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Physics and <!g>Cosmology in the 20th Century

Two major paradigms emerged out of <!g>classical mechanics during the first decades of the twentieth century: <!g>special relativity (1905) and <!g>quantum mechanics (1900 - 1930). When applied to the physics of gravity, special relativity led to <!g>general relativity (1915), and, this in turn, led to <!g>Big Bang cosmology. Meanwhile quantum mechanics, when united with special relativity (1930), produced relativistic quantum mechanics / quantum <!g>field theory, and eventually to <!g>particle physics, in which <!g>electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force were unified (e.g., the <!g>electroweak force), and these unified with the strong nuclear force (fundamental particle physics) (1940's - present).

Quantum corrections to the early universe led to inflationary Big Bang cosmology (1970's-present). Current research areas include attempts a superunification of all of physics, including gravity, in terms of quantum gravity and its application to cosmology. Meanwhile, <!g>classical thermodynamics, developed in the 19th century, led to <!g>non-linear, <!g>non-equilibrium thermodynamics and its application to systems showing the spontaneous emergence of order from chaos (1960's - present).

Email link | Printer-friendly | Feedback | Contributed by: <!g>Dr. Robert Russell

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