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It has been suggested that Timeline of particle physics be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since November 2023.

- 6th - 2nd Century BCE Kanada (philosopher) proposes that
*anu*is an indestructible particle of matter, an "atom"; anu is an abstraction and not observable.^{[1]}

- 430 BCE
^{[2]}Democritus speculates about fundamental indivisible particles—calls them "atoms"

- 1766 Henry Cavendish discovers and studies hydrogen
- 1778 Carl Scheele and Antoine Lavoisier discover that air is composed mostly of nitrogen and oxygen
- 1781 Joseph Priestley creates water by igniting hydrogen and oxygen
- 1800 William Nicholson and Anthony Carlisle use electrolysis to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen
- 1803 John Dalton introduces atomic ideas into chemistry and states that matter is composed of atoms of different weights
- 1805 (approximate time) Thomas Young conducts the double-slit experiment with light
- 1811 Amedeo Avogadro claims that equal volumes of gases should contain equal numbers of molecules
- 1832 Michael Faraday states his laws of electrolysis
- 1839 Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect
- 1871 Dmitri Mendeleyev systematically examines the periodic table and predicts the existence of gallium, scandium, and germanium
- 1873 Johannes van der Waals introduces the idea of weak attractive forces between molecules
- 1885 Johann Balmer finds a mathematical expression for observed hydrogen line wavelengths
- 1887 Heinrich Hertz discovers the photoelectric effect
- 1894 Lord Rayleigh and William Ramsay discover argon by spectroscopically analyzing the gas left over after nitrogen and oxygen are removed from air
- 1895 William Ramsay discovers terrestrial helium by spectroscopically analyzing gas produced by decaying uranium
- 1896 Antoine Henri Becquerel discovers the radioactivity of uranium
- 1896 Pieter Zeeman studies the splitting of sodium D lines when sodium is held in a flame between strong magnetic poles
- 1897 Emil Wiechert, Walter Kaufmann and J.J. Thomson discover the electron
- 1898 Marie and Pierre Curie discovered the existence of the radioactive elements radium and polonium in their research of pitchblende
- 1898 William Ramsay and Morris Travers discover neon, and negatively charged beta particles

- 1887 Heinrich Rudolf Hertz discovers the photoelectric effect that will play a very important role in the development of the quantum theory with Einstein's explanation of this effect in terms of
*quanta*of light - 1896 Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovers the X-rays while studying electrons in plasma; scattering X-rays—that were considered as 'waves' of high-energy electromagnetic radiation—Arthur Compton will be able to demonstrate in 1922 the 'particle' aspect of electromagnetic radiation.
- 1900 Paul Villard discovers gamma-rays while studying uranium decay
- 1900 Johannes Rydberg refines the expression for observed hydrogen line wavelengths
- 1900 Max Planck states his quantum hypothesis and blackbody radiation law
- 1902 Philipp Lenard observes that maximum photoelectron energies are independent of illuminating intensity but depend on frequency
- 1905 Albert Einstein explains the photoelectric effect
- 1906 Charles Barkla discovers that each element has a characteristic X-ray and that the degree of penetration of these X-rays is related to the atomic weight of the element
- 1909 Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden discover large angle deflections of alpha particles by thin metal foils
- 1909 Ernest Rutherford and Thomas Royds demonstrate that alpha particles are doubly ionized helium atoms
- 1911 Ernest Rutherford explains the Geiger–Marsden experiment by invoking a nuclear atom model and derives the Rutherford cross section
- 1908-1911 Jean Perrin proves the existence of atoms and molecules with experimental work to test Einstein's theoretical explanation of Brownian motion
- 1911 Ștefan Procopiu measures the magnetic dipole moment of the electron
- 1912 Max von Laue suggests using crystal lattices to diffract X-rays
- 1912 Walter Friedrich and Paul Knipping diffract X-rays in zinc blende
- 1913 William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg work out the Bragg condition for strong X-ray reflection
- 1913 Henry Moseley shows that nuclear charge is the real basis for numbering the elements
- 1913 Niels Bohr presents his quantum model of the atom
^{[3]} - 1913 Robert Millikan measures the fundamental unit of electric charge
- 1913 Johannes Stark demonstrates that strong electric fields will split the Balmer spectral line series of hydrogen
- 1914 James Franck and Gustav Hertz observe atomic excitation
- 1914 Ernest Rutherford suggests that the positively charged atomic nucleus contains protons
^{[4]} - 1915 Arnold Sommerfeld develops a modified Bohr atomic model with elliptic orbits to explain relativistic fine structure
- 1916 Gilbert N. Lewis and Irving Langmuir formulate an electron shell model of chemical bonding
- 1917 Albert Einstein introduces the idea of stimulated radiation emission
- 1918 Ernest Rutherford notices that, when alpha particles were shot into nitrogen gas, his scintillation detectors showed the signatures of hydrogen nuclei.
- 1921 Alfred Landé introduces the Landé g-factor
- 1922 Arthur Compton studies X-ray photon scattering by electrons demonstrating the 'particle' aspect of electromagnetic radiation.
- 1922 Otto Stern and Walther Gerlach show "spin quantization"
- 1923 Lise Meitner discovers what is now referred to as the Auger process
- 1924 Louis de Broglie suggests that electrons may have wavelike properties in addition to their 'particle' properties; the
*wave–particle duality*has been later extended to all fermions and bosons. - 1924 John Lennard-Jones proposes a semiempirical interatomic force law
- 1924 Santiago Antúnez de Mayolo proposes a neutron.
- 1924 Satyendra Bose and Albert Einstein introduce Bose–Einstein statistics
- 1925 Wolfgang Pauli states the quantum exclusion principle for electrons
- 1925 George Uhlenbeck and Samuel Goudsmit postulate electron spin
- 1925 Pierre Auger discovers the Auger process (2 years after Lise Meitner)
- 1925 Werner Heisenberg, Max Born, and Pascual Jordan formulate quantum matrix mechanics
- 1926 Erwin Schrödinger states his nonrelativistic quantum wave equation and formulates quantum wave mechanics
- 1926 Erwin Schrödinger proves that the wave and matrix formulations of quantum theory are mathematically equivalent
- 1926 Oskar Klein and Walter Gordon state their relativistic quantum wave equation, now the Klein–Gordon equation
- 1926 Enrico Fermi discovers the spin–statistics connection, for particles that are now called 'fermions', such as the electron (of spin-1/2).
- 1926 Paul Dirac introduces Fermi–Dirac statistics
- 1926 Gilbert N. Lewis introduces the term "
*photon*", thought by him to be "*the carrier of radiant energy.*"^{[5]}^{[6]} - 1927 Clinton Davisson, Lester Germer, and George Paget Thomson confirm the wavelike nature of electrons
^{[7]} - 1927 Werner Heisenberg states the quantum uncertainty principle
- 1927 Max Born interprets the probabilistic nature of wavefunctions
- 1927 Walter Heitler and Fritz London introduce the concepts of valence bond theory and apply it to the hydrogen molecule.
- 1927 Thomas and Fermi develop the Thomas–Fermi model
- 1927 Max Born and Robert Oppenheimer introduce the Born–Oppenheimer approximation
- 1928 Chandrasekhara Raman studies optical photon scattering by electrons
- 1928 Paul Dirac states the Dirac equation
- 1928 Charles G. Darwin and Walter Gordon solve the Dirac equation for a Coulomb potential
- 1928 Friedrich Hund and Robert S. Mulliken introduce the concept of molecular orbital
- 1929 Oskar Klein discovers the Klein paradox
- 1929 Oskar Klein and Yoshio Nishina derive the Klein–Nishina cross section for high energy photon scattering by electrons
- 1929 Nevill Mott derives the Mott cross section for the Coulomb scattering of relativistic electrons
- 1930 Paul Dirac introduces electron hole theory
- 1930 Erwin Schrödinger predicts the zitterbewegung motion
- 1930 Fritz London explains van der Waals forces as due to the interacting fluctuating dipole moments between molecules
- 1931 John Lennard-Jones proposes the Lennard-Jones interatomic potential
- 1931 Irène Joliot-Curie and Frédéric Joliot observe but misinterpret neutron scattering in paraffin
- 1931 Wolfgang Pauli puts forth the neutrino hypothesis to explain the apparent violation of energy conservation in beta decay
- 1931 Linus Pauling discovers resonance bonding and uses it to explain the high stability of symmetric planar molecules
- 1931 Paul Dirac shows that charge quantization can be explained if magnetic monopoles exist
- 1931 Harold Urey discovers deuterium using evaporation concentration techniques and spectroscopy
- 1932 John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton split lithium and boron nuclei using proton bombardment
- 1932 James Chadwick discovers the neutron
- 1932 Werner Heisenberg presents the proton–neutron model of the nucleus and uses it to explain isotopes
- 1932 Carl D. Anderson discovers the positron
- 1933 Ernst Stueckelberg (1932), Lev Landau (1932), and Clarence Zener discover the Landau–Zener transition
- 1933 Max Delbrück suggests that quantum effects will cause photons to be scattered by an external electric field
- 1934 Irène Joliot-Curie and Frédéric Joliot bombard aluminium atoms with alpha particles to create artificially radioactive phosphorus-30
- 1934 Leó Szilárd realizes that nuclear chain reactions may be possible
- 1934 Enrico Fermi publishes a very successful model of beta decay in which neutrinos were produced.
- 1934 Lev Landau tells Edward Teller that non-linear molecules may have vibrational modes which remove the degeneracy of an orbitally degenerate state (Jahn–Teller effect)
- 1934 Enrico Fermi suggests bombarding uranium atoms with neutrons to make a 93 proton element
- 1934 Pavel Cherenkov reports that light is emitted by relativistic particles traveling in a nonscintillating liquid
- 1935 Hideki Yukawa presents a theory of the nuclear force and predicts the scalar meson
- 1935 Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen put forth the EPR paradox
- 1935 Henry Eyring develops the transition state theory
- 1935 Niels Bohr presents his analysis of the EPR paradox
- 1936 Alexandru Proca formulates the relativistic quantum field equations for a massive vector meson of spin-1 as a basis for nuclear forces
- 1936 Eugene Wigner develops the theory of neutron absorption by atomic nuclei
- 1936 Hermann Arthur Jahn and Edward Teller present their systematic study of the symmetry types for which the Jahn–Teller effect is expected
^{[8]} - 1937 Carl Anderson proves experimentally the existence of the pion predicted by Yukawa's theory.
- 1937 Hans Hellmann finds the Hellmann–Feynman theorem
- 1937 Seth Neddermeyer, Carl Anderson, J.C. Street, and E.C. Stevenson discover muons using cloud chamber measurements of cosmic rays
- 1939 Richard Feynman finds the Hellmann–Feynman theorem
- 1939 Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann bombard uranium salts with thermal neutrons and discover barium among the reaction products
- 1939 Lise Meitner and Otto Robert Frisch determine that nuclear fission is taking place in the Hahn–Strassmann experiments
- 1942 Enrico Fermi makes the first controlled nuclear chain reaction
- 1942 Ernst Stueckelberg introduces the propagator to positron theory and interprets positrons as negative energy electrons moving backwards through spacetime

- 1947 Willis Lamb and Robert Retherford measure the Lamb–Retherford shift
- 1947 Cecil Powell, César Lattes, and Giuseppe Occhialini discover the pi meson by studying cosmic ray tracks
- 1947 Richard Feynman presents his propagator approach to quantum electrodynamics
^{[9]} - 1948 Hendrik Casimir predicts a rudimentary attractive Casimir force on a parallel plate capacitor
- 1951 Martin Deutsch discovers positronium
- 1952 David Bohm propose his interpretation of quantum mechanics
- 1953 Robert Wilson observes Delbruck scattering of 1.33 MeV gamma-rays by the electric fields of lead nuclei
- 1953 Charles H. Townes, collaborating with J. P. Gordon, and H. J. Zeiger, builds the first ammonia maser
- 1954 Chen Ning Yang and Robert Mills investigate a theory of hadronic isospin by demanding local gauge invariance under isotopic spin space rotations, the first non-Abelian gauge theory
- 1955 Owen Chamberlain, Emilio Segrè, Clyde Wiegand, and Thomas Ypsilantis discover the antiproton
- 1956 Frederick Reines and Clyde Cowan detect antineutrino
- 1956 Chen Ning Yang and Tsung Lee propose parity violation by the weak nuclear force
- 1956 Chien Shiung Wu discovers parity violation by the weak force in decaying cobalt
- 1957 Gerhart Luders proves the CPT theorem
- 1957 Richard Feynman, Murray Gell-Mann, Robert Marshak, and E.C.G. Sudarshan propose a vector/axial vector (VA) Lagrangian for weak interactions.
^{[10]}^{[11]}^{[12]}^{[13]}^{[14]}^{[15]} - 1958 Marcus Sparnaay experimentally confirms the Casimir effect
- 1959 Yakir Aharonov and David Bohm predict the Aharonov–Bohm effect
- 1960 R.G. Chambers experimentally confirms the Aharonov–Bohm effect
^{[16]} - 1961 Murray Gell-Mann and Yuval Ne'eman discover the Eightfold Way patterns, the SU(3) group
- 1961 Jeffrey Goldstone considers the breaking of global phase symmetry
- 1962 Leon Lederman shows that the electron neutrino is distinct from the muon neutrino
- 1963 Eugene Wigner discovers the fundamental roles played by quantum symmetries in atoms and molecules

- 1964 Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig propose the quark/aces model
^{[17]}^{[18]} - 1964 Peter Higgs considers the breaking of local phase symmetry
- 1964 John Stewart Bell shows that all local hidden variable theories must satisfy Bell's inequality
- 1964 Val Fitch and James Cronin observe CP violation by the weak force in the decay of K mesons
- 1967 Steven Weinberg puts forth his electroweak model of leptons
^{[19]}^{[20]} - 1969 John Clauser, Michael Horne, Abner Shimony and Richard Holt propose a polarization correlation test of Bell's inequality
- 1970 Sheldon Glashow, John Iliopoulos, and Luciano Maiani propose the charm quark
- 1971 Gerard 't Hooft shows that the Glashow-Salam-Weinberg electroweak model can be renormalized
^{[21]} - 1972 Stuart Freedman and John Clauser perform the first polarization correlation test of Bell's inequality
- 1973 David Politzer and Frank Anthony Wilczek propose the asymptotic freedom of quarks
^{[18]} - 1974 Burton Richter and Samuel Ting discover the J/ψ particle implying the existence of the charm quark
- 1974 Robert J. Buenker and Sigrid D. Peyerimhoff introduce the multireference configuration interaction method.
- 1975 Martin Perl discovers the tau lepton
- 1977 Steve Herb finds the upsilon resonance implying the existence of the beauty/bottom quark
- 1982 Alain Aspect, J. Dalibard, and G. Roger perform a polarization correlation test of Bell's inequality that rules out conspiratorial polarizer communication
- 1983 Carlo Rubbia, Simon van der Meer, and the CERN UA-1 collaboration find the W and Z intermediate vector bosons
^{[22]} - 1989 The Z intermediate vector boson resonance width indicates three quark–lepton generations
- 1994 The CERN LEAR Crystal Barrel Experiment justifies the existence of glueballs (exotic meson).
- 1995 The D0 and CDF experiments at the Fermilab Tevatron discover the top quark.
- 1998 Super-Kamiokande (Japan) observes evidence for neutrino oscillations, implying that at least one neutrino has mass.
- 1999 Ahmed Zewail wins the Nobel prize in chemistry for his work on femtochemistry for atoms and molecules.
^{[23]} - 2001 The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (Canada) confirms the existence of neutrino oscillations.
- 2005 At the RHIC accelerator of Brookhaven National Laboratory they have created a quark–gluon liquid of very low viscosity, perhaps the quark–gluon plasma
- 2010 The Large Hadron Collider at CERN begins operation with the primary goal of searching for the Higgs boson.
- 2012 CERN announces the discovery of a new particle with properties consistent with the Higgs boson of the Standard Model after experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.