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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 ...

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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 ...
3
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2answers
95 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
36 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
32 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 ...
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1answer
153 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
106 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
49 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
45 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
108 views

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

Where does the prefix "super" from "supersymmetry" come from?
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0answers
46 views

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
45 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
47 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
57 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
79 views

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
107 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
107 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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0answers
75 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
150 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
99 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
596 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, ...
5
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1answer
277 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
61 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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2answers
419 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
77 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 ...
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1answer
65 views

Why are microcanonical, canonical and macrocanonical ensembles called that way?

In statistical mechanics, why microcanonical, canonical and macrocanonical ensemble are called that way? Is there any reason according to the size of the system they can describe properly ( I don't ...
3
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1answer
92 views

Was carbon dioxide also called carbonic acid historically?

I am reading the classic paper by Thomas Andrews, in which he discovered the critical point. The gas he used in his experiments is called by him 'carbonic acid'. By its critical temperature being 31....
3
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1answer
114 views

A Peculiar Quote from an Engineer

The best result of mathematics is to be able to do without it. The above is a quote by Oliver Heaviside, an electrical engineer and mathematician. What does the quote really mean?
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4answers
131 views

Textbook on the History of General Relativity

I have studied General Relativity from various textbooks already, and the subject fascinated me immensely. I was wandering if there is any textbook that deals with the chronological "steps" that ...
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1answer
62 views

Was Captain Cook’s voyage to observe the transit of Venus going to enable better ship navigation at the time?

On a recent visit to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich I was struck by its proximity to the Naval Academy next door. The theme of the history of clocks and development of astronomy was driven by the ...
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3answers
379 views

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research? Science fiction here means fiction that tries to explain things in the world rather than speculate about the future or unexplorable ...
3
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1answer
92 views

Who first derived $a =v^2/r$

This is a basic formula in mechanics, which determines the acceleration of a particle performing uniform circular motion. By who first derived it? In Newton's Principa, what one can find is that $$...
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2answers
80 views

Why couldn’t the Burgess B Clock built in 1974 be built in 1775 by Harrison?

In the Royal Observatory in London they have a mechanical clock called the Burgess B, based on a 200 year old design by Harrison. My question is: Why couldn’t the Burgess B Clock built in 1974 be ...
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2answers
78 views

When did spring-driven clocks start being used?

On a tour of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich I saw the following display on the history of mechanical clocks: They suggest that mechanical clocks and astronomy weren’t really combined in England ...
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1answer
39 views

When did mechanical tower clocks start being used?

On a tour of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich I saw the following display on the history of mechanical clocks: The suggest that mechanical clocks and astronomy weren’t really combined in England ...
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1answer
75 views

How did Lagrange get his equation (the so-called Euler-Lagrange equation)

The variational principle is named after Hamilton, instead of Lagrange. So it seems that he did not derive his equation by the variational method.
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3answers
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Is this Einstein rejection letter fake?

So I found this on the internet the other day- Is this fake? Are there any ways to prove that it's fake? Does there, if any, exist any real copy of such a rejection letter?(Was Einstein ever ...
3
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1answer
106 views

Pauli's first paper about the spin

Wikipedia states, that the spin degree of freedom was first formulated by Pauli in 1924: In 1924 Wolfgang Pauli introduced what he called a "two-valued quantum degree of freedom" associated with ...
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0answers
97 views

Who first noted the connection between Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and the Fourier Transform?

This is a question about the history of Quantum Mechanics. Who first noted the connection between Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and the Fourier Transform?
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6answers
124 views

Good book on the history of introductory physics (upto first year college)

I am looking for some good physics book(s) which shows the development of physics ideas from antiquity since 1850 or 1900 or something like that. The book should covers all "elementary" topics (...
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1answer
55 views

Who coined the term “degenerate star”?

I'm trying to find a good source for the definition of degenerate matter to differentiate it from Fermi gases. For my research a good section on history would be nice. This question is more ...
3
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1answer
168 views

Why is distance sometimes abbreviated S?

While distance in physical formulas is often abbreviated as d (which is pretty intuitive), another common abbreviation is s, as seen e.g. here, here or here. It also seems to be used in optics to ...
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0answers
129 views

Speed of light in aether

I've been recently reading about the famous Michelson-Morley experimental attempt to detect the Earth motion with respect to the aether. According to Wikipedia, Michelson initially made a mistake ...
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1answer
172 views

Resistor color code

I wonder if anyone would know the origin of the Resistor Color Code.
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0answers
33 views

Who first stated that electromagnetic radiation is the difference between advanced and retarded fields?

Dirac makes the claim in his 1938 paper, Classical theory of radiating electrons, that for an electron accelerated by an electromagnetic field: $$ F^{\mu\nu}_{act} = F^{\mu\nu}_{ret} + F^{\mu\nu}_{in}...
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1answer
71 views

Introduction of magnetic vector potential [duplicate]

Who first introduced the concept of magnetic vector potential and why? Was it introduced only for ease of mathematical calculation or it was done keeping in mind its physical significance like ...
5
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1answer
201 views

Source of cartoon lampooning Felix Klein

There is an interesting cartoon in the book Lillian Hoddeson, Ernst Braun, Jurgen Teichmann, Spencer Weart (Eds.) Out of the Crystal Maze: Chapters from The History of Solid State Physics. Oxford ...
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0answers
32 views

Who invented the method of characteristics? [duplicate]

It is a technique introduced in many textbooks. But they never mention its origin. Who first used this method?
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2answers
97 views

When did statistics become an integral part of physics?

When you study Newtonian physics in introductory classes, the equations don't include any statistical indications, such as error, etc. However modern physics articles indicate statistical properties ...
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1answer
62 views

Corpuscular theory of light and Double slit experiment

I am sure many scientists would initially have attempted to explain Young's double slit experiment's results using the concept of light as a stream of particles. Can somebody tell me what these ...
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2answers
155 views

What explanations are there for this strong spike in the use of 'angular momentum' in the 1960s?

A recent comment called my attention to the Google Ngram for 'angular momentum', which shows a very strong and rather sharp peak in the usage of the phrase shortly after 1960, followed by a steady ...