying Nikola Tesla: Scientifically sound, historically accurate biography

As any physicist knows, a lot of amateur science afficionados out there bring up Nikola Tesla in rather fantastical ways. There are indeed a few reasons for his near mythical status in popular culture,...
2 votes
0 answers
360 views

Other than Franco Rasetti, how many scientists refused to work on the Manhattan Project on moral grounds?

Franco Rasetti was an American-Italian physicist. He was born in Italy and obtained his laurea in physics at the university of Pisa. Fermi invited him to join his research group at the University of ...
2 votes
1 answer
169 views

How did Heisenberg build the P Q matrix terms?

I learnt in some Wikipedia articles that the terms of the P and Q matrices designed by Heisenberg were composed of Fourier coefficients. Could you provide some explanation on how these coefficients ...
13 votes
1 answer
4k views

How did Jun John Sakurai die?

How did theoretical physicist Jun John Sakurai die? The only result from extensive googling is that he died "suddenly" while working at CERN. Does anyone know anything more specific?
13 votes
2 answers
2k views

Who was the first to hypothesise that gravity from one mass causes the spacetime around another mass to curve?

Was it Einstein? Or was there someone before him to hypothesise this?
0 votes
0 answers
92 views

Who introduced the difference between magnetic fields in matter? $\mathbf H$ vs $\mathbf B$

In magnetism, there are two different magnetic fields, that I will simply call $\mathbf B$ and $\mathbf H$. The distinction is not always clear. In experiments $\mathbf H$ is the applied field while $\...
5 votes
1 answer
746 views

Who was first to observe or detect photons in the double slit experiment, and how did they do that?

In the early 1800s Thomas Young introduced (a thought-?) experiment also known as the two slit experiment. He discovered the strange way photons created a interference pattern on a screen. There is ...
0 votes
0 answers
49 views

Which scientist(s) first measured the elementary charge and how did they do it? [duplicate]

I would be grateful if anyone could shed some light on these questions. Which scientist(s) first measured the elementary charge? If it wasn't measured in a straightforward experimental setting, and ...
3 votes
1 answer
694 views

Portrait of Stephen Butterworth

Does anybody know of a portrait of British physicist Stephen Butterworth (1885-1958)?
0 votes
1 answer
213 views

Did John von Neumann ever go to any Nordic Country? Did Eugene Paul Wigner ever go to any other Nordic country apart from Sweden?

I am researching the presence of important scientists in Nordic countries — Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. I was hoping that someone could help me since I've not been able to find ...
0 votes
0 answers
86 views

Does Anthony Bloch have a kinship with Felix Bloch?

I would like to know whether Anthony Bloch is a descendant of Felix Bloch or not. The Anthony Bloch's page on The Mathematics Genealogy Project only shows his advisory relationships, not kinships. ...
9 votes
2 answers
9k views

Why did Einstein oppose quantum uncertainity?

Einstein always believed that everything is certain, and we can calculate everything. That's why he rejected quantum mechanics, due to its factor of uncertainty. But still quantum physics was right. ...
17 votes
7 answers
8k views

Has there been an equivalent in physics to Ramanujan in maths?

Ramanujan's story is a well known story of the Indian young man who turned out to be a mathematical genius without a scholarly education. He was "discovered" by the mathematician Hardy at ...
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Heisenberg's Obituary to Pauli

In an interview of Heisenberg by Thomas Kuhn: When Pauli had died, I was asked to write this memorial volume. Weisskopf had asked me. Then, actually, originally I had written an article on Pauli's ...
6 votes
6 answers
6k views

Famous scientists in the Nazi party

Can anyone give a list of famous scientists in the Nazi Party? Is there a complete list?
0 votes
0 answers
110 views

Max Planck and energy quantization idea

Did Planck have an intuition behind the idea of energy quantization of atomic oscillators and radiation, or was it just a mathematical trick to derive his distribution law?
1 vote
4 answers
1k views

Biographies on 20th Century physicists

I've recently finished reading Helge Kragh's Quantum Generations and am looking forward to something to read next. I am hoping to find biographies or more information about certain physicists such as ...
9 votes
1 answer
249 views

Landau doubting conservation of energy---and what followed

When the original beta decay experiments seemed to suggest that energy was not a conserved quantity, Landau (among others) proposed that energy conservation was a statistical law rather then a ...
4 votes
1 answer
558 views

What are some references that Lev Landau was atheist?

In Wikipedia and many other sources copying it, it is claimed that Lev Landau was an atheist (I have no problem to believe the claim), however the (two) sources are not satisfying at all, to me. I ...
0 votes
0 answers
204 views

Was Landau interested in the interpretations of quantum mechanics?

I am interested in Lev Landau. I was trying to find what was his approach to the interpretation of quantum mechanics, I am unable to find any particular source were this is discussed. Was he an ...
2 votes
1 answer
780 views

How did J.J. Thomson learn that what he discovered was different than an atom or a molecule?

Wikipedia says he discovered that the electron was different than an atom or molecule. His line of reasoning is not shown. I additionally searched stack exchange and unless I missed it..... I am lost ...
2 votes
0 answers
101 views

Was Becquerel's discovery of radioactivity inspired by his father?

Becquerel was awarded the Nobel prize for his discovery of radioactivity. He was researching phosphoresence and decided one day to place the stuff he used in a drawer to keep it out of the sun. He put ...