Physics History

Physics Historic Sites

Henry Rowland Where did it happen? APS is identifying historic physics sites in the United States. Once a site is recognized for historic importance, a brass commemorative plaque is presented in an installation ceremony. You can see the sites and submit nominations online.
Historic Sites Initiative


This Month in Physics History

 When did it happen? Since 2000, APS News has featured, "This Month in Physics History" in every issue. Skim the headlines. Maybe you'll find a significant discovery occurred on your birthday.

Science communicators had a field day with the 2012 Higgs discovery.
May 16, 1960: Maiman Builds First Working Laser
December 18, 1926: Gilbert Lewis coins “photon” in letter to Nature
July 3, 1977: MRI uses fundamental physics for clinical diagnosis
August 1913: Robert Millikan Reports His Oil Drop Results
January 1938: Discovery of Superfluidity
June, ca. 240 B.C. Eratosthenes Measures the Earth
October 1847: Maria Mitchell Discovers a Comet
May 1911: Rutherford and the Discovery of the Atomic Nucleus
April 1935: British Patent for Radar System for Air Defense Granted to Robert Watson-Watt
March 20, 1800: Volta describes the electric battery
November, 1783: Intrepid physicist is first to fly
December 23, 1750: Ben Franklin Attempts to Electrocute a Turkey
January 1925: Wolfgang Pauli announces the exclusion principle
Einstein's quest for a unified theory
Einstein and the EPR Paradox
February 3, 1851: Léon Foucault demonstrates that Earth rotates
Einstein Lays Theoretical Foundation for BECs
Einstein predicts stimulated emission
Einstein's Biggest Blunder
December 1898: The Curies Discover Radium
Einstein's Attitudes Towards Women by guest columnist Nina Byers
Einstein and general relativity
November 25, 1975: Patent for Full-body CAT Scan
October 1807: Invention of the camera lucida
August 1932: Discovery of the Positron
March 16, 1938: Katharine Blodgett patents anti-reflective coatings
Einstein and Special Relativity
Einstein and Brownian Motion
Einstein and The Photoelectric Effect
July 13, 1901: Santos-Dumont Flies Around Eiffel Tower
Energy and mass are equivalent
May 1816: Germain Forms Theory of Elastic Surfaces
June 5, 1995: First Bose Einstein Condensate
April 15, 1452: The Birth of a Visionary — Leonardo da Vinci
Lens Crafters Circa 1590:The Invention of the Microscope
February 9, 1990: Death of George de Mestral
December 1958: Invention of the Laser
November 1, 1952: Teller and the Hydrogen Bomb
October 22, 1938: "Invention of Xerography"
January 1884: First U.S. Patent for a Roller Coaster
September 1981: Invention of the scanning tunneling microscope
June 1931: Lawrence and the First Cyclotron
May 1888: Tesla Patents "Electric Transmission of Power"
July 16, 1945: First nuclear bomb exploded
April 18, 1916: Langmuir Patents the Incandescent Lamp
February 1987: Discovery of Supernova 1987A
March 13, 1781: Herschel discovers the planet Uranus
December 14, 1989: Death of Andrei Sakharov
October 1900: Max Planck's formula for black body radiation.
November 1872: Death of Mary Somerville
August 1946: The Moore School Lectures
April 1911: Kamerlingh Onnes Begins work on Superconductivity
June 1963: Discovery of the cosmic microwave background
June 1871: Maxwell and his Demon
May 24, 1844: Morse and the telegraph.
April 1995: Discovery of the top quark at Fermilab
Circa March 1935: Schroedinger's Paradoxical Cat
January 1665: Publication of Hooke's Micrographia
February 1996: Kasparov vs. Deep Blue
December 27, 1956: Fall of Parity Conservation.
November 8, 1895: Roentgen's Discovery of X-Rays
October 1871: Babbage's Successful Failure—The First Computer
September 4, 1821 and August 29, 1831: Faraday and electromagnetism.
June 29, 1954: Oppenheimer's Security Clearance Revoked
July 20, 1969: The first manned lunar landing.
April 1946: First Concept of Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer
March 16, 1926: Launch of the First Liquid Fuel Rocket
January 28, 1986: The Challenger Explosion
February 2, 1893: Edison Records First Sneeze on Film
December 29, 1959: Feynman's Classic Caltech Lecture
November 17 - December 23, 1947: Invention of the First Transistor
October 1897: The Discovery of the Electron
September 1905: Einstein's Most Famous Formula
June 2 - 4, 1947: The Shelter Island Conference
July 5, 1687: Publication of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia
April 26, 1920: The Shapley-Curtis Debate
May 10, 1752: First experiment to draw electricity from lightning
March 10, 1876: The First Transmission of Speech
May 1609: Galileo first hears about the telescope.
May 1932: Chadwick reports the discovery of the neutron
June 1876: Edward Bouchet becomes the first African American PhD in physics
July 1957: Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer submit their paper, “Theory of Superconductivity”
September 1904: Robert Wood debunks N-rays
October, 1957: Soviets launch first satellites into orbit
November 1887: Michelson and Morley report their failure to detect the luminiferous ether
December 1938: Discovery of nuclear fission
January 1925 & 1929: Edwin Hubble Expands our View of the Universe
February 1927: Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle
March 1, 1896: Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity
April 1, 1948: The alpha beta gamma paper explains the origin of the elements
May 1801: Thomas Young’s double slit experiment
June 1798: Cavendish weighs the world
July 1820: Oersted and electromagnetism
August 1948: Maria Goeppert Mayer and the Nuclear Shell Model
October 1958: Physicist Invents First Video Game
November 1919: Elmer Imes publishes work in infrared spectroscopy
December 1706: Birth of Émilie du Châtelet
January 1998: The accelerating expansion of the universe
February 1928: Raman Scattering Discovered
March 13, 1930: Clyde Tombaugh’s discovery of Pluto announced
April 25, 1954: Bell Labs demonstrates the first practical silicon solar cell
May 31, 1957: DeWitt’s Letter on Everett’s “Many Worlds” Theory
June 12, 1824: Sadi Carnot publishes treatise on heat engines
July 1654: Pascal’s Letters to Fermat on the “Problem of Points”
September, 1911–The Sackur-Tetrode Equation: How Entropy Met Quantum Mechanics
October 22, 2004: Discovery of Graphene
November 27, 1783: John Michell anticipates black holes
January 15, 1955: "Characteristics of Bubble Chambers" Published in <em>Physical Review</em>
February 3, 1925: Death of Oliver Heaviside
March 21, 1768: Birth of Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier
April 12, 1912: Victor Hess’s balloon flight during total eclipse to measure cosmic rays
Circa June 1748: Publication of <em>Analytical Institutions</em>
July 1849: Fizeau publishes results of speed of light experiment
August 1774: Priestley isolates a new “air,” leading to discovery of oxygen
October 18, 1933: Louis de Broglie elected to Academy
November 11, 1930: Patent granted for Einstein-Szilard Refrigerator
December 20, 1900: Nature reports on William Duddell’s “musical arcs”
January 10, 1919: Death of Wallace Sabine, pioneer of architectural acoustics
February 12, 1935: Patent granted for Van de Graaff generator
March 16, 1699: William Chaloner, counterfeiter, hanged
April 16, 1901: Death of Henry Rowland
François-Marie Raoult and Raoult’s Law: May 23, 1887
June 1941: Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil submit patent for radio frequency hopping
July 21, 2000: Fermilab announces first direct evidence for tau neutrino
August 15, 1758: Death of Pierre Bouguer
October 21, 1914: Birth of Samuel W. Alderson, inventor of the crash test dummy
Nov. 19, 1711: Birth of Mikhail Lomonosov, Russia’s first modern scientist
December 2, 1942: First self-sustained nuclear chain reaction
January 19, 1894: James Dewar produces solid air
February 6, 1957: MIT introduces the first cryotron
March 6, 1913: Bohr describes his model of atom to Rutherford
April 23, 1762: Joseph Black and Latent Heat
May 29, 1948: Results of first experiment on the Casimir effect
June 1911: Invention of the Geiger Counter
July 24, 1954: Operation Moon Bounce
August 10, 1915: Henry G.J. Moseley Killed in Action
October, 1644: Torricelli Demonstrates the Existence of a Vacuum: Elegant physics experiment; enduring practical invention
November 1777: Discovery of Lichtenberg Figures
January 2, 1839: First Daguerrotype of the Moon
February 26, 1870: First pneumatic powered subway line in New York City
March 23, 1882: Birth of Emmy Noether
April 10, 1661: Hooke’s pamphlet on capillary action
May 11, 1962: Feynman’s “Brownian Ratchet”
June 10, 1854: Riemann’s classic lecture on curved space
July 21, 2004: Hawking concedes bet on black hole information loss
Lord Rayleigh and the Discovery of Argon: August 13, 1894
October 1993: Congress Cancels Funding for the SSC
November 2002: Perelman Posts Proof of Poincaré Conjecture to arXiv
December: Women and the Nobel Prize in Physics
January 23, 1952: Alan Turing’s house is burglarized
February 1932: James Chadwick’s Letter to Nature on the Neutron
March 1880: The Curie Brothers Discover Piezoelectricity
April 3, 1965: Power in the Sky
May 21, 1946: Louis Slotin Becomes Second Victim of “Demon Core”
July 19, 1595: Kepler’s Insight Leading to Mysterium Cosmographicum
August 18 and October 20, 1868: Discovery of Helium
October 13, 1967: Kastler reviews his Nobel-winning work on Hertzian resonances in Science
November 10, 1986: Death of Leona Woods Marshall Libby
December 20, 1951: First Electricity Generated by Atomic Power
January 1, 1925: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and the Day the Universe Changed
February 11, 1939: Meitner/Frisch paper on nuclear fission
March 9, 1611: Dutch astronomer Johannes Fabricius observes sunspots
April 28, 1926: Schroedinger Describes “Wave Mechanics” in Letter to Einstein
May 5, 1933: The New York Times Covers Discovery of Cosmic Radio Waves
June 1849: James Prescott Joule and the Mechanical Equivalent of Heat
July 2, 1591: Death of Vincenzo Galilei
August 1620: Kepler’s Mother Imprisoned for Witchcraft
October 8, 1945: First Patent for the Microwave
November 1696: William Whiston’s Explanation for Noah’s Flood
December 1910: Neon lights debut at Paris Motor Show
January 22, 1980: Soviet Dissident Andrei Sakharov Arrested
February 1811: Amadeo Avogadro Enumerated the Molecular World
March 1844: Publication of Faraday’s Letter Describing His Ice Pail Experiment
April 28, 1831: Birth of Peter Guthrie Tait, Pioneer of Knot Theory
May 29, 1919: Eddington Observes Solar Eclipse to Test General Relativity
June 1785: Coulomb Measures the Electric Force
July 1816: Fresnel's Evidence for the Wave Theory of Light
August 1827: Robert Brown and Molecular Motion in a Pollen-filled Puddle
November 7, 1940: Collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
December 31, 1691: Death of Robert Boyle
January 15, 1919: Physics and the Boston Molasses Flood
February 6, 1971: Alan Shepard Hits a Golf Ball on the Moon
March 19, 1800: Alexander von Humboldt Hunts Electric Eels
May 7, 1959: C.P. Snow gives his "Two Cultures" lecture
June 16, 1657: Christiaan Huygens Patents the First Pendulum Clock
July 8, 1680: The First Experiments that Inspired 18th Century "Chladni Figures"
August 5, 1816: Sir Francis Ronalds’ telegraph design rejected
October 1910: First infrared photographs published
November 1974: Discovery of the Charmed Quark
December 12, 1921: Death of Henrietta Swan Leavitt
January 1, 1995: Confirmation of the Existence of Rogue Waves
February 11, 1738: Jacques de Vaucanson Exhibits Flute-playing Automaton
March 22, 1895: Screening of the Lumière Brothers’ First Film
April 17, 1969: Robert R. Wilson’s Congressional Testimony on Founding Fermilab
June 30, 1908: The Tunguska Event
July 2, 1698: Thomas Savery Patents an Early Steam Engine
August 15, 1934: World-Record Dive in the Bathysphere by Barton and Beebe
October 2006: Definitive discovery of element 118 announced
November 9, 1825: Public Demonstration of the Limelight
December 1925: Manne Siegbahn wins Nobel Prize in Physics for x-ray spectroscopy
January 6, 1912: Alfred Wegener Presents His Theory of Continental Drift
February 6, 1970: Luis Alvarez’s Paper in Science on Cosmic Rays and Pyramids
March 29, 1959: Lyman Briggs Publishes Research Results on Spin of a Baseball.
April 14, 1932: Cockcroft and Walton Split the Atom
May 1618: Kepler’s Discovery of Solar System Harmonics
June 15, 2013: Death of Kenneth Wilson
July 1915: William Lawrence Bragg Works on Sound Ranging for Artillery Detection
September 15, 1910: Theodor Wulf Publishes First Evidence of Cosmic Radiation
October 1842: William Grove’s letter to Faraday Describing a Fuel Cell
November 11, 1572: Tycho Brahe Spots a Supernova
January 29, 1700: Birth of Daniel Bernoulli
February 8, 1967: Joseph Weber submits first gravitational wave paper to PRL
March 15, 1883: Osborne Reynolds Proposes the Reynolds Number
April 13, 1942: Death of Annie Jump Cannon
May 1664: Hooke vs. Cassini: Who Discovered Jupiter’s Red Spot?
June 16, 1874: Opening of the Cavendish Laboratory
July 21, 1620: Birth of Jean-Félix Picard, founder of French modern astronomy
September 23, 1846: Neptune’s Existence Observationally Confirmed
October 14, 1947: Chuck Yeager Breaks the Sound Barrier
November 28, 1680: Death of Athanasius Kircher
December 1934: Discovery of Cherenkov Radiation
January 1965: Roger Penrose’s Seminal Proof of Blackholes
February 5, 1963: Maarten Schmidt Discovers First Known Quasar
April 6, 1938: Discovery of Teflon
May 1931: Publication of the Creation of the First Aerogel
October 1972: Publication Discovery of Superfluid Helium-3
November 23, 1837: Birth of Johannes van der Waals, a Self-Made Man and the Father of Modern Molecular Science
December 1945: Introduction of the Atomic Energy Act of 1946
January 7, 1939: Marguerite Perey and the Ten Tons of Uranium Ore
Black History Month: Otis Boykin and the Cold War-Era Resistor
April 24, 1990: Launch of the Hubble Space Telescope
June 15, 1917: Death of Kristian Birkeland, King of the Northern Lights
July 1887: James Blyth Harnesses the Wind for Electricity.
September 2002: Schön Scandal Report is Released
February 1968: Discovery of pulsars announced.
December 1840: Joule’s abstract on converting mechanical power into heat