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The Heroic Age: The Creation of Quantum Mechanics, 1925-1940

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Quantum theory is one of the great achievements of twentieth century physics. Born at the very beginning of the century, it attained a definitive form by 1932, yet continued to evolve throughout the century. Its applications remain fully a part of modern life. It should thus come as no surprise that literature on the history of quantum theory is vast, but author Robert D. Purrington approaches the story from a new angle, by examining the original physics papers and scientific studies from before the creation of quantum mechanics to how scientists think about and discuss the subject today.

The Heroic Age presents for the first time a detailed but compact and manageable history of the creation of quantum theory, and shows precisely where each important idea originated. Purrington provides the history of the crucial developmental years of quantum theory with an emphasis on the literature rather than an overview of this period focusing on personalities or personal stories of the scientists involved. This book instead focuses on how the theoretical discoveries came about, when and where they were published, and how they became accepted as part of the scientific canon.

Author: Purrington Robert
Publisher: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
Pages: 424
ISBN: 9780190655174
Cover: Hardback
Edition Number: 1
Release Year: 2018
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
PREFACE
PART I. FORBEARS
1. "CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON": NINETEENTH-CENTURY ORIGINS AND THE "OLD QUANTUM THEORY"
2. 1913: THE BOHR THEORY OF THE HYDROGEN ATOM
3. TYRANNY OF DATA: ATOMIC SPECTROSCOPY TO 1925
4. AFTER THE WAR: QUANTUM THEORY ADRIFT; THE CORRESPONDENCE PRINCPLE
PART II. THEORY
5. AT THE CREATION: THE "NEW QUANTUM THEORY"
6. THE ORIGINS OF WAVE MECHANICS
7. THE END OF CERTAINTY: UNCERTAINTY AND INDETERMINISM
8. FORMALISM, PART I. TRANSFORMATION THEORY
9. FORMALISM, PART II. UNITARITY AND HILBERT SPACE
10. INTRINISC SPIN, THE EXCLUSION PRINCIPLE, AND STATISTICS
11. ANGULAR MOMENTUM, SYMMETRIES, AND CONSERVATION LAWS
12. SCATTERING AND REACTION THEORY
13. RELATIVISTIC QUANTUM MECHANICS AND QUANTUM FIELD THEORY TO 1940: THE RISE OF PARTICLE PHYSICS
14. FOUNDATIONS AND PHILOSOPHY OF QUANTUM MECHANICS: INTERPRETATION AND THE MEASUREMENT PROBLEM
PART III. APPLICATIONS: ATOMIC AND NUCLEAR PHYSICS
15. NUCLEAR PHYSICS: THE FIRST THREE DECADES
16. QUANTUM THEORY AND THE BIRTH OF STELLAR ASTROPHYSICS
17. ATOMIC AND MOLECULAR PHYSICS
18. CONDENSED MATTER: SOLIDS AND QUANTUM LIQUIDS
19. EPILOGUE
PART IV

APPENDIX. HEISENBERG'S ARGUMENT

Robert D. Purrington is Professor Emeritus of Physics at Tulane University. He has been a theoretical physicist for nearly a half-century, teaching quantum mechanics at the graduate and advanced undergraduate level throughout his career.

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