Unravelling the Mystery of the Atomic Nucleus: A Sixty Year Journey 1896 - 1956

Unravelling the Mystery of the Atomic Nucleus: A Sixty Year Journey 1896 - 1956

by Bernard Fernandez, Georges Ripka


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Unravelling the Mystery of the Atomic Nucleus is a history of atomic and nuclear physics. It begins in 1896 with the discovery of radioactivity, which leads to the discovery of the nucleus at the center of the atom. It follows the experimental discoveries and the theoretical developments up to the end of the Fifties.

Unlike previous books regarding on history of nuclear physics, this book methodically describes how advances in technology enabled physicists to probe the physical properties of nuclei as well as how the physical laws which govern these microscopic systems were progressively discovered. The reader will gain a clear understanding of how theory is inextricably intertwined with the progress of technology.

Unravelling the Mystery of the Atomic Nucleus will be of interest to physicists and to historians of physics, as well as those interested development of science.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781489985620
Publisher: Springer New York
Publication date: 10/15/2014
Edition description: 2013
Pages: 530
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.04(d)

About the Author

Bernard Fernandez, a graduate from the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, is a physicist from Saclay, France, a laboratory of the French Atomic Energy Commission. He performed experiments on nuclear structure using the Van de Graaff Tandem accelerator and later on the GANIL heavy ion accelerator located in Caen. From 1965 to 1967 he spent two years in the University of Washington in Seattle and in 1976-1977 a year at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. In 2008 the French edition of this book was awarded the Médaille Marc-Auguste Pictet by the Physics and Natural History Society of Geneva.

Georges Ripka, a physicist from the same laboratory in Saclay, worked on nuclear theory, condensed matter and particle physics. In 1963 he spent a year in the University of Pittsburgh and a further two sabbatical years in the University of Princeton (1967) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1978). Since 1999 he has also worked in the European Center for Theoretical Physics in Trento, Italy. He is the author of several books, including Quantum Theory of Finite Systems (co-author with Jean Paul Blaizot), MIT Press, 1986 and Vivre Savant sous le communisme, Editions Belin, 2002. In 1995 he was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung prize.

Table of Contents

Foreword.- Chapter 1. Radioactivity, the First Puzzles.- The “Uranic Rays” of Henri Becquerel.- Polonium and Radium.- Emanation from Thorium.- The Puzzle is Disentangled.- Consecrations and Mourning: the End of an Era.- Chapter 2. A Nucleus at the Heart of the Atom.- Prehistory of the Atom.- 1897: The Electrons Are in the Atom.- The Scattering of α Particles Makes It Possible to “See” a Nucleus in the Atom.- A Last Ingredient: Moseley Measures the Charge of the Nucleus in the Atom.- Chapter 3. Quantum Mechanics, the Unavoidable Path.- Branching Off.- An Improbable Beginning.- Niels Bohr: The Quanta Are in the Atom.- 1913-1923: Victories and Setbacks.- 1925: Spin and the Pauli Principle.- Quantum Mechanics.- Chapter 4. A Timid Infancy.- The Atomic Nucleus in 1913.- The Discovery of Isotopes and the Measurement of Masses of Nuclei.- An Enquiry Full of Surprises: β Radioactivity.- The First Nuclear Reactions.- The Nucleus in 1920 According to Rutherford.- The Rapid Expansion of Experimental Means.- The Atomic Nucleus in 1930.- Chapter 5. 1930-1940: A Dazzling Development.- The Nucleus: A New Boundary.- The Discovery of the Neutron.- Nuclear Theory After the Discovery of the Neutron.- A New Particle: The Positron.- The Birth of Particle Accelerators.- “Charge Independence” of the Nuclear Force.- The Discovery of Artificial Radioactivity.- The School of Rome.- The Great Exodus of Jewish Scientists Under Nazism.- A Proliferation of Theories: Yukawa, Breit and Wigner, Bohr.- The Death of a Giant: Ernest Rutherford.- Hans Bethe Sums Up the Situation in 1936-1937.- The Fission of Uranium.- Chapter 6. The Upheavals of the Second World War.- A Chronology.- The New Face of Physics After the War.- Chapter 7. The Time of Maturity.- New Experimental Means.- Data Accumulate.- The “Shell” Structure of Nuclei.- Elastic Scattering and the “Optical Model”.- Direct Nuclear Reactions.- A Collective Behavior.- A Unified Model of the Nucleus.- The Nuclear Force.- Nuclear Matter.- Chapter 8. Where the Narrative Ends.- Glossary.- Bibliography of Cited Books.- Index.

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