Evolution and Revolutions in Physics

Homer's Odyssey

The fates of men and their world are subject to the whims and tantrums of the panoply of Greek gods. The epic tells of Odysseus' misfortunes and victories, largely determined as a consequence of Athena's favor, Poseidon's wrath and the childish contests and jealousies among the other gods.

Julius Robert Oppenheimer

Julius Robert Oppenheimer was an American theoretical physicist whose resume is filled with many different groundbreaking discoveries. His work includes the Born-Oppenheimer approximation which is, “the assumption that the motion of atomic nuclei and electrons in a molecule can be separated”, the Oppenheimer-Phillips process which is, “a type of deuteron-induced nuclear reaction”, the discovery of the Tolman–Oppenheimer–Volkoff limit which is, “an upper bound to the mass of cold, non rotating neutron stars, analogous to the Chandrasekhar limit for white dwarf stars”, and most notably the development of the first nuclear bomb. TC

Rutherfords Goil Foil

The conclusion of the experiment was that Rutherford and friends proved what we now know as the nucleus of the atom to be real, altering the course of science indefinitely. Rutherford, Geiger and Marsden all did not accept the plum pudding model and because of this, only carried out the gold foil experiment to disprove the model, or prove its conclusion. The experiment was done with a gold foil sheet with thickness 8.6 x 10^-6 cm. The foil was than hit with a beam of alpha particles in a vacuum. The three scientist used alpha particles because an alpha particle is a sub microscopic, positively charged particle of matter. Rutherford knew that these alpha particles had considerable mass, and hypothesized that they would not just pass through uninhabited. The team covered the foil in Zns, which is a substance that emitted a flash of light when an alpha particle came in contact with it. After shooting the alpha particles in the vacuum the crew noticed that in the center the particles would be scattered by angles that were greater than 90 degrees all coming from a very small area. Furthermore it was seen that about one in every two-thousand alpha particles fired reflected back at a perfect one hundred and eighty degrees. It became fairly clear that this was not a coincidence and that the plum pudding model flaws were finally exposed.

From Röntgen to Rutherford

AG: From the discovery of X-ray to the door of Quantum Mechanics

Ohm's Law

(HW) In the early 19th century, a German physicist and mathematician, Georg Ohm discovered the relationship between the voltage across the conductor and the electric current, which is known as the Ohm’s Law. This correlation between the voltage and current is crucial to the research of electricity and electromagnetism. Several equations and discoveries were made based on the Ohm’s Law. Before Georg Ohm’s experiment, Henry Cavendish, a British physicist, experimented with Leyden jars and different sizes of glass tubes filled with salt solution in 1781. A Leyden jar consists of a glass jar with metal foil on the inside and outside surfaces. It is a device that can store static electricity between the electrodes on the inside and outside of the jar. Cavendish used the Leyden jars and the glass tubes to measure the current by testing on the electric shock himself and feeling the strength of the shock. He realized that the current is directly proportional to the “degree of electrification,” or the voltage. However, unfortunately, for some reason he did not communicate the results of his experiment to other scientists at the time. Then, in 1825, Ohm did his work on resistance. His experiment was greatly inspired by Joseph Fourier's work. Fourier was a French mathematician and physicist who was interested in heat conduction. For Ohm’s experiments, he used a galvanometer to measure the current, and he knew that the voltage between the terminals was proportional to the temperature. He then used wires that have different lengths, diameters, and materials to complete the circuit. Ohm found out that the data he gathered can be modeled with this equation: x = a/(b+l) X was the reading from the galvanometer, which is current, a depended on the temperature, and b was a constant. He determined his law of the proportionality between current and voltage through this experiment, and he published his results. The equation was then refined to: I = V/R with I being the current, V being the voltage, and R being the resistance of the conductor in units of ohms. The resistance of the conductors has to do with the temperature, the material, and the size. Ohm’s work was crucial for the study of electricity because it helped scientists to quantitatively describe electricity. Ohm’s Law and the process of discovering this Law demonstrates what “modern physics” means - to obtain scientific conclusions through experiments. It was a generalization from many experiments that have proven the proportionality between the current and the electric field for most materials. This is part of the modernization of physics because it shows that scientists begin to generalize and to generate equations through experiments and scientific modeling.

Stonehenge

For centuries, historians and archaeologists have fathomed over the mysterious Stonehenge. It is a prehistoric monument that took Neolithic builders an estimated 1,500 years to construct. The monument is located in southern England and comprised of roughly 100 massive upright stones placed in a circular layout.

Leonardo Da Vinci

A Man of All Trades. Leonardo Da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452 in present day Florence, Italy and died on May 2, 1519 in present day France. Da Vinci was a man of all crafts, as he was an Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, and engineer. Da Vinci was the embodiment of the humanist Renaissance man. His two most profound paintings that influenced the Renaissance were the Last Supper and Mona Lisa. We are able to observe Da Vinci’s work because they are either physical paintings or old notebooks.

The Early Stages of Astronomy

As Socrates once said, the world extends beyond the beautiful Earth we live on today. The world is filled with compelling mysterious that we may not be able to fathom. However, that should not limit us and prohibit our natural curiosity about space. From ancient civilizations to present day, there have been numerous people investigating what they see in the sky. In the book The Evolution of Physics by Leopold Infeld, Infeld discusses his ideal audience for the book: “One who makes up for a complete lack of any concrete knowledge of physics and mathematics by quite a great number of virtues.” Interestingly, the ideal reader shares several common characteristics to those interested in astronomy in the past. Ancient civilizations utilized what they saw in the sky in diverse ways. Members of ancient civilizations had no idea what physics was, but they did use their virtues to explain what they observed.

Alessandro Volta

In today’s age, everyone uses a piece of technology that relies on batteries or some type of electrical source. However, batteries are still not the best sources of energy. There electrical output is not the strongest and the amount of energy they store is not infinite. It is amazing to note the inefficiency of batteries because they have existed since 1800. Of course, the first created battery is not the standard double A or triple A battery we think of. Batteries are devices that convert chemical energy into electrical energy and that are used as sources of power. This article will explore the creation of the battery, focusing on the findings of Alessandro Volta. TC

Thomas Aquinas

Among the most influential theologians and philosophers during the Middle Ages was Thomas Aquinas. Born in Italy in 1225, Aquinas was a Roman Catholic priest and had served as papal theologian. After his death, the Catholic Church recognized him as a saint and the Doctor of the Church, a title given to those who made a significant intellectual contribution to the theology and doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. Almost all the work of Aquinas was shaped by his theology and belief in God, nevertheless, his influence is unrivaled in developing Western philosophies. Most philosophies concerning God and knowledge either expand from him or oppose him. JZ

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