A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7000 images, 3 million hits| History of Science, Math & Tech | Press & appearances in The Times, Le Figaro, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places...
1901 ANNALEN DER PHYSIK 4(3):513-523 Conclusions from the capillarity occurrences
1902 ANNALEN DER PHYSIK 8(8):798-814 The thermodynamic theory
of the potential differences between metals and complete dissociation
solutions of their salts and a electrical method towards the probing of
1902 ANNALEN DER PHYSIK 9(10):417-433 Kinetic theory of the heat equilibrium and the second fundamental theorem of the thermodynamics
1903 ANNALEN DER PHYSIK 11(5):170-187 A theory on the basics of thermodynamics
I cannot think of another illustration by a scientist or philosopher who attempts to explain their own, literal, view of the world and then offer what this looks like to the reader from inside his own head, looking out through his own eye. That's exactly what Ernst Mach is doing right here on page 15 of his influential book Die Analyse der Empfindungen, the fourth German edition ("The Analysis of Sensations and the Relation of the Physical to the Pyschical", published in Jena in 1903).
There is nothing in this world for Mach that is not admissible to the human brain that is not empirically verifiable--that is, the world is nothing but awash in sensation and that sensation itself forms part of the experience of, well, experience. I've actually never been interested in the philosophy of science, and this is one of the reasons why. Nevertheless I boldly break through my own prejudices to enjoy this phenomenally original image, drawn from the inside of Mach's working mind, looking out through his eye socket, over his mustache, under his eyebrow, around his nose, out across his body and then leaping into the rest of the world. I think he does make his point about the essential
nature of the observer. And much like the classic Steinberg New Yorker cartoon of the world view of the New Yorker (of course this includes only Manhattan), I know some number of people who have transposed their bodies much like Herr Mach into the Steinberg map--except that their worldview ends basically at the Hudson River (Mach's feet) with the rest of the world being the sliver out there beyond the river (Mach's window) until you go 359 degrees around the world to get back to the East River (and back inside Mach's noggin). It is an unusual world view to have, but someone has to have it so that we can at least identify it so.
I just like the picture.
(Section 10, describing this image, with translation by C M Williams and Sydney Waterlow from the blessed Dover people in 1959):
"The considerations just advanced, expressed as they have been in an abstract form, will gain in strength and vividness if we consider the concrete facts from which they flow. Thus, I lie upon my sofa. If I close my right eye, the picture represented in the accompanying cut is presented to my left eye In a frame formed by the ridge of my eyebrow, by my nose, and by my moustache, appears a part of my body, so far as visible, with
its environment. My body differs from other human bodies - beyond the fact that every intense motor idea is immediately expressed by a movement of it, and that, if it is touched, more striking changes are determined than if other bodies are touched - by the circumstance, that it is only seen piecemeal, and, especially, is seen without a head. If I observe an element A within my field of vision, and investigate its connexion with another element B within the same field, I step out of the domain of physics into that of physiology or psychology, provided B, to use the apposite expression of a friend of mine made upon seeing this drawing, passes through my skin. Reflexions like that for the field of vision may be made with regard to the province of touch and the perceptual domains of the other senses."
Niels Bohr Works, 1909-1955. This list is assembled from the data from the HistCite of the Garfield Library of the University of Pennsylvania.
1909 PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON SERIES A-CONTAINING PAPERS OF A MATHEMATICAL OR PHYSICAL CHARACTER 209: 281-317 Bohr N Determination of the surface-tension of water by the method of jet vibration
1910 PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON SERIES A-CONTAINING PAPERS OF A MATHEMATICAL AND PHYSICAL CHARACTER 89 (572): 395-403 Bohr N On the determination of the tension of a recently formed water-surface.
PHYSICS Timeline, 1950-2000 (adapted from the weburbia.com site)
1950: Paul Dirac, first suggestion of string theory 1950: Seaborg, Ghiorso, Street, Thompson, element 98, californium 1950: Jan Oort, theory of comet origins 1950: Bjorklund, Crandall, Moyer, York, Neutral pion 1950: Albert Einstein, Einstein's failed unified theory 1951: Smith and Baade, identify a radio galaxy 1951: Petermann, Stueckelberg, renormalisation group 1952: Courant, Livingston, Snyder, Strong focusing principle for particle accelerators
DISCOURSE ON THE METHOD OF RIGHTLY CONDUCTING THE REASON, AND SEEKING TRUTH IN THE SCIENCES by Rene Descarte.
Descartes contributed a towering amount in the history of science and in establishing modern Western philosophy, all accomplished in a relatively short period of time, as Descartes for all of his massive output only lived to be 54 (1596-1650)...and most of that was completed between 1630 and 1650. Twenty years. Outstanding.
René Descartes. Engraving by Jacques Lubin, after Frans Hals (via Houghton Library blog, here).
"PREFATORY NOTE BY THE AUTHOR
If this Discourse appear too long to be read at once, it may be divided into six Parts: and, in the first, will be found various considerations touching the Sciences; in the second, the principal rules of the Method which the Author has discovered, in the third, certain of the rules of Morals which he has deduced from this Method; in the fourth, the reasonings by which he establishes the existence of God and of the Human Soul, which are the foundations of his Metaphysic; in the fifth, the order of the Physical questions which he has investigated, and, in particular, the explication of the motion of the heart and of some other difficulties pertaining to Medicine, as also the difference between the soul of man and that of the brutes; and, in the last, what the Author believes to be required in order to greater advancement in the investigation of Nature than has yet been made, with the reasons that have induced him to write.
Next: on Intitutionalized Nonthinking: the "Negro Pencil" 1938
"...Where Light is declared to be not Similar..."--from the "abstract" of Newton's experimentum crucis
There were four main contributors to the 19 February 1672 issue of the yet-young Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, (No. 80, pp. 3075-3087). One original papers and three reviews of recently published books: the first book was a description of the coast of eastern India by Phil. Baldeus; the second, a work on the philosophy of "Renati Des Cartes"; and third, "an essay on the advancement of MUSICK, by Thomas Salmon1. These three have a common trait in that they are mostly entirely forgotten though the works seem interesting to me. The scientific paper was written by Isasac Newton: "New Theory about Light and Colors". Though it was his very first publication2 (coming at age 29), it was already the result of years' worth of hard thought and experimentation3. It also among the most important things he ever published, and was a direct link to his superlative and iconic work published as Opticks in 1704.
(It is interesting to note that the date on the title page is given as "February 19, 1671/72". This refers to a bubble int he calendar system at the time, where in some quarters the old first day of the year was celebrated on March 25, a practice which didn't firmly disappear until 1752. So th e"1671/72" bit refers to the year being 1671 according to the Old System and 1672 according to the New.)
Newton was simply the most important person in the history of science. Aside from all of his many iconic and revolutionary accomplishments, one thing that sands out over the collective of greatness is that he applied a sameness in investigation of different fields, a constant standard of scientific method across the disciplines, which was not necessarily the case with science folks, even extending back into the dimness of the great ancient philosophers. This in itself was a most major accomplishment.
There is a reminder on our refrigerator for class pictures being made for our younger daughter's elementary school this Friday. It never fails to remind me of simpler times for not-so-simple people, time that would soon be overtaken by the complex time of the rest-of-their-lives. One of my favorite images of this impending wave of life is this:
This shows Albert Einstein in Munich at the Luitpold Gymnasium in 1889, when he was 10. (The source for his image, Ronald Clark's illustrated biography of Einstein, says that it is from the 1890's, which is just wrong. Einstein is third from right, front row. In many reproductions of this photographs the boy on the far right of the front row is usually lopped off--I've imagiend a rich life for him from time to time, excised as he was from one of the most famous schoolboy photographs of the last 125 years.)
It was a fiction or fairy tale that Einstein was an average student when he was young--he was in fact a prodigy, and tested out so long as he was somewhat interested, tested out in all areas save one: French. Latin and Greek were good. French, not so. It was a main stumbling block for him throughout his young academic career. And that's a pity. More so, really, when you consider the amount of interest French scientific publications gave to Einstein in the early years, 1905-1908; and conversely, how much time and effort Einstein gave to the French, which was very little, and almost no attention at all when the greatest mathematician of the day, Henri Poincare, especially whe the great man died (in 1911). It has little to do with the actual language part--but that's another story.)
It was a time of big discovery for the little man, though not so much of that discovery took place in school, and the school itself was a trial. But at least right at this point, when this photo was made, he looked happy.
I've established a new page (column at left) to accompany the other Einstein pages, this on abstracts and reviews of Einstein's work (1905-1920) appearing in Science Abstracts (London, Institute for Electrical Engineers).
This remarkable letter, by an anonymous correspondent to Nature in 1885, simply signed "S", is perhaps the first serious attempt to establish time as the fourth dimension. That is, the first serious attempt in English, in an English scientific journal; the idea (according to A.M. Bork in his "The fourth dimension in nineteenth-century physics." Isis 55, 326, 1964) was already known in the late 18th century in the works of d'Alembert and Lagrance. (This is also pointed out by Paul J. Nahin in Time Machines, Springer Verlag (2nd edition), 1999.) Here it is:
POSSIBLY the question, What is the fourth dimension? may admit of an indefinite number of answers. I prefer, therefore, in proposing to consider Time as a fourth dimension of our existence, to speak of it as a fourth dimension rather than the fourth dimension. Since this fourth dimension cannot be introduced into space, as commonly understood, we require a new kind of space for its existence, which we may call time-space. There is then no difficulty in conceiving the analogues in this new kind of space, of the things in ordinary space which are known as lines, areas, and solids. A straight line, by moving in any direction not in its own length, generates an area; if this area moves in any direction not in its own plane it generates a solid; but if this solid moves in any direction, it still generates a solid, and nothing more. The reason of this is that we have not supposed it to move in the fourth dimension. If the straight line moves in its own direction, it describes only a straight line; if the area moves in its own plane, it describes only an area; in each case, motion in the dimensions in which the thing exists, gives us only a thing of the same dimensions; and, in order to get a thing of higher dimensions, we must have motion in a new dimension. But, as the idea of motion is only applicable in space of three dimensions, we must replace it by another which is applicable in our fourth dimension of time. Such an idea is that of successive existence. We must, therefore, conceive that there is a new three-dimensional space for each successive instant of time; and, by picturing to ourselves the aggregate formed by the successive positions in time-space of a given solid during a given time, we shall get the idea of a four-dimensional solid, which may be called a sur-solid. It will assist us to get a clearer idea, if we consider a solid which is in a constant state of change, both of magnitude and position; and an example of a solid which satisfies this condition sufficiently well, is afforded by the body of each of us. Let any man picture to himself the aggregate of his own bodily forms from birth to the present time, and he will have a clear idea of a sur-solid in time-space.
The data and research and linkage below are taken entirely from the Chronology of Milestone Events of Particle Physics, streamlined and adapted and made a little more accessible (for me) for a fast browse--I've had no hand in assembling this data, just re-arranging it.
The links are quite valuable--the scientist's biography is clickable on the name, and the article is reproduced from the original in the pdf.
This is a handy and interesting 329-entry timeline of QM placed in chronological order from the article noted below. I guess it would be easy to start the list with Planck if you wanted to give it a firm footing somewhere, though the history of quantum mechanics goes into development stages long before the 1900 Planck paper. Be that as it may, this is just a quick exercise, and if an idea was formed or a lost memory found via a quick look at this list, then it is good enough for me.
References used in "From the origin of quantum concepts to the establishment of quantum mechanics", by M A El'yashevich, in Soviet Physics USPEKHI, 1977, 20 (8), 656–682.
I've been piecing together the bits that I've been able to find strewn around the Intertubes for the very interesting Science Abstracts, Physics (London); my main goal was to retrieve the epochal 1905 and 1916 years for Albert Einstein (below) and then put together the rest of what I could find online. For this morning's effort I've found the 1905 and 1916 plus six other years. I'll be adding to this list shortly.