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Quantum Generations : A History of Physics in the Twentieth Century - Helge Kragh

Quantum Generations

A History of Physics in the Twentieth Century


Published: 1st March 2002
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At the end of the nineteenth century, some physicists believed that the basic principles underlying their subject were already known, and that physics in the future would only consist of filling in the details. They could hardly have been more wrong. The past century has seen the rise of quantum mechanics, relativity, cosmology, particle physics, and solid-state physics, among other fields. These subjects have fundamentally changed our understanding of space, time, and matter. They have also transformed daily life, inspiring a technological revolution that has included the development of radio, television, lasers, nuclear power, and computers. In "Quantum Generations," Helge Kragh, one of the world's leading historians of physics, presents a sweeping account of these extraordinary achievements of the past one hundred years.

The first comprehensive one-volume history of twentieth-century physics, the book takes us from the discovery of X rays in the mid-1890s to superstring theory in the 1990s. Unlike most previous histories of physics, written either from a scientific perspective or from a social and institutional perspective, "Quantum Generations" combines both approaches. Kragh writes about pure science with the expertise of a trained physicist, while keeping the content accessible to nonspecialists and paying careful attention to practical uses of science, ranging from compact disks to bombs. As a historian, Kragh skillfully outlines the social and economic contexts that have shaped the field in the twentieth century. He writes, for example, about the impact of the two world wars, the fate of physics under Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, the role of military research, the emerging leadership of the United States, and the backlash against science that began in the 1960s. He also shows how the revolutionary discoveries of scientists ranging from Einstein, Planck, and Bohr to Stephen Hawking have been built on the great traditions of earlier centuries.

Combining a mastery of detail with a sure sense of the broad contours of historical change, Kragh has written a fitting tribute to the scientists who have played such a decisive role in the making of the modern world.

"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

Prefacep. xi
From Consolidation to Revolutionp. 1
Fin-de-Siecle Physics: A World Picture in Fluxp. 3
The World of Physicsp. 13
Personnel and Resourcesp. 13
Physics Journalsp. 19
A Japanese Look at European Physicsp. 22
Discharges in Gases and What Followedp. 27
A New Kind of Raysp. 28
From Becquerel Rays to Radioactivityp. 30
Spurious Rays, More or Lessp. 34
The Electron before Thomsonp. 38
The First Elementary Particlep. 40
Atomic Architecturep. 44
The Thomson Atomp. 44
Other Early Atomic Modelsp. 48
Rutherford's Nuclear Atomp. 51
A Quantum Theory of Atomic Structurep. 53
The Slow Rise of Quantum Theoryp. 58
The Law of Blackbody Radiationp. 58
Early Discussions of the Quantum Hypothesisp. 63
Einstein and the Photonp. 66
Specific Heats and the Status of Quantum Theory by 1913p. 68
Physics at Low Temperaturesp. 74
The Race Toward Zerop. 74
Kammerlingh Onnes and the Leiden Laboratoryp. 76
Superconductivityp. 80
Einstein's Relativity, and Others'p. 87
The Lorentz Transformationsp. 87
Einsteinian Relativityp. 90
From Special to General Relativityp. 93
Receptionp. 98
A Revolution that Failedp. 105
The Concept of Electromagnetic Massp. 105
Electron Theory as a Worldviewp. 108
Mass Variation Experimentsp. 111
Decline of a Worldviewp. 114
Unified Field Theoriesp. 116
Physics in Industry and Warp. 120
Industrial Physicsp. 120
Electrons at Work, I: Long-Distance Telephonyp. 123
Electrons at Work, II: Vacuum Tubesp. 126
Physics in the Chemists' Warp. 130
From Revolution to Consolidationp. 137
Science and Politics in the Weimar Republicp. 139
Science Policy and Financial Supportp. 139
International Relationsp. 143
The Physics Communityp. 148
Zeitgeist and the Physical Worldviewp. 151
Quantum Jumpsp. 155
Quantum Anomaliesp. 155
Heisenberg's Quantum Mechanicsp. 161
Schrodinger's Equationp. 163
Dissemination and Receptionsp. 168
The Rise of Nuclear Physicsp. 174
The Electron-Proton Modelp. 174
Quantum Mechanics and the Nucleusp. 177
Astrophysical Applicationsp. 182
1932, Annus Mirabilisp. 184
From Two to Many Particlesp. 190
Antiparticlesp. 190
Surprises from the Cosmic Radiationp. 193
Crisis in Quantum Theoryp. 196
Yukawa's Heavy Quantump. 201
Philosophical Implications of Quantum Mechanicsp. 206
Uncertainty and Complementarityp. 206
Against the Copenhagen Interpretationp. 212
Is Quantum Mechanics Complete?p. 215
Eddington's Dream and Other Heterodoxiesp. 218
Eddington's Fundamentalismp. 218
Cosmonumerology and Other Speculationsp. 221
Milne and Cosmophysicsp. 223
The Modern Aristoteliansp. 226
Physics and the New Dictatorshipsp. 230
In the Shadow of the Swastikap. 230
Aryan Physicsp. 236
Physics in Mussolini's Italyp. 238
Physics, Dialectical Materialism, and Stalinismp. 240
Brain Drain and Brain Gainp. 245
American Physics in the 1930sp. 245
Intellectual Migrationsp. 249
From Uranium Puzzle to Hiroshimap. 257
The Road to Fissionp. 257
More than Moonshinep. 261
Toward the Bombp. 265
The Death of Two Citiesp. 269
Progress and Problemsp. 277
Nuclear Themesp. 279
Physics of Atomic Nucleip. 279
Modern Alchemyp. 283
Hopes and Perils of Nuclear Energyp. 285
Controlled Fusion Energyp. 290
Militarization and Megatrendsp. 295
Physics--A Branch of the Military?p. 295
Big Machinesp. 302
A European Big Science Adventurep. 308
Particle Discoveriesp. 312
Mainly Mesonsp. 312
Weak Interactionsp. 317
Quarksp. 321
The Growth of Particle Physicsp. 325
Fundamental Theoriesp. 332
QEDp. 332
The Ups and Downs of Field Theoryp. 336
Gauge Fields and Electroweak Unificationp. 339
Quantum Chromodynamicsp. 344
Cosmology and the Renaissance of Relativityp. 349
Toward the Big Bang Universep. 349
The Steady State Challengep. 354
Cosmology after 1960p. 357
The Renaissance of General Relativityp. 361
Elements of Solid State Physicsp. 366
The Solid State Before 1940p. 366
Semiconductors and the Rise of the Solid State Communityp. 370
Breakthroughs in Superconductivityp. 375
Engineering Physics and Quantum Electronicsp. 382
It Started with the Transistorp. 382
Microwaves, the Laser, and Quantum Opticsp. 386
Optical Fibersp. 391
Science under Attack--Physics in Crisis?p. 394
Signs of Crisisp. 394
A Revolt against Sciencep. 401
The End of Physics?p. 405
Unifications and Speculationsp. 409
The Problem of Unityp. 409
Grand Unified Theoriesp. 411
Superstring Theoryp. 415
Quantum Cosmologyp. 419
A Look Backp. 425
Nobel Physicsp. 427
A Century of Physics in Retrospectp. 440
Growth and Progressp. 440
Physics and the Other Sciencesp. 444
Conservative Revolutionsp. 447
Further Readingp. 453
Bibliographyp. 461
Indexp. 481
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691095523
ISBN-10: 0691095523
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 512
Published: 1st March 2002
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.4  x 3.2
Weight (kg): 0.71