|History of XIX Century Physics|
* Idea: 1800, Volta invents the electric pile; Physics became recognized as the key to the secrets of nature, and to the products of industrial and military innovation; But physics then was remarkably different from its modern incarnation; It concerned itself with a mysterious, all-pervading and impossible-to-detect ether, through which forces, radiation and matter manifested themselves; Many of its practitioners were concerned with understanding nature in metaphysical or theological terms, others were devising spectacular demonstrations of "natural" effects to earn a living, still others had interests in spiritualism and psychical research; And physicists were also public intellectual figures, engaging in political and economic debate; The UK plays a prominent role in research.
* Fin-de-siècle physics: From about 1890 mechanics and materialism came under increasing attack and new formulations based on either energy, the ether, or the electromagnetic field sought to replace them; In the end the anticipated matter-is-dead revolution did not succeed and the XX century revolution turned out to be different.
@ General references: Purrington 97; Morus 05 [r pw(05)aug]; Capri 07 [and XX century]; Kragh a1207-ch [growth and changes 1880-1910].
@ Theoretical physics: Garber 99 [and mathematics, XVIII-XIX centuries, r pw(99)oct], d'Agostino 00 [and XX century].
Specific Areas > s.a. history of physics by areas.
* Electricity: Although electricity was known about by the ancient Egyptians, it was not until the Victorian era that its potential really began to be realized. Luigi Galvani's discovery of bioelectricity opened up a whole new world of possibilities, in which it could cure sickness, restore sexual potency, and even raise the dead.
@ Electricity: Morus 11.
@ Other areas: Kragh a1304 ["cosmical physics", 1850-1920].
Specific Countries, Institutions, and People
> s.a. history of physics [personal accounts]; XX century.
@ Physicists: Hendry 86 [Maxwell].
@ Countries: Kernbach a1312 [Russia]; Jungnickel & McCormmach 17 [theoretical physics in Germany].
> Online resources: see A L Kuzemsky's Men of Science [Boltzmann, Drude, Duhem, Gibbs, Green, Ohm, Weiss, Young].
"Our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals" A Michelson, 1894
– journals – comments
– other sites – acknowledgements
send feedback and suggestions to bombelli at olemiss.edu – modified 31 jul 2019