What is History: Definition and 540 Discussions

History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the scientific study of the past. Events occurring before the invention of writing systems are considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Historians place the past in context using historical sources such as written documents, oral accounts, ecological markers, and material objects including art and artifacts.History also includes the academic discipline which uses narrative to describe, examine, question, and analyze a sequence of past events, and investigate the patterns of cause and effect that are related to them. Historians seek to understand and represent the past through narratives. They often debate which narrative best explains an event, as well as the significance of different causes and effects. Historians also debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends. History differs from myth in that it is supported by evidence. However, ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematic elements of historical investigation. History is often taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.
Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is often considered (within the Western tradition) to be the "father of history", although he has also been called the "father of lies". Along with his contemporary Thucydides, he helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals, was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts have survived.

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  1. Gullets

    A History of Particle Physics

    Books like Griffith, Martin, and Perkins are best if I consider them for the thorough history of particle physics.
  2. P

    History Interesting anecdotes in the history of physics?

    Let us try to promote some physics history in this sub. What are some anecdotes in the history of physics that you want to share? Be it a true story or a popular myth. I'll start: I recently tried to check if the story of Schrödinger's equation was true: Schrödinger going out for the...
  3. P

    Suggestion Why is there no 'history of physics' forum?

    I think a specific forum for history of physics and mathematics here would be fun. It could also help some users understand the origin or the motivation of whatever topic they are studying. There is a forum for for art, music, history and others, but it seems focused on discussing many things...
  4. U

    History of teaching on blackboard

    I read that chalkboard is invented only in the 19 century, so how teacher before that explained pupils math and grammar with just oral instruction? It seems impossible that people need 1000 years to figure out that teaching with board is much more effective. Something must be wrong with this...
  5. Astronuc

    Cleveland, Terminal Tower (Tower City) and Van Swerigen Brothers

    If one studies American history and industrial development of the late 1800s and early 1900s, one will probably encounter stories of the railroad barons. One may have heard of Jay Gould (and son George Jay Gould), James Fisk, Cornelius Vanderbilt, E.H. Harriman, J.J. Hill, and the Van Swerigen...
  6. DennisN

    News Archaeologists discover world’s oldest wooden structure

    Archaeologists discover world’s oldest wooden structure (University of Liverpool) Article: https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2023/09/20/archaeologists-discover-worlds-oldest-wooden-structure/
  7. rcgldr

    Image of a 1973 multi-mini computer database server

    This was an advanced system at the time (1973), my first programming job. Multiple HP 2100 mini-computers (1 is HP 2116), each computer mult-tasking, a database server for 160 users at the time I left the company. Underneath each mini-computers is a 10 MB hard drive used to queue messages...
  8. DennisN

    History British Isles - a piece of visual history

    British Isles - a piece of visual history (1/2) TL;DR (too long; didn't read): Old photos of historical sites on the British Isles. Since there seems to be quite a few PF members interested in history, I thought I'd share a couple of old photos of mine of historical sites in the United Kingdom...
  9. J

    B History of Cosmology: 1915-1929 | Einstein, Hubble & GR

    Hi, I've recently developed an interest for the history of the development of cosmology and find it very interesting. The key events I have been reading up on are: 1915 - Einstein's theory of General Relativity was published. 1923 - Hubble discovered a Cepheid variable in the Andromeda...
  10. H

    History History of the Iron Trade

    Back in the 19th century British explorers came across Eskimos who were so isolated that they'd forgotten that any other humans existed. Nevertheless they had a little bit of iron that they used to put an edge on their knives. They had no trade so where did they get it? Fortunately their...
  11. hagopbul

    Apologies on titanic thread

    Hello : I apologise for my last post about the titanic , I didn't think it will be considered conspiracy theory , although I see it as a good science post Best regards Hagop
  12. Astronuc

    History History of Railroad Safety - Spotlight on current derailments

    The recent spate of train derailments has put the spotlight on derailments and railroad safety in general. Railroads are generally a safe means of transporting cargo, including hazardous chemicals, and in fact railroads are safer than a decade or two ago. Yet, one catastrophic accident...
  13. G

    Exploring Evolutionary History of Bats: Myth vs. Science

    From where I stand, human evolution from primates is more evidence-based and storied than our understanding of bats. Do we have an evolutionary understanding of bats? Or are their origins still more myth than science?
  14. Astronuc

    History History Channel - Recovery of part of Space Shuttle Challenger

    https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/10/world/shuttle-challenger-nasa-discovered-documentary-crew-scn
  15. Wrichik Basu

    GitHub: How do I merge a PR but maintain linear history + signed commit

    Suppose, for a certain a repo, I create a branch protection rule for the main branch with the following: Require pull request before merging. This means that each feature or bugfix must be on separate branches, which will be later merged with main. Maintain linear history of the main branch...
  16. Astronuc

    History Recent history of measurement of 1 kg and other units

    I didn't remember the Lavoisier died at the guillotine. The world's roundest object helps solve the longest running problem in measurement -- how to define the kilogram. I knew about the Pt the Pt-Ir standard. I didn't realize that the mass of various 'standards' changed in time...
  17. Astronuc

    History History of the United States, Vol I, Charles and Mary Beard, 1921

    I just happened to hear this one night last week. It is a history of the US from the perspective of two historians from the early 20th century. https://librivox.org/history-of-the-united-states-vol-i-by-charles-and-mary-beard/ https://librivox.org/group/495 I was listening to this around the...
  18. DennisN

    Physics experiments that changed the world (video)

    If you enjoy both physics/science and history like me, you may enjoy this video from the Royal Institution. It's about groundbreaking experiments (no theoretical physics); X-rays, particles etc. I'm only 45 minutes in so I haven't seen the entire video yet, but I wanted to share it...
  19. BillTre

    A Nice history of Evolutionary Thinking

    This guy presents a nice quick history of where evolutionary thought came from, starting well before Darwin. I thought it was nicely done.
  20. A

    B Occam's razor in science: all-time practice or modern fashion?

    When I went to college, more than 30 years ago, as far as I can remember, nobody was talking about the use of Occam's razor in science. Reading the works of past scientists, I rarely see them invoking principles of parsimony, let alone cite Occam's razor. Yes, Newton, Einstein, and few others...
  21. anorlunda

    The History of 3-Phase Power, (and AC/DC, 50/60 Hz, US/Euro, ....)

    Kathy Joseph makes wonderful videos (and now a book) about the history of electricity. Her research is very thorough. I just watched the video below, and found it instructive. Especially interesting is how Nikola Tesla and Westinghouse in the USA got the fame and credit for three phase power...
  22. nsaspook

    History "The Lightning Tamers" (Nonfiction history of science book)

    A great channel. https://www.youtube.com/c/KathyLovesPhysicsHistory Kathy Loves Physics & History
  23. gleem

    History Science and Public Policy: an Interesting History

    Generally, we try to apply scientific knowledge in some manner to benefit humanity. Often the application requires some standards or precautions so that the applications will have maximum benefit and minimal risk. One such application was that of ionizing radiation. X-rays were discovered in...
  24. kq6up

    Critique my Physics History Primer (Maxwell's Equations)

    I gave a short Maxwell's equation history lesson and included a quick explanation of the connection to Maxwell's predecessors. Just wanted to see if I hit those points right. I don't think I made any physics mistakes, but this was a little more conceptual with some calculus flavor as the student...
  25. jedishrfu

    History The Curious History of Jaywalking

    The article talks about how car manufacturers waged a psychological battle to win ownership of the streets from pedestrians by convincing them to blame themselves for getting hit by a car.
  26. A

    I History behind Ohm's law

    Voltage SI unit = Volts Current SI unit = Ampere Resistance SI unit = Ohm Ohm's law : V=IR Did Georg Ohm (German), Ampere (French) & Volta (Italian) collaborated when Ohm came out with this electricity equation with units for voltage, current & resistance as per their surnames? Credit goes to...
  27. ergospherical

    History Ancient history documentaries

    I just finished watching a documentary "The Spartans" which I found pretty interesting. Funny bunch they were, casually oiling themselves up and combing each others hair before facing almost certain death at the hands of the Persians at Thermopylae. I am looking for suggestions of documentaries...
  28. dlgoff

    History Exploring the Fascinating Kansas Museum of History in Topeka - A Photo Journey

    I took a little trip to the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka, Kansas a week or so ago, and here are a few photos:
  29. Frabjous

    Engineering History of Metallurgy: Smil & Smith Books

    I am looking for a history of metallurgy. I have found two books that look interesting Smil: Still the Iron Age https://www.amazon.com/dp/0128042338/?tag=pfamazon01-20 Smith: A History of Metallography https://www.amazon.com/dp/0262691205/?tag=pfamazon01-20 Does anyone have any other suggestions?
  30. How Imaginary Numbers Were Invented

    How Imaginary Numbers Were Invented

    How Imaginary Numbers Were Invented [Veritasium]
  31. DennisN

    How did the alphabet evolve over time?

    One of my friends sent a link to this illustration which I found very, very fascinating: (Image by Matt Baker, UsefulChart.com, image source: link) If I decipher the chart correctly, e.g. the letter "O" developed from an image of an eye. According to the wiki page about "O" an eye indeed...
  32. G

    B Exploring the History of Calculating Solar System Body SGPs

    does anyone have a good reference on the history of calculating the standard gravity parameters of solar system bodies? My guess is a rough estimate of Jupiter's SGP can be gained from observing the motion of its moons, in which case the first estimates could have been made soon after Newtonian...
  33. mfb

    History of droplets vs. aerosol transmission

    I found this interesting article: The 60-Year-Old Scientific Screwup That Helped Covid Kill It discusses why the initial COVID recommendations were focused on 2 meters distance, hand washing but not much else, and how indoor transmission over larger distances was overlooked initially (largely...
  34. jedishrfu

    The History of the Curta Calculator

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/12/the-remarkable-history-of-the-hand-cranked-curta-mechanical-calculator/
  35. W

    I History of astronomy and the Phases of Venus

    Does anyone know when it was first realized that a heliocentric model of the cosmos should show the phases of Venus in the way Galileo saw them in the 17th century.?Was it known in the time of Aristarchus or did people only realize this was a consequence of helicoentrism later on, perhaps only...
  36. Astronuc

    History Rutland Mosaic, Roman history in UK

    Extraordinary Roman mosaic and villa discovered beneath farmer's field in Rutland, UK https://phys.org/news/2021-11-extraordinary-roman-mosaic-villa-beneath.html The same institution that discovered the remains of King Richard III under a parking lot. Anyone who watches "Time Team" can...
  37. ConspiracyJim

    I Ancient mathematics/History of mathematics

    Hello,I am trying to teach myself mathematics by starting with Euclid and going up to today. My only background is college algebra and high school algebra and geometry. I am 44 years old. I've read Euclid and Apollonius. I understood everything except he Appendix in the Conics book (Green Lion...
  38. Astronuc

    History 536 AD - The 'Worst' Year in History?

    536 AD - Worst Year in History (by Kings & Generals) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/536 Glacier cores reveal Icelandic volcano that plunged Europe into darkness https://www.science.org/news/2018/11/why-536-was-worst-year-be-alive The Worst Year Ever to Be Alive in History...
  39. ergospherical

    Other History of British physics

    I need some gentle bedtime reading... where can I find some stories about various notable physicists who grew up or were based in the uk?
  40. S

    Gato / Balao Submarine "Can't" vs "Must" Surface on Dead Battery

    I've read a lot about Gato / Balao / Tensch class submarines, the ones America used in WWII, and I can't seem to sort out the specific consequences of a dead battery. A lot of you are diesel experts, so maybe someone here knows? Historical accounts are vague. Dead batteries are certainly a big...
  41. rudransh verma

    I Verse from "A Brief History of Time"

    1.One can now see why all bodies fall at same rate: A body of twice the weight will have twice the force of gravity pulling it down, but it will also have twice the mass. According to Newton’s second law these two effects will exactly cancel each other, so the acceleration will be same in all...
  42. S

    Does Heinrich Hertz' apparatus include a proper antenna?

    How close to "antenna" was the metal barbell thing which was part of Heinrich Hertz' apparatus? Did he know in theory how to build a radio but just didn't have the right components to do it? I know someone around that time referred to the problem of radio in terms of needing proper sustained...
  43. The Bill

    History of "percent grade" for slope esp. in civil engineering?

    What is the origin and/or history of the usage of the term "percent grade" for 100 times slope in, especially but not exclusively, civil engineering? The combinations of search terms I've tried so far only bring back the definition, examples of how to use quantities in this format, and other...
  44. S

    History Most indecisive battles in history

    What are good candidates for the most indecisive battles in history? There are plenty of lists online for the most decisive battles, bloodiest battles, largest battles etc. There ought to be a list of the most indecisive!
  45. N

    B 'A Brief History of Time' question on gravity

    I'm reading through Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time' and came across this sentence in the second chapter: " If the law were that the gravitational attraction of a star went down faster or increased more rapidly with distance, the orbits of the planets would not be elliptical, they...
  46. Astronuc

    History Railroad history - Conrail, it isn't quite dead

    Railroad history is one of my hobbies and somewhat of a passion. Like some people have favorite sports teams, I have favorite railroads, all of which are fallen-flags, i.e., they no longer exist. Conrail grew out of the ashes of the largest bankruptcy at the time involving the Penn Central...
  47. S

    Physics History (Maxwell) Rotary Vectors?

    I am reading the text 'Innovations in Maxwell's Electromagnetic Theory'. on page 44 there is a discussion on Ampere's circuital law . The passage is below. I don't understand the final statement. "In general represent a kind of relationship that obtains between certain pairs of phenomena , of...
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