From NYT via Adam Curry. The 10 most elegant experimental demonstrations as voted by physicists. Chronologically …
Eratosthenes’ measurement of the Earth’s circumference. (7th)
Galileo’s objects falling with constant gravitational acceleration. (2nd)
Galileo’s balls rolling down inclined planes also under gravity. (8th)
Newton’s decomposition of sunlight with a prism. (4th)
Cavendish’s weighing the Earth / measuring gravitational constant. (6th)
Young’s interference experiment showing light as waves. (5th)
Foucault’s pendulum demonstrating Earths rotation. (10th)
Millikan’s oil-drop measurement of electron charge. (3rd)
Rutherford’s discovery of the nucleus by alpha bombardment. (9th)
Jönsson‘s diffraction of electrons behaving as waves. (1st)
Actually, this is just an excuse to post a mention of Jean-Bernard Léon Foucault as distinct from Michel Foucault in response to people constantly asking me “Is that Foucault as in Foucault’s Pendulum ?” Well now we know.
That and the fact that Claus Jönsson remains an obscure individual despite executing what is considered to be the most elegant experimental scientific proof ever, predicted with some certainty by so many more famous theoretical physicists than himself, Einstein included.
A message in that ? Stick to the theory perhaps.