Thirty Years That Shook Physics: Story of Quantum Theory

Thirty Years That Shook Physics: Story of Quantum Theory

Paperback

By (author) George Gamow

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  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.
  • Format: Paperback | 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 136mm x 214mm x 14mm | 280g
  • Publication date: 22 September 1986
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 048624895X
  • ISBN 13: 9780486248950
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Illustrations note: 12ill.
  • Sales rank: 110,523

Product description

"Dr. Gamow, physicist and gifted writer, has sketched an intriguing portrait of the scientists and clashing ideas that made the quantum revolution." -- "Christian Science Monitor "In 1900, German physicist Max Planck postulated that light, or radiant energy, can exist only in the form of discrete packages or "quanta." This profound insight, along with Einstein's equally momentous theories of relativity, completely revolutionized man's view of matter, energy, and the nature of physics itself. In this lucid layman's introduction to quantum theory, an eminent physicist and noted popularizer of science traces the development of quantum theory from the turn of the century to about 1930 -- from Planck's seminal concept (still developing) to anti-particles, mesons, and Enrico Fermi's nuclear research. Gamow was not just a spectator at the theoretical breakthroughs which fundamentally altered our view of the universe, he was an active participant who made important contributions of his own. This "insider's" vantage point lends special validity to his careful, accessible explanations of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, Niels Bohr's model of the atom, the pilot waves of Louis de Broglie and other path-breaking ideas. In addition, Gamow recounts a wealth of revealing personal anecdotes which give a warm human dimension to many giants of 20th-century physics. He ends the book with the Blegdamsvej "Faust," a delightful play written in 1932 by Niels Bohr's students and colleagues to satirize the epochal developments that were revolutionizing physics. This celebrated play is available only in this volume. Written in a clear, lively style, and enhanced by 12 photographs (including candid shots of Rutherford, Bohr, Pauli, Heisenberg, Fermi, and others), "Thirty Years that Shook Physics" offers both scientists and laymen a highly readable introduction to the brilliant conceptions that helped unlock many secrets of energy and matter and laid the groundwork for future discoveries.

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Author information

Modern Science Made Easy By one of the leading physicists of the twentieth century, George Gamow's "One, Two, Three...Infinity" is one of the most memorable popular books on physics, mathematics, and science generally ever written, famous for having, directly or indirectly, launched the academic and/or scientific careers of many young people whose first real encounter with the wonders and mysteries of mathematics and science was through reading this book as a teenager. Untypically for popular science books, this one is enhanced by the author's own delightful sketches. Reviewers were enthusiastic when "One, Two, Three...Infinity" was published in 1947. In the Author's Own Words: "If and when all the laws governing physical phenomena are finally discovered, and all the empirical constants occurring in these laws are finally expressed through the four independent basic constants, we will be able to say that physical science has reached its end, that no excitement is left in further explorations, and that all that remains to a physicist is either tedious work on minor details or the self-educational study and adoration of the magnificence of the completed system. At that stage physical science will enter from the epoch of Columbus and Magellan into the epoch of the "National Geographic Magazine"!" -- George Gamow Critical Acclaim for "One, Two, Three...Infinity" "This skillful presentation is for the non-professional and professional scientist. It will broaden the knowledge of each and give the imagination wide play." -- "Chemistry and Engineering News ""A stimulating and provocative book for the science-minded layman." -- "Kirkus Reviews ""This is a layman's book as readable as a historical novel, but every chapter bears the solid imprint of authoritative research." -- "San Francisco Chronice ""George Gamow succeeds where others fail because of his remarkable ability to combine technical accuracy, choice of material, dignity of expression, and readability." -- "Saturday Review of Literature"

Editorial reviews

George Gamow is one of our wittiest science writers. In this chatty account of the development of quantum theory he demonstrates once again his ability to entertain the layman. Gamow was originally a student of paleontology in Russia (he learned "to tell a dinosaur from a cat by the shape of the little toes"). He went on to become a mathematical physicist celebrated for numerous esoteric theories including his development of the Big Bang idea of cosmic creation. His background is a cosmopolitan one and he worked closely with most of the big European names in quantum theory: Planck, Bohr, Pauli, De Broglie, Heisenberg, Dirac, Fermi, etc. Consequently he can expatiate on working habits and idiosyncrasies as well as theories. There's a hilarious version of Faust at the ends closely imitating the meters of the original but geared to the interests of the theoretical physicist: "My Mass is zero,/ My Charge is the same./ You are my hero,/ Neutrino's my name," etc. Gallery goers will be amused by the drawings, which are supposedly a mixture of Botticelli and Pop. This is for those who do not know what our younger educated elite is studying today. (Kirkus Reviews)

Table of contents

BIOGRAPHICAL PREFACE PREFACE INTRODUCTION I M. PLANCK AND LIGHT QUANTA     Statistical Mechanics and Thermal Radiation     Max Planck and the Quantum of Energy     Light Quanta and the Photoelectric Effect     The Compton Effect II N. BOHR AND QUANTUM ORBITS     Rutherford's Theory of the Nuclear Atom     Quantizing a Mechanical System     Sommerfeld's Elliptical Orbits     Bohr's Institute III W. PAULI AND THE EXCLUSION PRINCIPLE     Quotas for Electron Levels     The Spinning Electron     Pauli and Nuclear Physics     The Neutrino IV L. DE BROGLIE AND PILOT WAVES     Schrödinger's Wave Equation     Applying Wave Mechanics V W. HEISENBERG AND THE UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE     Discarding Classical Linear Trajectories VI P. A. M. DIRAC AND ANTI-PARTICLES     Unifying Relativity and Quantum Theory     Anti-Particle Physics VII E. FERMI AND PARTICLE TRANSFORMATIONS     The Forces Behind ß-Transformation     Using Fermi Interaction Laws     Fermi's Research in Nuclear Reactions VIII H. YUKAWA AND MESONS IX MEN AT WORK APPENDIX BLEGDAMSVEJ FAUST INDEX