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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57 views

Who first defined velocity and acceleration?

I'm asking who was the first to use and define velocity and acceleration in the modern, now standard way, with velocity being the first derivative of position and acceleration being the second ...
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Did anyone ever propose a hypercomplex numbers system with more than one anisotropic axis?

The real number axis is asymmetric against zero: for instance, multiplication of two negative or two positive numbers will produce a positive number, a square root of a negative number is not real, ...
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Was Kants theory of space and time inspired by that of colour?

Kants theory of space, time and causality is that they are the very forms of experience and ground all the other phenomena that we can experience. He called them the forms of sensibility. Kant studied ...
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Is there any evidence that Einstein knew of Cliffords speculation on the nature of gravity and electromagnetism?

Around 1870, William Clifford published a short note in The Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society describing all forces as an aspect of the curvature of space. This is the basis of ...
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A technical and historical introduction to quantum mechanics

I am curious to understand the history of QM. In particular, how did the physicists conclude that observables can be treated as operators, or the use of complex state spaces, or that Eigenvalues of ...
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How is it possible that Pierre and Marie Curie's daughter Ève was so healthy?

I know that problems caused by radiation are pretty much random and unexpected at low levels of exposition but this randomness begins to be more probable when the exposition grows and this makes me ...
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159 views

Who named Black Hole?

A black hole is a compact region of spacetime where gravity is so strong that nothing, even light, can escape from its event horizon, and, interestingly, Einstein didn't accept this viewpoint. Now, I'...
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History of rotational / rigid body mechanics

In teaching introductory mechanics classes, I like to give my students a much-abridged sketch of some history of mechanics, starting with Aristotle and ending with Galileo and Newton. Most of the ...
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History of experimental verification of the identity of voltaic and static electricity and references

What where the crucial experiments which showed the identity of voltaic and static electricity? How did the experiments work in detail and what are the original references for it? In "A History ...
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How did the concept of work being the dot product of force and displacement come into existence?

Well this is really a silly question. However I am curious to know about this topic. Concept of each of the quantities discussed in physics have come into existence based on some basic human thoughts. ...
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In which year the notion of star death started?

In which year, does the fact: every star will ultimately die came in to existence?
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When was “Faraday's Law of Induction” first expressed in a quantified form?

An often used definition of "Faraday's Law of Induction" goes something like this (found in Wikipedia) The electromotive force around a closed path is equal to the negative of the time rate ...
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Gravity's Rainbow: An accidental nominal similarity in science and literature?

There is an interesting extension of Einstein's Special Relativity, known as Doubly Special Relativity (presented after 2002) in which there is not only an observer-independent maximum velocity (i.e., ...
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Famous gypsy/romani physicists?

Are there any famous/notorious Romani physicist? Thanks!
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Who discovered the wave equation?

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4684-5772-8_2 says: Using Newton's recently formulated laws of motion, Brook Taylor (1685–1721) discovered the wave equation by means of physical ...
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How was it discovered that the Magnetic force was orthogonal to the B-field and the velocity of the charged particle?

Forces like the gravitational and the electric force are in the direction of the force field. Why is it that the magnetic force is orthogonal to the velocity of the charge and the magnetic field? Was ...
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How did Newton originally formulate the Law of Cooling?

I am searching for Newton's original formulation of the Law of Cooling. In his article (p.140-143), Newton said: "For the heat which the hot iron communicates in a given time to cold bodies ...
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1answer
117 views

What is the history of the use of the word daughter for a decay product in nuclear physics?

I was browsing the book Isotopes: Principles and Applications by Faure and Mensing and I would like to know what is the history of the use of the word daughter for a decay product. It seems to me that ...
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How did Einstein arrive at the result that mass and energy affect pairs of points in spacetime (the curves joining them)?

I understand that the relationship between the metric tensor* and the four-momentum flux across the surfaces of constant $x^\nu$ coordinate is described by Einstein's field equations. My question is &...
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Did Newton discuss and/or use the principle of moments?

This question comes from a point of view of a student in current times. The general curriculum for a physics student presents that a static analysis of a simple system requires that the forces in each ...
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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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136 views

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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2answers
121 views

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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413 views

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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91 views

Who coined the 'particle zoo' expression?

I've been looking for the origin of the '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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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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680 views

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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59 views

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 was Boltzmann's 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
102 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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1answer
124 views

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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77 views

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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57 views

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
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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
44 views

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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