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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3
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1answer
2k views

Who discovered that helium affects your voice?

Who discovered that Helium affects your voice?
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192 views

Did the Soviet Union emphasize nuclear physics over biology?

Some friend from Georgia told me that in every village of the Soviet Union there was an expert in nuclear physics. By contrast, the Soviet Union did not invest into biology at all. As a consequence, ...
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1answer
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Did Galileo perform an experiment at the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Galileo's pupil Viviani said that Galileo dropped unequal weights from the Leaning Tower of Pisa and observed them to take equal times to hit the ground. Galileo's own writings do not describe such an ...
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2answers
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Was Richard Feynman a double major?

I know this might be a silly question, but I think it's worth asking. For his undergraduate degree at MIT, did he do a double major with math, or did he really just get that good at mathematics by ...
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1answer
342 views

Did Galileo bet money on the ship experiment?

Galileo's writings describe two experiments involving ships. These are summarized in the Wikipedia article Galileo's ship. (A lot of the text in the article is mine, and if there are things I'm ...
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0answers
419 views

How did Einstein know tensors would be needed in the EFEs?

I'd really never studied tensors until I started studying the Einstein Field Equations. Since then, I have realized they are fairly common tool in physics and pretty basic to understanding many areas. ...
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1answer
548 views

Who Really Was The First Inventor of The Laser

I am reading these articles and books about science and I find that there are debates on who was the real inventor (and first) of the laser. So my question is, who is the real inventor of the laser? ...
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3answers
349 views

When were fictitious forces introduced

Some problems in mechanics are simplified by considering the action of "fictitious forces". These appear in accelerated frames, such as circular movements. When were these first considered so? Did ...
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11answers
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Was Aristotle really wrong about gravity?

When I was in 9th grade, I learned that Aristotle was responsible for holding back physics for centuries because he said that heavier objects fall faster than lighter objects. Finally, in the 16th ...
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0answers
123 views

Who first discussed the Lorentz force with respect to special relativity?

The fact that a Lorentz force in a reference frame 1 can become a Coulomb force in another reference frame 2 has always astonished me, especially because the velocities involved are really small. I ...
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3answers
199 views

When in the history of physics did 'laws of nature' become the primary form of explanation?

Aristotle's natural philosophy was an inquiry into the causal principles of nature. He famously proposed the notions of formal, material, efficient and final causes. At the dawn of modernity, figures ...
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1answer
210 views

How did the notion of “time” come in the world of physics?

I was trying to figure out how people came to know about time then I realized that people started keeping track of time to know about sunset and sunrise. But I can't figure out how did time came into ...
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1answer
749 views

When was the vector notation in physics and other sciences first introduced?

The vector notation in physics is a very compact and easy way to write things down, and according to Feynman it also saves print. When exactly did scientists realize that they were summarizing things ...
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1answer
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When and by whom was the term 'momentum' introduced?

We know that up to 1726, when the third edition of the Principia was published, the name for $m\vec v$ was: quantitas motus. Do you know who substituted that with another Latin word: 'momentum'?
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When was the cogwheel gear invented?

Can someone tell me what year was the cogwheel gear invented? I tried searching it up but the answers were too complicated.
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2answers
387 views

How many papers on general relativity did Marcel Grossmann author or co-author?

Marcel Grossmann is perhaps best known for helping Einstein learn the Riemannian geometry necessary to formulate general relativity. He was instrumental in its early development. Wikipedia states: ...
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1answer
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What cipher(s) did Isaac Newton use?

A number of sources including this one assert that Isaac Newton used encrypted messages to communicate some of his scientific discoveries, and as a way of establishing priority. What cipher(s) did he ...
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4answers
780 views

What led to the rise of Göttingen?

this is a counter part to my other question: What led to the fall of Göttingen?. Göttingen was a major university in which many famous physicists and mathematicians lived. It was located in ...
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1answer
907 views

Why did Einstein stop publishing so many papers in Annalen der Physik?

In his early years (actually, straight through the early 1910s), Albert Einstein published a lot of papers in Annalen der Phyisk, a very old and prominent German scientific journal. However, this ...
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2answers
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What was the vis viva controversy, including its philosophical aspects?

Leibniz's concept of vis visa (literally translated as living force) was a precursor to our modern concept of kinetic energy. His formula for it was close to the modern non-relativistic one: $mv^2$, ...
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4answers
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Why Feynman's integral is not taught today more widely and earlier in the academic physics curriculum?

If anyone who has studied path integral of Feynman, you will know that it makes quantum mechanics more like classical mechanics. A student who has learned about the lagrangian will easily understand ...
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2answers
716 views

What became of the Boltzmann-Zermelo debate about the second law of thermodynamics?

At the end of 19th century there was a lively discussion about the nature of the second law of thermodynamics, and its relation to Hamiltonian dynamics. Boltzmann developed a position that the second ...
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1answer
564 views

Classical physics - A timeline of Mechanics

As a chemist we never really use classical mechanics much instead favouring a quantum description of the world around us. I have been lectured plenty on the origins of quantum mechanics and how the ...
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2answers
671 views

What is the story behind various uses of the word “spectrum”?

Here are five distinct uses of the word spectrum in physics and mathematics: Spectrum (optics): The range of colors in the rainbow Spectrum (particle physics): The range of electromagnetic ...
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4answers
836 views

Did ancient/medieval non-European cultures have a concept of energy? If so, what are the similarities and differences to the modern concept?

For example, do we find something related to the modern energy concept in Ancient China, Ancient India, or the Islamic Golden Age? Among "similarities and differences", conservation is obviously ...
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1answer
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Who invented the concepts of potential and kinetic energy? [duplicate]

Who invented potential and kinetic energy ? Was it Newton ? Or someone else ? I have the impression Newton used those ideas but they already existed.
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1answer
179 views

When was conical refraction predicted and observed?

I was reading James Ladyman's Understanding Philosophy of Science, and came across the following consequence of Fresnel's theory of light: The phenomenon is known as conical refraction and has now ...
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1answer
596 views

When were the modern notions of work and energy created

Reading through Wikipedia says that Coriolis was the first to introduce the notion of work, described as "weight lifted through a height". Our modern conception of work is of a force that realizes a ...
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4answers
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Whose shoulders did Newton stand on?

In a letter to Robert Hooke in 1676, Newton wrote: If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Do we know which giants Newton was referring to? And was he referring to a ...
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2answers
140 views

When was atomism first considered a scientific theory?

Of course it is difficult, if not impossible, to know whether classical philosophers that talked about atomism thought that "atoms" could be manipulated by men. However, I was startled to know that ...
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1answer
660 views

When and how was UV radiation found to be dangerous to human skin?

It is pretty common knowledge nowadays that prolonged exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation is dangerous to human skin, potentially resulting in cancers such as melanoma and photoaging. A bit of ...
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4answers
5k views

Did physicists around 1900 really believe they were close to “figuring it all out”?

I've encountered the claim that around the end of the 19th century, physicists believed that their understanding of the physical world was close to being complete. One example of this claim can be ...
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2answers
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When exactly (and why) did matrices become a part of the undergraduate curriculum?

Let me tell what I know about this. It is well-known that Heisenberg invented matrix multiplication himself, in his great paper that is considered part of the foundation of quantum mechanics. This was ...
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3answers
898 views

How did we come up with the name “atomic bomb”?

At first, my initiate question was: What is the difference between an atomic and a nuclear bomb?: Nuclear bombs are of two types — those that depend on fission, like atomic bombs, and those that ...
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1answer
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Who discovered that different objects accelerate at the same rate due to gravity?

The concept of the constant acceleration for different objects due to gravity (at the same height and ignoring atmospheric effects) is usually attributed to Galileo. In reality, Galileo merely ...
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3answers
310 views

How soon after or before the development of nuclear applications was waste disposal considered?

Nuclear applications—be it in the form of electricity production, weapon creation, etc.—inevitably involves radioactive waste. When was it realized that there might be a need for a specialized waste ...
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1answer
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What were the dominant non-atomic theories of matter in the 19th century?

From what I have read, the atomic theory of matter was cemented by a 1905 paper by Einstein in which he explained the erratic motion of a bit of pollen suspended in water using the assumption that ...
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2answers
665 views

When did physics texts start to teach Kepler's $3/2$'s power law as a result of Newton's $1/r^2$ law of gravitation, rather than the other way around?

In modern physics textbooks, we teach Newton's laws of motion, then Newton's law of Universal Gravitation, and then Kepler's laws of planetary motion. Specifically, from the $1/r^2$ form of the ...
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1answer
210 views

Did the Digges Telescope actually exist?

There are many claimants for the first telescope. Amongst these are the claims placed at the doors of Bacon and Digges. The Bacon claim is very sketchy, boiling down to one sentence and is easy to ...