An excerpt froml the Author's Preface:
THE three essays which here appear in English all deal with the application of the quantum theory to problems of atomic structure, and refer to the different stages in the development of this theory.
The first essay "On the spectrum of hydrogen" is a translation of a Danish address given before the Physical Society of Copenhagen on the 20th of December 1913, and printed in Fysisk Tidsskrift, XII. p. 97, 1914. Although this address was delivered at a time when the formal development of the quantum theory was only at its beginning, the reader will find the general trend of thought very similar to that expressed in the later addresses, which form the other two essays. As emphasized at several points the theory does not attempt an "explanation" in the usual sense of this word, but only the establishment of a connection between facts which in the present state of science are unexplained, that is to say the usual physical conceptions do not offer sufficient basis for a detailed description.
The second essay "On the series spectra of the elements" is a translation of a German address given before the Physical Society of Berlin on the 27th of April 1920, and printed in Zeitschrift für Physik, W. p. 423, 1920. This address falls into two main parts. The considerations in the first part are closely related to the contents of the first essay; especially no use is made of the new formal conceptions established through the later development of the quantum theory. The second part contains a survey of the results reached by this development. An attempt is made to elucidate the problems by means of a general principle which postulates a formal correspondence between the fundamentally different conceptions of the classical electrodynamics and those of the quantum theory. The first germ of this correspondence principle may be found in the first essay in the deduction of the expression for the constant of the hydrogen spectrum in terms of Planck's constant and of the quantities which in Rutherford's atomic model are necessary for the description of the hydrogen atom.
The third essay "The structure of the atom and the physical and chemical properties of the elements" is based on a Danish address, given before a joint meeting of the Physical and Chemical Societies of Copenhagen on the 18th of October 1921, and printed in Fysisk Tidsskrift, xix. p. 153, 1921. While the first two essays form verbal translations of the respective addresses, this essay differs from the Danish original in certain minor points. Besides the addition of a few new figures with explanatory text, certain passages dealing with problems discussed in the second essay are left out, and some remarks about recent contributions to the subject are inserted. Where such insertions have been introduced will clearly appear from the text. This essay is divided into four parts. The first two parts contain a survey of previous results concerning atomic problems and a short account of the theoretical ideas of the quantum theory. In the following parts it is shown how these ideas lead to a view of atomic constitution which seems to offer an explanation of the observed physical and chemical properties of the elements, and especially to bring the characteristic features of the periodic table into close connection with the interpretation of the optical and high frequency spectra of the elements.
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