The latest installment for my book….
This list of scientific advances since 1800 is meant to give more insight into how recently in human history we developed the foundations for understanding quantum mechanics. A few historic references are thrown in for perspective.
For more detail, I heartily recommend Dr. Asimov’s “Chronology of Science & Discovery”, Harper-Collins 1994, the source from which most of this was selected.
1800 Electric batteries (single use). IR light.
1801 UV light. Young discovered that light waves give interference patterns.
1803 Atomic theory.
1804 Steam Locomotives (commercialized later, in 1825).
1807 Fourier Transform mathematics, and the concept of wave basis sets.
1808 Polarized light.
1811 Avagadro’s hypothesis – that all gases have the same N for a given PVT.
1812 The universe was hypothesized to be a giant machine with no free will.
1814 Spectral lines were first observed.
1815 Napoleon lost at Waterloo, a major champion of science in warfare.
First paved road. Prout’s hypothesis that Hydrogen is the fundamental atom.
1817 Chlorophyll discovered. (Biology’s way of trapping photons).
1818 Fresnel realizes light is a transverse wave, rather than a compression wave.
Berzelius puts together the first atomic weight table.
1819 Steamships cross the open ocean.
1820 First linkage between electricity and magnetism.
1821 Faraday uses magnets to move wires differently depending on electrical current.
1823 Electromagnetic theory.
1824 Earth-Sun distance estimates only 2.6% off.
1827 Ohm’s law. Brownian motion observed.
1831 Electric generators, motors. North pole visited.
1838 Distance of stars determined by parallax.
1840 Thermo-chemistry measurements show heat evolution is independent of route.
1842 Doppler effect described.
1843 Work and heat determined to be the same thing – energy.
1845 Spiral nebulae observed.
1847 Conservation of energy.
1848 Absolute Zero. spectral line shifts.
1849 Speed of light on Earth first measured.
1850 Second Law of Thermodynamics – entropy always increases
1852 Joule-Thompson cooling of expanding gases. Valence theory of electrons (shells).
1855 Lines of electromagnetic force described.
1856 Bessemer process for making steel launches the new industrial era.
1858 Electricity in a “vacuum” opens a new era.
1859 Storage batteries. Spectral lines of the elements. Maxwell’s Kinetic Theory of gases
1860 Internal Combustion engine. Molecular structure.
1861 American Civil War begins.
1862 Pasteur describes germs. Sun is recognized to be mostly hydrogen.
1865 Maxwell’s equations linking electric and magnetic fields with light waves.
Avagadro’s Number first estimated based on kinetic theory of gases.
This is the first time atom mass had been determined.
1866 Nova composition. Earth recognized as having an iron core.
1869 Periodic Table of the Elements.
1876 Telephone. Chemical Thermodynamics. Cathode rays.
1879 Electric Lights.
1881 Michelson invents the Interferometer.
1882 Michelson measures speed of light more accurately than ever before.
1883 Tesla invents AC current. (It is not widely adopted for 10 more years.)
1884 Boltzmann Law relates heat and temperature via statistical mechanics.
1887 Infamous Michelson-Morely experiment, regarding the ether wind concept.
Rubber Tires. Photoelectric effect (light shining on metal allows current to flow).
1888 Radio Waves (first antennas to detect them were not for another 7 years)
1889 Motion Pictures.
1891 Term “electron” invented, with the fundamental quantum of charge.
Gravitational and inertial mass are found to be the same.
1892 Fitzgerald contraction (postulate that distance decreases with speed).
1893 Ford’s first automobile.
1895 X-rays. Cathode ray has negative charge.
Lorentz contraction (postulate that mass increases with speed).
1896 Radiation from Uranium is determined NOT to be light waves.
1897 Cathode rays are electrons, and can be bent by an electric field.
Charge/mass ratios measured, electron is 1/1837 the mass of a proton.
Curie begins work on alpha and beta rays.
1899 Ford’s car company founded.
1900 Quanta. Mass of moving electron said to increase, but could argue force is weaker.
1901 Heat energy is derived from radium. Marconi broadcasts radio from a balloon.
1902 Radioactive Series. Photoelectric effect is determined to be electron ejection
1903 Powered flight – the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC.
1905 Einstein’s Miracle Year. Publications (all in one year) on:
Special Relativity (does not cover accelerated frames of reference)
The Photo-electric Effect (the basis of his Nobel prize, not this other “stuff”)
Brownian motion explanation.
Mass – Energy conversion.
1906 Alpha particles are seen to be helium-4 nuclei. Third Law of Thermodynamics.
1907 Concept of space-time continuum, and time as a fourth dimension.
1908 Perrin experimentally shows Einstein was right about Brownian Motion, thus measuring the size of atoms and temporarily putting to bed the question of particles vs. waves. (Yes, planes & autos came before atoms were accepted as fact).
Geiger Counter invented.
Ford puts together the assembly line for the model T.
1910 Neon lights.
1911 Rutherford scattering suggests a positively charged nuclear core of atoms.
Millikan measures size of electric charge. Super-conductivity observed.
1912 Cephid variable stars understood, velocity of distant Nebulas thus “measured”.
1913 Isotopes. Bohr postulates atoms have orbits. Stark changes spectra with magnets.
1914 Main Sequence of stars defined.
1914 World War I begins.
1915 Eliptical electron orbits are proposed.
1916 General Relatively improved to include accelerated frames of reference
Black Holes are postulated.
Lewis dot structure first used to predict molecular structures.
1917 Expanding Universe extrapolated from a fudge factor Einstein had to include in general relativity, and later came to regret.
1918 Size of galaxies determined.
1919 Mass spectroscopy and isotopes seen.
First inconclusive experiments about bending light with gravity.
1923 Compton effect (x-rays kicking electrons taken as proof that light is a particle).
DeBroglie suggests “wave-particle” duality.
1925 Pauli Exclusion Principle leads to “spin” quantum number.
1926 Schrodinger describes “wave packets” (my grandparents were adults then!)
1927 Heisenberg points out position and momentum are inter-related and can’t both be pinned down at the same time for a wave packet. This “uncertainty principle” has been turned into so, so much psycho-gobbledy-gook over the years.
Planck’s constant. Electron wave defraction.
LeMaitre postulates Universal creation from a cosmic egg.
1929 Hubble red shift noted.
1930 Dirac speculates about antimatter, with reversed charges.
Babbage’s partially electronic computer.
1931 Neutrons are postulated (the year my parents were born!).
“Resonance” theories used to explain stability of aromatic molecules.
1932 Nucleus is neutrons mixed with protons. Positron observed.
1933 About the third time in history, “Dark Matter” was invoked to explain odd data.
This is the first time that the original observations were in fact correct, however.
Zwicky would definitely not be the last to invoke this fudge factor.
1934 Neutron bombardment, artificial isotopes made. Supernovas and neutrons stars.
1935 Unstable U-235 isotope isolated, “strong interaction” deduced in nucleus.
1936 Neutron absorption
1937 Muons, odd particles from outer space.
1939 World War II officially begins with the Nazi invasion of Poland.
Nuclear Fission and chain reactions.
1940 UF6 used to extract valuable U-235 from U-238 (1 part in 140).
1942 Atomic reactions observed.
1945 Fission Bomb (A-bomb).
1946 Eniac, the first 100% electronic computer. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance invented.
1947 Pion discussed as an accounting “exchange particle”. Carbon-14 dating.
Chuck Yeager flies 740 mph in level flight, faster than sound. First ever sonic boom.
1948 Transistor Radios. Big Bang Theory proposed. (Come on, this was thought up by guys who thought a device with a single p-n-p junction in it was way cool…..!)
“Nuclear Shells” theory uses magic numbers to explain nuclear stability.
1952 Fusion Bomb (H-bomb).
1953 Maser (microwave laser) invented.
1954 Fission reactors. PV cells.
1955 Antiproton. Colliding galaxies observed.
1956 Neutrino detected.
1959 Solar Wind.
1960 Laser invented in May (month & year I was born!).
Energy of a photon seen to increase due to gravity, “proving” general relativity.
1961 Quark Theory.
1964 Background microwaves in space gave boost to Big Bang theory.
1970 Discussion of Black Hole evaporation.
1971 First claim of observing a Black Hole.
1976 String Theory proposed.
1977 Inflationary Universe proposed.
1979 Gluons proposed to make quarks stick together and behave as they ought to.
1989 Pons & Fleischmann announces “Cold Fusion” in solid state, setting off a circus.
1990 Hubble Space Telescope Launched.
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