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Top Ten Physics Experiments Of All Times

Hemos posted about 12 years ago | from the beating-back-the-unknown dept.

Science 296

MarkedMan writes "The New York Times is running an article about the top ten physics experiments of all time. You may disagree with the order, but it is hard to imagine pulling any one of these from the top ten. And most of them could be done by a patient amateur, at least one with access to cannonballs." The Times article wraps up the work by Robert P. Crease mentioned a few weeks ago.

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physics (2, Funny)

hardcoredreamer (551324) | about 12 years ago | (#4325521)

i remember when i first tried to make a perpetual motion machine... then somehow it caught fire in my living room... i dont remember how i tried to build it though...

YOU ATTEMPTED TO HAVE SEX WITH IT... DIDN'T YOU? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325546)

Re:physics (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325554)

You take a piece of buttered bread and strap it to a cat (buttered side up). Then you drop the cat from a few feet up. Since buttered bread always lands buttered side down and a cat always lands on its feet, the cat will hover a foot or so off the ground spinning perpetually.

Re:physics (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Cowrad (571322) | about 12 years ago | (#4325606)

Eventually the butter would dry up, leaving the toast bare.

It's also quite obvious that you've never tried to strap something to a cat.

Re:physics (1)

majestynine (605494) | about 12 years ago | (#4325647)

Someone whose name has been lost in the mists of time said:

If you try this, Murphy's Law will take over, and the strap will break.

fp! and grammer!! (0, Troll)

ItaliaMatt (581886) | about 12 years ago | (#4325522)

Wouldn't it be "of all time"?

no more ny times posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325523)

that signup really sucks it

Re:no more ny times posts (1, Offtopic)

amd-core (581541) | about 12 years ago | (#4325822)

slashdot should have public signup account @ nytimes :)

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325525)

first post bitches

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325585)

J00r first post failed, cockgobbler. You suck.

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325527)

This Experiment!

--
I'm somewhere where I don't know where I am.

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325528)

first post w00t. Pretty good article, too bad it's ny times =\

This early post is for Jesus Christ! (-1)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | about 12 years ago | (#4325531)

I have a date with him tomorrow. He gives excellent head.

By "Jesus Christ" I mean some guy at the coffee shop I go to.

By "date" I mean him giving me head in the bathroom of that coffee shop.

Re:This early post is for Jesus Christ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325631)

Interesting! Tell us more about this encounter tomorrow.

The refraction one (-1)

bryans (555149) | about 12 years ago | (#4325547)

where.. the waves cancel out and form zebra patterns by whattsaname...

My favourite physics experiment... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325550)

I read on Slashdot that gravity may be faster than the speed of light. By experimenting with this, we could have faster than light communication, by building a mass movement detection device. If we could beam porn instantaneously to Mars, or anywhere on the Earth, then we don't need to let physics advance anymore.

What about Trinity? or: Don't try this at home (2, Insightful)

opencity (582224) | about 12 years ago | (#4325552)

A physics experiment on a grand scale and ... uh ... earth shattering.

Hopefully not duplicatable in a garage.

NYT article without registering (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325556)

For all the lamers who don't want to register, Google News is your friend [nytimes.com] .

Re:NYT article without registering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325639)

anyone else have the feeling that google is gonna be hearing from NYT pretty soon ?

Re:NYT article without registering (1)

lburdet (552112) | about 12 years ago | (#4325830)

look at the link: it says "partner=GOOGLE"
i think NYT already knows about Google... it's a good idea for both: Google gets ppl interested in their news service as it provided access to ALL news stories, and the NYT gets a ton of ads served up via all the traffic Google is gonna generate...

can anyone say win-win-win?

Re:NYT article without registering (0)

term0r (471206) | about 12 years ago | (#4325687)

When I first opened up both this thread and the news article, I was disapointed to find that I needed a NYT account, but couldnt really be bothered getting an account. Was real nice to see the first visible post being a useful link. Somone mod the parent up!!

Re:NYT article without registering (1)

skinfitz (564041) | about 12 years ago | (#4325797)

I hope Google keeps this up - having to register to read a news article (free or no) is idiotic.

I wonder how many registrations they get that are actually valid information?

Stephen King, author, dead at 55 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325557)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Horror/Sci Fi writer Stephen King was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Didn't we have a poll about this? (2)

packeteer (566398) | about 12 years ago | (#4325558)

My favorite would have to be the wave vs. particle experiment involving the two slits. Is it jsut called the double slit experiment?

two slits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325576)

sounds like pr0n

Re:two slits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325600)

It sounds more like a Chinaman's set of eyes. Which comes to mind, shouldn't they call the eyeglasses that Chinamen wear, slitglasses instead?

Re:two slits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325708)

sunglasses protect the eyes against the sun
slitglasses seems to suggest to protect the eyes against slits.
Your theory doesn't carry much credit

Re:two slits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325829)

WTF? By your logic, eyeglasses protect the eyes against eyes.

I VOTE FOR THIS ONE.... (5, Funny)

Thatto (258697) | about 12 years ago | (#4325568)

What could you do with 50Lbs. of Silly Putty?
Check out the link:

http://www.sunbelt-software.com/stu/putty/

This one simple act covers physics(gravity Acceleration, fluid dynamics and whatnot) and is so simple but so fun.

Too bad its sponsored by a windows software publishing house.
FUN!

Re:I VOTE FOR THIS ONE.... (2)

Aqua OS X (458522) | about 12 years ago | (#4325831)

Woh.... I -WANT- a huge box of that stuff. Sign me up!

But yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325571)

I still think that Neil Armstrong deserves credit for testing the theory that only with a minimal gravity field as that which the moon has, could anyone even hit a golf ball as far as Tiger Woods.

Re:But yet... (1)

doormat9 (519612) | about 12 years ago | (#4325716)

But yet... It was Alan Shepard that hit the moon-drive. Not to get off-topic. Please ignore. Anal retentive compulsions peaking... -that which does not kill me makes me stranger-

What about the Michaelson-Morley experiment? (5, Interesting)

BitterOak (537666) | about 12 years ago | (#4325575)

I find it astonishing that the Michaelson-Morley experiment, which was the basis for Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity didn't make the top ten list.

Special relativity changed the direction of physics in the 20th century. All modern physics incorporates it at a fundamental level. In some sense it is one of the most influential physics experiments of all time.

Re:What about the Michaelson-Morley experiment? (1, Redundant)

Preposterous Coward (211739) | about 12 years ago | (#4325613)

My sentiments exactly!

Re: What about the Michaelson-Morley experiment? (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 12 years ago | (#4325641)


> I find it astonishing that the Michaelson-Morley experiment, which was the basis for Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity didn't make the top ten list.

Yeah, M/M is always the first thing that comes to mind when the subject of "classic experiment" comes up.

Re: What about the Michaelson-Morley experiment? (1)

ComaVN (325750) | about 12 years ago | (#4325807)

from your sig: Has "War on Terror" become a euphemism for "Settle Old Scores"?

Yes. Vietnam will be next.

Re:What about the Michaelson-Morley experiment? (2, Insightful)

Florian H. (6933) | about 12 years ago | (#4325690)

One point speaking against including MM is that it was not really relevant to Einstein's work, he tried to solve theoretical inconsistencies between mechanics and electrodynamics.

Re:What about the Michaelson-Morley experiment? (5, Insightful)

pmc (40532) | about 12 years ago | (#4325755)

Not really - MM experiment completely destroyed the worldview at the time. Depending on you criteria this has to be one of the top ten.

Other ones missing are

JJ Thompsons backscattering of alpha particles from gold foil - changed to model of the atom from the plum pudding model to the nuclear model

Penzia and Wilson discovery of the microwave background - changed the model of the universe.

Discovery of superconductivity.

Any of Faraday's electromagnetism experiments - lead directly to Maxwell's field theory of electromagnetism, and hence to moden field based physics.

There are load more - the NYT list is poor.

Re:What about the Michaelson-Morley experiment? (1)

InnovATIONS (588225) | about 12 years ago | (#4325826)

I too expected to see this experiment. In particular I like the fact that, like the discovery of the nucleus (which was mentioned), it discovered something entirely different than what it was originally designed for. Moreover both results completely changed the notion of what the universe was like.

Re:What about the Michaelson-Morley experiment? (2)

GMontag451 (230904) | about 12 years ago | (#4325840)

I find it astonishing that the Michaelson-Morley experiment, which was the basis for Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity didn't make the top ten list.

Actually, Einstein claimed that he was unaware of the Michaelson-Morely result when he formulated Special Relativity. He was aware of the constant speed of light predicted by Maxwell's equations though.

With my today's morning commute (4, Informative)

jukal (523582) | about 12 years ago | (#4325579)

which ended 15 minutes, experiments like this [amasci.com] (TRAFFIC "EXPERIMENTS" AND A CURE FOR WAVES & JAMS) easily beats Newton, Galilei and Young.

If anyone from this morning's traffic jam is listening, learn from the webpage linked above:
On my evening commute on I-5 southbound from Everett there is always a right-lane traffic jam at one of the Lynnwood off-ramps. Close-packed cars must crawl along at 2mph for a very long time. Therefore I intentionally approached that distant jam in the right lane, and started letting a REALLY huge empty space open up ahead of me. By the time I hit the jam, there was maybe 1000ft of empty road ahead of me. Sure enough, my big empty space stopped traffic from feeding it from behind, while the front of the jam kept dissolving as usual. By the time I arrived, the jam was about half the size it had been. Amazing. This wasn't any little traffic wave, yet one single driver was able to take a huge bite out of it.

*gruntle!*

Re:With my today's morning commute (2)

jukal (523582) | about 12 years ago | (#4325590)

> which ended 15 minutes ago.

Re:With my today's morning commute (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325754)

on I-5 southbound from Everett there is always a right-lane traffic jam at one of the Lynnwood off-ramps.

this is bullshit. first off, there are no lynnwood offramps from i-5. this person is confused with i-405 and is likely not from seattle. second, nobody ever averaged 35mph on i520 at rush hour in '98 as this person claims. those were boom times here and i was on 520 then. to get 1000ft like this person claims you would have had to put on the e-brake and wait for about 45min and just sit... no nevermind that wouldn't work, 1000 cars would cut in front of you... nobody had 1000ft of space in '98.

i was a contractor at microsoft at the time (hangs head in shame)... if i left during rush hour (between 4:00-8:30pm at the time) it took over 2hrs to make it home over 520. off rush hour i could make in in 15min. i assure you that if this person averaged 35mph it was not rush hour. i found a different solution - i started taking the bus (if you have to cross 520 you're company probably can get a free bus pass for you!) it takes that nifty 3 or more carpool lane that is always empty and i could make it home in around 30min during rush hour. of course i no longer make that horrid commute, but i still take the bus because this area can't handle more traffic!

Re:With my today's morning commute (2)

GMontag451 (230904) | about 12 years ago | (#4325891)

this is bullshit. first off, there are no lynnwood offramps from i-5. this person is confused with i-405 and is likely not from seattle.

What?! There is most definitely offramps into lynnwood from I-5. There is one southbound onto 196th, and two northbound, one onto 198th and one onto 44th. And yes, there is almost always a traffic jam at the 196th exit southbound.

I think it is you who are likely not from Seattle.

NYT account (1)

Zakabog (603757) | about 12 years ago | (#4325587)

Don't know if this'll work for anyone else but I just registered,

username = BobDolio
password = bobdole

Anyway, I was wondering, why didn't the New York time's have a small one line description of each experiment (in order) then you can click on one and go to the full length description. I think it would be a lot easier to read it that way. Oh well.

Re:NYT account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325610)

While your're at it, can I get your cookie as well? Specifically the RDB, RMID, and NYT-S cookies. Just reply with the strings that are in them ;)

They forgot Taco's expirement... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325589)

It can be seen HERE [goatse.cx]

Re:They forgot Taco's expirement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325709)

How does the goatse server survive such widespread abuse from the internet over?

11th greatest experiment... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325593)


Conducted in 7th grade; proved that farts are flammable.

Mirror (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325594)

Here They Are, Science's 10 Most Beautiful Experiments
By GEORGE JOHNSON

hether they are blasting apart subatomic particles in accelerators, sequencing the genome or analyzing the wobble of a distant star, the experiments that grab the world's attention often cost millions of dollars to execute and produce torrents of data to be processed over months by supercomputers. Some research groups have grown to the size of small companies.

Advertisement

But ultimately science comes down to the individual mind grappling with something mysterious. When Robert P. Crease, a member of the philosophy department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the historian at Brookhaven National Laboratory, recently asked physicists to nominate the most beautiful experiment of all time, the 10 winners were largely solo performances, involving at most a few assistants. Most of the experiments -- which are listed in this month's Physics World -- took place on tabletops and none required more computational power than that of a slide rule or calculator.

What they have in common is that they epitomize the elusive quality scientists call beauty. This is beauty in the classical sense: the logical simplicity of the apparatus, like the logical simplicity of the analysis, seems as inevitable and pure as the lines of a Greek monument. Confusion and ambiguity are momentarily swept aside, and something new about nature becomes clear.

The list in Physics World was ranked according to popularity, first place going to an experiment that vividly demonstrated the quantum nature of the physical world. But science is a cumulative enterprise -- that is part of its beauty. Rearranged chronologically and annotated below, the winners provide a bird's-eye view of more than 2,000 years of discovery.

Eratosthenes' measurement of the Earth's circumference

At noon on the summer solstice in the Egyptian town now called Aswan, the sun hovers straight overhead: objects cast no shadow and sunlight falls directly down a deep well. When he read this fact, Eratosthenes, the librarian at Alexandria in the third century B.C., realized he had the information he needed to estimate the circumference of the planet. On the same day and time, he measured shadows in Alexandria, finding that the solar rays there had a bit of a slant, deviating from the vertical by about seven degrees.

The rest was just geometry. Assuming the earth is spherical, its circumference spans 360 degrees. So if the two cities are seven degrees apart, that would constitute seven-360ths of the full circle -- about one-fiftieth. Estimating from travel time that the towns were 5,000 "stadia" apart, Eratosthenes concluded that the earth must be 50 times that size -- 250,000 stadia in girth. Scholars differ over the length of a Greek stadium, so it is impossible to know just how accurate he was. But by some reckonings, he was off by only about 5 percent. (Ranking: 7)

Galileo's experiment on falling objects

In the late 1500's, everyone knew that heavy objects fall faster than lighter ones. After all, Aristotle had said so. That an ancient Greek scholar still held such sway was a sign of how far science had declined during the dark ages.

Galileo Galilei, who held a chair in mathematics at the University of Pisa, was impudent enough to question the common knowledge. The story has become part of the folklore of science: he is reputed to have dropped two different weights from the town's Leaning Tower showing that they landed at the same time. His challenges to Aristotle may have cost Galileo his job, but he had demonstrated the importance of taking nature, not human authority, as the final arbiter in matters of science. (Ranking: 2)

Galileo's experiments with rolling balls down inclined planes

Galileo continued to refine his ideas about objects in motion. He took a board 12 cubits long and half a cubit wide (about 20 feet by 10 inches) and cut a groove, as straight and smooth as possible, down the center. He inclined the plane and rolled brass balls down it, timing their descent with a water clock -- a large vessel that emptied through a thin tube into a glass. After each run he would weigh the water that had flowed out -- his measurement of elapsed time -- and compare it with the distance the ball had traveled.

Aristotle would have predicted that the velocity of a rolling ball was constant: double its time in transit and you would double the distance it traversed. Galileo was able to show that the distance is actually proportional to the square of the time: Double it and the ball would go four times as far. The reason is that it is being constantly accelerated by gravity. (Ranking: 8)

Newton's decomposition of sunlight with a prism

Isaac Newton was born the year Galileo died. He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1665, then holed up at home for a couple of years waiting out the plague. He had no trouble keeping himself occupied.

The common wisdom held that white light is the purest form (Aristotle again) and that colored light must therefore have been altered somehow. To test this hypothesis, Newton shined a beam of sunlight through a glass prism and showed that it decomposed into a spectrum cast on the wall. People already knew about rainbows, of course, but they were considered to be little more than pretty aberrations. Actually, Newton concluded, it was these colors -- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and the gradations in between -- that were fundamental. What seemed simple on the surface, a beam of white light, was, if one looked deeper, beautifully complex. (Ranking: 4)

Cavendish's torsion-bar experiment

Another of Newton's contributions was his theory of gravity, which holds that the strength of attraction between two objects increases with the square of their masses and decreases with the square of the distance between them. But how strong is gravity in the first place?

In the late 1700's an English scientist, Henry Cavendish, decided to find out. He took a six-foot wooden rod and attached small metal spheres to each end, like a dumbbell, then suspended it from a wire. Two 350-pound lead spheres placed nearby exerted just enough gravitational force to tug at the smaller balls, causing the dumbbell to move and the wire to twist. By mounting finely etched pieces of ivory on the end of each arm and in the sides of the case, he could measure the subtle displacement. To guard against the influence of air currents, the apparatus (called a torsion balance) was enclosed in a room and observed with telescopes mounted on each side.

The result was a remarkably accurate estimate of a parameter called the gravitational constant, and from that Cavendish was able to calculate the density and mass of the earth. Erastothenes had measured how far around the planet was. Cavendish had weighed it: 6.0 x 1024 kilograms, or about 13 trillion trillion pounds. (Ranking: 6)

Young's light-interference experiment

Newton wasn't always right. Through various arguments, he had moved the scientific mainstream toward the conviction that light consists exclusively of particles rather than waves. In 1803, Thomas Young, an English physician and physicist, put the idea to a test. He cut a hole in a window shutter, covered it with a thick piece of paper punctured with a tiny pinhole and used a mirror to divert the thin beam that came shining through. Then he took "a slip of a card, about one-thirtieth of an inch in breadth" and held it edgewise in the path of the beam, dividing it in two. The result was a shadow of alternating light and dark bands -- a phenomenon that could be explained if the two beams were interacting like waves.

Bright bands appeared where two crests overlapped, reinforcing each other; dark bands marked where a crest lined up with a trough, neutralizing each other.

The demonstration was often repeated over the years using a card with two holes to divide the beam. These so-called double-slit experiments became the standard for determining wavelike motion -- a fact that was to become especially important a century later when quantum theory began. (Ranking: 5)
Foucault's pendulum

Last year when scientists mounted a pendulum above the South Pole and watched it swing, they were replicating a celebrated demonstration performed in Paris in 1851. Using a steel wire 220 feet long, the French scientist Jean-Bernard-Léon Foucault suspended a 62-pound iron ball from the dome of the Panthéon and set it in motion, rocking back and forth. To mark its progress he attached a stylus to the ball and placed a ring of damp sand on the floor below.

Advertisement

The audience watched in awe as the pendulum inexplicably appeared to rotate, leaving a slightly different trace with each swing. Actually it was the floor of the Panthéon that was slowly moving, and Foucault had shown, more convincingly than ever, that the earth revolves on its axis. At the latitude of Paris, the pendulum's path would complete a full clockwise rotation every 30 hours; on the Southern Hemisphere it would rotate counterclockwise, and on the Equator it wouldn't revolve at all. At the South Pole, as the modern-day scientists confirmed, the period of rotation is 24 hours. (Ranking: 10)

Millikan's oil-drop experiment

Since ancient times, scientists had studied electricity -- an intangible essence that came from the sky as lightning or could be produced simply by running a brush through your hair. In 1897 (in an experiment that could easily have made this list) the British physicist J. J. Thomson had established that electricity consisted of negatively charged particles -- electrons. It was left to the American scientist Robert Millikan, in 1909, to measure their charge.

Using a perfume atomizer, he sprayed tiny drops of oil into a transparent chamber. At the top and bottom were metal plates hooked to a battery, making one positive and the other negative. Since each droplet picked up a slight charge of static electricity as it traveled through the air, the speed of its descent could be controlled by altering the voltage on the plates. (When this electrical force matched the force of gravity, a droplet -- "like a brilliant star on a black background" -- would hover in midair.)

Millikan observed one drop after another, varying the voltage and noting the effect. After many repetitions he concluded that charge could only assume certain fixed values. The smallest of these portions was none other than the charge of a single electron. (Ranking: 3)

Rutherford's discovery of the nucleus

When Ernest Rutherford was experimenting with radioactivity at the University of Manchester in 1911, atoms were generally believed to consist of large mushy blobs of positive electrical charge with electrons embedded inside -- the "plum pudding" model. But when he and his assistants fired tiny positively charged projectiles, called alpha particles, at a thin foil of gold, they were surprised that a tiny percentage of them came bouncing back. It was as though bullets had ricocheted off Jell-O.

Rutherford calculated that actually atoms were not so mushy after all. Most of the mass must be concentrated in a tiny core, now called the nucleus, with the electrons hovering around it. With amendments from quantum theory, this image of the atom persists today. (Ranking: 9)

Young's double-slit experiment applied to the interference of single electrons

Neither Newton nor Young was quite right about the nature of light. Though it is not simply made of particles, neither can it be described purely as a wave. In the first five years of the 20th century, Max Planck and then Albert Einstein showed, respectively, that light is emitted and absorbed in packets -- called photons. But other experiments continued to verify that light is also wavelike.

It took quantum theory, developed over the next few decades, to reconcile how both ideas could be true: photons and other subatomic particles -- electrons, protons, and so forth -- exhibit two complementary qualities; they are, as one physicist put it, "wavicles."

To explain the idea, to others and themselves, physicists often used a thought experiment, in which Young's double-slit demonstration is repeated with a beam of electrons instead of light. Obeying the laws of quantum mechanics, the stream of particles would split in two, and the smaller streams would interfere with each other, leaving the same kind of light- and dark-striped pattern as was cast by light. Particles would act like waves.

According to an accompanying article in Physics World, by the magazine's editor, Peter Rodgers, it wasn't until 1961 that someone (Claus Jönsson of Tübingen) carried out the experiment in the real world.

By that time no one was really surprised by the outcome, and the report, like most, was absorbed anonymously into science. (Ranking: 1)

Michelson-Morley???? (3, Insightful)

RichardtheSmith (157470) | about 12 years ago | (#4325599)

Just because the Michelson-Morley experiment was based on the wrong
idea doesn't mean it's not an important experiment in the history of
science. It's probably the one that gets pounded into the heads of
high-school physics students the most. I mean, you can't explain
*why* it was wrong without understanding Special Relativity and
E=MC^2, which is pretty cool. And the whole discussion of SR vs. the
Lorentz Transform is fascinating in itself. I think the editors of
this article were biased toward experiments that were easy to explain
and understand, and shied away from experiments that failed but still
advanced science.

The best of all? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325605)

Remember when Taco and Cowboy were "expirementing" sexually? Here are some pics of their adventures. OUCH SAYS TACO [goatse.cz]

What a dumbass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325626)

can't even do a goatse.cx [goatse.cx] link correctly. It must suck to be you.

Re:The best of all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325638)

Remember when Taco and Cowboy were "expirementing" sexually? Here are some pics of their adventures. OUCH SAYS TACO [goatse.cz]

Goatse.cz? You know that a troll's simply not having the best of days when he screws up a Goatse.cx link... (Go on, try www.goatse.cz [goatse.cz] . It doesn't resolve.)

Re:The best of all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325651)

Hey, trolls are people too, we all make mistakes. I know I've stumbled here and there in my many illustrious years of trolling slashdot. You know what always makes me feel better? THIS [goatse.cx]

Re:The best of all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325671)

Oh my god!

That's hideous!

Re:The best of all? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325683)

This helps as well. this here did [goatse.cx]




















Once upon a time there was a man named Jed
























He had a lot of hair, but it wasn't on his head



















Then one day while searching for some food



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My favourite experiment (2, Funny)

cdrobbins (603631) | about 12 years ago | (#4325628)

Is to drink 30 beers, and measure how long I spend at the porcalin alter. I hypothesise that the more beers I drink the actual time at the alter seems to slow down... more experiments needed though. Hence the more beers, the more time seems to dilate. Interesting.

Re:My favourite experiment (1)

Alien Being (18488) | about 12 years ago | (#4325696)

"... more experiments needed though"

Have you thought about trying this on the equator or at one of the poles?

Re:My favourite experiment (2)

thelexx (237096) | about 12 years ago | (#4325711)

"...at the porcalin alter. I hypothesise that..."

This evenings experiment is well underway I see!

And now you've left me with the mental image of morphing-pig-toilet-thing...thanks.

I love the NY Times (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325633)

I love the New York Times! It's so objective! (Stupid Howard, ruining what was the most influencial newspaper in the world.)

What about the Manhatten Project?

The Manhatten Project was engineering (1)

danny256 (560954) | about 12 years ago | (#4325665)

not an experiment. All the physics had already been done, the question was just weather it we be possible to engineer the bomb.

Re:The Manhatten Project was engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325678)

There is a difference between theoretical and experimental physics. When discussing the greatest experiments of all time, I think that the experiments meant to proove a theory can be counted. I mean, hell, this was the first time we knew for a fact that we could kill ourselves off as a species.

Were there thousands of engineers out in desert, or thousands of physicists?

Re:The Manhatten Project was engineering (1)

Bun (34387) | about 12 years ago | (#4325786)

If you want a landmark experiment in nuclear physics that lead directly to the atomic bomb, then you should be talking about Enrico Fermi's Chicago experiment. He built a pile which on December 2, 1942, produced the first controlled nuclear chain reaction. He then went on to be one of the leading members of the Manhattan Project team.

Regards,
Bun

Imperial vs metric confusion... (0, Offtopic)

MavEtJu (241979) | about 12 years ago | (#4325656)

ObMetricVsImperial

He took a board 12 cubits long and half a cubit wide

Even without knowing how much a cubit is I know how it looks like. But then...

(about 20 feet by 10 inches)

WTF?? 20 feet, that's about 20 / 3.3 is about 6 meters. And 10 inches, that's euh 25 centimers. Yeah, it still looks the same size but oh boy, 20 feet by 10 inches... *shudder*

Re:Imperial vs metric confusion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325675)

C ~ 1802610754560 surveyor's furlongs/fortnight =)

Re:Imperial vs metric confusion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325700)

Damn you and your imperial units!

I choose to disagree (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325657)

I don't think the top 3 physics experiments of all times are:

1. Create an account

2. Tell us about yourself

and

3. Select exclusive benefits

where's the cat-buttered-toast infinite power engine in all of this?

They forgot one helluva important one... (4, Informative)

grungebox (578982) | about 12 years ago | (#4325661)

Um...Theodore Maiman/Charles Townes and the Laser! Anyone heard of those? I hear they're all the rage in Europe...and everywhere else. Maiman single-handedly took the theoretical ideas of Townes and constructed the first crude but working laser. That was a landmark achievement, and it was an important if not ingenious experiment in the history of science. Of course, since Townes got the Nobel prize, Maiman has sort of been relegated to obscurity, but that doesn't make his laser work any less important. Remember that next time you load up Warcraft III in that CDROM drive. How do you think it's being read, anyway?

My #1 would be.. (1)

dennison_uy (313760) | about 12 years ago | (#4325680)

...the case [uk.com] where the guy induces linquid nitrogen

The Top Ten Boring... (1)

CoderByBirth (585951) | about 12 years ago | (#4325681)

... Physics Experiments Of All time would have to have Millikan's oil-drop test at a secure #1.
Here's a brief synopsis in pseudocode for you to try out at home:

LOOP:
An electron. Yep. Still discrete.
Another. Yep. Still discrete.
Two electrons. Yep. Still discrete.
WHILE nrTries LESS_THAN 5543 GOTO LOOP

No Reg Required thanks to Google (0, Redundant)

inio (26835) | about 12 years ago | (#4325706)

The article is just two clicks away [google.com]

Google News (2)

Perdo (151843) | about 12 years ago | (#4325710)

All they need now is comments and I'll never come here again... Oh, thats right, they run the Groups...

Never mind, usenet went to the dogs a long time ago..

It said "Science's 10 Most Beautiful Experiments". (1)

Zeio (325157) | about 12 years ago | (#4325725)

As for the top 10 experiments of all time, as the tagline indicates, that remains to be seen.

Re:It said "Science's 10 Most Beautiful Experiment (1)

scottj (7200) | about 12 years ago | (#4325809)

Each day, /. gives me another reason to ask myself, "Can the editors really be that stupid?"

Thought experiments vs experiments (5, Informative)

Jim.McGinness (38527) | about 12 years ago | (#4325728)

What I find interesting is that two of the experiments were not experiments at all in the traditional sense. They were thought experiments: Galileo is generally thought not to have dropped cannonballs from the Leaning Tower of Pisa -- instead, his writings describe a thought experiment involving two unequal weights tied together with a rope. And Young's double slit experiment was also a thought experiment -- the verification came many years later.

Summary of the article (5, Funny)

guttentag (313541) | about 12 years ago | (#4325731)

  • In the late 1500's, everyone knew that heavy objects fall faster than lighter ones. After all, Aristotle had said so. That an ancient Greek scholar still held such sway was a sign of how far science had declined during the dark ages. Galileo Galilei, who held a chair in mathematics at the University of Pisa, was impudent enough to question the common knowledge.

  • Aristotle would have predicted that the velocity of a rolling ball was constant: double its time in transit and you would double the distance it traversed. Galileo was able to show that the distance is actually proportional to the square of the time: Double it and the ball would go four times as far.

  • The common wisdom held that white light is the purest form (Aristotle again)...
Article summary: Three out of ten great scientists rose to prominence by proving Aristotle was an idiot. Dissing Aristotle is a sure fire way to impress your friends in scientific circles.

Re:Summary of the article (2)

guttentag (313541) | about 12 years ago | (#4325736)

er... make that two out of nine. Ah, it's all marketing anyway. Same point conveyed.

Aristotle botched more than just physics... (3, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | about 12 years ago | (#4325773)

Aristotle "talked out of his ass" in a LOT of different fields. This is by far my FAVORITE single Aristotle quote... (From Poetics, Part VII)

Now a whole is that which has beginning, middle, and end. A beginning is that which is not itself necessarily after anything else, and which has naturally something else after it; an end is that which is naturally after something itself either as its necessary or usual consequent, and with nothing else after it; and a middle, that which is by nature after one thing and also has another after it.

Re:Summary of the article (5, Informative)

Sivar (316343) | about 12 years ago | (#4325848)

Article summary: Three out of ten great scientists rose to prominence by proving Aristotle was an idiot.

Proving that *Aristotle* was an idiot? Aristotle is widely known as a person who was probably among the most intelligent humans ever to have lived.

Aristotle taught Alexander the Great. His studies on animals laid the foundation for the biological sciences and weren't superceded until two THOUSAND years after his death.

Aristotle made significant contributions to logic (He and Plato founded the basic principals of logic, such as some of the rules of inference), physics, astronomy, meteorology, zoology, metaphysics, theology, psychology, political science, economics, ethics, rhetoric, and poetics However, still more astounding is the fact that the majority of these subjects did not exist as such before him, so that he would have been the first to conceive of and establish them, as systematic disciplines.

His writings, some of which you should recognize as some of the most influential documents ever written, include:
On logic
Categories
On Interpretation
Prior Analytics
Posterior Analytics
Topics
Sophistical Refutations

On physics
Physics
On The Heavens
On Generation and Corruption

On psychology and natural history
On The Soul
On The Parts Of Animals
On The Motion Of Animals
On The History Of Animals
On The Gait Of Animals
On The Generation Of Animals

On ethics
Nicomachean Ethics
Eudemian Ethics
Magna Moralia
Politics
Rhetoric
Poetics

General investigation of the things
Metaphysics

Other works
Meteorology
On Dreams
On Longevity and Shortness Of Life
On Memory and Reminiscence
On Prophesying by Dreams
On Sense and The Sensible
On Sleep and Sleeplessness
On Youth and Old Age, On Life And Death, On Breathing

This person contributed more and to more areas than any other who has ever lived. That some of his sciences were found to be incorrect does not change this, particularly when you consider that he laid the foundation of the principal ideas of what we call physics more than two thousand years before his physics were superceded. Calling this man a moron is like calling Linux Torvalds a newbie programmer, or Windows 95 a reliable server operating system. In fact, I cannot think of anything more wrong than to use "Aristotle" and "idiot" in the same sentence without a "not". Name one person who has done even close to as much for human knowledge and understanding.

Reductionist history (4, Insightful)

panurge (573432) | about 12 years ago | (#4325734)

The NYT is guilty of trying to reduce physics to the "one great man" syndrome - the idea that the team leader is everything and everyone else is nothing. Rutherford's unnamed assistants were no less than Geiger and Marsden, major physicists in their own right, and the equation of scattering from the nucleus was never thought up by Rutherford - he gave the problem to a mathematician, according to Cambridge legend without telling what the results were needed for so the mathematician wouldn't claim part of the credit.

In the same way Mrs. Einstein did much of the work on special relativity (the divorce settlement gave her the Nobel money but Einstein was allowed to have the prize in his sole name), Geoffrey Hewish managed to leave Jocelyn Bell out of the account when she discovered pulsars, and Newton was in touch with most of the scientific talent of his day - and famously tried to rubbish anyone who might have had any of his ideas first (Leibnitz and calculus, for instance.)

I think this list itself is OK - but I'd rather have a less pop science look at the attributions, which might show a lot more about how science REALLY works, i.e. not mad scientist with weird assistant raising the lightning rod.

Re:Reductionist history (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325777)

"But science is a cumulative enterprise -- that is part of its beauty. Rearranged chronologically and annotated below, the winners provide a bird's-eye view of more than 2,000 years of discovery."

You may have seen this quote if you read the article ...

Re:Reductionist history (1)

orange7 (237458) | about 12 years ago | (#4325784)

Sorry, but you left out the bit about Shakespeare's plays really being written by Francis Bacon.

A.

Re:Reductionist history (1)

orange7 (237458) | about 12 years ago | (#4325793)

No, wait, it was Christopher Marlowe.

A.

Re:Reductionist history (2, Insightful)

BaShildy (120045) | about 12 years ago | (#4325823)

Its not just the NYT; its journalism in general. It is much easier to report the story as a miracle scientist who breaks new ground (re: Dean Kamen), than a company of hundreds uses established research from many sources, and after years of testing and development come up with a prototype that may or may not have an impact on modern travel.

This extends to all careers. I'm a game developer, and it's very common to see big names credited with an entire project. It's impossible for 1 man to create most types of modern games. Instead of giving credit to the entire team, it's easier to report that a "Designer" thought of a great idea that is selling millions instead of mentioning the joint effort by the programmers, artists, testers, etc. Warren Spector joked about this on an article, and was quoted as Warren Spector - Maker of Deus Ex :) Even recently Slashdot reported on Spirited Away [slashdot.org] often referring it to as Miyazaki's film. Did Miyazaki have a significant affect on the film? Obviously; But 99% of the film was drawn by other team members. Most likely you will never hear their names.

Journalism will never tell you the full behind the scenes on a large project. To fully understand the process of science, film, or even game development, you have to work in it. On top of that, most of the public either doesn't care, or won't believe the significant team effort that goes into a big project. I bet you the majority of people believe Bill Gates programs most if not all of windows.

If anybody would read 2nd paragraph of the article (2, Insightful)

Adaere (96166) | about 12 years ago | (#4325872)

"When Robert P. Crease, a member of the philosophy department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the historian at Brookhaven National Laboratory, recently asked physicists to nominate the most beautiful experiment of all time, the 10 winners were largely solo performances, involving at most a few assistants. Most of the experiments -- which are listed in this month's Physics World -- took place on tabletops and none required more computational power than that of a slide rule or calculator."

Note that the NY Times is just telling us what's been published elsewhere. Physicists themselves voted on the experiments.

Re:Reductionist history (5, Informative)

KarlH (602252) | about 12 years ago | (#4325880)

Albert Einstein didn't get the Nobel Prize for his work on relativity. By 1921 that was still in dispute, not established science. He got it for discovering the law of the photoelectric effect -- and to some lesser extent for his model describing the kinetics of Brownian motion.

www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1921/index.html
www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1921/press.html

The Cavendish experiment (2)

BadDoggie (145310) | about 12 years ago | (#4325739)

From the article:
Erastothenes had measured how far around the planet was. Cavendish had weighed it: 6.0 x 1024 kilograms...
6144kg? So the weights Cavendish used were almost 5% of the planet's mass.

Now either the Earth's been packing on the pounds over the last 200 years like a pregnant 30-year-old Polynesian, or the Times has some serious problem with HTML formatting.

woof.

Do good links (3, Interesting)

gerardrj (207690) | about 12 years ago | (#4325740)

Editors:
PLEASE! When you link to a NYT article, link to the anonymizer page for it instead.

Lightweight earth. (2, Insightful)

gafferted (560272) | about 12 years ago | (#4325743)

The NYT writes: Cavendish had weighed [the earth]: 6.0 x 1024 kilograms

Which is around 6 tons. Perhaps 6.0 x 10^24 kilograms would be a little closer...

Andrew

New Info Explains Galileo's Brilliance (5, Funny)

guttentag (313541) | about 12 years ago | (#4325748)

In the late 1500's, everyone knew that heavy objects fall faster than lighter ones. After all, Aristotle had said so. That an ancient Greek scholar still held such sway was a sign of how far science had declined during the dark ages. Galileo Galilei, who held a chair in mathematics at the University of Pisa, was impudent enough to question the common knowledge.
The man's job was holding a chair? This explains everything. No wonder he understood gravity so well. His arms must have tired and he kept dropping the thing.

People who have the most menial, boring jobs have the most time to intimately study commonly-ignored things like gravity.

Millikan's oil drop and fraud (2, Interesting)

arsheive (609065) | about 12 years ago | (#4325759)

Experiment #3, Millikan's oil drop, is widely regarded as the most famous example of cooking data in scientific history. This analysis [caltech.edu] by David Goodstein gives compelling evidence to the contrary. It in Goodstein claims that some of Millikan's unused data was the most supportive of his theory, and that even if he had used all the data he had gathered, it would not have made his results any less compelling.

(It seems Millikan had many other strikes against him. The question of fraud is brought up on page 3.)

Points in a straight line (1)

Ella the Cat (133841) | about 12 years ago | (#4325765)

My all time favourite is the one you do in the lab where all the points on the graph come out in a straight line without having to (ahem) ignore any that are "obviously errors".

Smoke extraction (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325766)

In our high school science class, we had to built an interesting contraption that was a glass tube filled with water, with a big plastic syringe on one end and a small tube on the other. A cigarette was attached to the small tube, and the smoke was pulled into the contraption.

I never understood why our science teacher winked at us as he left the room, but years later I realised that everyone in the class had effectively built a bong.

They forgot the best one: (2, Funny)

rat7307 (218353) | about 12 years ago | (#4325768)

Egg into the bottle!!!!

Innocent scientist comes to /. and gets trolled (2)

jweatherley (457715) | about 12 years ago | (#4325772)

Looks like Robert P. Crease got trolled by you lot when he first came here. If you read his poll results [physicsweb.org] he mentions that the poll was reported on Slashdot and prints some of the Slashdotters views on science:
One of the contributors described watching small plastic bags circulating in wind pockets, commenting that "sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I just can't take it".
Hmmmm - he doesn't get to the cinema much does he?

Groan. At least TWO ERRORS in the article. (5, Informative)

Alsee (515537) | about 12 years ago | (#4325874)

gravity, which holds that the strength of attraction between two objects increases with the square of their masses and decreases with the square of the distance between them.

No, attraction between two objects increases with the PRODUCT of their masses.

Millikan:
each droplet picked up a slight charge of static electricity as it traveled through the air

No, he used radiation to alter the charge on the drops. I believe he used an alpha particle source.

-

how did this get overlooked? (1)

v8interceptor (586130) | about 12 years ago | (#4325887)

take two tin cans attach string compete with AT&T that's physics! oh, that and the old favourite card game "52 pickup"

Heinrich Hertz and Elecromagnetic Radiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4325893)

Heinrich Hertz's verifcation of the existence of Electromagnetic radiation in 1887 must surely be there!

Its implications touch every part of our lives and are the foundation stone of much that followed.

The unification of electricity and magnetism, first published by James Clerk Maxwell in 1864, is a very underrated milestone in physics history. Just thing about it... taking the leap to electrical and magnetic waves and providing substantial evidence that light was electromagnetic in nature! And Hertz's experiments verify much of this.
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