Physics - History


As noted below, the means used to understand the behavior of natural phenomena and their effects evolved from philosophy, progressively replaced by natural philosophy then natural science, to eventually arrive at the modern conception of physics.

Natural philosophy has its origins in Greece during the Archaic period, (650 BCE – 480 BCE), when Pre-Socratic philosophers like Thales refused supernatural, religious or mythological explanations for natural phenomena and proclaimed that every event had a natural cause. They proposed ideas verified by reason and observation and many of their hypotheses proved successful in experiment, for example atomism.

Classical physics became a separate science when early modern Europeans used these experimental and quantitative methods to discover what are now considered to be the laws of physics. Kepler, Galileo and more specifically Newton discovered and unified the different laws of motion. Experimental physics had its debuts with experimentation concerning statics by medieval Muslim physicists like al-Biruni and Alhazen. During the industrial revolution, as energy needs increased, so did research, which led to the discovery of new laws in thermodynamics, chemistry and electromagnetics.

Modern physics started with the works of Max Planck in quantum theory and Einstein in relativity, and continued in quantum mechanics pioneered by Heisenberg, Schrödinger and Paul Dirac.

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Famous quotes containing the word history:

    I am ashamed to see what a shallow village tale our so-called History is. How many times must we say Rome, and Paris, and Constantinople! What does Rome know of rat and lizard? What are Olympiads and Consulates to these neighboring systems of being? Nay, what food or experience or succor have they for the Esquimaux seal-hunter, or the Kanaka in his canoe, for the fisherman, the stevedore, the porter?
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    There is one great fact, characteristic of this our nineteenth century, a fact which no party dares deny. On the one hand, there have started into life industrial and scientific forces which no epoch of former human history had ever suspected. On the other hand, there exist symptoms of decay, far surpassing the horrors recorded of the latter times of the Roman empire. In our days everything seems pregnant with its contrary.
    Karl Marx (1818–1883)

    A people without history
    Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
    Of timeless moments.
    —T.S. (Thomas Stearns)