Pick any of your non-scientist friends, and ask him or her what is a physical constant, and if he or she can name one. Most likely the answer will be the speed of light, and they will possibly also recall its symbol, c. A personal survey by the authors - on a reduced number of non-scientists too small to truly produce a statistic - showed that the speed of light was indeed the first answer, Planck's constant being the next-most popular. This paper is about the history of the idea that light has a speed, of the measurement of such a speed, and in particular of the usage of the symbol c for this speed. The first part of the paper is based on our previous paper (in Italian [1]), while for the second part we are much in debt to [2, 3], which were our starting points.

'c' Utrum est ut Celeritas an Constantia? (Does 'c' Stand for Speed or Constancy?) / G. Pelosi; S. Selleri. - In: IEEE ANTENNAS & PROPAGATION MAGAZINE. - ISSN 1045-9243. - STAMPA. - 52(2010), pp. 207-219. [10.1109/MAP.2010.5723273]

'c' Utrum est ut Celeritas an Constantia? (Does 'c' Stand for Speed or Constancy?)

PELOSI, GIUSEPPE;SELLERI, STEFANO
2010

Abstract

Pick any of your non-scientist friends, and ask him or her what is a physical constant, and if he or she can name one. Most likely the answer will be the speed of light, and they will possibly also recall its symbol, c. A personal survey by the authors - on a reduced number of non-scientists too small to truly produce a statistic - showed that the speed of light was indeed the first answer, Planck's constant being the next-most popular. This paper is about the history of the idea that light has a speed, of the measurement of such a speed, and in particular of the usage of the symbol c for this speed. The first part of the paper is based on our previous paper (in Italian [1]), while for the second part we are much in debt to [2, 3], which were our starting points.
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G. Pelosi; S. Selleri
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2158/652176
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