EDUCATION: Physics Through the Centuries

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Science  10 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5728, pp. 1525
DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5728.1525c

This online exhibit from the Institute of Physics in London lets you zip through more than 5000 years of the discipline's history. Clickable maps summon pop-up windows with brief accounts of major figures and discoveries. You can jump back all the way to the Sumerian culture, which began around 3500 B.C.E. and invented a counting system and basic arithmetic. Or pay a visit to Anaxagoras (circa 490-428 B.C.E.), the Greek philosopher who first explained the cause of eclipses and earned imprisonment for arguing that the sun was just a hot rock, not a god. The timeline winds up with modern physicists such as Stephen Hawking and fractal guru Benoit Mandelbrot. “Wormholes” allow you to follow the influence of one thinker on scientists in another time period.

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