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Thirty Years That Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theoryby George Gamow
Synopses & Reviews
"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.
Lucid, accessible introduction to the influential theory of energy and matter features careful explanations of Dirac's anti-particles, Bohr's model of the atom, and much more. Numerous drawings. 1966 edition.
Entertaining, rigorous introduction to the development of Quantum Theory traces its history—from Max Planck’s revolutionary discovery of quanta and Niels Bohr’s model of the atom to anti-particles, mesons, and Enrico Fermi’s nuclear research. Numerous line drawings. 1966 ed.
"An intriguing portrait of the scientists and clashing ideas that made the quantum revolution." — Christian Science Monitor. Entertaining, rigorous introduction to the development of quantum theory traces the subject's history, from Max Planck's revolutionary discovery of quanta and Niels Bohr's model of the atom to anti-particles, mesons, and Enrico Fermi's nuclear research. Numerous line drawings. 1966 edition.
About the Author
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
Table of Contents
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
III W. PAULI AND THE EXCLUSION PRINCIPLE
Quotas for Electron Levels
The Spinning Electron
Pauli and Nuclear Physics
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
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
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