Questions tagged [physics]

For questions about the scientific discipline that concerns itself with analysing the laws of nature in full generality

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What's the early history of the "inner quantum number"?

Pais in his "Inward Bound" describes the early history of spin. He tells us that Goudsmit and Uhlenbeck interpreted Pauli's "doubled valuedness" as spin, while in turn Pauli re-...
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What is the origin of the name "degeneracy" pressure and "degenerate" Fermi gas?

What is the origin of the name "degeneracy" pressure and "degenerate" Fermi gas? I was trying to find the first paper that used the term "degenerate/degeneracy" to ...
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Were the Euler-Bernoulli beam bending equations used in the design of the Eiffel Tower?

On Wikipedia, I read that the Euler-Bernoulli equations on beam-bending were used in the design of the Eiffel Tower: It was first enunciated circa 1750, but was not applied on a large scale until the ...
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When Was The Leidenfrost Effect First Demonstrated By Touching Molten Metal?

The Leidenfrost Effect is a described as follows on Wikipedia: The Leidenfrost effect is a physical phenomenon in which a liquid, close to a surface that is significantly hotter than the liquid's ...
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What's the difference between Galileo's "impeto" and "momento"?

In Galileo's Two New Sciences, he describes an experiment demonstrating pendulum motion and how the pendulum will rise to the same height from where it started its fall. This discussion can be found ...
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Why was the concept of momentum invented in the first place, and what is its history?

Why was the concept of momentum invented in the first place, and is it useful in the different discoveries and equations that came after?
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Why was the idea of "field" introduced?

I read in my Physics textbook that the notion of Electric fields are useful "when we have to deal with time dependent Electromagnetic phenomenon since no information can travel faster than light&...
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What is the difference between Newton's definitions and axioms?

What is the difference between definition and axiom? For instance, Newton's Definition 1 reads: (Cohen p. 403) Quantity of matter is a measure of matter that arises from its density and volume ...
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Did most or just few physicists think in 1900 that there was nothing important left to discover?

For example, the whole microscopic world was unknown - isn't that a fundamental problem even bigger than the "two clouds" to solve? They could regard atoms, electrons and other discovered ...
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Why and when was the kinetic theory of gases generalized to fluids?

I've been reading about kinetic theory of gases, which only deals with gases. I know that the lattice Boltzmann method, which is commonly used to simulate fluid flows, finds its origin in the kinetic ...
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Did Halley, Wren and Hooke use $a=v^2/r$ to infer the inverse square law?

I'm reading Richard Conn Henry's article called "Circular Motion." In it he states that in his De vi Centrifuga Huygens discovered the formula $a=v^2/r$ and that Edmund Halley, Christopher ...
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Why is there no special unit there for velocity/speed?

Heat, time, and electrical current have separate units, namely, calorie, second and ampere, respectively. However, there is no special unit for velocity. We still use $\frac{\rm m}{\rm s}$. Why? ...
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Parisian scholastics' work on mechanics

I was reading the Compendium of the foundations of classical statistical physics by Jos Uffink where, on p. 4, the following statement is made: In a discussion of the foundations of classical ...
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Interviews / Conversations with Einstein

I'm searching interviews and/or conversations (in English) with Einstein as text. Is there something available? In particular physics (e.g. theory of relativity) would be interesting but also other (e....
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Component form of the fourth Maxwell's equation

I am doing an introduction to Maxwell's equations, and it is said that originally the equations were in component form. Can anyone help with the derivation of the fourth equation? I have checked many ...
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Did quantum mechanics solve any open problems related to the classical optical properties of solids?

sIt is clear, that the understanding that matter is made of atoms allows us to refine our calculations and go beyond the usual optics. Quantum mechanics solved many issues like the black body ...
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Hilbert's criticism on the first version of Einstein's field equations

Crossposted at Physics Stack Exchange I have read once that Hilbert had some reservations regarding the first form of the field equations $$ R_{\mu\nu} = k T_{\mu\nu} $$ because it was not possible ...
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According to Heisenberg, is quantum theory merely a calculation procedure for predictions?

Is quantum theory just a mathematical tool for correct predictions, according to Heisenberg's views? What are his personal ontological commitments in relation to quantum theory (if he had any ...
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History of determining the specific charge of the electron by balacing electric and magnetic forces

Nowadays is a well known high school or undergrad lab experiment to determine the specific electron charge by using a Wien-filter setup as described for example here. Up to now I thought that this ...
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Did John von Neumann make any comments about the Many Worlds Interpretation of Hugh Everett?

I was having a discussion with a physicist about Many Worlds Interpretation and he told me that von Neumann like the idea of having multiple worlds in quantum mechanics. When I asked him about more ...
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Why is $T_{\mu\nu}$ the Standard Notation for the Stress-Energy-Momentum Tensor

My question is simple: why do we use $T_{\mu\nu}$ to denote the stress energy momentum tensor, and when was the concept of the stress energy tensor first (or roughly the first) introduced (and by whom)...
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References for Laplace's question regarding Newtonian Gravity

In this lecture by Prof. Frederic Schuller @ 17:49 , it is said that Laplace asked a question if force could be seen equally as curvature of the underlying space which the particle moves in. However, ...
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How did they explain the radiation from hot objects at different wavelengths before the concept of atom was widely accepted?

I was reading about blackbody radiation and came across the following quote. Planck did not believe in atoms, nor did he think the second law of thermodynamics should be statistical because ...
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Quote about the history of particle physics

I have a (very) vague remembrance of a quote about the history of particle physics, particularly (I think?) the development of the standard model. As I recall, it was about how it was a very exciting ...
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When was the geometric structure of a water molecule discovered?

How and when was water the structure of a water molecule (specifically the angles) discovered? Was it discovered by using a specific type of spectroscopy? I know you can derive these angles ...
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Why is thermodynamics called thermodynamics?

Thermodynamics is derived from two Greek words Therme, which means heat Dynamis, which means power We know that 'thermodynamics' encapsulates many concepts like energy, temperature, entropy, exergy, ...
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Help in Understanding Emission theory of Empedocles

Empedocles state that the Eyes have fire in them surrounded by water, by this fire ray of the beam goes from eyes to object, then we see that thing, But Question arises to me, Than why not people able ...
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Did Maxwell discuss charge quantization?

I once read in Wikipedia that James Clerk Maxwell included the possibility that charge could be both quantified and continuous. Since the electron hadn't been discovered in 1873, does Maxwell discuss ...
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In which work was Boltzmann's entropy originally introduced?

I get an impression from this enyclopedia entry that the primary source of the Boltzmann entropy equation $S = k \log W$ might be 1866, Über die Mechanische Bedeutung des Zweiten Hauptsatzes der ...
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How did Niels Bohr arrive at the second postulate of his atomic model?

Niels Bohr's second postulate of the Atomic Model states that the electron revolves in specific orbits in which the electron's angular momentum is an integral multiple of $\large\frac{h}{2π}$. Since ...
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To what extent did d'Alembert want to avoid the newtonian concept of force?

The context of this question: In everyday life we use push and pull all the time to get things moving, to move ourselves. To ride a bicycle: our feet push the pedals to get moving. To accelerate we ...
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The abstraction of mathematics from physics

When and how did mathematics come to be abstracted away from the physical world? At first, mathematics would originate in its simplest form of counting and addition as to keep track of certain ...
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What concept did pre-modern people have about thermodynamic phenomena?

How did people before the advent of modern science in the 17th century conceive thermodynamic phenomena? I want to know how people in Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, China and in the Middle ...
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The housing of the Cavendish Experiment

[I posted this to History, but it was suggested that History of Science and Mathematics would be a better choice. So I'm posting it here too.] I’m working to build the Cavendish experiment of 1798 ...
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How has the modelling of classical electrodynamics changed since Maxwell?

Maxwell published his Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism in 1873, 150 years ago; before the discovery of quantized charges, special relativity, quantum field theory etc. How has the mathematical ...
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Upon which incorrect equation of Euler did Sophie Germain rely in her work that won a prix extraordinaire from the Paris Academy of Sciences?

Wikipedia's Sophie Germain; Work in elasticity; Subsequent attempts for the Prize says: Germain had derived the correct differential equation (a special case of the Kirchhoff–Love equation),31 but ...
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Context behind Planck's "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents...but rather because its opponents eventually die..."?

The open access paper Lehtola & Karttunen (2022) Free and open source software for computational chemistry education (found in this answer) contains the following paragraph: 2 FREE AND OPEN ...
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How was adiabatic expansion seen from the caloric theory perspective?

Nowadays we say that during the adiabatic expansion stage of the Carnot Cycle the internal energy due to the temperature of the gas gets transformed into work, but Carnot himself supported the caloric ...
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Are there anonymous contributions to physics with large impact?

Based on this question Are there any anonymous contributions to mathematics that had a great impact? , I would like to ask the same question for physics. Physics is different from mathematics in the ...
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Bardeen's missing talk

Back in 1968, James M. Bardeen gave a talk at the GR5 (5th international conference on gravitation and the theory of relativity), in which he presented a slight modification of the Schwarzschild ...
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What data did Copernicus use to construct his heliocentric model?

I think Copernicus and his contemporaries were modeling based on some data. What data was Copernicus using and who created it?
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Why is electric potential denoted by $\phi$?

I haven't found any explanation for it, and I'm curious.
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What were some 19th century objections to the existence of absolute zero?

William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) proposed the existence of an absolute zero in 1848(1) by linearly extrapolating the experimentally determined volume-temperature law for gases. I recently learned that ...
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Units in J.J. Thompson's m/e experiment

The original paper by J.J. Thompson, where he exposes his experiment to measure $m/e$ can be found here. (Note that Thompson actually measured $m/e$ whereas the modern discussion is in terms of $e/m$.)...
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How did Cross and Dot signs come in vector multiplication?

We use cross sign in vector multiplication that gives vector result and dot sign that gives scalar result. But how did the dot sign come in scalar product and the cross sign in vector product? It ...
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Who described the weak interaction as a non-contact force?

It is known that Enrico Fermi described the weak interaction as a four-fermion contact interaction, and Steven Weinberg, Sheldon L. Glashow and Abdus Salam developed the electroweak theory, in which ...
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Are there any good books on the history of condensed matter?

Condensed matter is probably as modern as quantum mechanics but has less coverage than other branches like particle physics. Is there are any good book on the history of solid state/condensed matter? ...
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What motivated formulation of the Hamilton-Jacobi equation?

I'm late to the Hamilton-Jacobi equation party and would like to know more about the historical context of its origin. What motivated its construction/discovery? What were its affordances over other ...
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Separation between Physics and Mathematics

When and under which circumstances did Physics and Mathematics take separate routes? Even though connections between Mathematics and Physics have been strong and prosperous at all times the methods, ...
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Physical theories and Mathematics [closed]

I study pure mathematics. In pure mathematics, we begin from some axioms and obtain theorems. I am also interested in studying physics. I have some questions about the relationship between physical ...

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