Timeline of electromagnetism and classical optics
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|History of science|
- 424 BC Aristophanes "lens" is a glass globe filled with water.(Seneca says that it can be used to read letters no matter how small or dim)
- 4th century BC Mo Di first mentions the camera obscura, a pin-hole camera.
- 3rd century BC Euclid is the first to write about reflection and refraction and notes that light travels in straight lines
- 130 AD. — Claudius Ptolemy (in his work Optics) wrote about the properties of light including: reflection, refraction, and color and tabulated angles of refraction for several media
- 1021 — Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) writes the Book of Optics, studying vision.
- 1088 — Shen Kuo first recognizes magnetic declination.
- 1187 — Alexander Neckham is first in Europe to describe the magnetic compass and its use in navigation.
- 1269 — Pierre de Maricourt describes magnetic poles and remarks on the nonexistence of isolated magnetic poles
- 1305 — Dietrich von Freiberg uses crystalline spheres and flasks filled with water to study the reflection and refraction in raindrops that leads to primary and secondary rainbows
- 1550 — Gerolamo Cardano writes about electricity in De Subtilitate distinguishing, perhaps for the first time, between electrical and magnetic forces.
- 1600 — Dutchman Sacharias Jansen invents a single-lens microscope.
- 1600 — William Gilbert, in his book de Magnete, wrote about systematic experiments in electricity and magnetism; deduced that the Earth is a giant magnet.
- 1604 — Johannes Kepler describes how the eye focuses light
- 1604 — Johannes Kepler specifies the laws of the rectilinear propagation of light
- 1611 — Marko Dominis discusses the rainbow in De Radiis Visus et Lucis
- 1611 — Johannes Kepler discovers total internal reflection, a small-angle refraction law, and thin lens optics,
- 1621 — Willebrord van Roijen Snell states his Snell's law of refraction
- 1630 — Cabaeus finds that there are two types of electric charges
- 1637 — René Descartes quantitatively derives the angles at which primary and secondary rainbows are seen with respect to the angle of the Sun's elevation
- 1646 — Sir Thomas Browne first uses the word electricity is in his work Pseudodoxia Epidemica.
- 1657 — Pierre de Fermat introduces the principle of least time into optics
- 1660 — Otto von Guericke invents an early electrostatic generator.
- 1665 — Francesco Maria Grimaldi highlights the phenomenon of diffraction
- 1673 — Ignace Pardies provides a wave explanation for refraction of light
- 1675 — Robert Boyle discovers that electric attraction and repulsion can act across a vacuum and do not depend upon the air as a medium. Adds resin to the known list of "electrics."
- 1675 — Isaac Newton delivers his theory of light
- 1676 — Olaus Roemer measures the speed of light by observing Jupiter's moons
- 1678 — Christiaan Huygens states his principle of wavefront sources and demonstrates the refraction and diffraction of light rays.
- 1704 — Isaac Newton publishes Opticks, a corpuscular theory of light and colour
- 1728 — James Bradley discovers the aberration of starlight and uses it to determine that the speed of light is about 283,000 km/s
- 1729 — Stephen Gray demonstrates the difference between conductors and non-conductors (insulators).
- 1732 — C. F. du Fay Shows that all objects, except metals, animals, and liquids, can be electrified by rubbing them and that metals, animals and liquids could be electrified by means of an electrostatic generators
- 1737 — C. F. du Fay and Francis Hauksbee the younger independently discover two kinds of frictional electricity: one generated from rubbing glass, the other from rubbing resin (later identified as positive and negative electrical charges).
- 1740 — Jean le Rond d'Alembert, in Mémoire sur la réfraction des corps solides, explains the process of refraction.
- 1745 — Pieter van Musschenbroek invents the Leyden jar, a type of capacitor.
- 1746 — Leonhard Euler develops the wave theory of light refraction and dispersion
- 1747 — William Watson, while experimenting with a Leyden jar, observes that a discharge of static electricity causes electric current to flow and develops the concept of an electrical potential (voltage).
- 1752 — Benjamin Franklin shows that lightning is electricity. Also credited with the convention of using "negative" and "positive" to denote an electrical charge or potential.
- 1767 — Joseph Priestley proposes an electrical inverse-square law
- 1784 — Henry Cavendish defines the inductive capacity of dielectrics (insulators) and measures the specific inductive capacity of various substances by comparison with an air condenser.
- 1785 — Charles Coulomb introduces the inverse-square law of electrostatics
- 1786 — Luigi Galvani discovers "animal electricity" and postulates that animal bodies are storehouses of electricity. His invention of the voltaic cell leads to the invention the electric battery.
- 1800 — William Herschel discovers infrared radiation from the Sun
- 1800 — William Nicholson and Johann Ritter use electricity to decompose water into hydrogen and oxygen, thereby discovering the process of electrolysis, which led to the discovery of many other elements.
- 1800 — Alessandro Volta invents the voltaic pile, or "battery", specifically to disprove Galvani's animal electricity theory.
- 1801 — Johann Ritter discovers ultraviolet radiation from the Sun
- 1801 — Thomas Young demonstrates the wave nature of light and the principle of interference
- 1802 — Gian Domenico Romagnosi notes that a nearby voltaic pile deflects a magnetic needle. His account is largely overlooked.
- 1803 — Thomas Young develops the Double-slit experiment and demonstrates the effect of interference.
- 1806 — Alessandro Volta employs a voltaic pile to decompose potash and soda, showing that they are the oxides of the previously unknown metals potassium and sodium. These experiments were the beginning of electrochemistry.
- 1808 — Étienne-Louis Malus discovers polarization by reflection
- 1809 — Étienne-Louis Malus publishes the law of Malus which predicts the light intensity transmitted by two polarizing sheets
- 1809 — Humphry Davy first publicly demonstrates the electric arc light.
- 1811 — François Jean Dominique Arago discovers that some quartz crystals continuously rotate the electric vector of light
- 1816 — David Brewster discovers stress birefringence
- 1818 — Siméon Poisson predicts the Poisson-Arago bright spot at the center of the shadow of a circular opaque obstacle
- 1818 — François Jean Dominique Arago verifies the existence of the Poisson-Arago bright spot
- 1820 — Hans Christian Ørsted notices that a current in a wire can deflect a compass needle, demonstrating a relationship between electricity and magnetism
- 1821 — André-Marie Ampère announces his theory of electrodynamics, predicting the force that one current exerts upon another.
- 1821 — Thomas Johann Seebeck discovers the thermoelectric effect.
- 1821 — Augustin-Jean Fresnel derives a mathematical demonstration that polarization can be explained only if light is entirely transverse, with no longitudinal vibration whatsoever.
- 1825 — Augustin Fresnel phenomenologically explains optical activity by introducing circular birefringence
- 1826 — Georg Simon Ohm states his Ohm's law of electrical resistance
- 1831 — Michael Faraday states his law of induction
- 1831 — Macedonio Melloni uses a thermopile to detect infrared radiation
- 1833 — Heinrich Lenz states that an induced current in a closed conducting loop will appear in such a direction that it opposes the change that produced it (Lenz's law)
- 1833 — Michael Faraday announces his law of electrochemical equivalents
- 1834 — Heinrich Lenz determines the direction of the induced electromotive force (emf) and current resulting from electromagnetic induction. Lenz's law provides a physical interpretation of the choice of sign in Faraday's law of induction (1831), indicating that the induced emf and the change in flux have opposite signs.
- 1834 — Jean-Charles Peltier discoveres the Peltier effect: heating by an electrical current at the junction of two different metals.
- 1838 — Michael Faraday uses Volta's battery to discover cathode rays.
- 1839 — Alexandre Edmond Becquerel observes the photoelectric effect with an electrode in a conductive solution exposed to light.
- 1845 — Michael Faraday discovers that light propagation in a material can be influenced by external magnetic fields (Faraday effect)
- 1849 — Hippolyte Fizeau and Jean-Bernard Foucault measure the speed of light to be about 298,000 km/s
- 1852 — George Gabriel Stokes defines the Stokes parameters of polarization
- 1852 — Edward Frankland develops the theory of chemical valence
- 1864 — James Clerk Maxwell publishes his papers on a dynamical theory of the electromagnetic field
- 1869 — William Crookes invents the Crookes tube.
- 1873 — Willoughby Smith discovers the photoelectric effect in metals not in solution (i.e., selenium).
- 1871 — Lord Rayleigh discusses the blue sky law and sunsets (Rayleigh scattering)
- 1873 — James Clerk Maxwell states that light is an electromagnetic phenomenon
- 1875 — John Kerr discovers the electrically induced birefringence of some liquids
- 1879 — Jožef Stefan discovers the Stefan-Boltzmann radiation law of a black body and uses it to calculate the first sensible value of the temperature of the Sun's surface to be 5700 K
- 1886 — Oliver Heaviside coins the term inductance.
- 1887 — Heinrich Hertz invents a device for the production and reception of electromagnetic (EM) radio waves. His receiver consists of a coil with a spark gap.
- 1888 — Heinrich Rudolf Hertz discovers radio waves
- 1893 — Victor Schumann discovers the vacuum ultraviolet spectrum.
- 1895 — Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovers X-rays
- 1895 — Jagadis Chandra Bose gives his first public demonstration of electromagnetic waves
- 1896 — Arnold Sommerfeld solves the half-plane diffraction problem
- 1900 — The Liénard–Wiechert potentials are introduced as time-dependent (retarded) electrodynamic potentials
- 1905 — Albert Einstein demonstrates that Maxwell's Equations are not required to describe electromagnetic radiation if Special Relativity is taken into account
- 1919 — Albert A. Michelson makes the first interferometric measurements of stellar diameters at Mount Wilson Observatory (see history of astronomical interferometry)
- 1946 — Martin Ryle and Vonberg build the first two-element astronomical radio interferometer (see history of astronomical interferometry)
- 1953 — Charles H. Townes, James P. Gordon, and Herbert J. Zeiger produce the first maser
- 1956 — R. Hanbury-Brown and R.Q. Twiss complete the correlation interferometer
- 1960 — Theodore Maiman produces the first working laser
- 1966 — Jefimenko introduces time-dependent (retarded) generalizations of Coulomb's law and the Biot-Savart law
- 1999 — M. Henny and others demonstrate the Fermionic Hanbury Brown and Twiss Experiment