This is a list of important publications in physics, organized by field.
Some reasons why a particular publication might be regarded as important:
Description: The Book of Optics (Arabic: Kitab alManazir, Latin: De Aspectibus) is a seven volume treatise on optics and physics, written by the Iraqi Arab Muslim scientist Ibn alHaytham (Latinized as Alhacen or Alhazen in Europe), and published in 1021, when he was under house arrest in Cairo, Egypt. The book had an important influence on the development of optics, and science in general, as it drastically transformed the understanding of light and vision, and introduced the experimental scientific method. As a result, Ibn alHaytham has been described as the "father of optics", the "pioneer of the modern scientific method", and the "first scientist".^{[1]} The Book of Optics has been ranked alongside Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica as one of the most influential books ever written in the history of physics.^{[2]}
Huygens' treatise on light was not appreciated in its time until much later due to the mistaken zeal with which formerly everything that conflicted with the cherished ideas of Newton was denounced by his followers. Despite that, Huygens attained a remarkably clear understanding of the principles of wavepropagation; and his exposition of the subject marks an epoch in the treatment of Optical problems.
Work by Thomas Young and Fresnel provided a comprehensive picture of the propagation of light.
Nature 416, 233 (2002).
Description: The Frequency comb technique was presented in few papers. The earlier presented the main idea but last is the one often cited. Importance:
Description: The Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Latin: "mathematical principles of natural philosophy", often Principia or Principia Mathematica for short) is a threevolume work by Isaac Newton published on July 5, 1687. One of the most influential scientific books ever published, it contains the statement of Newton's laws of motion forming the foundation of classical mechanics as well as his law of universal gravitation. He derives Kepler's laws for the motion of the planets (which were first obtained empirically).
Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Influence
Description: Lagrange's masterpiece on mechanics and hydrodynamics. Based largely on the calculus of variations, this work introduced Lagrangian mechanics including the notion of virtual work, generalized coordinates, and the Lagrangian. Lagrange also further developed the principle of least action and introduced the Lagrangian reference frame for fluid flow.
Description: A standard undergraduate textbook on classical mechanics, considered a good book on the subject.
Importance: Introduction
Description: Special relativity, developed in 1905, only considers observers in inertial reference frames which are in uniform motion with respect to each other. Einstein's paper that year was called "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies". While developing this theory, Einstein wrote to Mileva (his wife) about "our work on relative motion". This paper introduced the special theory of relativity, a theory of time, distance, mass and energy. The theory postulates that the speed of light in vacuum will be the same for these observers. Special relativity solved the puzzle that had been apparent since the MichelsonMorley experiment, which had failed to show that light waves were travelling through any medium (other known waves travelled through media  such as water or air). It had been suggested that light waves actually did not travel through any medium: the speed of light was thus fixed, and not relative to the movement of the observer. This was impossible under Newtonian classical mechanics however, and Einstein provided a new system which allowed for this.
Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Influence
Description: This pioneering textbook drew together the now wellknown developments of H.A.Lorentz, A. Einstein, and H. Minkowski. It uses concepts developed in the then current textbooks (e.g. Vector Analysis and Bonola: NonEuclidean Geometry) to provide entry into mathematical physics including a vectorbased introduction to quaternions and a primer on matrix notation for linear transformations of 4vectors. The ten chapters are composed of 4 on kinematics, 3 on quaternion methods, and 3 on electromagnetism. Silberstein uses biquaternions to develop Minkowski space and Lorentz transformations. The second edition published in 1924 extended relativity into gravitation theory with tensor methods, but was superseded by Eddington's text. The book has a conversational style and is provided with references in footnotes.
Importance: Influence
Description: A modern introduction to special relativity, that explains well how the choice to divide spacetime into a time part and a space part is no different than two choices about how to assign coordinates to the surface of the earth. Suitable for selfstudy.
Importance: Introduction
Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Influence
Description: This textbook is a tourdeforce of tensor calculus, developed in Chapter II. By page 83 he has deduced the Schwarzschild metric for the domain of events around an isolated massive particle. By page 92 he has explained the advance of the perihelion of the planets, the deflection of light, and displacement of Fraunhofer lines. Electromagnetism is relegated to Chapter VI (pp. 170–195), and later (p. 223) The bifurcation of geometry and electrodynamics. This text, with its ambitious development of pseudoRiemannian geometry for gravitational theory, set an austere standard with relativity enthusiasts. Gone is any mention of quaternions or hyperbolic geometry since tensor calculus subsumes them. Thus for learning the mechanics of modern relativity this text still serves, but for motivation and context of the special theory, Silberstein is better.
Importance: Influence
Description: A book on gravitation (often considered the "Bible" by researchers for its prominence) by Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler. Published by W.H. Freeman and Company in 1973. A massive tome of over 1200 pages, the book covers all aspects of the General Theory of Relativity and also considers some extensions and experimental confirmation. The book is divided into two "tracks", the second of which covers more advanced topics.
Importance: Introduction, Influence
Description: A book on the Theory of General Relativity that is suitable for a yearlong undergraduate course on the subject that can also stand as a semesterlong course for graduate students.
Importance: Introduction
Description: In physics, the intensity spectrum of electromagnetic radiation from a black body at temperature T is given by the Planck's law of black body radiation:
where:
Max Planck originally produced this law in 1900 (published in 1901) in an attempt to interpolate between the RayleighJeans law (which worked at long wavelengths) and Wien's law (which worked at short wavelengths). He found that the above function fit the data for all wavelengths remarkably well.
This paper is considered to be the beginning of quantum theory.
Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Influence
Description: Quantum mechanics as explained by one of the founders of the field, Paul Dirac. First edition published on 29 May 1930.
Importance: Introduction, Influence, Historical importance. The second to the last chapter is particularly interesting because of its prediction of the positron.
Table of contents:
Description: A howto for Quantum Mechanics aimed at the physics undergraduate.
Importance: Introduction
Description: Observations of the generation of heat during the boring of cannons led Rumford to reject the caloric theory and to contend that heat was a form of motion.
Importance: Influence
Description: Between 1876 and 1878 Gibbs wrote a series of papers collectively entitled "On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances", considered one of the greatest achievements in physical science in the 19th century and the foundation of the science of physical chemistry. In these papers Gibbs applied thermodynamics to the interpretation of physicochemical phenomena and showed the explanation and interrelationship of what had been known only as isolated, inexplicable facts. Gibbs' papers on heterogeneous equilibria included:
Importance:
Description: Covers the phenomenological basis of classical thermodynamics itself and also the statistical theory, without assuming the reader already knows statistics or quantum mechanics. Truly an introductory text, you can pick it up after taking advanced calculus and first year general physics and a semester later know about BoseEinstein condensation, population inversions, and even information theory.
Importance: Introduction
Description: In this publication Einstein covered his study of Brownian motion, and provided empirical evidence for the existence of atoms.
Importance:
Description: Introduces the real space view on the renormalization group, and explains using this concept some relations between the scaling exponents of the Ising model.
Importance: Topic creator, breakthrough, influence
Description: Application of the renormalization group to the solution of the Kondo problem. The author was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1982 because of this work.
Importance: Breakthrough, influence
Description: Introduces the Metropolis Monte Carlo method with periodic boundary conditions and applies it to the numerical simulation of a fluid. Importance: Topic creator
Description: Faraday's law of induction and research in electromagnetism
Importance:
Description: "A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field" was the third of James Clerk Maxwell's papers concerned with electromagnetism. The concept of displacement current was introduced, so that it became possible to derive equations of electromagnetic wave. It was the first paper in which Maxwell's equations appeared.
Importance: Topic creator, breakthrough, influence
Description: The defining graduatelevel introductory text.
Importance: Influence, Introduction
Description: A standard undergraduate introductory text.
Importance: Introduction
Description: Introduces the dimensionless Reynolds number, investigating the critical Reynolds number for transition from laminar to turbulent flow.
Description: Introduces the only quantitative theory on turbulence which has survived the test of time.
Importance: Breakthrough, Influence
Description: The most important review text on turbulence.
Importance: Relevant textbook.
Description: A finite system of deterministic nonlinear ordinary differential equations is introduced to represent forced dissipative hydrodynamic flow, simulating simple phenomena in the real atmosphere. All of the solutions are found to be unstable, and most of them nonperiodic, thus forcing to reevaluate the feasibility of longterm weather prediction. In this paper the Lorenz attractor is presented for the first time, and gave the first hint of what is now known as butterfly effect.
Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough
Description: Introduction of the Feynman diagrams approach to quantum electrodynamics.
Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Influence
Description: Standard graduate textbook in quantum field theory.
Importance: Introduction
Description: Reference textbook on cosmology, discussing both observational and theoretical issues.
Importance: Relevant textbook.
Description: This paper was part of the COBE project. The COBE satellite was developed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to measure the diffuse infrared and microwave radiation from the early universe to the limits set by our astrophysical environment. It was launched November 18, 1989 and carried three instruments, a Far Infrared Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) to compare the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation to a precise blackbody, a Differential Microwave Radiometer (DMR) to map the cosmic radiation and search for brightness variants, and a Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment (DIRBE) to search for the cosmic infrared background radiation produced by the first galaxies.
FIRAS  The cosmic microwave background (CMB) spectrum is that of a nearly perfect blackbody with a temperature of 2.725 +/ 0.002 K. This observation matches the predictions of the hot Big Bang theory extraordinarily well, and indicates that nearly all of the radiant energy of the Universe was released within the first year after the Big Bang. Initial results from FIRAS were presented in this paper. Final results from FIRAS were presented at: J.C. Mather, et al., " Calibrator Design for the COBE FarInfrared Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS)", ApJ, v.512, p.511 (1999)
Importance:
Description: This paper was part of the COBE project. The COBE satellite was developed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to measure the diffuse infrared and microwave radiation from the early universe to the limits set by our astrophysical environment. It was launched November 18, 1989 and carried three instruments, a Far Infrared Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) to compare the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation to a precise blackbody, a Differential Microwave Radiometer (DMR) to map the cosmic radiation and search for Brightness variants, and a Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment (DIRBE) to search for the cosmic infrared background radiation produced by the first galaxies.
DMR  The CMB was found to have intrinsic "anisotropy" for the first time, at a level of a part in 100,000. These tiny variations in the intensity of the CMB over the sky show how matter and energy was distributed when the Universe was still very young. Later, through a process still poorly understood, the early structures seen by DMR developed into galaxies, galaxy clusters, and the large scale structure that we see in the Universe today. Initial results from FIRAS were presented in this paper. Final results from FIRAS were presented at: C.L. Bennett, et al., " FourYear COBE DMR Cosmic Microwave Background Observations: Maps and Basic Results", ApJ, v.464, p.L1 (1996)
Importance:
Description: This paper was part of the COBE project. The COBE satellite was developed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to measure the diffuse infrared and microwave radiation from the early universe to the limits set by our astrophysical environment. It was launched November 18, 1989 and carried three instruments, a Far Infrared Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) to compare the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation to a precise blackbody, a Differential Microwave Radiometer (DMR) to map the cosmic radiation and search for brightness variants, and a Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment (DIRBE) to search for the cosmic infrared background radiation produced by the first galaxies.
DIRBE  Infrared absolute sky brightness maps in the wavelength range 1.25 to 240 micrometres were obtained to carry out a search for the cosmic infrared background (CIB). The CIB was originally detected in the two longest DIRBE wavelength bands, 140 and 240 micrometres, and in the shortwavelength end of the FIRAS spectrum. Subsequent analyses have yielded detections of the CIB in the nearinfrared DIRBE sky maps. The CIB represents a "core sample" of the Universe; it contains the cumulative emissions of stars and galaxies dating back to the epoch when these objects first began to form.
Importance:
Description: The BCS theory of usual (not high T_c) superconductivity, relating the interaction of electrons and the phonons of a lattice. The authors were awarded with the Nobel prize.
Importance: Breakthrough, Influence
Description: It is so old that it still calls condensed matter physics by the out of fashion name of solid state physics, but yet it is still a good introduction to the topic.
Importance: Introduction
Description: A digital computer as an efficient universal computing device; the simulation of quantum mechanics and the use of quantum computers.
Importance: Influence
Description: This paper contains, among other contributions, the first theoretical description of statistical mechanics of polymers with application to viscosity and rubber elasticity, and an expression for the entropy gain during the coiling of linear flexible molecules.
Importance: Contains the foundation of the kinetic theory of rubber elasticity.
Description: This work was presented earlier by Guth at the American Chemical Society meeting of 1939. The article contains the first outline of the network theory of rubber elasticity. The resulting GuthJames equation of state is analogous to van der Waal's equation.
Importance: Pioneering contribution to polymer physics.
Description: This article presents a more detailed version of the network theory of rubber elasticity. The paper used average forces to some extent instead of thermodynamical functions. In statistical thermodynamics, these two procedures are equivalent.
Importance: Pioneering contribution. After some controversy within the literature, the JamesGuth network theory is now generally accepted for larger extensions. See, e.g., Paul Flory's comments in Proc. Royal Soc. A. 351, 351 (1976).
These two volumes from Nobel Prize winning scientist Irving Langmuir, include his early published papers resulting from his experiments with ionized gases (i.e. plasma). The books summarise many of the basic properties of plasmas. Langmuir coined the word plasma in about 1928.
Importance: Influence
Hannes Alfvén won the Nobel Prize for his development of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) the science that models plasma as fluids. This book lays down the ground work, but also shows that MHD may be inadequate for lowdensity plasmas such as space plasmas.
Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Influence
Description: Vehicle dynamics and chassis design from a production car perspective.
Importance: Latest and greatest.
Description: Vehicle dynamics and chassis design from a race car perspective.
Importance: Latest and greatest, also the standard reference for automotive suspension engineers.
Description: Mathematically oriented derivation of standard vehicle dynamics equations, and definitions of standard terms.
Importance: Introduction to modern vehicle dynamics theory.
Description: Vehicle dynamics as developed by Maurice Olley from the 1930s onwards. First comprehensive analytical synthesis of vehicle dynamics.
Importance: Topic creator.
Description: A new way of representing tyre data obtained from measurements in pure cornering and pure braking conditions.
Importance: A standard reference in vehicle dynamics.
Description: Up to date account of seismic data processing in the petroleum geophysics industry.
Importance:
Description:A biography and publication list
for a geophysical researcher for the United States Geological
Survey
Importance:Common reference in blasting and seismology.
Description: Contained a proof of Noether's Theorem (expressed as two theorems), showing that any symmetry of the Lagrangian corresponds to a conserved quantity. This result had a profound influence on 20th century theoretical physics.
Description: Proved the existence of phase transitions of continuous symmetry models in at least 3 dimensions. Communications in Mathematical Physics 50 (1) p7995 1976^{[6]}
Importance:
Description: Thorough introduction to the mathematical methods of classical mechanics, electromagnetic theory, quantum theory and general relativity. Possibly more accessible than Morse and Feshbach. First published 1961. Available in Dover Editions.
Importance: Introduction.
Lloyd, S., 2000, Ultimate physical limits of computation, Nature, 406:10471054.
Title:The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?
Description: An influential graduate textbook in MRI by some of the principal advancers of the field.
Importance: Influence
