History of Physics
The rudiments of what has now become physics were mainly derived from fields like optics, astronomy and mechanics, these subjects were meticulously unified via the study of geometry. All these mathematical disciplines started in the ancient times with the Babylonians and Greek writers Ptolemy and Archimedes. The ancient beliefs concentrated on explaining the nature through ideas such as the four types of cause by Aristotle.
The lucid understanding of nature started in Greece with Pre-Socratic philosophers. Since the Archaic period which was somewhere around 650-480 BCE. It was Thales from Miletus who refused to accept any mythological, supernatural or religious explanations for the natural events that happened around, instead he said that for every event there was a natural cause. Thales was successful in many progresses and accepted water as the basic element and experimented with various subjects like magnets and rubbing amber to form cosmologies. Thales has been names as the “Father of Science”. There were many after Thales like Anaximander, Heraclitus, Leucippus who challenged each other’s theories and it was Democritus who finally discovered the theory of atomism, his theory said that all the things in the universe were composed of indivisible and imperishable elements known as atoms. This was milestone in the history of physics and to a much evolved atomic theory of today, as everything revolves around the atoms, their size, state, arrangements etc. Aristotle had discovered physics in a much detailed way, his writings and works and his student led to the discovery of the laws governing the physical phenomenon.
In India the philosopher Maharishi Kanada was the first to uncover the systematic theory of atomism in 200 BCE which was further detailed by two Buddhist atomists Dignaga and Dharmakriti. The theories of Indian philosophers were merely based on logic and void of any experience or experiments and were therefore considered as nonconcrete and entangled. Later in 499 BCE astronomer Aryabhata offered the theory of earth’s rotation through his works Aryabhatia.
ShenKuo from China has been accredited with the study of magnetism and described the magnetic needle compass, later on he developed the camera obscura (device which later led to photography).
IbnSina a famous polymath from Uzbekistan then Bukhara made many important contributions in the fields of optics, philosophy, physics and medicine. Ibn-Al-Haytham is considered as the founders of modern optics. Works of the Muslim scientists like Abu RayhanBiruni and Ibn Al Haytham travelled to Europe which was studies by the scholars.
The awareness of historical works entered West by translation of Arabic works to Latin. This re-introduction of works was merged with Judeo Islamic doctrinal explanations and the Medieval European scholars were greatly impressed by these works as they wanted to reunite the philosophy of the historical theorists with Christian theology.
Would you like to read more about this topic? This book might interest you: Fundamentals of Physics.