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19 votes

Why do many names of technical and scientific subjects end with "ics"?

It is not random. These names are of Greek origin, and -ic or -ics are Anglicizations of the Greek suffix -ikos, which meant "pertaining to". In other languages it can be rendered as -ika or -ica, ...
Conifold's user avatar
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17 votes
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What did Schroedinger try to say with the cat thought experiment?

One can simply read what Schroedinger said, English translation of his paper The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics (1935) by Trimmer is available on Jstor. The cat paradox is presented as part of ...
Conifold's user avatar
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16 votes
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What equation is Stephen Hawking most noted for?

One can only speculate what Hawking will be remembered for, but according to NYT in 2002 he apparently expressed a wish to have what he saw as his biggest accomplishment engraved on his tombstone (...
Conifold's user avatar
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15 votes

Who was the first to say "Shut up and calculate!"?

Some centuries before Mermin, Leibniz in the 17th century was seeking a solution to some of the denominational quarrels that were plaguing his generation by envisioning a calculus ratiocinator that ...
Mikhail Katz's user avatar
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15 votes

Why did Einstein oppose quantum uncertainity?

I am not sure what "explain it like a story" means, but the Bohr–Einstein debates is perhaps the most dramatic story of Einstein making his dissatisfaction known. Pais's scientific biography ...
Conifold's user avatar
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15 votes
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Which physicist is this quote attributed to?

Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1949), pp. 33-34:A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but ...
Geremia's user avatar
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13 votes
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Did light bulb companies commission Planck to study black body radiation?

Sounds like we're all on the same page. But FWIW: In all my research for that Planck book (2015), I found no evidence that he was commissioned, contracted or paid by light bulb (or similar) companies ...
Brandon Brown's user avatar
13 votes
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Who was the first to say "Shut up and calculate!"?

Mermin has a thorough analysis1 and traces the phrase to himself in a 1989 Physics Today column2 & makes a case that the numerous attributions to Feynman may or may not be mistaken. Mermin, Could ...
vzn's user avatar
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13 votes
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Why was Alain Aspect discouraged from doing his now Nobel-winning work?

The discouragement probably had to do with the stigma attached to "hidden variables" after the Einstein-Bohr debates, see Pinch, The hidden variables controversy in quantum physics for some ...
Conifold's user avatar
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12 votes

Who was the first to say "Shut up and calculate!"?

As noted, Mermin was probably the first to utter the exact words “Shut up and calculate”. However, the equivalent rallying cry of “Get the numbers out” has its origins some decades earlier. According ...
nwr's user avatar
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10 votes

Did wave optics anticipate quantum mechanics?

It is more accurate to say that Hamilton anticipated some of the ideas of mathematics and heuristics of quantum mechanics, that would later inspire Schrödinger to produce his formulation of wave ...
Conifold's user avatar
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10 votes
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Who coined the term ''Born's rule''?

I wonder why the insistence on the (English) word rule, especially as German wikipedia translates / redirects it to interpretation. Isn’t it enough for your purposes to see it stated, named and ...
Francois Ziegler's user avatar
10 votes
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What actually led Feynman to the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics?

It was Dirac's paper The Lagrangian in Quantum Mechanics. He gave more than just a remark about $\exp{iS/\hbar}$, he described the general structure of the path integral expression for the transition ...
Conifold's user avatar
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10 votes
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What is the original source for Einstein's description of entanglement as "Spooky Action at a Distance"?

Einstein was bothered by "action at a distance" long before the 1935 EPR paper, and it was not specific to entanglement. In his debates with Bohr at the 1927 Solvay congress he used the single slit ...
Conifold's user avatar
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10 votes

Who introduced the "dagger"symbol as conjugate transpose in quantum mechanics?

In a now-deleted comment, Consigliere ZARF listed a number of papers published in Zeitschrift für Physik in the late 1920's that used this notation. The earliest was Pascual Jordan's 1927 "Über eine ...
kimchi lover's user avatar
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10 votes
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Why didn't the phase space formulation of Quantum Mechanics get the upper hand?

This is what they call a "good question", as the expression goes. I and my collaborators had it in the mid 1990s, and about a 3rd of the audience in my colloquia ask it to themselves and me, ...
Cosmas Zachos's user avatar
9 votes

Who was the first to say "Shut up and calculate!"?

N. David Mermin (born March 30, 1935, in New Haven, Connecticut, USA) is Horace White Professor of Physics Emeritus at Cornell University his quote was like this If I were forced to sum up in one ...
Marble's user avatar
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9 votes

Why were 20th Century German scientists so impressive?

Given the historical circumstances the German education system might or might not have played a significant role in the formation of these scientists. In his collection of essays entitled "Brocas ...
polymechanos's user avatar
9 votes

Are there any records that show how Hilbert came to "invent" or "discover" Hilbert spaces?

The notion of Hilbert space comes from Hilbert's theory of integral equations. Of course, it was partially motivated by physics, by the theory of oscillations in classical mechanics, but this theory ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
9 votes

How did Stern or Gerlach, of Stern-Gerlach experiment, create individual silver atoms? How were they accelerated?

Atomic spectroscopy was very advanced 100 years ago (1920s) and we must appreciate their intelligence. If a metal like silver is being heated to the extent of boiling in high vacuum, all you get is ...
AChem's user avatar
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9 votes

Who was the scientist who first showed that helium has a bound state, and was he a nazi?

The publication in question is: Georg W. Kellner, "Die Ionisierungsspannung des Heliums nach der Schrödingerschen Theorie." Zeitschrift für Physik, Vol. 44, Nos. 1-2, Jul. 1927, pp. 91-109 (...
njuffa's user avatar
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9 votes

Why was the Greek letter psi (Ψ) chosen to represent the wave function?

Prior to Schrodinger There is no use of the symbol by de Broglie, Schrodinger's predecessor. In the first three short notes from de Broglie on the topic of wave mechanics (1923), there is no use of ...
Sam Gallagher's user avatar
8 votes

Did light bulb companies commission Planck to study black body radiation?

After looking into more reputable sources it seems that the "commissioned by electricity companies" is a confabulation, and the "commissioned by the German Bureau of Standards" is ...
Conifold's user avatar
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8 votes
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How did Planck calculate the Planck constant?

See How did Planck derive the black body radiation formula without using the Bose statistics? for general circumstances of Planck's discovery. Specifically, Planck was trying to reproduce the ...
Conifold's user avatar
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8 votes

Origin of operators in quantum mechanics

From where did the concept of operator in quantum mechanics came, historically? This was a gradual development started by Heisenberg's insight. He invented (infinite) matrices (without any prior ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
8 votes

Why did Schrödinger choose a cat for his thought experiment?

Erwin Schrödinger doesn't appear to have personally owned a cat. He did however own a dog. But even noises have their timbre, from which we may infer what is going on; and even my dog is familiar ...
Valorum's user avatar
  • 183
8 votes

How did $SU(2)$ came into physics?

It came to physics a bit earlier than quantum mechanics. The homomorphism $SU(2)\to SO(3)$ was discovered by Cayley (1843), Hamilton (1847), and Klein (1875) in their pure mathematical studies, and ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
8 votes

Heisenberg's last work on a non-linear generalization of quantum mechanics?

This likely refers to Heisenberg's non-linear spinor theory of elementary particles, on which he worked from 1953 to the end of his life. There was a prominent write-up in an unpublished 1958 preprint ...
Conifold's user avatar
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8 votes

Use of eigenvalues of operators in quantum mechanics

Comments to answer: the question is hard to answer because, there is more than one question and more than a way to interpret it. If the question is when discrete values and eigenvalues were introduced ...
Mauricio's user avatar
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7 votes
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What is the origin of the terminology 'spin up/down'?

Bethe is quoting and following Felix Bloch, who said left/right in (1929; 1930, p. 207). But I don’t think this was ever “common practice”. Stern, in his original Stern–Gerlach paper, drew the ...
Francois Ziegler's user avatar

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