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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4
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2answers
106 views

Who assigned the name “work” to the quantity $\int F\,{\rm d}r$?

I am looking into the historical perspective of how the concept of work and energy came about: who coined the terms "mechanical work" and "energy", and how the concept evolved over time. I know that ...
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1answer
34 views

Capacitance or capacity?

In physics, the capacitance of a conductor is (roughly) the net charge accumulated when it is grounded relative to a unit voltage at infinity. The same quantity comes up in mathematics, but we call ...
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1answer
197 views

Who originally derived the general force law equation of force between current elements?

Wikipedia credits this to Maxwell. This derivation can be found in Maxwell's Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism vol. 2, part 4, ch. 2 (§§502-527). I went through the derivation and found two self ...
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2answers
95 views

Where can I find Descartes' account of the rainbow?

It is stated that it is included in his book Discourse on the Method. But I cannot even find the keyword 'rainbow' in this book. so where is it?
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1answer
94 views

First appearance of causality issues

The oldest appearances of causality troubles in modern theories are of course the Kurt Gödel paper (1949), Reichenbach's philosophy of time and space (1927), Weyl's "Space, time and matter" (1922) and ...
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1answer
53 views

Major private labs that did physics research in the USA

I've been reading about Bell Labs in the USA and find the idea of private labs to be interesting. What are some other major private labs that have existed in the US that did/do physics research?
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1answer
600 views

Who really discovered/invented the Hooke's law?

According to Wikipedia, The law is named after 17th-century British physicist Robert Hooke. He first stated the law in 1676 as a Latin anagram. He published the solution of his anagram in 1678 as: ...
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1answer
1k views

Who invented/discovered angular momentum?

Newton's laws of motion are for linear motion. Did he also discover the laws of motion for rotation - angular momentum, torque and the moment of inertia; or was this discovered by others?
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2answers
247 views

Math development and under-appreciation of Maxwell's Equations

Freeman Dyson expresses the opinion in his 1972 essay titled "Missed Opportunities" that Maxwell's equations could have played a much bigger role, one that is comparable to classical mechanics, in ...
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0answers
468 views

Why were the Nobel Prize in Physics not awarded in 1916, 1931, 1934, 1940, 1941, and 1942?

I only found the following at the Nobel Prize webpage: Why were the Nobel Prizes not awarded in those years? In the statutes of the Nobel Foundation it says: "If none of the works under ...
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0answers
82 views

History of mesoscopic physics

Mesoscopic physics is a topic of major research as nanotechnology becomes an important hot topic. There doesn't seem to be a major writing about the history of mesoscopic physics. I know a little ...
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0answers
65 views

Why was F. W. Lanchester's first aeronautical paper rejected by the Physical Society?

Lanchester was arguably the first to somewhat accurately describe the physical mechanism for the generation of lift. In 1894, the Birmingham Natural History and Philosophical Society read his paper, ...
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1answer
101 views

Who did enunciate each postulate of modern Quantum Mechanics

Nonrelativistic Quantum Mechanics (QM) relies in a number of postulates and although some authors may disagree about the exact set, there are a few which are quite indisputable: States are ...
4
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1answer
157 views

How did ancient people describe the Doppler effect?

I've noticed the Doppler effect in the change of pitch of music as I ride past on my bicycle, so I assume in the old days people did this on horses too. Are there any ancient mentions or theories ...
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1answer
251 views

How did Newton write his equations?

Once, after a lecture, my professor of differential equations said, that Newton did not use derivatives in his work as we do today. He told us that Newton rather used some series expansions for his ...
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0answers
117 views

Kepler's genius, How?

I have a very simple question. How Kepler knew that orbits are elliptical, say I was living in his time. How would Kepler explain that the orbits are elliptical (since none of his 3 laws explain why ...
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1answer
157 views

English translation of Heisenberg's papers

It is strange that many of his very important scientific papers are not translated into English. For example, this one seems not been translated. Where can I get the translated ones?
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0answers
89 views

Who was the first to use the term field in physics?

Faraday, after drawing his lines of force in 19th century, is normally credited as the first to use the term field in physics. But... ... was not the term field used in the context of gravitational ...
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1answer
89 views

First descriptions of ultrastatic spacetimes?

What's the first appearance of ultrastatic spacetimes (that is, spacetimes with a metric of the form $ds^2 = -dt^2 + h$, with $h$ a Riemannian metric)? The oldest reference I can find on the topic is ...
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0answers
303 views

The Pedagogy of Physics — Bob and Alice?

It seems that almost every where that physics is taught, in particular teaching relativity or quantum phenomena, that examples or demonstrations using persons Bob and Alice is a common tradition. ...
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1answer
162 views

Why did Einstein turn his back on a probabilistic universe?

One of Einstein's famous quotes is "God does not play dice", referring to his dislike of the probabilistic model of the universe, as found by quantum theory. However, in the book "Quantum Mechanics: ...
3
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1answer
137 views

What is the origin of the term “involution” used in Hamiltonian mechanics

We say that two dynamical variables $f$ and $g$ are in involution if their Poisson bracket vanishes, i.e., $\{f,g\}=0$. Why is it called involution?
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2answers
268 views

Allegations of Newton's untruthfulness

In 1696 Johann Bernoulli posed aproblem to Europe's mathematicians to find the path of shortest time for a mass to descend from a point A to a point B. Apart from Bernoulli only a hand full of other ...
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1answer
191 views

Good book on history of mechanics

For absolute beginners in physics, what are some good books in the history of physics (especially mechanics) ? (But it should not be full of mathematical hand waving - actual historical development ...
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2answers
136 views

Equation for the conservation of vis viva

How did Christiaan Huygens come across the fact that the quantity $mv^2$ is conserved during motion? I would like to know his thought process and how he derived or proved this result.
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70 views

Journals of the early 20th century

Which journals were the most commonly used journals for the publication of research papers in physics in the late 19th century and the early 20th century, specifically from 1875 to 1925?
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1answer
266 views

Who was the first to prove that $\pi$ was a real number? [closed]

Recently, there were many topics in sci.math discussed by so many (mathematicians, logicians, physicians, cranks and anti-cranks,..etc) the old definition of $\pi$ that is still considered valid up to ...
3
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2answers
166 views

How did Archimedes arrive at his principle in his time?

Archimedes principle: Any object, wholly or partially immersed in a stationary fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object. I get that this can be ...
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2answers
173 views

The physical significance of $\sqrt{-1}$ prior to Einstein

The spacetime metric of relativity $$(ds)^2 = - (cdt)^2 + (dx)^2 + (dy)^2 + (dz)^2 $$ attaches physical significance to $\sqrt{-1}$. (In order to achieve invariance the time differential used must ...
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3answers
239 views

Great physicists with no mentors

I often check biographies of physicists and at one point or another in the beginning of their careers they have the opportunity to be mentored by other and often also great scientists. But, I know for ...
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1answer
153 views

Where does the habit of calling the elements of a projective Hilbert space “rays” originate from?

When describing the projective Hilbert space as the state space in quantum mechanics, physicists habitually refer to its elements as "rays in Hilbert space", while the mathematical literature seems to ...
2
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1answer
104 views

When was the speed of sound first “correctly” calculated?

I am not a student of thermodynamics, but I will reproduce some equations and discussion from Wikipedia to highlight the principles involved in obtaining a fairly accurate — one percent perhaps — ...
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1answer
61 views

First use of the term and principle of dynamic pressure — Daniel Bernoulli?

I have read in several places that both the developed concept and the term for dynamic pressure as it pertain to fluid dynamics was first published in Hydrodynamica by Daniel_Bernoulli, but I can not ...
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1answer
130 views

Metaphors and analogies used by physicists and science communicators in history? [closed]

What are some famous and brilliant metaphors and analogies used by physicists and science writers and communicators to explain complex physical ideas?
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1answer
192 views

Who first proposed the “colour” charge?

Does anybody know a paper or sorts in which the term "colour" charge in QCD was introduced first? Or any other source in which this label was proposed?
4
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1answer
194 views

Why and who was the first to denote the square root operation in fractional form as $1/2$

Basically, the square root operation was discovered and proved rigorously from the Pythagorean theorem, it was denoted by square root of a rational number say $n$ as $\sqrt{n}$, but at a later stage, ...
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1answer
166 views

Fields of Study Introduced by Leonhard Euler

Leonhard Euler is called the Father of Graph Theory. He also started off the studies of Calculus of Variations. Which all are the other mathematical/science disciplines that evolved as an ...
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4answers
828 views

How much did Arabic and Persian scholars contribute to physics and mathematics? [closed]

How much did Arabic and Persian scientists contribute to physics and mathematics? Would it have made any difference for modern natural sciences and mathematics if they hadn't made their discoveries?
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1answer
929 views

Why is differentiation under the integral sign named Feynman's trick?

It's a simple enough result I would have been unsurprised if it weren't named for anyone at all. I certainly find it odd it's named for a relatively modern physicist rather than an early-calculus ...
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1answer
71 views

Did people consider energy quantization of nonlinear oscillators after Planck?

Did people try that? Or did they consider energy quantization for the translation motion of a free particle?
2
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1answer
144 views

How could Huygens have solved the tautochrone problem before Newton's theory of gravity and equations of motion?

In this answer to a question of mine on the stackexchange physics site, I learned about the tautochrone problem. Apparently it was solved by Huygens in 1659, which is before Newton's work on mechanics....
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0answers
37 views

Who first discovered that the specific heat of gas decreases with temperature?

It is mentioned in many textbooks on statistical mechanics. But generally there is no reference.
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1answer
109 views

Thomson's discovery of the electrical deflection of the cathode ray

This is from Wikipedia: In May–June 1897, Thomson investigated whether or not the rays could be deflected by an electric field.[4] Previous experimenters had failed to observe this, but Thomson ...
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1answer
96 views

Why was the discovery of Radium worth a Nobel prize?

So many elements were discovered without a prize. What is special about Radium? Radioactivity is not that rare.
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1answer
77 views

When did error propagation become prominent in physics?

I think is well known that greek scientists and even founding fathers of modern science did not use error propagation in their calculations. Today, instead, is unacceptable to work out any prediction ...
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0answers
136 views

What was Einstein's contribution to the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) paper?

Do we have any insight or document into theoretical development of the EPR papers both in terms of math, ideas and anything related to actual physical problem. I know that Einstein didn't write the ...
4
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1answer
76 views

What insight of Watson and Crick was missed by Franklin?

Their papers were published on the same issue of Nature back to back. Moreover, helix was also mentioned in Franklin's paper. So, what important insight or contribution of Watson and Crick was missed ...
6
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1answer
487 views

How did Newton explain his interference rings without wave optics?

Nowadays we know it is a consequence of the wave property of light. But ironically it was discovered by Newton who held the particle point-of-view of light. So how did he explain his discovery?
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3answers
358 views

“Tension” between Electromagnetism and Newton's laws

When talking about the inconsistencies in physics that led up to Einstein's discovery of relativity today's professors always say that Maxwell's discovery of the constant speed of light $c$ created a ...
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1answer
104 views

Why can Perrin's study of Brownian motion demonstrate the existence of atoms

I really cannot see why the Brownian motion is linked with the being of atoms. Cannot it be explained without atoms? You just need some fluctuations.