Inward Bound: Of Matter and Forces in the Physical World

Overview

Abraham Pais's Subtle Is the Lord was a publishing phenomenon: a mathematically sophisticated exposition of the science and the life of Albert Einstein that reached a huge audience and won an American Book Award. Reviewers hailed the book as "a monument to sound scholarship and graceful style" (The New York Times Book Review), "an extraordinary biography of an extraordinary man" (Christian Science Monitor), and "a fine book" (Scientific American).

In this groundbreaking new ...

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Overview

Abraham Pais's Subtle Is the Lord was a publishing phenomenon: a mathematically sophisticated exposition of the science and the life of Albert Einstein that reached a huge audience and won an American Book Award. Reviewers hailed the book as "a monument to sound scholarship and graceful style" (The New York Times Book Review), "an extraordinary biography of an extraordinary man" (Christian Science Monitor), and "a fine book" (Scientific American).

In this groundbreaking new volume, Pais undertakes a history of the physics of matter and of physical forces since the discovery of x-rays. The book attempts to relate not only what has happened over the last hundred years but why it happened the way it did, what it was like for those scientists involved, and how what at the time may have seemed a series of bizarre or unrelated events, now with hindsight emerges as a logical sequence of events.

Pais, a noted physicist, was personally involved in many of the developments he describes, and thus Inward Bound , like his earlier book, is filled with unique insights into the world of big and small physics. Between 1895 and 1983, the period he covers, the smallest distances explored have shrunk a hundred millionfold, Pais notes. Along this incompletely traveled "road inward," scientists have established markers that later generations will rank among the principal monuments of the twentieth century. In alternating technical and nontechnical sections, this magisterial survey richly conveys what has been discovered about the constituents of matter, the laws to which they are subject, and the forces that act on them. But the advances have certainly not come smoothly. The book shows that these have been times of progress and stagnation, of order and chaos, of clarity and confusion, of belief and incredulity, of the conventional and the bizarre; also of revolutionaries and conservatives, of science by individuals and by consortia, of little gadgets and big machines, and of modest funds and big money.

About the Author:

Abraham Pais is Detlev W. Bronk Professor of Physics at the Rockefeller University.

The author of the prizewinning biography of Einstein now undertakes a history of modern physics

Explores the discoveries made on the constituents of matter, the laws that govern them, and the forces that act on them.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198519973
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/1988
  • Edition description: REP
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 688
  • Sales rank: 1,294,431
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Abraham Pais is Detlev W. Bronk Professor of Physics at the Rockefeller University and winner of the 1979 J.R. Oppenheimer Memorial Prize. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Table of Contents

1 Purpose and plan 1
Part 1. 1895-1945: A History 33
2 New kinds of rays 35
3 From uranic rays to radioactivity 52
4 The first particle 67
5 Interlude: earliest physiological discoveries 93
6 Radioactivity's three early puzzles 103
7 Pitfalls of simplicity 129
8 [beta]-Spectra, 1907-1914 142
9 Atomic structure and spectral lines 163
10 'It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity' 208
11 Nuclear physics' tender age 221
12 Quantum mechanics, an essay 244
13 First encounters with symmetry and invariance 265
14 Nuclear physics: the age of paradox 296
15 Quantum fields, or how particles are made and how they disappear 324
16 Battling the infinite 360
17 In which the nucleus acquires a new constituent, loses an old one, reveals new forces with new symmetries, and is explored by new experimental methods 397
Part 2 The Postwar Years: A Memoir 445
18 Of quantum electrodynamics' triumphs and limitations and of a new particle's sobering impact 447
19 In which particle physics enters the era of big machines and big detectors and pion physics goes through ups and downs 471
20 Onset of an era: new forms of matter appear, old symmetries crumble 511
21 Essay on modern times: 1960-83 550
22 Being a conclusion that starts as epilog and ends as prolog 621
Appendix A synopsis of this book in the form of a chronology 627
Index of Names 639
Index of Subjects 652
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