This timeline lists significant discoveries in physics and the laws of nature, including experimental discoveries, theoretical proposals that were confirmed experimentally, and theories that have significantly influenced current thinking in modern physics. Such discoveries are often a multi-step, multi-person process. Multiple discovery sometimes occurs when multiple research groups discover the same phenomenon at about the same time, and scientific priority is often disputed. The listings below include some of the most significant people and ideas by date of publication or experiment.
In physics, electromagnetism is an interaction that occurs between particles with electric charge via electromagnetic fields. The electromagnetic force is one of the four fundamental forces of nature. It is the dominant force in the interactions of atoms and molecules. Electromagnetism can be thought of as a combination of electrostatics and magnetism, two distinct but closely intertwined phenomena. Electromagnetic forces occur between any two charged particles, causing an attraction between particles with opposite charges and repulsion between particles with the same charge, while magnetism is an interaction that occurs exclusively between charged particles in relative motion. These two effects combine to create electromagnetic fields in the vicinity of charged particles, which can accelerate other charged particles via the Lorentz force. At high energy, the weak force and electromagnetic force are unified as a single electroweak force.
In physics, the fundamental interactions or fundamental forces are the interactions that do not appear to be reducible to more basic interactions. There are four fundamental interactions known to exist:
In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle that is not composed of other particles. The Standard Model presently recognizes seventeen distinct particles—twelve fermions and five bosons. As a consequence of flavor and color combinations and antimatter, the fermions and bosons are known to have 48 and 13 variations, respectively. Among the 61 elementary particles embraced by the Standard Model number electrons and other leptons, quarks, and the fundamental bosons. Subatomic particles such as protons or neutrons, which contain two or more elementary particles, are known as composite particles.
Physics is a branch of science whose primary objects of study are matter and energy. Discoveries of physics find applications throughout the natural sciences and in technology. Physics today may be divided loosely into classical physics and modern physics.
Physics is the natural science of matter, involving the study of matter, its fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, with its main goal being to understand how the universe behaves. A scientist who specializes in the field of physics is called a physicist.
Particle physics or high energy physics is the study of fundamental particles and forces that constitute matter and radiation. The fundamental particles in the universe are classified in the Standard Model as fermions and bosons. There are three generations of fermions, although ordinary matter is made only from the first fermion generation. The first generation consists of up and down quarks which form protons and neutrons, and electrons and electron neutrinos. The three fundamental interactions known to be mediated by bosons are electromagnetism, the weak interaction, and the strong interaction.
A photon is an elementary particle that is a quantum of the electromagnetic field, including electromagnetic radiation such as light and radio waves, and the force carrier for the electromagnetic force. Photons are massless, so they always move at the speed of light in vacuum, 299792458 m/s. The photon belongs to the class of boson particles.
The Standard Model of particle physics is the theory describing three of the four known fundamental forces in the universe and classifying all known elementary particles. It was developed in stages throughout the latter half of the 20th century, through the work of many scientists worldwide, with the current formulation being finalized in the mid-1970s upon experimental confirmation of the existence of quarks. Since then, proof of the top quark (1995), the tau neutrino (2000), and the Higgs boson (2012) have added further credence to the Standard Model. In addition, the Standard Model has predicted various properties of weak neutral currents and the W and Z bosons with great accuracy.
A timeline of atomic and subatomic physics.
A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes is a book on theoretical cosmology by English physicist Stephen Hawking. It was first published in 1988. Hawking wrote the book for readers who had no prior knowledge of physics.
In physics, a subatomic particle is a particle smaller than an atom. According to the Standard Model of particle physics, a subatomic particle can be either a composite particle, which is composed of other particles, or an elementary particle, which is not composed of other particles. Particle physics and nuclear physics study these particles and how they interact. Most force carrying particles like photons or gluons are called bosons and, although they have discrete quanta of energy, do not have rest mass or discrete diameters and are unlike the former particles that have rest mass and cannot overlap or combine which are called fermions.
This article describes the mathematics of the Standard Model of particle physics, a gauge quantum field theory containing the internal symmetries of the unitary product group SU(3) × SU(2) × U(1). The theory is commonly viewed as describing the fundamental set of particles – the leptons, quarks, gauge bosons and the Higgs boson.
In particle physics, the history of quantum field theory starts with its creation by Paul Dirac, when he attempted to quantize the electromagnetic field in the late 1920s. Heisenberg was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the creation of quantum mechanics". Major advances in the theory were made in the 1940s and 1950s, leading to the introduction of renormalized quantum electrodynamics (QED). QED was so successful and accurately predictive that efforts were made to apply the same basic concepts for the other forces of nature. By the late 1970s, these efforts successfully utilized gauge theory in the strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force, producing the modern Standard Model of particle physics.
Quantum mechanics is the study of matter and its interactions with energy on the scale of atomic and subatomic particles. By contrast, classical physics explains matter and energy only on a scale familiar to human experience, including the behavior of astronomical bodies such as the moon. Classical physics is still used in much of modern science and technology. However, towards the end of the 19th century, scientists discovered phenomena in both the large (macro) and the small (micro) worlds that classical physics could not explain. The desire to resolve inconsistencies between observed phenomena and classical theory led to a revolution in physics, a shift in the original scientific paradigm: the development of quantum mechanics.
The timeline of particle physics lists the sequence of particle physics theories and discoveries in chronological order. The most modern developments follow the scientific development of the discipline of particle physics.
Physics is a scientific discipline that seeks to construct and experimentally test theories of the physical universe. These theories vary in their scope and can be organized into several distinct branches, which are outlined in this article.
In physics, a field is a physical quantity, represented by a scalar, vector, or tensor, that has a value for each point in space and time. For example, on a weather map, the surface temperature is described by assigning a number to each point on the map; the temperature can be considered at a certain point in time or over some interval of time, to study the dynamics of temperature change. A surface wind map, assigning an arrow to each point on a map that describes the wind speed and direction at that point, is an example of a vector field, i.e. a 1-dimensional (rank-1) tensor field. Field theories, mathematical descriptions of how field values change in space and time, are ubiquitous in physics. For instance, the electric field is another rank-1 tensor field, while electrodynamics can be formulated in terms of two interacting vector fields at each point in spacetime, or as a single-rank 2-tensor field.
The idea that matter consists of smaller particles and that there exists a limited number of sorts of primary, smallest particles in nature has existed in natural philosophy at least since the 6th century BC. Such ideas gained physical credibility beginning in the 19th century, but the concept of "elementary particle" underwent some changes in its meaning: notably, modern physics no longer deems elementary particles indestructible. Even elementary particles can decay or collide destructively; they can cease to exist and create (other) particles in result.