Physics Timeline
Top 10 (or so) things you should
know about every century
Most of the events were taken
from http://www.montgomerybell.com/~clarkb/events.htm
Pre1600
1600s
1700s
1800s
1900s
Pre1600
 3rd century BC 
Aristarchus proposes a heliocentric model
 ~150 Ptolemy publishes Almagest
 1054 Chinese and American
Indian astronomers observe the Crab supernova explosion
 1100s First known written
description of the use of lodestone as a compass
 1512 Nicholas Copernicus
first states his heliocentric theory in Commentariolus
 1543 Nicholas Copernicus
publishes De Revolutionibus de Orbium Coelestium (On the
Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres)
 1572 Tycho Brahe observes
the supernova that appears in Cassiopeia
 1577 Tycho Brahe uses
parallax to prove that comets are distant entities and not atmospheric
phenomena
 1589 Galileo Galilei uses
balls rolling on inclined planes to show that different weights fall
with the same constant acceleration
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1600s
 1609 Johannes Kepler
states his first two empirical laws of planetary motion
 1609 Galileo Galilei
builds his first telescope
 1613 Galileo Galilei uses
sunspots to demonstrate the rotation of the sun
 1619 Johannes Kepler
states his third empirical law of planetary motion
 1621 Willebrord Snell
states his law of refraction
 1656 Christian Huygens
builds the first highly accurate pendulum clock
 1665 Isaac Newton deduces
the inversesquare gravitational force law from the acceleration of the
moon
 1665 Isaac Newton invents
his calculus
 1668 John Wallis suggests
the law of conservation of momentum
 1673 Christian Huygens
publishes his discovery that a_{c}=v^{2}/R
 1675 Ole Romer uses the
orbital mechanics of Jupiter's moons to estimate the speed of light
 1678 Christian Huygens
states his principle of wavefront sources
 1684 Isaac Newton proves
that planets moving under an inversesquare force law will obey Kepler's
laws
 1687 Isaac Newton
publishes his Principia Mathematica

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1700s
 1705 Edmond Halley
predicts the periodicity of Halley's comet
 1752 Benjamin Franklin
shows that lightning is electricity
 1767 Joseph Priestly
proposes an electrical inversesquare law
 1781 William Herschel
discovers Uranus
 1783 John Michell suggests
that some objects might be so massive that not even light could escape
 1785 Charles Coulomb
introduces the inversesquare law of electrostatics
 1798 Henry Cavendish
measures the gravitational constant and determines the mass of the Earth
 1798 Count Rumford has the
idea that heat is a form of energy
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1800s
 1800 Alessandro Volta
announces his invention of the electric battery
 1801 Thomas Young
demonstrates the wave nature of light and the principle of interference
 1820 Hans Oersted notices
that a current in a wire can deflect a compass needle providing the
first concrete evidence of the connection between electricity and
magnetism
 1820 Within a week after
Oersted's discovery reached France, Ampere discovers that two parallel
electic currents will exert forces on each other
 1821 Michael Faraday
builds an electricitypowered motor
 1824 Sadi Carnot analyzes
heat engines
 1826 Simon Ohm states his
law of electrical resistance
 1827 Robert Brown
discovers the Brownian motion
 1831 Faraday discovers
electromagnetic induction
 1848 Lord Kelvin discovers
the absolute zero point of temperature
 1849 Joule publishes
results from his series of experiments (including the paddlewheel
experiment) which show that heat is a form of energy
 1850 Fizeau and Foucault
measure the speed of light in water and find that it is slower than in
air, in support of the wave model of light
 1859 Maxwell works out the
mathematics of the distribution of velocities of the molecules of a gas
 1864 James Maxwell
publishes his papers on a dynamical theory of the electromagnetic field
 1873 James Maxwell states
that light is an electromagnetic phenomenon
 1874 Lord Kelvin formally
states the second law of thermodynamics
 1887 Albert Michelson and
Edward Morley do not detect the ether drift
 1887 Heinrich Hertz
discovers the photoelectric effect
 1888 Heinrich Hertz
discovers radio waves
 1896 Antoine Becquerel
discovers the radioactivity of uranium
 1897 Joseph Thomson
discovers the electron
 1899 Ernest Rutheford
discovers that uranium radiation is composed of positively charged alpha
particles and negatively charged beta particles

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1900s
 1900 Max Planck states his
radiation law and Planck's constant
 1905 Albert Einstein
completes his theory of special relativity
 1913 Niels Bohr presents
his first quantum model of the atom
 1913 Robert Millikan
measures the fundamental unit of charge
 1915 Albert Einstein
completes his theory of general relativity
 1927 Werner Heisenberg
states the quantum uncertainty principle
 1929 Edwin Hubble
discovers the expansion of the universe
 1932 James Chadwick
discovers the neutron
 1932 Carl Anderson
discovers the positron
 1933 Wolfgang Pauli
proposes the existence of neutrinos to account for an apparent violation
of energy conservation in certain nuclear reactions
 1958 Charles Townes
invents the laser
 1963 Murray GellMann and
George Zweig propose the quark/aces model
 1965 Arno Penzias and
Robert Wilson discover the 3K background radiation