Questions tagged [physics]

For questions about the scientific discipline that concerns itself with analyzing the laws of nature in full generality. It is one of the largest branches of natural science. Before applying this tag to a question, please consider using the "theoretical-physics" or "experimental-physics" tags instead, as they are more descriptive.

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74 views

Could 17th century astronomers in the Netherlands predict solar eclipses a few months in advance?

In the 17th century Netherlands, could the astronomers, or sailors trained in stellar navigation, predict either total or partial (at least 40% obscured) solar eclipses over the the town of Aardenburg ...
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What are the definitive experiments/phenomena which motivate quantum mechanics?

The double slit experiment is usually given as the foremost example of a physical experiment that requires quantum mechanics to satisfactorily explain. However, every account i've seen of it (such as ...
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What are Steven Weinberg's contribution to physics other than electroweak unification?

What are Steven Weinberg's contributions to physics other than the Nobel-winning work on electroweak unification? Why is he so famous and respected among particle physicists compared to other Nobel ...
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How much radiation did the Curies get while synthetising Radium?

While Marie Skłodowska's husband, Pierre Curie, died in a traffic accident, she died of cancer. Various sources claim that the radiation she got during their experiments might have contributed ...
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Validity of Maxwell's equations in the aether's reference frame

If Maxwell's equations were experimentally found on Earth such as Faradays law, coulombs law , and worked in the Earth's frame of reference, then why did people believe them to be valid in the aether'...
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Was the sun assumed to be at rest aether frame?

Back in the past, was the sun assumed to be at rest in the luminous aether frame?
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Maxwell equations and aether

Were Maxwells equations (in their usual common form) assumed to be valid only in ether frame,in the past? If someone would ask them "In what frame are you writing these equations " ,what ...
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Who coined the 'particle zoo' expression?

I've been looking for the origin of 'particle zoo' expression but so far failed to track down who first used it or at least who popularized it.
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Who invented the quadrupole lens for charged particles?

I am wondering who actually invented the (magnetic) quadrupole lens or who used it for the first time. I have found some papers from the 50s and 60s about more complicated systems based on Quadrupoles,...
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Dirac's non-neglibile disturbances argument and epistemic quantum mechanics

Here is Dirac's argument about one reason to motivate quantum mechanics: "It is usually assumed that, by being careful, we may cut down the disturbance accompanying our observation to any desired ...
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1answer
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Did Sophie Germain find a flaw in Euler's equations for elastic vibrations?

I am a playwright working on a play about Sophie Germain. When Sophie was competing for the prix extraordinaire to find effective formulas to describe the vibrations of elastic surfaces, she believed ...
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1answer
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Why historically the hour was divided into 60 minutes and when it had started? [duplicate]

Why and when was the hour divided into exactly 60 minutes (and not for example 70 or 80)?
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How did the first astronomers define what a planet is?

What is the origin of the term "planet" and how did astronomers first define the term?
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When did physicists begin using the symbol $G$ for Newton's gravitational constant?

The Cavendish experiment was equivalent to measuring $G,$ Newton's gravitational constant. However, because physicists at the time did not write equations in the same way we do now, Cavendish didn't ...
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What was Newton's statement of the universal law of gravitation?

Newton explained the inverse square law in Principia. On looking through an English translation, though, I'm having difficulty pulling out a single quote that is Newton's clearest statement of the ...
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Has Daniel Bernoulli's 1764 paper on organ pipe acoustics been translated into English?

The full title: RECHERCHES PHYSIQUES MÉCANIQUES ET ANALYTIQUES SUR LE SON ET SUR LE TONS DES TUYAUX D’ORGUES DIFFÉREMMENT CONSTRUITS Link to a pdf: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011812546 Some ...
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What is the Boltzmann contribution to the theory of “statistical ensemble”?

In the book "Ludwig Boltzmann, the man who trusted atoms"by C.Cercignani, I read about the thesis according to which it was Boltzmann, not Gibbs who first introduced the concept of "...
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Who predicted the existence of the muon neutrino?

The Wikipedia article on the muon neutrino says: The muon neutrino is a lepton, an elementary subatomic particle which has the symbol $\nu_\mu$ and no net electric charge. Together with the muon it ...
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1answer
99 views

Origins of the canonical commutation relation

I have recently been reading Gunter Ludwig's book wave mechanics to get a better understanding of quantum mechanics and in reading through the book I came across the relation $$m\sum_s \{|q_{rs}|^2\...
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What is the history of adding the Clock Hypothesis to Special Relativity?

As far as I understand, Einstein’s original formulation of Special Relativity did not include the Clock Hypothesis, though it was implicitly assumed. The modern formulation of SR adds a formal ...
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What was the historical motivation for introducing the concept 'gravitational potential'?

As a high school physics teacher, I like to motivate all concepts and terminology with how they were first developed historically. Recently I did some research on the motivation behind introducing the ...
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How did we arrive at the rule of addition of vectors?

I wanted to ask about how they arrived to the rule of addition of vectors. How did they know that if we add the X's and Y's of two vectors they would get a third vector which has exactly the same ...
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1answer
76 views

Who is the father of fiber optics?

Here Wiki says Narinder Singh Kapany is "father of fiber optics". Here source says Charles Kuen Kao is "father of fiber optics". Who is the father of fiber optics: Charles Kuen Kao ...
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1answer
60 views

Why is wave guide theory developed so long after Maxwell's work was published?

When some fundamental new theory is published, derived work will be done "instantly", example from quantum mechanics: 1926 Schrödinger equation 1927 The first application of quantum ...
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Was Planck's Constant a huge leap conceptually? [duplicate]

It must have been observed, for example, that there was no element lighter than hydrogen or that there were not different-charged electrons (I believe the electron was discovered prior to Planck's ...
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Experimenters regretting throwing away data?

Modern experiments, especially in fields like particle physics, often collect far more data than they can process and save. Similarly, I can imagine that historical experimenters were limited by how ...
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What are the earliest inventions to store and release energy (e.g. fly wheels)?

I am interested in very early inventions that allowed energy to be stored and released after a delay even it's just a short time. With "invention" I mean a novelty that is the result of ...
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1answer
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Books about the development/history of gravitational theory

I am looking for a book about the history of gravitational theory. It should obviously include discussions of Newton, Einstein, and their theories, and hopefully it would include the work of other ...
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How did Faraday determine the Faraday's constant?

Here is the reference. I'm wondering how he experimentally proceeded to derive the fact the if we pass 96485 Coulombs through a solution, then 1 gram equivalent of substance is electrolyzed.
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Historical proofs of the series expression for the Bessel function of the first kind

Introduction The Bessel function of the first kind $J_n(x)$ ($n \in \mathbb{Z},\ x \in \mathbb{R}$) appeared early among other topics, in Celestial Mechanics, in the series expression of the true ...
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Has someone ever proposed a “many worlds/histories” model where all possible boundary conditions are considered? [closed]

The Hawking-Hartle no boundary condition is a well known model that tries to explain how did the universe begin. The authors considered a "many worlds/histories" model considering a sum over ...
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What is the origin in the discrepancy between engineers' and physicists' notation of waves?

my question is very simple. Physicists use this notation in order to write a (for example) plane wave: $$ \xi(z) = \xi^+ \mathrm{e}^{+\mathrm{i}kz} + \xi^- \mathrm{e}^{-\mathrm{i}kz}, $$ where $\xi^+$ ...
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First paper in derived speeds after collision in relativistic dynamics

In the one dimensional relativistic collision, do you know which is the first paper in which the final speeds in terms of initial rates and rest masses are derived? I found the derivation on Wikipedia ...
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How did physicists deal with the variance of electromagnetism before special relativity?

I am trying to write a paper on how Einstein's special relativity (SR) essentially saved electromagnetism for high school and am confused on how the following two problems were solved. How did ...
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1answer
54 views

Gravity of Plato

What is the description of the gravitational interaction in the philosophy of Plato? Are there some drastic differences from Aristotle's physics?
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1answer
132 views

The unit Ångström

The website http://unitsofmeasure.org/ucum.html tells us whether every unit is metric or not. Metric units can be multiplied by a power of 10 and can be combined with a prefix. One ångström is defined ...
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Gravity before Aristotle

In this wiki article, the history of gravity starts with Aristotle. However, what were the ideas about Earth's gravity and motion of planets before Aristotle?
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How close were the slits in Young's experiment? [duplicate]

How close were the slits in the Young's double slit experiment in 1804 (the second one) and how were they realized? This is not a duplicate of this question: I am not asking about how the experiemnts ...
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1answer
183 views

Where does “the grating equation” come from? Does it have a another name?

What we often refer to as Snell's law: $$n_1 \sin(\theta_1) - n_2 \sin(\theta_2) = 0$$ has quite a bit of history behind it. It can be demonstrated in several ways, one of which is by asserting that ...
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Why did no one else, except Einstein, work on developing General Relativity between 1905-1915?

Einstein dedicated his time between 1905-1915 to develop general relativity (GR). It seems strange to me that no other physicists attempted to tackle this problem in this ten-year period. After all, ...
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Did the knowledge of Wootz steel actually become 'lost'?

Wootz steel was manufactured in Southern India around two millennia ago. With some people saying as far back as 500 BCE, however, the actual physical evidence of such a steel is by 200 AD. The ...
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Do we know how Feynmans religious views changed throughout his life?

According to Feynman, there was a quota for Jews at American Universities and when he was accepted on a graduate programme - I think at Princeton - they were told "he's Jewish but he doesn't act ...
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1answer
63 views

How were wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum first found?

We now all “know” that visible light has a wavelength between about 380 nanometres and 700 nanometres, and that shorter wavelength are the domain of UV, X-rays, and gamma rays; and longer wavelengths ...
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How did the current physics curriculum came to be?

By far, looking at several curriculums of High School/First-Year Undergraduate physics. The curriculum always starts with Mechanics, moves into Electricity/Electromagnetism and ends with Modern ...
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1answer
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When were white holes theorised?

It seems to me that once black holes were theorised then the obvious singularity at its centre - though only ratified after Hawking and Penrose's singularity theorems - one would have to ask where the ...
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52 views

Why do physicists call their Hilbert space of states simply the Hilbert space?

In mathematics it's well known that a Hilbert space is a simply a descriptive terminology. It doesn't say, what is ontologically under consideration. One can have Hilbert spaces of a great many things,...
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What prompted Bose's move to Dhaka University in 1921?

Satyendra Nath Bose who discovered boson statistics and is credited by Einstein for also discovering the Bose-Einstein condensate was born in Calcutta, was educated there at Presidency College and ...
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1answer
184 views

Names of the electromagnetic units in SI

The unit of charge is the Coulomb, named after Charles Augustin de Coulomb. This makes sense because Coulomb's law talks about the force between two charges. But I have seen that the SI unit of ...
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Did C.S Peirce make any noteworthy contributions to physics or chemistry?

According to this article Peirce was the first to experimentally tie a unit, the meter, to an absolute standard, the wavelength of a spectral line Did C.S Peirce make any other noteworthy ...
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1answer
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What is the name of the “largest complete history” of physics?

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, ...

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