From Clockwork to Crapshoot: A History of Physics

From Clockwork to Crapshoot: A History of Physics

by Roger G. Newton
     
 

ISBN-10: 0674023374

ISBN-13: 9780674023376

Pub. Date: 01/15/2007

Publisher: Harvard University Press

Science is about 6000 years old while physics emerged as a distinct branch some 2500 years ago. As scientists discovered virtually countless facts about the world during this great span of time, the manner in which they explained the underlying structure of that world underwent a philosophical evolution. From Clockwork to Crapshoot provides the perspective

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Overview

Science is about 6000 years old while physics emerged as a distinct branch some 2500 years ago. As scientists discovered virtually countless facts about the world during this great span of time, the manner in which they explained the underlying structure of that world underwent a philosophical evolution. From Clockwork to Crapshoot provides the perspective needed to understand contemporary developments in physics in relation to philosophical traditions as far back as ancient Greece.

Roger Newton, whose previous works have been widely praised for erudition and accessibility, presents a history of physics from the early beginning to our day--with the associated mathematics, astronomy, and chemistry. Along the way, he gives brief explanations of the scientific concepts at issue, biographical thumbnail sketches of the protagonists, and descriptions of the changing instruments that enabled scientists to make their discoveries. He traces a profound change from a deterministic explanation of the world--accepted at least since the time of the ancient Greek and Taoist Chinese civilizations--to the notion of probability, enshrined as the very basis of science with the quantum revolution at the beginning of the twentieth century. With this change, Newton finds another fundamental shift in the focus of physicists--from the cause of dynamics or motion to the basic structure of the world. His work identifies what may well be the defining characteristic of physics in the twenty-first century.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674023376
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
01/15/2007
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)

Table of Contents


Prologue     i
Beginnings     4
The Greek Miracle     11
Science in the Middle Ages     41
The First Revolution     67
Newton's Legacy     100
New Physics     121
Relativity     154
Statistical Physics     171
Probability     189
The Quantum Revolution     211
Fields, Nuclei, and Stars     248
The Properties of Matter     279
The Constituents of the Universe     290
Epilogue     308
Notes     313
Sources and Further Reading     316
Index     322
Acknowledgments     ix
List of Abbreviations of Ancient Sources     xi
Introduction     1
The Roman Woodworker     6
The Tools of the Trade     13
Joints     59
Foundations     72
Framing and Walls     90
Wooden Flooring     111
Roofing and Ceilings     123
Interior Woodwork     178
Wheels     202
Furniture and Veneers     213
Classification of Trees and Species of Timber Used by RomanWoodworkers     239
The Forests of Italy     263
Glossary of Roman Woodworking Terms     269
Roman Woodworking Tools     337
Notes     349
Bibliography     353
Index     365

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