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Buffysquirrel
01-30-2011, 06:29 PM
Anyone know what the big problem in physics in the 1930s was? Not necessarily specific to the UK, but which physicists in the UK would have been working on, or aspired to crack.

:)

Lhun
01-30-2011, 06:58 PM
Not off the top of my head but you might want to check out physics nobel prices of the time. (Note though that those prices get awarded a while after a discovery, so check out the prices from ~1935 onwards and look up when the actual discoveries were made)

Addendum: Actually i do think that's around the time of Heisenberg and Schrödingers famous works. Might want to look into that too.

Astronomer
01-30-2011, 07:33 PM
All the really weird, revolutionary stuff happened just before the 1930s:


Relativity (Special and General) was hatched. (Einstein)
The universe was determined to be expanding (Hubble), leading to the Big Bang Theory. (Lemaitre, I think)
Quantum Mechanics had made headway into mainstream physics. (Everyone, but mostly Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Planck, Bohr, and Pauli)

The 1930s was something of a time of assessment:


For instance, it was during the 1930s that the counter-intuitive aspects of Quantum Mechanics became clear.
This was also the time the Standard Model began predicting the existence of dozens of particles nobody wanted.
The existence of antimatter (predicted by the Standard Model) was confirmed experimentally.
The meson was discovered, which kept particle physicists up at night.
Though Einstein formulated a mathematic relationship between energy and matter, it wasn't until the 1930s that the actual mechanics of fission and fusion were worked out.

For more just Google "Enrico Fermi". He was, perhaps, the most prominent physicist in the 1930s.

Buffysquirrel
01-30-2011, 11:54 PM
Thanks!

WriteKnight
01-31-2011, 12:00 AM
The 30's were a PARTICULARLY active time for discoveries and theories in Physics. Lots to work with, but 'quantum theory' is a catchall phrase for a lot of what you're looking at.

Buffysquirrel
01-31-2011, 03:55 PM
Oh dear.

:)

Maxx
02-17-2011, 04:45 PM
Oh dear.

:)


The time frame for quantum electro dynamics (QED) has an interesting run in the 1930s when people despaired of getting the infinities caused (theoretically) by self interactions and virtual particles. From say 1928 to 1947 QED was in a state of prolonged crisis and confusion.

lpetrich
02-19-2011, 12:04 PM
The big problem was that doing perturbation calculations resulted in awkward infinities when one tried to integrate over energies.

That problem was solved by Richard Feynman (yes, that one) and his colleagues by "renormalization" -- by noting that the infinities were always there, as it were, and could be subtracted out by redefining various quantities appropriately. This trick won him and two colleagues a Nobel Prize.

blacbird
02-21-2011, 11:13 AM
Astrophysics was booming in the 1930s, on the coattails of Hubble's discovery of other galaxies and universal expansion. New and better observing instruments came into play, and two major related discoveries instantly come to mind:

Fritz Zwicky's realization of the cosmic importance of supernovae.

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar's calculation of the upper limit of stable stellar mass (1.44 solar masses), beyond which stars end their lives in supernovae.

Though born elsewhere, both men worked mainly in the U.S. (Chandrasekhar became a citizen). Both deserve to be better known to the general public than they are today. Chandrasekhar won a Nobel Prize and is a deity among astrophysicists today. Zwicky's reputation has suffered a bit, perhaps, because by all accounts he was one of the most difficult sonsabitches to be around and work with that ever lived. Some time after the 1930s he became the first person to conceive of what we now call "dark matter". But their insights and discoveries resonate strongly in everything being done in astrophysics today.

Now, I realize you specified U.K. connection, but sleuthing around a bit about these blokes might lead you on the right track.

Maxx
03-03-2011, 06:09 PM
The big problem was that doing perturbation calculations resulted in awkward infinities when one tried to integrate over energies.

That problem was solved by Richard Feynman (yes, that one) and his colleagues by "renormalization" -- by noting that the infinities were always there, as it were, and could be subtracted out by redefining various quantities appropriately. This trick won him and two colleagues a Nobel Prize.

But that was after the 1930s. I guess one hot area for physicists in England in the 30s would be radar and more exactly how to generate
electromagnetic waves with a wavelength in the centimeter range rather that the meter range. Again this actually wasn't worked out until a little after the 30s. It's really kind of surprising what wasn't known in the 30s -- for example the interactions that generate energy in the Sun were not known and the pathways for generating the elements were not known.