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Quantum Generations


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Preface xi PART ONE: FROM CONSOLIDATION TO REVOLUTION 1 CHAPTER ONE Fin-de-Siecle Physics: A World Picture in Flux 3 CHAPTER TWO The World of Physics 13 Personnel and Resources 13 Physics Journals 19 A Japanese Look at European Physics 22 CHAPTER THREE Discharges in Gases and What Followed 27 A New Kind of Rays 28 From Becquerel Rays to Radioactivity 30 Spurious Rays, More or Less 34 The Electron before Thomson 38 The First Elementary Particle 40 CHAPTER FOUR Atomic Architecture 44 The Thomson Atom 44 Other Early Atomic Models 48 Rutherford's Nuclear Atom 51 A Quantum Theory of Atomic Structure 53 CHAPTER FIVE The Slow Rise of Quantum Theory 58 The Law of Blackbody Radiation 58 Early Discussions of the Quantum Hypothesis 63 Einstein and the Photon 66 Specific Heats and the Status of Quantum Theory by 1913 68 CHAPTER SIX Physics at Low Temperatures 74 The Race Toward Zero 74 Kammerlingh Onnes and the Leiden Laboratory 76 Superconductivity 80 CHAPTER SEVEN Einstein's Relativity, and Others' 87 The Lorentz Transformations 87 Einsteinian Relativity 90 From Special to General Relativity 93 Reception 98 CHAPTER EIGHT A Revolution that Failed 105 The Concept of Electromagnetic Mass 105 Electron Theory as a Worldview 108 Mass Variation Experiments 111 Decline of a Worldview 114 Unified Field Theories 116 CHAPTER NINE Physics in Industry and War 120 Industrial Physics 120 Electrons at Work, I. Long-Distance Telephony 123 Electrons at Work, II: Vacuum Tubes 126 Physics in the Chemists' War 130 PART TWO: FROM REVOLUTION TO CONSOLIDATION 137 CHAPTER TEN Science and Politics in the Weimar Republic 139 Science Policy and Financial Support 139 International Relations 143 The Physics Community 148 Zeitgeist and the Physical Worldview 151 CHAPTER ELEVEN Quantum Jumps 155 Quantum Anomalies 155 Heisenberg'S Quantum Mechanics 161 Schrodinger's Equation 163 Dissemination and Receptions 168 CHAPTER TWELVE The Rise of Nuclear Physics 174 The Electron-Proton Model 174 Quantum Mechanics and the Nucleus 177 Astrophysical Applications 182 1932, Annus Mirabilis 184 CHAPTER THIRTEEN From Two to Many Particles 190 Antiparticles 190 Surprises from the Cosmic Radiation 193 Crisis in Quantum Theory 196 Yukawas Heavy Quantum 201 CHAPTER FOURTEEN Philosophical Implications of Quantum Mechanics 206 Uncertainty and Complementarity 206 Against the Copenhagen Interpretation 212 Is Quantum Mechanics Complete? 215 CHAPTER FIFTEEN Eddington's Dream and Other Heterodoxies 218 Eddington's Fundamentalism 218 Cosmonumerology and Other Speculations 221 Milne and Cosmophysics 223 The Modem Aristotelians 226 CHAPTER SIXTEEN Physics and the New Dictatorships 230 In the Shadow of the Swastika 230 Aryan Physics 236 Physics in Mussolini's Italy 238 Physics, Dialectical Materialism, and Stalinism 240 CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Brain Drain and Brain Gain 245 American Physics in the 1930s 245 Intellectual Migrations 249 CHAPTER EIGHTEEN From Uranium Puzzle to Hiroshima 257 The Road to Fission 257 More than Moonshine 261 Toward the Bomb 265 The Death of Two Cities 269 PART THREE: PROGRESS AND PROBLEMS 277 CHAPTER NINETEEN Nuclear Themes 279 Physics of Atomic Nuclei 279 Modem Alchemy 283 Hopes and Perils of Nuclear Energy 285 Controlled Fusion Energy 290 CHAPTER TWENTY Militarization and Megatrends 293 Physics-A Branch of the Military? 295 Big Machines 302 A European Big Science Adventure 308 CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE Particle Discoveries 312 Mainly Mesons 312 Weak Interactions 317 Quarks 321 The Growth of Particle Physics 325 CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Fundamental Theories 332 The Ups and Downs of Field Theory 336 Gauge Fields and Electroweak Unification 339 Quantum Chromodynamics 344 CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE Cosmology and the Renaissance of Relativity 349 Toward the Big Bang Universe 349 The Steady State Challenge 354 Cosmology after 1960 357 The Renaissance of General Relativity 361 CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR Elements of Solid State Physics 366 The Solid State Before 1940 366 Semiconductors and the Rise of the Solid State Community 370 Breakthroughs in Superconductivity 375 CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE Engineering Physics and Quantum Electronics 382 It Started with the Transistor 382 Microwaves, the Laser and Quantum Optics 386 Optical Fibers 391 CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX Science under Attack--Physics in Crisis? 394 Signs of Crisis 394 A Revolt against Science 401 The End of Physics? 405 CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN Unifications and Speculations 409 The Problem of Unity 409 Grand Unified Theories 411 Superstring Theory 415 Quantum Cosmology 419 PART FOUR: A LOOK BACK 425 CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT Nobel Physics 427 CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE A Century of Physics in Retrospect 440 Growth and Progress 440 Physics and the Other Sciences 444 Conservative Revolutions 447 APPENDIX Further Reading 453 Bibliography 461 Index 481

Promotional Information

Helge Kragh's book is a magnificent achievement. It is a rich, erudite history of physics from the end of the nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth that is also informative and insightful about social, cultural, political, and institutional contexts. Kragh has included developments at the physics-applied physics-technology interface and has thus given an unusually comprehensive and balanced account of twentieth-century physics. What is equally impressive is that the book is readily accessible to the general reader and will also be valued by scientists and historians. -- S.S. Schweber, author of "QED and the Men Who Made It: Dyson, Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga" This book will come to be seen as an indispensable reference for those who seek a full understanding of its topic--which, of course, is one of the most important topics in modern history. -- Spencer R. Weart, American Institute of Physics Kragh has succeeded in presenting an engaging and comprehensive history of the development of physics in this century, one that will be accessible to a wide audience. This book will surely become a standard reference for students of twentieth-century science. -- Ronald Anderson, Boston College

About the Author

Helge Kragh is Professor of History of Science at Aarhus University, Denmark. His previous books include An introduction to the Historiography of Science, Dirac A Scientific Biography, and Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe (Princeton).


"A readable and enormously valuable book..."--Graham Farmelo, Nature "An ambitious one-volume history: the first comprehensive textbook to address most of the significant aspects in the intellectual history of 20th-century physics. Kragh's achievement ... is quite remarkable... For physicists who want to 'humanize' their courses, or brush up on their professional past, for those who teach the history of modern science, and for anyone fascinated with physics, I can recommend this book as an indispensable resource."--Diana Barkan, Physics World "Neither a specialized academic work nor a mere popularization, Kragh's tome [is a] synthetic, deeply detailed and carefully explained survey... An impressive reference work, and a serious award-winning read."--Publisher's Weekly "A sweeping survey of the development of modern physics ... wide-ranging, studiously researched, and comprehensive."--The Economist "Within a century we've seen the rise of new physics, which has, however haltingly, at last begun to answer the big questions... Taken together, they're an embarrassment of riches, and Kragh has had to pare the story down severely. But he's equal to the task, and manages to cover the pantheon of 20th-century physics..."--New Scientist "It is a thrilling story, full of excitement, danger, surprise and beauty, and it is told with lucidity and scholarship by Helge Kragh. What he gives us in this absorbing account is the story of what could be mankind's greatest intellectual adventure to date."--Financial Times "Kragh does an exceptional job of trying to cover in a single volume one of the most prolific sciences of this century..."--Library Journal "Compared with the popular interest books on physics ... Kragh presents appreciably more technical detail, and his estimable overview will appeal better to the active physics student."--Booklist "A fine new study... Mr. Kragh manages to cover this vast canvas in less than 500 pages, leaving very little of importance out. It is amazing how concise one can be if once knows what one is talking about."--Jeremy Bernstein, Washington Times "An excellent guide to the historical literature on almost any subject in the history of twentieth-century physics."--Laurie M. Brown, Physics Today "Missing until now has been a relatively short, readable book that synthesizes the extensive research by historians of modern physics, to give an accurate guide to the new physics and the complex plaths by which it was developed. Quantum Generations does all this, and more ... It is hard to think of anyone better qualified to write this book."--Stephen G. Brush, American Journal of Physics "A superb account of the last hundred years of physics... I very much doubt we will see a comparable history of twentieth century physics for years to come. This is a magnificent work of synthesis that cannot be too highly commended for its balance, coverage, and clarity."--Xavier Roque, Centaurus "This is very good scientific history and in some measure philosophy written by someone who has an understanding of the process of scientific work. The writing is clear and largely non-technical. Although the focus is cosmology, the book will appeal to anyone with an interest in how science actually works, whether it is through the history of the philosophy."--D.R. Matravers, Contemporary Physics "This book is a very ambitious and largely successful attempt to provide a one-volume history of twentieth-century physics. It is a Herculean task, and Helge Kragh is well aware of the problems and pitfalls... Incredibly enough, Kragh ... [gives] both a fair assessment of most of the major themes in this most busy and creative of centuries, and yet at the same time giving summaries of the major research developments within each of the major fields. This is no mean feat, and in fact it is a rather amazing one, so that we have here, in one volume, a wide-ranging view of many of the outstanding accomplishments of this century in physics."--Daniel M. Greenberger, ISIS

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