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Critical Point

Sep 1, 2002

The most beautiful science experiments

The list below shows the top 10 most frequently mentioned experiments by readers of Physics World.

Top 10 beautiful experiments

1 Young's double-slit experiment applied to the interference of single electrons

2 Galileo's experiment on falling bodies (1600s)

3 Millikan's oil-drop experiment (1910s)

4 Newton's decomposition of sunlight with a prism (1665-1666)

5 Young's light-interference experiment (1801)

6 Cavendish's torsion-bar experiment (1798)

7 Eratosthenes' measurement of the Earth's circumference (3rd century BC)

8 Galileo's experiments with rolling balls down inclined planes (1600s)

9 Rutherford's discovery of the nucleus (1911)

10 Foucault's pendulum (1851)

Others experiments that were cited included:

Archimedes' experiment on hydrostatics

Roemer's observations of the speed of light

Joule's paddle-wheel heat experiments

Reynolds's pipe flow experiment

Mach & Salcher's acoustic shock wave

Michelson-Morley measurement of the null effect of the ether

Röntgen's detection of Maxwell's displacement current

Oersted's discovery of electromagnetism

The Braggs' X-ray diffraction of salt crystals

Eddington's measurement of the bending of starlight

Stern-Gerlach demonstration of space quantization

Schrödinger's cat thought experiment

Trinity test of nuclear chain reaction

Wu et al.'s measurement of parity violation

Goldhaber's study of neutrino helicity

Feynman dipping an O-ring in water