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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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Remarkable numerical calculations before electronic computers

I know the story that Cole found the factoring of the big number $2^{67}-1$. Is there any other remarkable achievement of hand calculation?
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1answer
25 views

Did old Crookes Radiometers ever have a pair of terminals?

This is a question about old physics lab equipment. This and this question led to the question in SciFi SE Crookes Radiometer at the end of a telescope in old movie scene, something about a comet? ...
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2answers
67 views

Can anybody identify an appropriate radio for this game?

This is quite a specific question about radio, but it has been rejected on the Amateur Radio and History Stack Exchanges, so I will ask it here... I'm a complete radio ignoramous, but I've been ...
3
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1answer
53 views

How was the notion of the metacenter of a floating body discovered?

Does anybody knows how this important notion of hydrostatics was discovered? I have read that it is about someone walking up and down the mountains of Latin America trying to disprove Cartesian ...
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0answers
31 views

Looking for references to an experiment on the evaporation rate of water in sunlight

I remember reading a long time ago about some experiments measuring evaporation rate of water in large open containers (tubs) sitting on open ground. It was a simple experiment, each day the water ...
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0answers
126 views

Does Mileva Maric deserve co-authorship of relativity theory with Einstein? [duplicate]

I know this question is often asked alot, but Monica Beletsaky has a twitter thread about the whole issue https://twitter.com/MonicaBeletsky/status/1095164903839522816 how accurate is this? is she ...
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1answer
469 views

Why didn't Lorentz conclude that no object can go faster than light?

Based on Lorentz factor $\gamma = \frac{1}{\sqrt {1-\frac{v^2}{c^2}}}$ it is easy to see $v < c$ since otherwise $\gamma$ would be either undefined or a complex number, which is non-physical. Also, ...
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2answers
204 views

Did the Idea of Universal Gravitation predate Newton?

"Baba wrote over 60 books, almost everyone on a different topic, writing on issues from astronomy, identified stars that European scientists technology could not discover until the late 1800s, ...
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2answers
99 views

What experiments led to the sign of the electron's charge?

The famous Millikan's oil drop experiment in 1908 determined the magnitude of charge of the electron to be 1.59*10^(-19) C. However, it was well known that electron has a negative charge. Although ...
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0answers
88 views

Is it a historical coincidence that relative atomic weights by chemical methods and mass spectrometry are very close?

The concept of relative atomic weight originated from measuring the combining weight of hydrogen with a certain element. In the simplification process H was taken as unity (18th, 19th and 20th century)...
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1answer
82 views

Why is electric dipole moment represented by “p”?

"I recently came across a text where the electric dipole moment was represented as "d" instead of the more commonly used "p". The reason behind using "d" here is probably that "dipole moment" begins ...
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1answer
63 views

What's the relationship between Aristotle's theory of elements and motion and geometry?

I'm having a hard time gathering my thoughts about this. I'm trying to find a connection or some sort of relation between the first 3 axioms (postulates) of Euclidean geometry (though around Aristotle'...
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1answer
75 views

High voltage / current sources in 19th century cathode ray experiments

In modern chemistry textbooks, a DC source (battery symbol) is usually shown for cathode ray tube experiments by Thomson and others. Certainly, no battery can provide very high voltages needed for gas ...
3
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1answer
74 views

Who associated the sharp, principal, diffuse, fundamental spectral terms with electron's momentum?

It is well documented that the notation for the electronic configuration (s,p,d,f) of atoms as used today originates from the words sharp, principal, diffuse, fundamental from alkali metal spectra (...
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1answer
172 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 ...
2
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1answer
111 views

How did the early chemists determine the atomic weight of hydrogen?

In early history, the relative atomic weight of hydrogen was assigned as 1 (exactly) and all other elements were compared against hydrogen. What is difficult to find who determined the absolute atomic ...
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1answer
176 views

What new physics was discovered or needed as a result of the Manhattan Project?

I originally asked this question on the Physics StackExchange and was told to migrate it here. I've tightened up the question a bit. I recently got into a discussion with colleagues regarding ...
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3answers
135 views

How did Huygens derive the conservation law for of kinetic energy?

In the book 'Energy - The Subtle Concept' by Energy, the Subtle Concept by Jennifer Coopersmith the author says that Huygens was the first to use the term $mv^2$ in physics. He was considering elastic ...
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1answer
93 views

How close was Hooke to developing a comprehensive system of gravity?

Was Hooke close to developing a physical system of gravity on the same level as Newton. looking at Luka Trkanjec's post on Quora, he insists that Newton was quite overrated in this regard, and that ...
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1answer
85 views

What was Newton's view of theory of matter?

Did Newton believe in infinitely small particle theory of matter? Because when he talks about axis of rotation, which is locus of the centers of the circles of the rotating body and particle on the ...
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0answers
32 views

Rocket & drag equation?

i'm writing an assignment on firework rockets and their trajectory. Now of course im doing this with a lot of limitation as a realistic rocket calculation would be impossible to execute, at least for ...
2
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2answers
129 views

If John Michell was more well known, would he rank above Isaac Newton in the history of science? [closed]

John Michell proposed black holes in the 18th century, hundreds of years before Schwarzschild and Einstein. His ideas were said to to be away head of his time, that he died in obscurity. I assume ...
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1answer
77 views

How was the historical definition of the meter used in practice?

The meter was initially defined as $10^{-7}$ times the distance of the north pole to the equator. How exactly was this definition used to fabricate the actual meter sticks from which the standard ...
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1answer
88 views

How did people measure electric charge at the time of Coulomb?

Around the time that Coulomb gave Coulomb's law, how did people measure electric charge?
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3answers
250 views

How was gravity explained in Ancient Greek and Roman times?

Gravity is of course something that we can all observe. Stuff falls towards the ground. But not everything: some things like steam or smoke defy this force and instead float up. During Ancient Greek ...
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3answers
206 views

What are some good references elucidating the discovery/creation of Fourier Series?

I've always grappled with the topic of anything Fourier during my undergrad days. Until recently when revisiting why I learned what I did, I discovered how Fourier's desire to understand the flow of ...
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3answers
72 views

Origin of the coulomb and ampere

What is the historical origin of the size of the coulomb (and in turn, ampere)? Currently (pardon the pun), the coulomb is defined in terms of the ampere. The ampere is in turn effectively defined by ...
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2answers
131 views

Was Newton's successful calculation of precession of equinoxes a fluke?

I have looked at several sources, and Newton was right about the fact that the Earth is not a perfect sphere, but an ellipsoid caused the precession of equinoxes, as the Moon's gravitational ...
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0answers
44 views

How was the term speed treated in the 16 and 17 century?

What do the the people in 16 an 17 century meant by the term speed? Were they having the relation speed=distance/time back then or were they having some other notion for it and this relation came into ...
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1answer
46 views

Metre definition using a seconds pendulum

I have always heard that the first and most prominent definition of the metre was to use the length of the seconds pendulum - pendulum with the period of exactly 2 seconds. However, in the end it was ...
5
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1answer
160 views

Where is the Foucault pendulum in Mainz?

A Foucault pendulum in Mainz is listed on Wikipedia. The article says that it is in School for Business and Technique, Mainz However, I didn't find any information about this pendulum on the ...
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1answer
147 views

Origins of molecular orbital diagrams?

Does anyone remember who proposed molecular diagrams for simple molecules as taught today in most general chemistry texts? I cannot access Hund's original article, however, Mulliken's early articles ...
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1answer
58 views

Did Cyrano de Bergerac's space ship have retro-rockets?

In this answer I cite and quote some surprising information; that the real Cyrano de Bergerac (not the one in the play) had written of using a rocket ship to go to the Moon circa 1650. As strange as ...
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1answer
47 views

Why is the amount of charge needed to generate 1 unit of electric flux, called permittivity?

This keeps confusing me. I keep imagining "permittivity" as being "The ability for a substance to permit electricity", when it is the opposite. High permittivity means it is hard (requires a lot of ...
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2answers
113 views

Where does the prefix “super” from “supersymmetry” come from?

Where does the prefix "super" from "supersymmetry" come from?
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0answers
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In the old days, how did chemists trap and measure gases?

The old days being roughly 1600 - 1850, the time when chemistry and the nature of the elements was being investigated empirically. For example, hydrogen gas was discovered by Robert Boyle in 1671 ...
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0answers
46 views

experimental evidence of fusion

It is known that in the sun the main reaction is the fusion process which consumes hydrogen and generates helium. While this is conceivable by the mass-energy equation, did people have any ...
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0answers
52 views

How did people in pre-Ampere period deduce this?

How did people before Ampere (eg-Coulomb) who used magnetic-pole model, know that only two surfaces (north and south poles) of a bar magnet exerts and experiences force while the rest of the surfaces ...
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1answer
60 views

Who first came up with the idea that heavenly laws and earthly laws should be the same?

At least Newton realized that the motion of the Moon on the heaven and the motion of an apple on the earth are governed by the same law. But who first proposed that the same laws should hold ...
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2answers
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Who determined whether surfaces between magnetic poles attract/repel or whether the poles' volumes do?

NOTE: I am talking about the period before electricity and magnetism were unified. So I am not seeking for answers based on Ampere atomic current model of magnets. Who first figured out that one of ...
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1answer
153 views

How did people believe Aristotle's law of gravity for so long?

So he says that heavier objects fall faster than light ones and size is irrelevant? (at least as far as I understand) This brings 2 easy ways to see the error of this. 1) throw a big rock and a ...
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1answer
114 views

Who first solved the two-body problem in 3D?

Who first solved the two-body problem in 3-dimensions? Was it Laplace?
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81 views

Reference for Math-Physics history book

I am looking for a book on the history of mathematics that would also serve as a book on the history of physics. In the sense that the history of math is developed along with the developments in ...
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1answer
173 views

Who did say that anyone who discover a new particle should be fined instead of receiving a prize?

I am almost sure I read once that a famous physicist said that anyone who discover a new particle should be fined instead of receiving a prize. The context was that at the time there was more and more ...
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1answer
115 views

Why was Courant's “Methods of Mathematical Physics” suppressed, by the Germans, during WW2?

In the preface to Methods of Mathematical Physics Richard Courant, the author, wrote that the book was suppressed by the National Socialist rulers(Nazi) of Germany. Hence, my question. Thanks.
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4answers
620 views

Help translate from German a quote by Hermann Weyl in Space Time Matter

I would like to find an accurate translation to the following quote from Space Time Matter: Man muß gegen diese Orgien des Formalismus, mit dem man heute sogar die Techniker zu belästigen beginnt, ...
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1answer
307 views

Who was this man (who is not Bruno Pontecorvo)?

The English-language Wikipedia article about physicist Bruno Pontecorvo is illustrated with this photo: Now, this man seems distinctly different from most portraits of Pontecorvo around: The ...
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0answers
64 views

Why the concept of energy was that lately established? [duplicate]

As I know the concept of energy was universally accepted lately in the 19th century and after debates and controversies. Does anybody knows the reason for this?
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3answers
837 views

Did Richard Feynman ever meet Stephen Hawking or comment on Hawking radiation?

I was just curious what Richard Feynman thought of Stephen Hawking's Hawking Radiation. Feynman was one of the developers of quantum field theory and Hawking's work would have been cutting edge on the ...
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3answers
86 views

Is there an anthology of classic papers on electricity?

I'm trying to find a book similiar to Stephen Brush "Kinetic Theory of Gases: An Anthology of Classic Papers With Historical Commentary". The electricity version, let's say! I like to see how subjects ...