Timeline for Physics 150, written by Blair Tuttle, modified by R. Martin (Last updated August 22, 1999.)  
500 BC  400 AD  1300  17001900  1900  present  
Classical Period  Middle Ages  Renaissance  Classical Phsyics  Modern Physics  
Aristotle (c. 300
BC)
Eratosthenes (c.300 BC) Aristarchus (c. 200 BC) Ptolomy (c. 200 AD) 
"Dark ages" in Europe;
"Golden age" of Islamic science.
Al Khawarizmi (850926) Ibn AlHaitham (9651039) Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (9801037) Fibanacci (c. 11701240) 
Copernicus (b. 1473)
Tycho Brahe (b.1547) Kepler (b. 1571) Galileo (b. 1564) Descartes (b. 1596) Newton (b. 1642)

Electromagnetism
Franklin (b. 1706) Coulomb (b. 1736) Faraday (b. 1791) Maxwell (b. 1831) Carnot (17961832) Mayer (1814  1878) Lord Kelvin (1824  1907)) Boltzmann (1844  1906)

Remarkable advances in physics occur particularly during the first quarter of the twentieth century. 
Scientists from the Classical Period:
Eratosthenes  c. 300 BC  Egyptian "Librarian"  Headed the great Library of Alexandria. He performed the first quantitative measure of the Earth's circumference for which a historical record has been preserved. Estimate within 10 % of the modern value. 
Aristotle  c. 300 BC  Greek Scientist  Articulated ancient understanding of motion on Earth and in the Heavens with the Earth at the center of the Universe. Articulated ancient paradigm that Heavens (Stars, Sun, moon and planets) are governed by laws different than Earthly objects. Proposed that heavenly bodies are "by their nature" in motion whereas earthly objects are "by their nature" at rest. 
Euclid  c. 300 BC  Greek
Mathematician of Alexandria 
The most prominent mathematician of GrecoRoman antiquity, best known for his treatise on geometry, the Elements. 
Aristarchus  c. 200 BC  Of Samos  Calculated relative distances to and sizes of the moon and the sun. Showed that the Sun is much larger than the Earth from which he argued that the Sun is the center of the Universe. 
Ptolomy  c. 200 AD  Greek Scientist  Developed phenomenological model for planetary motion based on circles and epicycles with the Earth at the center. 
Scientists from the Middle Ages:
Alkhwarizmi,
Muhammad Ibn Musa 
780850 AD  Islamic Mathmetician  Muslim mathematician and astronomer whose major works introduced HinduArabic numerals and the concepts of algebra into European mathematics. He lived in Baghdad in the first golden age of Islamic science. His work on elementary mathematics, Kitab aljabr wa almuqabalah ("The Book of Integration and Equation"), was translated into Latin in the 12th century and originated the term algebra. Latinization of his name led to the term "algorithm". 
Ibn Sina,
(Avicenna)

9801037 AD  Persian Scientist and Physician  His Kitab ashshifa' is probably
the largest work of its kind ever written by one man. It treats of logic,
the natural sciences, including psychology, the quadrivium (geometry, astronomy,
arithmetic, and
music), and metaphysics, but there is no real exposition of ethics or of politics. His thought in this work owes a great deal to Aristotle but also to other Greek influences and to Neoplatonism. 
Ibn AlHaitham  9651039  Islamic Scientist  Considered by some as the most important optician between Euclid and the Renaissance. HIs book KitabalManazir (Book of Optics) describes imporant optical laws such as light travels via the shortest path. 
Fibanacci, Leonardo (also known as Leonardo Pisano)  b. c. 1170, d. after 1240  Italian mathematician  Wrote Liber abaci (1202; "Book of the Abacus"), the first European work on Indian and Arabian mathematics. At the time HinduArabic numerals were known to only a few European intellectuals through translations of the writings of the 9thcentury Arab mathematician alKhwarizmi. Many other mathematical advances, e.g., Fibanacci numbers. 
Scientists from the Renaissance:
Copernicus  14731543  Polish Astronomer  Revived ancient idea that the earth went around the Sun. Did not abandon the ancient idea that the heavenly bodies moved in circles. Had to use epicycles for his phenomenolgical model of the planets' orbits to be as accurate as Ptolemy. 
Brahe, Tycho  15471601  Aristocrat, Danish Astronomer  Led team to map the motion of the planets which were the most accurate measurements of the day. Became the established measurements from which to fit into the phenomenological models. Also the most accurate naked eye measurements ever made before or since. 
Kepler, Johannes  15711630  German Astronomer  Born poor but Protestant which in Protestant controlled Germany allowed him opportunities not available to people of other faiths. First scientist to abandon orbital models based on circles and epicycles. Developed an accurate phenomenological model for planetary motion. Developed three laws regarding planetary motion: (1) planets orbit the sun in elliptical orbits, (2) the speed of the planets changed during their orbit and was roughly proportional to its distance from the Sun or the area sweep out by a planet in its orbit is equal for equal times, and (3) the period squared is proportional to the length of the orbit with each planet obeying the same proportionality constant. 
Galileo,  15641642  Italian Astronomer, Scientist  Outspoken Copernican which led to the famous trials and his house arrest. Created and used telescope to look at the Heavens. Observed mountains on the moon, moons of Jupiter and phases of Venus. First scientist known to use the experimental method. Studied balls rolling down incline planes. Suggested that in the absence of air resistance the acceleration of gravity would constant and all object would have the same acceleration. Explicitly he showed that the distance an object falls is proportional to the time squared. Developed concepts of inertia and superposition. 
Descartes, Rene  15961650  French Intellectual  Wrote "I think therefore I am." Master of deduction. Proposed a conservation law for motion in the Universe. 
Newton, Sir Isaac  16421727  English Mathematician and Scientist  Wrote Pincipia (1682) in which he introduced
three laws including the concept of Force (F=ma). These laws provided a
framework for understanding physical processes and became basis of all
Physics (and much other thought) during the 18^{th } 19^{
th
}centuries. Applied his framework to explain Kepler's Laws by
introducing a universal force of gravity (F = GMm/R^{2} ). Showed
that the same force which causes an apple to drop also keeps the Moon orbiting
the Earth which overturned Aristotle's proposition that heavenly and Earthly
objects obey different laws.
Developed the field of differential and integral Calculus among other achievements. Arguably the single most influential human to have ever lived, he wrote "If I have seen farther than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants." 
Scientists who defined classical physics after Newton :
Franklin, Benjamin  1706  1790  American Businessman, Physicist and Diplomat  Wrote (1751) "Experiments and Observations on Electricity," the first comprehensive study in the field. Developed the concepts of positive and negative charge and showed that like charges repel and opposites attract. 
Coulomb, Charles  1736  1806  French Engineer and Physicist  Showed that electrical forces obey an inverse square law (F=kQq/R^{2}) similar to the gravitational force law discovered by Newton. 
Faraday, Michael  1791  1867  English Chemist and Physicist  Born to a working class family and had no formal training in science. Developed the concepts of electrical and magnetic fields. Showed that a changing magnetic field can produce an electrical field and viceversa. 
Maxwell, James Clerk  1831  1879  Scottish Physicist  Developed a general mathematical formulation for the diverse phenomena of electricity and magnetism. Showed that visible light was an example of a selfsustaining electromagnetic wave. Introduced the aether as the medium for light wave propogation. 