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Name: John
Status:  student
Age:  14
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
I was wondering, who is/are considered the founders of physics? I am doing a presentation in class and have been researching and have not really come up with a specific answer. Who is considered the fore-fathers of this science?


Replies:
I recommend that you look at a book on history of physics or history of knowledge (because in the old days the sage men and women were often physicist, chemist, philosopher, and more, all at the same time).

I can think of the books by ASIMOV (history of physics) which you can borrow from your library, but perhaps you would be interested in more basic texts. Nothing comes to my mind now but please talk with your reference librarian. They provide an unbelievable wealth of information.

As you read history, you may want to bear in mind an essential point which relates specifically to your question. History (i.e., what is written in the books/press) is very selective and often distorted. Fame is not the same thing as accomplishment. Distinguishing this years after the fact is rather difficult. Besides, science is far more complex than sports and it is much harder to objectively determine one's contribution. Scientists heavily rely on the wisdom and knowledge of so many of their peers and predecessors to accomplish what they do. Those who acquire fame, whether justifiably or not, tend to remain famous and overshadow other, even deserving, individuals. That is why many people know Einstein but not Lorenz, Newton but not Leibniz, Crick and Watson but not Rosalind Franklin, Edison but not Tesla. Perhaps you can look up these names and contrast the first set of names with the second. These people are famous for their work in relativity, calculus, DNA, and electricity, respectively. And while you are at it, try to find out who the inventor algebra is. This invention and more basic ones such as that of numbers were fundamental in our understanding of the physical world, yet you will find very few people who ever heard of the inventors.

Good luck!

AK

Ali Khounsary, Ph.D.
Advanced Photon Source
Argonne National Laboratory


I do not believe any one individual can be called the fore-father of physics. To realize that objects tend to fall to the ground is part of physics. If you want the first person who tried to record physics laws, I expect Aristotle is your best choice. He was incorrect in many ways. The first person to use experiments as the basis for written physics laws is Galileo.

Kenneth Mellendorf



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