Thirty Years That Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory

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Overview

"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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486248950
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 7/1/1985
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 699,915
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet 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

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Table of Contents

BIOGRAPHICAL PREFACE
PREFACE
INTRODUCTION
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
    Bohr's Institute
III W. PAULI AND THE EXCLUSION PRINCIPLE
    Quotas for Electron Levels
    The Spinning Electron
    Pauli and Nuclear Physics
    The Neutrino
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
    Anti-Particle Physics
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
INDEX
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2003

    Thirty Years That Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory

    A reprinted Dover edition of a lovely set of biographies of the physicists of the Golden Period, from the pen of George Gamow. The original 1966 edition has been out of print for a number of years. This 1985 edition is beautifully reproduced, and it includes fascinating pictures, sketches, and poems, done by Gamow himself. He was born in Odessa, in what was then Russia, --before the Soviet Union. The story of his escape to the West is straight out of a thriller. Only it is real! Later in the US, Gamow was referred to by a journalist,--- some time during the Cold War, as 'the only scientist in America with a real sense of humor'. With his lovely books, we have now all come to experience how Gamow can take the most technical stuff and make it simple. Fun too! The book:--Intellectual treats, whimsy, but deep. It contains penetrating and personal biographies of Niels Bohr, Paul Ehrenfest, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Albert Einstein, and recollections from the conferences in the 1930ties in Copenhagen, Brussels, and in the Solvay Institute. Illustrated with lovely drawings by Gamow himself. A book with pictures and conversations! Much of it can be understood by a child, and other parts might require a little concentration. All of it is great fun. The author Gamow started in nuclear physics, during the Golden Age of Physics, worked with Niels Bohr, then later in the US, on the Manhattan Project during WWII, and after the war, he was professor in Boulder Colorado. He has a building on campus named after him! The books he wrote are pearls, and they have been equally popular with my parent's generation as with mine. Luckely some have been reprinted! Other Gamow titles: Biography of Physics, Atomic Energy [dedicated to the hope of lasting peace], Physics of the Strapless Evning Gown,...We are lucky that Dover has reprinted some of them. Gamow's list of scientific accomplishments includes a 1948 landmark paper on the origin of chemical elements, the Big Bang model, and later work with F. Crick on DNA and genetic coding.-- Do more Gamow editions, Dover!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2003

    Thirty Years That Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory

    A reprinted Dover edition of a lovely set of biographies of the physicists of the Golden Period, from the pen of George Gamow. The original 1966 edition has been out of print for a number of years. This 1985 edition is beautifully reproduced, and it includes fascinating pictures, sketches, and poems, done by Gamow himself. He was born in Odessa, in what was then Russia, --before the Soviet Union. The story of his escape to the West is straight out of a thriller. Only it is real! Later in the US, Gamow was referred to by a journalist,--- some time during the Cold War, as 'the only scientist in America with a real sense of humor'. With his lovely books, we have now all come to experience how Gamow can take the most technical stuff and make it simple. Fun too! The book:--Intellectual treats, whimsy, but deep. It contains penetrating and personal biographies of Niels Bohr, Paul Ehrenfest, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Albert Einstein, and recollections from the conferences in the 1930ties in Copenhagen, Brussels, and in the Solvay Institute. Illustrated with lovely drawings by Gamow himself. A book with pictures and conversations! Much of it can be understood by a child, and other parts might require a little concentration. All of it is great fun. The author Gamow started in nuclear physics, during the Golden Age of Physics, worked with Niels Bohr, then later in the US, on the Manhattan Project during WWII, and after the war, he was professor in Boulder Colorado. He has a building on campus named after him! The books he wrote are pearls, and they have been equally popular with my parent's generation as with mine. Luckely some have been reprinted! Other Gamow titles: Biography of Physics, Atomic Energy [dedicated to the hope of lasting peace], Physics of the Strapless Evning Gown,...We are lucky that Dover has reprinted some of them. Gamow's list of scientific accomplishments includes a 1948 landmark paper on the origin of chemical elements, the Big Bang model, and later work with F. Crick on DNA and genetic coding.-- Do more Gamow editions, Dover!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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