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1. The First War of Physics: The
2. The History of Physics
3. Atomic: The First War of Physics
4. The New Physics: For the Twenty-First
5. The Oxford Guide to the History
6. Great Experiments in Physics:
7. Physics in the Nineteenth Century
8. Evolution of Physics
9. Thirty Years that Shook Physics:
10. A History of Natural Philosophy:
11. A Brief History of Time
12. From Clockwork to Crapshoot: A
13. Physics, the Human Adventure:
14. Quantum Mechanics at the Crossroads:
15. The World of Physics (Vol 1-Aristotelian
16. A history of classical physics:
17. The History of Physics
18. Compendium of Quantum Physics:
19. Quantum Generations: A History
20. A Source Book in Physics (Source

1. The First War of Physics: The Secret History of the Atomic Bomb, 1939-1949
by Jim Baggott
Hardcover: 584 Pages (2010-04-13)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$23.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1605980846
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
An epic story of science and technology at the very limits of human understanding: the monumental race to build the first atomic weapons.
Rich in personality, action, confrontation, and deception, The First War of Physics is the first fully realized popular account of the race to build humankind's most destructive weapon. The book draws on declassified material, such as MI6's Farm Hall transcripts, coded soviet messages cracked by American cryptographers in the Venona project, and interpretations by Russian scholars of documents from the soviet archives.

Jim Baggott weaves these threads into a dramatic narrative that spans ten historic years, from the discovery of nuclear fission in 1939 to the aftermath of 'Joe-1,' August 1949's first Soviet atomic bomb test. Why did physicists persist in developing the atomic bomb, despite the devastation that it could bring? Why, despite having a clear head start, did Hitler's physicists fail? Could the soviets have developed the bomb without spies like Klaus Fuchs or Donald Maclean? Did the allies really plot to assassinate a key member of the German bomb program? Did the physicists knowingly inspire the arms race? The First War of Physics is a grand and frightening story of scientific ambition, intrigue, and genius: a tale barely believable as fiction, which just happens to be historical fact. 32 black-and-white illustrations ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good until about page 300
I have wanted to read a good, solid history of the Atomic Bomb for a while and grabbed this one as it was the most up-to-date. Although I enjoyed it, I wished I had chosen another one. Although Baggott is a very good writer, and he keeps things moving and makes the history come alive, I was disappointed by how little 'physics' there was in a book called The First War of Physics.
I was not expecting mathematical formulas, nor enough info to build my own, I was expecting more details and insight. If you asked me to explain how an atomic bomb works, I still cannot explain it - although I can explain Einstein's relativity theory, so it's not me, it was the lack of information in the book.He really skims over Oak Ridge and several other important areas of development.
A second issue was, after about 300 pages or so leading up to the first test, suddenly it's over. It's described in about 2 pages. He does the same with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A real let down.
The last 150 pages really come down to spy vs. spy. Not what I was expecting. Overall I think he ended up trying to tell too many stories at once. I would strongly suggest he change the book to cover just 1939-1945 to flesh out that era. He can then start another book from 1945 through the 1960 or even through 1989. Overall, I'll be looking to read another book on this topic.

1-0 out of 5 stars It was no "sin" to give democracies the atomic bomb
I should say up front that I defected from communist Czechoslovakia in 1965, am a nuclear scientist, and we all had to undergo years of Marx-Leninist studies, 1955-1960, at our university (Charles) in Prague. I know quite well what communism is like, in theory and practice.
This book is based, however, on the presumption that USSR had been morally equivalent, equally trustworthy, as the West.
Well, Stalin had murdered 30-50 thousand of surrendered Polish officers and other "class enemies", in 1940, in Katyn (this was not mentioned by Baggot). They surrendered believing they will find refuge in USSR. Stalin was supposedly preparing for the defense against Hitler(Baggott says). Well, by killing Polish officers, potentially his best allies?
Only now the Russians admitted fully they committed this horrible - and stupid - crime, that is after 70 years.
Klaus Fuchs helped the Soviets build the bomb so that they had it as early as 1949. The invasion of South Korea was facilitated by this fact. The communists always believed that their final victory is historically inevitable (similar to Hitler's belief that the Nordic race will conquer the world). The Korean war was also the first attempt to break the "confinement" policy, as outlined by Kennan in his famous long telegram (mentioned by Baggot). Thanks to Truman, and the US/UN forces, they failed.
In 1956 Eisenhower did not help the Hungarians. Then the Soviets gained Cuba. Who would be the next? Turkey? Vietnam? Malaysia?
Oleg Penkovsky, who told Kennedy that Khrushchev did not have very many atomic bombs during the Cuban crisis, and helped so the West, was caught by KGB, and sentenced to death by being slowly cremated alive. The movie of Penkovsky's death is being shown to KGB recruits. It's true the Russians have not owned up to this cruelty yet- well, it's been only 45 years...
Another and more recent case - Litvinenko. His also very painful murder could have been perpetrated only by the Russians who have access to nuclear reactors, to manufacture Po210. The proofs of this crime were beyond doubt. The Russians refused to extradite the murderer to England.
Anglo-Saxon countries had no revolutions or conquests for more than two centuries (England no conquest since 1066, others never). They cannot imagine what it's like to have complete reversals of governments, imposed on them from outside, and to live under the Nazis, or the Communists, etc. And to add insult to injury, many in the West consider us some pathetic East European tribesmen who have some local hard to understand disputes. No. The West was mostly the good guys, and the Communists were mostly the bad ones. I've sided with the good guys (and still do).
I'd add a personal plea, I wish I would not be hearing over and over again how the physicists "have known sin". The sensible ones did their duty - providing their duly elected leaders with the atomic bomb. Its use was exclusively Truman's responsibility. The dear physicists' hands are not "bloodied".
I salute Truman's decision - it saved millions of lives of both countries, and prevented Stalin's conquering parts of Japan
This book deserves the lowest score.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best I've Read
I agree very much with the previous comments and conclusions of Joe Pardue "Smiley's" review.My only addition would be to say that over the years I have read a good deal about this subject in books by Norris, Herken, Groves, Groueff and Feynman. This is the most complete, and yet concise, version of the story including the efforts in Europe as well as in the United States. Best of all is his unbiased approach and resistance to making moral conclusions about this complicated subject. If I could ever get my son-in-law to read it he might understand all of the facts which lead to the difficult decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling read
I was born about the time that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists first featured the Doomsday Clock and lived my formative years under the threat of nuclear annihilation. I can remember many times looking at a contrail in the sky and wondering if this was finally it?As a young adult I worked in Oak Ridge at the X-10 plant and got to see first-hand some of the artifacts of what Baggot calls `The First War of Physics'. I was in awe of the events that could have destroyed civilization. And I've often wondered how we managed not to destroy ourselves. Baggot's book is very well written and follows the important scientific, historical, and political events. His style flows well and at times makes the reading compelling almost like reading a novel. You see the ideas behind the science, the personalities that made the discoveries, and the truly frightening politics of the time. There are many events in this story that could easily lead to moralizing on the part of an author, but Baggot avoids the temptation and fairly expresses the concerns of the folks involved without taking a side. I strongly recommend this book. ... Read more

2. The History of Physics
by Isaac Asimov
 Hardcover: 762 Pages (1984-05)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$51.50
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Asin: 0802707513
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding review and overview
As usual, Asimov delivers an excellent read.

The History of Physics was always on my bookshelf years ago when I worked as a research chemist. Rather than simply divide physics into component disciplines and present our current knowledge, Asimov explains physics by tracing its development from the ancient Greeks and the great Renaissance thinkers up to our modern day luminariessuch as Einstein, Schrodinger, et alia. Relevant mathematics are presented in an extremely basic and helpful form. This intuitive, historical, biographical, and mathematically basic approach is extremely user friendly and provides great clarity of presentation.

For newcomers to physics, or old hands who appreciate having valuable information clearly presented at their fingertips, this book is outstanding.

An excellent companion book is Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality (English Edition) by Lewis Carroll Epstein.

5-0 out of 5 stars great overview of physics
This book was one of polymath Asimov's prodigious outputs. He takes us through long centuries of often slow progress in physics. With short but succinct biographies of great physicists. Of these, needless to say, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein stand out. If you are new to physics, try paying close attention to how Asimov assessed those two greats.

But the book also gives attention to other notables who contributed to physics. From Galileo to Faraday to Maxwell. You can get an appreciation for the significance of what each did to expand our view of physics.

5-0 out of 5 stars A very good book!
When i first got this book i was worryed about it being boring, and it wasnt. once again issac asimov has put out a great book. He not only puts in the math to tell how and why things happen in Physics he also tell intext so that those whose Trigonomety and above skill arent that great canstill understand it. He goes from Falling bodies to light waves to Ions andradiation to anti-particles if you are just starting out in Physics or needsome more addvanced info this is the book to read. it however is not foreveryone.Some may find it very dry reading.I, howeverfound it very fasinating, and an excelent reference in explaining thebasics of Physics. ... Read more

3. Atomic: The First War of Physics and the Secret History of the Atom Bomb 1939 -1949
by Jim Baggott
Paperback: 480 Pages (2009-11-05)
-- used & new: US$11.42
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Asin: 184831082X
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Rich in personality, action, confrontation and deception, "Atomic" is the first fully realized popular account of the race between Nazi Germany, Britain, America and the Soviet Union to build atomic weapons. These were weapons that ended the Second World War and framed the early Cold War between the superpowers. The book draws on declassified material such as MI6's Farm Hall transcripts, coded Soviet messages cracked by American cryptographers in the Venona project and interpretations by Russian scholars of documents from the Soviet archives. Jim Baggott weaves these threads into a monumental book that spans ten historic years, from the discovery of nuclear fission in 1939 to 'Joe-1', the first Soviet atomic bomb test in August 1949. It includes dramatic episodes such as the sabotage of the Vemork heavy water plant by Norwegian commandos and the infamous meeting between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, the subject of Michael Frayn's stage play Copenhagen.Baggott also tells of how Allied scientists were directly involved in the hunt for their German counterparts in war-torn Europe following D-Day; and, brings to light the reactions of captured German scientists on hearing of the Allied success at Hiroshima. Why did physicists persist in developing the atomic bomb, despite the devastation that it could bring? Why, despite having a clear head start, did Hitler's physicists fail? To what extent did the Soviet atomic programme rely on intelligence gathered by spies such as Klaus Fuchs, Theodore Hall, David Greenglass and the Rosenbergs? Did the Allies really plot to assassinate a key member of the German bomb programme? Did the physicists knowingly inspire the arms race? The book answers these and many other questions. Atomic is an epic story of science and technology at the very limits of human understanding; a tale barely believable as fiction, which just happens to be historical fact. ... Read more

4. The New Physics: For the Twenty-First Century
by Gordon Fraser
Paperback: 556 Pages (2009-09-14)
list price: US$34.99 -- used & new: US$16.65
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521140021
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Underpinning all the other branches of science, physics affects the way we live our lives, and ultimately how life itself functions. Recent scientific advances have led to dramatic reassessment of our understanding of the world around us, and made a significant impact on our lifestyle. In this book, leading international experts, including Nobel prize winners, explore the frontiers of modern physics, from the particles inside an atom to the stars that make up a galaxy, from nano-engineering and brain research to high-speed data networks. Revealing how physics plays a vital role in what we see around us, this book will fascinate scientists of all disciplines, and anyone wanting to know more about the world of physics today. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A landmark textbook
This volume represents a refreshing elevation in the standard of scientific texts for the general reader. In setting out the principle elements of its wide ranging subject-matter, it describes, in highly readable prose, the most important and ground-breaking issues and controversies within the ever-broadening boundaries of the subject that we still call "Physics".

Regular updates and revised editions will be welcome as the cutting edge of what we know or at least believe that we know moves onwards into stranger and stranger territory. There is no "Dark Matter" in this book. All is splendidly illumimated.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Informative
This book has beautiful graphics and is chock full of the latest
developments in physics. A wonderful addition to the bookshelf of any
science buff. Even if you don't understand all of it you can look at
it in wonder !


4-0 out of 5 stars Nice extension of Davies' book
This book nicely extends Davies' 'New Physics'.

Here we have reviews of the leading physics topics of the last few years that are all well worth reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Advances in physics clearly explained
This is a great book on advances in physics that have occurred over the last few years that lies between overly simplistic popular science books and research papers where you become quickly lost in terse language and layers of equations. You do need to have some prior background in physics. Ideally you should have the background of a year of general university level physics and a course in modern physics, or the equivalent of that. Some knowledge of general chemistry would come in handy too. Otherwise, there are enough equations and an assumption of basic physics knowledge on the part of the reader that you'll get lost quickly.

Basically, the book shows you physics in action solving the problems of today using great illusrations and a clear and accessible writing style that holds your interest. The chapters don't build on one another and you can pick and choose what you're interested in. Remember that this is not a textbook, so there are no problem sets. The final strong point of the book is the price. At under forty dollars it's a very reasonable purchase for the casual learner. My favorite sections were part 1 on Matter and the Universe and part 4 on Calculation and Computation. I thought the chapter on superstring theory was particularly well done and clear. I highly recommend this book for getting a good big picture of physics at work.

5-0 out of 5 stars The New Physics for the Twenty First Century
Very comprehensive coverage of the new world of Physics presenteted by the various leading practicioners in the field today.Difficult reading for anyone with no more than High School Physics. ... Read more

5. The Oxford Guide to the History of Physics and Astronomy
Hardcover: 384 Pages (2005-06-03)
list price: US$50.00 -- used & new: US$26.62
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Asin: 0195171985
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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With over 150 alphabetically arranged entries about key scientists, concepts, discoveries, technological innovations, and learned institutions, the Oxford Guide to Physics and Astronomy traces the history of physics and astronomy from the Renaissance to the present. For students, teachers, historians, scientists, and readers of popular science books such as Galileo's Daughter, this guide deciphers the methods and philosophies of physics and astronomy as well as the historical periods from which they emerged. Meant to serve the lay reader and the professional alike, this book can be turned to for the answer to how scientists learned to measure the speed of light, or consulted for neat, careful summaries of topics as complicated as quantum field theory and as vast as the universe. The entries, each written by a noted scholar and edited by J. L. Heilbron, Professor of History and Vice Chancellor, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, reflect the most up-to-date research and discuss the applications of the scientific disciplines to the wider world of religion, law, war, art and literature. No other source on these two branches of science is as informative or as inviting. Thoroughly cross-referenced and accented by dozens of black and white illustrations, the Oxford Guide to Physics and Astronomy is the source to turn to for anyone looking for a quick explanation of alchemy, x-rays and any type of matter or energy in between. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Well Rounded Overview
I saw this book while browsing at Borders. I've been finding that I need more reference material in my home library, especially with a renewed interest in Anstronomy and a sudden curiousitywith Physics. I find the book as much entertaining as it is informative. And, its become a real pleasure to sit down with it for 30 minutes at a time and read about the human as well as the mechanical aspects of these two fascinating subjects.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stars in my eyes
'The Oxford Guide to the History of Physics and Astronomy', edited by John Heilbron, is a wonderful reference resource, but also an interesting book to read.It is organised as an encyclopedic dictionary, with over 200 entries that range in size from half a page to several pages in length.This covers history from the a little past the Renaissance to the present (with occasional references to earlier discoveries and events), including entries in other sciences such as geography and oceanography and how they relate to the issues in physics and astronomy.

Entries include topics, biographies, short essays, inventions and concepts.The biographical entries are generally paired - figures such as Einstein and Newton warrant their own entries (as does Benjamin Franklin for some inexplicable reason), but sometimes the pairings don't quite seem to fit (Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, for example, are both popularisers of physics and astronomy, but perhaps deserve somewhat better pairings).For the concept of the pairings, inspiration seems drawn from Plutarch, whose magnum opus 'Lives' paired biographies of notable figures.

The overall organisation is alphabetical, but there is also a complex hierarchy of entries as well that includes primary articles for comprehensive disciplines, principle subdivisions within the disciplines, and third level entries on specific items within the subdivisions (including biographies).There are extensive cross-references as well, in addition to supplemental reading lists.

In some ways, this book is a subset of the greater work, 'The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science' - there is a complete listing of entries for that work included in this text, to show how this area of science fits within the greater whole (for one thing).

One thing I found about this book, however,is that it is a compelling read.When I first received the book, I stopped to look up a few items, and found myself still reading through articles and following the cross-references more than an hour later.Despite being a reference book, it is an accessible and inviting text to for the reader, which is the mark of a good history text.For anyone interested in physics, astronomy, or the history of science, this is a text to be prized.
... Read more

6. Great Experiments in Physics: Firsthand Accounts from Galileo to Einstein
Paperback: 370 Pages (1987-05-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$10.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0486253465
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Starting with Galileo's experiments with motion, this study of 25 crucial discoveries includes Newton's laws of motion, Chadwick's study of the neutron, Hertz on electromagnetic waves, and more.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Ok sourcebook
This is a haphazard sourcebook with mediocre, short introductions to each paper that are almost entirely biographical. Some of the selections are not really experiments at all, e.g. the usual excerpts from Galileo and Newton on mechanics and most of the 80-page appendices (Maxwell, Einstein, Bohr, etc.). Others are more measurements than "great experiments", e.g. Boyle, Coulomb, Cavendish. Isolated but interesting selections are Young and Fresnel on light (no Newton here), Röntgen on x-rays, Becquerel on radioactivity. The only reasonably coherent thread that one can follow through the book is electromagnetism. I shall summarise the main points briefly.

Coulomb (1785) discovered his "fundamental law by which electrified bodies repel each other", namely that the repulsive force is inversely proportional to the square of the distance, as is the attractive force between opposite charges. But this is the same law as for magnets. Thus "The magnetic fluid seems to have, if not by its nature, at least by its properties an analogy with the electric fluid. Based on this analogy it can be assumed that the two fluid obey the same laws. In all other phenomena of attractions or repulsion that nature presents to us, for instance elasticity and chemical affinity, the forces seem to be exerted only at very small distances, and it seems, therefore, that they are nothing but the same laws of electricity and magnetism."

The link between electricity and magnetism was further strengthened when Oersted (1820) discovered that a current can influence a magnetic needle. Apparently the current generates some sort of "electric conflict" which "is not enclosed in the conductor, but ... is at the same time dispersed in the surrounding space, and that somewhat widely". "All nonmagnetic bodies seem seem to be penetrable through electric conflict; but magnetic bodies, or rather their magnetic particles, seem to resist the passage of this conflict, whence it is that they can be moved by the impulse of contending forces."

Faraday (1832) discovered further that currents can induce currents (albeit weak ones: "I could obtain no evidence by the tongue") and that magnets can induce currents. As for the nature of this electromagnetic business, Faraday (1834) made some discoveries on electrolysis. Water can be decomposed into hydrogen and oxygen by sticking two metal plates in it and connecting them with a current, and Faraday discovered that "when subjected to the influence of the electric current, a quantity of it is decomposed exactly proportionate to the quantity of electricity which has passed" and thus "it seems probable, and almost a natural consequence, that the quantity which passes is the equivalent of, and therefore equal to, that of the particles separated; i.e., that if the electrical power which... makes a grain of oxygen and hydrogen in the right proportions unite into water ... could be thrown into the condition of a current, it would exactly equal the current required for the separation of that grain of water into its elements again." So electricity seems to be of a material nature.

Other experiments (and the theory of Maxwell (1865)), however, makes electricity seem like a wave phenomena, as represented here by Hertz (1888): "the action of an electric oscillation spreads out as a wave into space" so "I planned experiments with the object of concentrating this action ... by putting the primary conductor in the focal line of a large concave parabolic mirror" and indeed "I have succeeded in producing distinct rays of electric force, and in carrying out with them the elementary experiments which are commonly performed with light and radiant heat". If such rays were material it ought to be possible to deflect them by magnetic fields, which could at first not be effected.

Then Thomson (1897) finally managed to set up an experiment where "cathode rays [that] carry a charge of negative electricity, are deflected by an electrostatic force as if they were negatively electrified, and are acted on by a magnetic force in just the way in which the force would act on a negatively electrified body moving along the path of these rays." Consequently, "I can see no escape from the conclusion that they are charges of negative electricity carried by particles of matter. The question next arises, what are these particles? are they atoms, or molecules, or matter in a still finer state of subdivision? To throw some light on this point, I have made a series of measurements of the ratio of the mass of these particles to the charges carried by it." Basically, one measures the total amount of electricity in the ray by putting a sensor at the end of it, and the total kinetic energy by having the ray bump into an obstacle and measuring the increase in temperature; knowing the magnetic field, one can figure out the ratio mass/charge from these values. We find that this ratio is about 10^-7 which is "very small compared with the value 10^-4, which is the smallest value of this quantity previously known, and which is the value for the hydrogen ion in electrolysis."

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent starter volume
Ok, so, this is a good book.If you are interested in the history of science or just physics, and you want to break into primary sources but feel a little overwhelmed, then I recommend going ahead and buying this book, because it's cheap, and flipping to the first chapter that catches your eye.You will probably like what you see: English translation of texts by Galileo, Boyle, Cavendish, etc., which are short excerpts of the "good part".In the margins, there are commentaries to help you out with archaic language and "weirder" aspects.Now you're cooking!You can go on to other reading if you want.

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential !!!
I strongly recommend this book for everyone interested in physics. Professor Shamos did a fantastic job in collecting in one single book the experiments and original works of the main geniuses of the history ofphysics. It's so much more interesting and easy to understand theprinciples when you visualize the context in which they were developed.Such literature must be obrigatory for every student of physics !! ... Read more

7. Physics in the Nineteenth Century
by Robert D. Purrington
Paperback: 272 Pages (1997-08-01)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0813524423
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Putting physics into the historical context of the Industrial Revolution and the European nation-state, Purrington traces the main figures, including Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin, and Helmholtz, as well as their interactions, experiments, discoveries, and debates. The success of nineteenth-century physics laid the foundation for quantum theory and relativity in the twentieth.Robert D. Purrington is a professor of physics at Tulane University and coauthor of Frame of the Universe. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone interested in the history of science.
It usually scares the bleep out of me when a physicist attempts history.Purrington is amajor exception.PHYSICS IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY perfectly fills a void in the history of physics, and the intellectual growth of America and Europe.It's a compulsive read-read itstraight through without putting it down once.I know of no better book dealing with the intellectual 'threads' of the growth of physics. Purringtons' writing is clear, crisp, and to the point.A good book has exactly the right number of words.This book has exactly the right number. ... Read more

8. Evolution of Physics
by Albert Einstein, Leopold Infeld
Paperback: 336 Pages (1967-10-30)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.99
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Asin: 0671201565
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Clear and concise explanations of the development of theories explaining physical phenomena. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely good simple explanation of physics.
This book is deceptively accessible to non-scientists and young people. It is deceptively accessible because it is profound physical principles simply explained as Einstein and Infield saw it at the time, it is physics and not mathematics. The math used is basic and the book explains all of itvery carefully. It is not a comprehensive book on physics.
After reading this short book (perhaps many times over)the reader will gain a wonderful understanding of both classical and modern physics as Einstein saw it
It is deceptive because the physical principles are simple and also a profound part of Einstein's thinking about classical physics, modern physics, relativity and quantum physics, and Einstein's though processes in developing relativity and quantum physics from some seminal basic concepts in classical physics. It also explains what physics is all about, its philosophy, the scientific method, and the history of physics.
It is fascinating to read of the evolution of Einstein's thinking in physics to his discovery of special and general relativity and quantum physics, told in his own words with the help of Infeld. This book is one of the all time classics of science.
Excellent for both children and adults with an interest in science, physics, and Einstein. may be used as a suvey text, although it was not written to be a textbook. a scientific classic. extremely easy to understand explanation of Einstein's thinking on classical and modern physics. the math is explained, where it is used.
It also includes Einstein's views of quantum physics and statistics, and it does not suggest that there was any conflict between Bohr and Einstein on this issue, although there were famous debates between them. This book suggests that Einstein had by the time the book was written accepted the statistical nature of quantum physics.
I would also recommend Einstein's "Relativity and the General Theory" and also the classic paperback of reprints of the original works of Einstein and others on relativity (more advanced but of great value to see the original papers).
In the Evolution of Physics are extremely clear explanations of what is science, physics the history of thought in physics, the evolution of classical thought in physics and how it led to relativity, and quantum physics. What we mean by modern and classical physics, relativity, the statistical nature of quantum physics as distinct to the use of statistics in everyday usage and in classical physics, the difference between between math and physics, theory and evidence, the contradiction between theory and evidence as the ultimate source of new theories which better explains the evidence, the philosophy of science.
All of these topics are discussed clearly, simply and profoundly for both scientists and non scientists. The book is deceptively simple and actually requires probably at least more than one full reading to really understand it. After you have read it completely, a rereading will provide greater insights into the meaning of the earlier chapters. Many of us will find ourselves reading it many times for its beauty and clarity.
This book is in summary a brilliant scientific classic, a survey of physics, wonderfully accessible to the general public, stemming from the collaboration of Einstein and his assistant Infield. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Evolution of Physics
This is a wonderful book ultimately leading to a discussion of relativity.Even so, the style of exposition is unusually good. I suspect Professor Infield wrote the book, albeit in collaboration with Professor Einstein. I feel his ability to make complex concepts relatively easy to understand rivals the teaching style of the beloved physicist and educator, Richard Feynman. Anyone interested in physics needs to read this book, not only for the invaluable content, but also as an example of a communication style which is only rarely encountered.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very good for many different readers
As the authors state, ".. thought and ideas, not formulas, are the beginning of every physical theory".True to this statement, this book focuses on thoughts and ideas and does not use any formulas at all.This makes it good as an adjunct for standard texts that contain the formulas, but not as a substitute for such books.This book is divided into four sections: the rise of the mechanical view, the decline of the mechanical view, field and relativity, and quanta.It is thus about how the mechanical view of Newton evolved into the modern view of physics (relativity theory and quantum mechanics).

I would like to focus on how this book might be perceived for three different classes of readers.
(1) For those who have never taken a physics course (or did and tried to forget the experience as soon as possible) --The lack of any mathematics may be comforting to this class of reader, but it will nonetheless not be an easy read for them.The basic concepts, such as inertia, may be difficult to grasp for those with no previous physics background, but the author's do a good job of describing things.(A task made more difficult without recourse to the shorthand of mathematics.) I would, however, recommend this book only to those who are motivated to go well beyond their comfort zone.However, if they focus on the concepts that are being described and are patient in following the lines of reasoning, they should be richly rewarded.
(2) For those who have taken physics courses, but do not have advanced degrees in physics--I put myself in this group and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.I liked this book because it focuses on the why (the basic underlying theories of physics), rather than on the how (problem solving).In doing so, it provided a much better understanding of what is behind the equations than I found in physics texts.I got a very clear picture of the deficiencies of Newtonian mechanics and Maxwell's equations, and how this led to relativity theory.I found this very illuminating as it more clearly showed me Einstein's thought process.If found this even clearer than that presented in Einstein's book on relativity (prepared for a general readership).Of all the groups of readers, I think that people in this group will get the most from this book.
(3) For those with advanced degrees in physics - People in this group may have already been exposed to the concepts described here, but this book will still be very helpful in that it shows clearly Einstein's logic in developing relativity theory and the quantum theory of light.Much of this may be old hat to this group, but the book will still be of interest from a historical perspective.

I think that this book does an admirable job of appealing to and satisfying the needs of readers who approach the subject with diverse backgrounds.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excelent book on physics
An excellent book about physics, its history and its philosophy. The concepts are well explained, discussed, compared in a conversational and rigorous style. And done with the contribution of Einstein.
With this book you will understand what physics really is; what is behind the science undertaking; what is science after all. A must book to serious interested readers

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Outstanding book to understand the way of thinking which resulted in introducing the various concepts associated with Physics. Thoughwritten for general audience, this book needs to be read with care, and constant attention to see the remarkable connection between seemingly unrelated concepts like light, heat, electricity. Read this along with the book "Einstein's Heros by Arianrhod" to enjoy a different aspect of Physics. ... Read more

9. Thirty Years that Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory
by George Gamow
 Paperback: 240 Pages (1985-07-01)
list price: US$10.95 -- used & new: US$6.07
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Asin: 048624895X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Entertaining, rigorous introduction to the development of Quantum Theory traces its history—from Max Planck’s revolutionary discovery of quanta and Niels Bohr’s model of the atom to anti-particles, mesons, and Enrico Fermi’s nuclear research. Numerous line drawings. 1966 ed.
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Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Quantum Mechanics History
You just need to read it to see how interesting it is! Much more than the similar books.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good book for the right reader
This is a good book for a reader with a modern physics background.It is not a good book for someone with little or no background in mathematics or physics, as they will be overwhelmed by unfamiliar concepts and mathematics.I recommend the first half of John Gribbin's "In Search of Schrodingers Cat" for those readers.It covers much the same historical ground, but without any mathematics.

Gamow was one of the "shakers" who shook up the world of physics between 1900 and 1930 and as such he was very well placed to write this book.The book chronologically traces the development of Quantum Mechanics.Interspersed with the physics are capsule biographies and personal reminiscences of the major players.Gamow also includes his drawing of the players and some of his personal photographs.The style is light and breezy, but with a firm grounding in the relevant physics.The book starts with the problem of explaining black body radiation and how the assumptions that Max Planck required to solve the problem created Quantum Mechanics.I found the explanation of the "ultraviolet catastrophe" to be clearer than I have found in most other sources.To do this requires some mathematics, but not the complete rigorous sort that you will find in a textbook.However, if you are afraid of second order differential equations and matrix mathematics, then this is not the book for you.The development of the "uncertainty principle" was also quite good.Gamow shows that it flowed naturally from the mathematics that Heisenberg utilized and that it was only is a subsequent paper that Heisenberg employed the idea of it as the product of an experimental limitation.

I would have given the book 5 stars were it not for two factors.Firstly, the book is only 165 pages long, including a play written by several pupils of Niels Bohr, which is a variation of the Faust legend applied to the scientists who developed Quantum Mechanics.Personally, I could have done without this part of the book.

My second concern is more a bit more serious.The development of Quantum Mechanics was not quite as straightforward as described here.For instance, while Planck was the father of QM he did not believe in it and did his best to disprove some of the basic ideas that others created from his initial work.Einstein, the first person utilize Planck's ideas also became an opponent of QM.As mentioned, there is an excellent derivation of Heisenberg's "uncertainty principle", but no discussion of why some people believe that it is a basic rule of the universe, independent of the experimental arguments that have been used to describe it, while others embrace the experimental idea and dismiss the mathematical arguments as being a quirk of the mathematics that were employed.To my mind the book would have been greatly enhanced if some of these problems were discussed.Even if they are not resolved, it is important to know that they exist.

4-0 out of 5 stars For physics majors...
I came to this book looking for some basic explanations and summaries of quantum mechanics theories, having just read "Einstein: His Life and Universe" by Isaacson.Isaacson wonderfully explained both Einstein's theories and the theories of some of his contemporaries in ways that I could understand, and I was looking for more of the same.Reviews here praise Gamow as being wonderful for the lay reader.I must disagree.

The value of this book is that it does beautifully bring together, in a good order and organization, the theories and personalities of the physicists involved in quantum theory.Some of it, written in the first person, is very entertaining, as Gamow relates stories told to him, or shares experiences he had with these men.

But in terms of explaining to a -lay- reader the theories, he fails.The best example of this is when he relates Einstein's challenge to Bohr at the 6th Solvay Congress.It's a classic story of how Einstein, ever eager to challenge quantum theory, shook Bohr up with an apparently unanswerable objection.The next morning Bohr had the answer.But Bohr's answer, by Gamow's hand, is almost impossible to understand.Isaacson describes the same episode and makes both the challenge and the answer clear.If I hadn't already read Isaacson's explanation, I would have had no idea what Gamow was talking about.(This is somewhat ironic in that Gamow -does- explain some things that he might take for granted: complex numbers, matrix arithmetic, basic units like c and mg, et al.)

In short, this volume is a most valuable book for the physics student.Much of it is interesting to the lay reader as well.But if you're looking for clear explications of the theories, look elsewhere.Yes, the theories are complicated, and some physics background is inevitably necessary, but Gamow makes them even less accessible than they need to be.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
If one can't explain a concept to an educated layman it only means onedoesnt understand it. This is a difficult task and not everyone can do it. Dr. Gamow gets across the essence & beauty of Quantum Mechanics so artfully that one is truly captured with awe. Only a master of the subject can accomplish such a job. This is also a good book for those wanting to read about the history of development of QM.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great book from the master!
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! ... Read more

10. A History of Natural Philosophy: From the Ancient World to the Nineteenth Century
by Edward Grant
Paperback: 376 Pages (2007-01-22)
list price: US$25.99 -- used & new: US$17.00
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Asin: 0521689570
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Natural philosophy encompassed all natural phenomena of the physical world. It sought to discover the physical causes of all natural effects and was little concerned with mathematics. By contrast, the exact mathematical sciences were narrowly confined to various computations that did not involve physical causes, functioning totally independently of natural philosophy. Although this began slowly to change in the late Middle Ages, a much more thoroughgoing union of natural philosophy and mathematics occurred in the seventeenth century and thereby made the Scientific Revolution possible. The title of Isaac Newton's great work, The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, perfectly reflects the new relationship. Natural philosophy became the 'Great Mother of the Sciences', which by the nineteenth century had nourished the manifold chemical, physical, and biological sciences to maturity, thus enabling them to leave the 'Great Mother' and emerge as the multiplicity of independent sciences we know today. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars A good historical overview, but has conceptual problems
Edward Grant notes explicitly that his history of natural philosophy will not cover the German Naturphilosophen, but he would have done well if he had spent some time studying Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. For while his historical overview is quite useful in itself (I believe it's the only general history of natural philosopy available in English), Grant does sucumb to some serious conceptual failings in attempting to characterize natural philsophy. He begins the book, for example, by noting that "Natural philosophy may be said to have begun with the first efforts to understand the world by the earliest human beings in their fight for survival", a claim that is about as useful as stating "The automobile was invented when the first civilizations began to attach a wheel to a cart." He quickly corrects himself by quoting the great historian of Greek science Geoffrey Lloyd, "But to have the idea of the nature of some particular object is not to have the general conception of a domain of nature...", which is to say that one cannot have natural philosophy until a corresponding domain of thought has been explicitly conceptualized as natural philosophy. For this to happen an idea of nature must first be conceived, and of course there must be a discipline generally recognized as philosophy. Even the Greeks had no generalized idea of nature, with physis being only a very distant approximation. In other words, an automobile does not become an automobile until all the components are brought together to create a machine generally recognized--and known--as an automobile.Because of this equating natural philosophy with any kind of reflecting on nature, Grant misleadingly expands his narrative to include virtually all of world history, which is a far cry from the generally understood formal beginnings of natural philosophy with Jacopo Zabarella and his chair in natural philsophy at Padua in the 16th century (with direct roots going back to Aristotle). If Grant had spent some time with the ontological analysis of the Naturphilosophen (and not necessarily incorporating them explicitly into his history), his general study of natural philosophy would have been much better. As the only general history of natural philosophy in English, however, it does perform worthwhile service and is otherwise both interesting and useful. ... Read more

11. A Brief History of Time
by Stephen Hawking
Paperback: 224 Pages (1998-09-01)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$7.67
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Asin: 0553380168
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A Brief History of Time, published in 1988, was a landmark volume in science writing and in world-wide acclaim and popularity, with more than 9 million copies in print globally. The original edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the ensuing years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic world--observations that have confirmed many of Hawking's theoretical predictions in the first edition of his book.

Now a decade later, this edition updates the chapters throughout to document those advances, and also includes an entirely new chapter on Wormholes and Time Travel and a new introduction. It make vividly clear why A Brief History of Time has transformed our view of the universe.Amazon.com Review
Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists inhistory, wrote the modern classic A Brief History of Time to helpnonscientists understand the questions being asked by scientists today:Where did the universe come from? How and why did it begin? Will it come toan end, and if so, how? Hawking attempts to reveal these questions (andwhere we're looking for answers) using a minimum of technical jargon. Amongthe topics gracefully covered are gravity, black holes, the Big Bang, thenature of time, and physicists' search for a grand unifying theory. This isdeep science; these concepts are so vast (or so tiny) as to causevertigo while reading, and one can't help but marvel at Hawking's abilityto synthesize this difficult subject for people not used to thinking aboutthings like alternate dimensions. The journey is certainly worth taking,for, as Hawking says, the reward of understanding the universe may be aglimpse of "the mind of God." --Therese Littleton ... Read more

Customer Reviews (331)

3-0 out of 5 stars Uneven level of detail
The first chapters of the book are nice preliminary material for the more advanced subjects. However, starting from chapter 3, when the more complex arguments are discussed, Mr Hawking does not spend much time and detail to introduce difficult concepts. He just talks about black holes, virtual particles, strings, symmetry and higher dimensions as one can talk about apples.
I had the feeling that he switched from the really basic to the really advanced without providing the necessary logical connection and intermediate steps.
I think this is a missed opportunity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great For the Interested Non-scientist!
Dr. Hawking is an extremely intelligent individual who can take his theories, as well as other theories related to the Universe and our existence, breaking them down into easy to understand concepts.I found the book to be very interesting and entertaining, as it expanded my awareness and thoughts on what is happening all around us.I recommend the book for anyone interested in the various theories surrounding the Universe and our existence!

Terry M. Drake, LSW, NBCCH
Author of Live Happily, Ever After... Now!

4-0 out of 5 stars A little deep but mostly readable.
I'm slogging through this.It's very interesting but, of course, a little over most people's heads.I like how he presents a theory and then gives an example.

5-0 out of 5 stars a brief classic
Many readable introductions to the concepts and issues of modern physical theory have been offered over the last few decades. I have enjoyed many of them. With the publication of The Grand Design by Hawking and Mlodinow, I decided to revisit Hawking's A Brief History of Time.

After two decades, this remains the most succinct, parsimonious and carefully written introduction for the non-specialist that I have read. He passes over bits ( a whole Newtonian law of motion) for brevity and clarity, and pads it out for relevance, all appropriately. For example, introducing quantum theory through black body radiation and the uncertainty principle is a common approach, but Hawking is lucid and direct, inspiring a "wow, that was easy" moment. Many books roll out phenomena and theories, duality, tunnelling, entanglement etc, and while these are excellent for learning about elements of quantum theory, a clear take-home message is usually elusive. Rolling this, black whole theory, anthropic principles, no boundary condition, string theory and the unification of physics all together is a singular achievement for this classic. What an inspiration to tackle the maths and learn more.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Hobo Philosopher
A Brief History of Time

By Stephen W. Hawking

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

I read this book several years ago and since that time I have read it several more times. Since my first reading, I have not been able to get this book off my mind. On that account I should give it five stars. But the things that I can't get off my mind are all negative criticisms. On that account I should give it one star.

My criticisms start before I even get to the author.

In his introduction Carl Sagan speaks of "Einstein's famous question about weather God had any choice in creating the universe." Unfortunately Mr. Sagan paraphrases this one of Einstein's many famous questions incorrectly, as my memory recalls.

If there were a God why would he not have a choice in creating the universe? This paraphrasing makes no sense.
Einstein's question as I recall it was whether or not God had any choice in his own existence.

Now that is a big question to all us philosophy buffs. Mr. Sagan's incorrect paraphrasing makes Einstein's "famous question" no question at all.

Asking whether God had a choice in his own existence is a subtle way of stating the impossibility of the God concept.

If there is a God he could not have had the choice to exist or not to exist. He either was or he wasn't. If he wasn't, he could never have been because something can not come from "nothing."

The answer to the rhetorical question is that he had no choice and therefore was lacking in freedom. God can not be God and be lacking in freedom. Therefore the concept of God is untenable.

The above is not my opinion; it is simple philosophic logic that can be found in any philosophy book debating the God concept.

This was really a rhetorical question in my opinion on the part of Einstein. He was expressing his dubiousness on this subject.

If there is a God whether or not to create the universe is no problem at all; God can do as he pleases. He can create it or not create it. Who or what is going to make him do it or not do it? What logic says he can't do it? Sagan's question makes no sense.

Now we come to Mr. Hawking and friends.

Unfortunately there is a lot of sloppy language going on in the scientific community. Mr. Hawking is just one of many who "slop" around terms to the point of meaninglessness. One such term is the word "universe."

The universe is defined briefly as, "all that is." I am sorry but there can not be two "all that is." All that is, covers everything. It follows then that there can be no multiple universes, parallel universes or competing universes. There can only be one universe.

Scientists are obviously using the word "universe" with a different understanding than "all that is." Somebody should explain to readers how the scientific community is defining the word universe.

Other improperly used words are infinite and annihilate.

The universe can not be at the same time infinite and limited. An infinite universe can not expand. It is already infinite. It can't get no bigger than that.

A particle can not be annihilated and at the same time transformed into something else. If a particle is annihilated it not only disappears, it ceases to exist. It doesn't just disappear. As far as I know annihilation is impossible. Therefore if a particle turns into light and/or energy, then it hasn't been annihilated. It has been transformed. It can only be annihilated if it has been turned into nothing - and this is an impossible theoretical state. A state of "nothing" does not exist.

Space is also something. Its influences may be so minimal that they are not necessary to mathematical equations but space is more than a state or condition fabricated by gravity and other magnetic forces. There are scientists who are presently working to discover exactly what space is and what its influences are on the universe.

Light travels in straight lines in all directions infinitely - but it also bends. This is impossible. It does one or the other. It either travels infinitely in straight lines or it bend and wiggles its way through space.

If light bends and wiggles it way through space then it certainly can not be used as a measurement of the distance between planets or galaxies. Unless someone can measure the exact amount of wiggle at every distance in space - which I doubt very much is possible. What the heck are these scientists talking about?

An ellipse is an extended circle? Then I suppose a circle is a square with rounded sides. I know these guys are trying to dumb this stuff down for folks like me but if they dumb it down too much they are me and then we are all going nowhere.

I'm not a Big Bang guy and neither was Mr. Hubble. I have read that Mr. Hubble who established the notion of red shifts and blue shifts said that he in no way concluded from this observation that the universe is actually expanding or that any Big Bang was involved.

I think the Big Bang notion is comparable to "the world is flat" notion along with the Ptolemaic universe and phlogiston. It is being challenged by plasma theorists and others. The whole concept seems to be imploding in favor of an infinite, self-evolving universe.

I am reading a book at the moment by Eric J. Lerner "The Big Bang Never Happened." It is making some sense to my way of thinking.

Question posed in Mr. Hawking book: What was God doing before he created the universe?
Answer provided in book by St. Augustine: Time did not exist before the beginning of the universe.

So then where was God? He obviously did not exist before the universe either. Is God not a part of "all that is"? Does he exist? If so then he must have existed within the concept of "all that is" - the universe. No universe, no God.

And if the universe had no beginning - and the Big Bang can not be construed as the beginning of "all that is" -then St. Augustine may be right. Time began when the universe began; the universe always was and always will be
(in one shape or another) therefore time always was and always will be.

Mr. Hawking, Mr. Sagan and others in the scientific community I don't think are/were big on philosophy. They know their math but seem short on logic and semantics.

This book to me is pretty much an exercise in scientific madness (time going backwards, the universe collapsing, parallel universes, universes that are cone shaped, or infinite but finite and limited) but it is not just Mr. Hawking who has gone mad. He has a whole bunch lined up to jump off the edge of the universe and splatter on the nothingness below following eagerly behind him.

Books written by Richard Noble - The Hobo Philosopher:
"Hobo-ing America: A Workingman's Tour of the U.S.A.."
"A Summer with Charlie" Salisbury Beach, Lawrence YMCA
"A Little Something: Poetry and Prose
"Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother" Novel - Lawrence, Ma.
"The Eastpointer" Selections from award winning column.
"Noble Notes on Famous Folks" Humor - satire - facts.
"America on Strike" American Labor - History
"A Baker's Dozen" Short Stories

... Read more

12. From Clockwork to Crapshoot: A History of Physics
by Roger G. Newton
Paperback: 352 Pages (2010-03-30)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$10.78
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Asin: 0674034872
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Science is about 6000 years old while physics emerged as a distinct branch some 2500 years ago. As scientists discovered virtually countless facts about the world during this great span of time, the manner in which they explained the underlying structure of that world underwent a philosophical evolution. From Clockwork to Crapshoot provides the perspective needed to understand contemporary developments in physics in relation to philosophical traditions as far back as ancient Greece.

Roger Newton, whose previous works have been widely praised for erudition and accessibility, presents a history of physics from the early beginning to our day--with the associated mathematics, astronomy, and chemistry. Along the way, he gives brief explanations of the scientific concepts at issue, biographical thumbnail sketches of the protagonists, and descriptions of the changing instruments that enabled scientists to make their discoveries. He traces a profound change from a deterministic explanation of the world--accepted at least since the time of the ancient Greek and Taoist Chinese civilizations--to the notion of probability, enshrined as the very basis of science with the quantum revolution at the beginning of the twentieth century. With this change, Newton finds another fundamental shift in the focus of physicists--from the cause of dynamics or motion to the basic structure of the world. His work identifies what may well be the defining characteristic of physics in the twenty-first century.

(20070112) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Six thousand years of physics
The book describes six thousand years of science, beginning with Babylon and Egypt, which developed many practical applications and rules in the natural world. The author progresses quickly to ancient Greece and the beginning of abstract reasoning and speculation. We learn about the tight connection between mathematics and physics, indeed this book may be regarded as a history of math as well. Newton's writing is clear and easy to follow - at least until the time of Einstein, relativity and quantum mechanics. Then the subject matter makes it difficult to follow the narrative, and I had to re-read parts several times.

You will learn just what a "quantum jump" is (p. 224). It is very small, and happens in the electron shell of the atom. There is some comment (p. 270) on why Lord Kelvin's limit on the age of the earth was overthrown. You will also learn how and why probability and statistics have become prominent parts of our understanding of matter and energy, and why the firm deterministic laws of physics have had to be abandoned. The book ends with the modern, - and still tentative, - understanding of the structure of the atom. The atom in turn enlightens our understanding of the universe, and the history of the cosmos since the "Big Bang." On the whole, a very satisfying read. ... Read more

13. Physics, the Human Adventure: From Copernicus to Einstein and Beyond
by Gerald Holton
Paperback: 598 Pages (2001-03-01)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$30.25
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Asin: 0813529085
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This work is the third edition of the classic text "Introduction to Concepts and Theories in Physical Science". It has been reworked to further clarify the physics concepts and to incorporate physical advances and research. The book shows the unifying power of science by bringing in connections to chemistry, astronomy and geoscience. In short, the aim of this edition is to teach good physics while presenting physical science as a human adventure that has become a major force in our civilization. New chapters discuss theories of the origin of the solar system and the expanding universe - fission, fusion, and the Big Bang-Steady State Conservatory, and thematic elements and styles in scientific thought. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars There is more to physics than why the first scientists didn't get it right.
Generally, the book is a good history of physics. The author spends an inordinate amount of time explaining that the ancients didn't know what we do now (once would have been plenty - being reminded every 5 pages interferes with readability).

I found the treatment of Kepler lacking in mathematical "how" - and I had to find the original Kepler in translation for that. I have not read beyond early astronomy, so the book may get better.

I got the feeling that this book is an attempt to do for physics what "Mathematics: A Human Endeavor" did for mathematics. The book is not as clearly written, and lacks contemporary references to the historical topics (which are not that hard to find). The book would be difficult to use as a text for a class "physics for the liberal arts major", while the human endeavor book can be used "as is" (I supplement it with other writings - both historical and modern fiction).

5-0 out of 5 stars THE BEST introduction to physics concepts and history
Having studied Holton's Harvard Project Physics textbook as a senior in high school thirty years ago, I was delighted to find this updated textbook by Holton and Brush. I have used Physics, The Human Adventure several times as one of the textbooks for an entry level Introduction to Physics college course that I teach occasionally here at the University of North Florida. (The second textbook for the class, which I believe complements Holton and Brush nicely, is College Physics in the Schaum's Outline Series).

Physics, The Human Adventure is excellent! The book brings a mature, historical and philosophical orientation to the presentation of physics concepts. The history and philosophy weaves the development of the physics concepts without ever eclipsing the physics. I have found serious students love the book. The book does not try to present basic physics without utilizing mathematics, but the level of the mathematics is basic algebra and elementary trignonometry.

Since most of my students are taking the course as background for continuing in their physics studies in algebra- or calculus-based physics courses, they appreciate the combination of Holton & Brush with the Schaum's outline textbook mentioned above. The students who are in the class for general education purposes are also well served by Holton and Brush; and it doesn't hurt them to work a half-dozen or so homework problems a week out of Schaum's, either.

My highest compliment is, often I find myself picking up Holton and Brush just for the fun of it. I can't think of many other physics textbook that illicits this response from me!

My only criticism is, in the early chapter introducing kinematics, the authors use speed and velocity in a way that deviates from current usuage. Also, it is standard now to use "g"
to represent the (always) positive number 9.8 m/s/s.The authors use g=-9.8 m/s/s/, which is rare indeed. Admittedly, these are minor (if not trivial) matters.

I highly recommend this textbook for conceptual/introductory physics courses or for anyone who is interested in physics principles via the history and philosophy of science. This textbook is head and shoulders above most of its competitors and I recommend it for use in courses primarily emphasizing the historical background of physics.

(I hope Rutgers Press keeps this book in print!) ... Read more

14. Quantum Mechanics at the Crossroads: New Perspectives from History, Philosophy and Physics (The Frontiers Collection)
Paperback: 249 Pages (2010-11-02)
list price: US$79.95 -- used & new: US$71.95
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Asin: 3642069142
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This volume brings together leading quantum physicists to expound on the meaning and future directions of quantum mechanics. It offers new insights from different vantage points to tackle essential questions in quantum mechanics and its interpretation. All the authors have written for a broad readership, and the resulting volume will appeal to everyone wishing to keep abreast of new developments in quantum mechanics, as well as its history and philosophy.

... Read more

15. The World of Physics (Vol 1-Aristotelian Cosmos and the Newtonian System; Vol 2-Einstein Universe and the Bohr Atom; Vol 3-Evolutionary Cosmos and the Limits of Science)
by Jefferson Hane Weaver
 Hardcover: 2948 Pages (1987-01-01)
list price: US$90.00 -- used & new: US$44.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671642162
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent anthology of physics
Not to miss!Highly recommended for students of all ages.This is an encyclopedic gem which -- all in one set -- includes original material from hundreds of major contributions to the field of physics.

The World of Physics, volumes 1 through 3, provides a thorough introduction to physics in the context of world history, in an easy-to-follow biographical format which makes even the most difficult material accessible to the general reader.

While this set cannot itself provide a physics education, it is a thorough and appealing introductory resource which can enable students to understand something of the personality of each contributor, the historic context of each contribution, and the nature and impact of the contribution itself.Coincidentally, this set also provides a refreshing perspective on the development of civilization which students of history would also appreciate.

By way of introduction to each listed contribution, Jefferson Hane Weaver provides biographical information for each contributor (philosopher, mathematician, physicist, or other specialist).These biographical sketches typically include personal information and historical context.Following each introduction is the text (or excerpt) of the original contribution itself.

The general reader will have no difficulty following and making use of the biographical sketches.The serious student will find ample challenge in the excerpts from original research results (or in some cases, other documentation such as the contributors' explanatory writings, for example).

Each volume is around 900 pages.Among the 61 contributions listed in Volume II, The Einstein Universe and the Bohr Atom, are biographical sketches of, and original contributions by the following individuals (and many more):
-- Marie Curie
-- Ernest Rutherford
-- Enrico Fermi
-- Henri Poincare
-- Albert Michelson and Edward Morley
-- Albert Einstein
-- Georg Riemann
-- Ernst Mach
-- Max Planck
-- Niels Bohr
-- Erwin Schrodinger
-- Werner Heisenberg
(and so forth)

This is an encyclopedic work which belongs in every library.

Very nicely done.

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16. A history of classical physics: From antiquity to the quantum
by J. D Bernal
 Hardcover: 317 Pages (1997)
-- used & new: US$2.59
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Asin: 0760706018
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17. The History of Physics
by H. Thomas Milhorn
Paperback: 364 Pages (2008-06-04)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$15.95
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Asin: 1602642028
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The history of physics ranges from antiquity to modern string theory. Since early times, human beings have sought to understand the workings of nature--why unsupported objects drop to the ground, why different materials have different properties, and so forth. The emergence of physics as a science, distinct from natural philosophy, began with the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries when the scientific method came into vogue. Speculation was no longer acceptable; research was required. The beginning of the 20th century marks the start of a more modern physics. Physicists began to study the atom, with its electrons and its nucleus. Then they began to look at the fundamental question of the forces that hold the nucleus together and the particles that account for the natural forces. This book approaches the history of physics from a biographical point of view, considering people to be more interesting than things, and the combination of the two more interesting than the sum of the individual parts. After a brief overview of classical and modern physics, 336 one-page biographies of individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of physics are presented. ... Read more

18. Compendium of Quantum Physics: Concepts, Experiments, History and Philosophy
Hardcover: 904 Pages (2009-09-09)
list price: US$199.00 -- used & new: US$47.44
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Asin: 3540706224
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With contributions by many of today's leading quantum physicists, philosophers and historians, including three Nobel laureates, this comprehensive A to Z of quantum physics provides a lucid understanding of the key concepts of quantum theory and experiment. It covers technical and interpretational aspects alike, and includes both traditional topics and newer areas such as quantum information and its relatives. The central concepts that have shaped contemporary understanding of the quantum world are clearly defined, with illustrations where helpful, and discussed at a level suitable for undergraduate and graduate students of physics, history of science, and philosophy of physics. All articles share three main aims: (1) to provide a clear definition and understanding of the term concerned; (2) where possible, to trace the historical origins of the concept; and (3) to provide a small but optimal selection of references to the most relevant literature, including pertinent historical studies. Also discussed are the often contentious philosophical implications derived from quantum theory and its associated experimental findings.

This compendium will be an indispensable resource for all those seeking concise up-to-date information about the many facets of quantum physics.

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19. Quantum Generations: A History of Physics in the Twentieth Century
by Helge Kragh
Paperback: 512 Pages (2002-03-04)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$29.98
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Asin: 0691095523
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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At the end of the nineteenth century, some physicists believed that the basic principles underlying their subject were already known, and that physics in the future would only consist of filling in the details. They could hardly have been more wrong. The past century has seen the rise of quantum mechanics, relativity, cosmology, particle physics, and solid-state physics, among other fields. These subjects have fundamentally changed our understanding of space, time, and matter. They have also transformed daily life, inspiring a technological revolution that has included the development of radio, television, lasers, nuclear power, and computers. In Quantum Generations, Helge Kragh, one of the world's leading historians of physics, presents a sweeping account of these extraordinary achievements of the past one hundred years.

The first comprehensive one-volume history of twentieth-century physics, the book takes us from the discovery of X rays in the mid-1890s to superstring theory in the 1990s. Unlike most previous histories of physics, written either from a scientific perspective or from a social and institutional perspective, Quantum Generations combines both approaches. Kragh writes about pure science with the expertise of a trained physicist, while keeping the content accessible to nonspecialists and paying careful attention to practical uses of science, ranging from compact disks to bombs. As a historian, Kragh skillfully outlines the social and economic contexts that have shaped the field in the twentieth century. He writes, for example, about the impact of the two world wars, the fate of physics under Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, the role of military research, the emerging leadership of the United States, and the backlash against science that began in the 1960s. He also shows how the revolutionary discoveries of scientists ranging from Einstein, Planck, and Bohr to Stephen Hawking have been built on the great traditions of earlier centuries.

Combining a mastery of detail with a sure sense of the broad contours of historical change, Kragh has written a fitting tribute to the scientists who have played such a decisive role in the making of the modern world.Amazon.com Review
We've seen our most fundamental beliefs about the nature ofthe universe change so many times over the past century that it'salmost old hat. Danish science historian Helge Kragh looks at theserevolutions and their effects in Quantum Generations: A History ofPhysics in the Twentieth Century.This well-told series ofinterlocking stories skillfully blends hard science with biography;Kragh intends to reach a broad audience and succeeds in maintaininginterest on all levels. Starting in the 10 years before 1900, heshows us that the state of physics was not as moribund as textbookswould have us believe--in fact, much of the groundwork for therevelations of relativity and quantum mechanics was laid then.Movingalong through the highlights of the past hundred years, we read ofHeisenberg, Lorentz, Feynman, and many more scientists building ontheir predecessors' work.

Only the most pathologically math-phobicneed fear this book; Kragh has done nonphysicists a favor byrestricting his scientific discussions to terms understandable by mostwell-informed readers.Though he does neglect certain importantfields (e.g., optics and materials science), the cohesion and relativebrevity resulting from this decision make for a better book. Whetheryou have an abiding interest in the roots of modern physics or want tolearn more about recent developments in unification theories, you'llfind Quantum Generations a pleasant yet challengingreview. --Rob Lightner ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars A well done history of modern physics.
I regard Abraham Pais as one of the best physics historians. Helge Kragh in this book manages to present quality and attention to detail as comparable to Pais as can expected without being inundated with equations. Kragh is capable of biographies as complete in detail as Pais; i.e. "Dirac: A Scientific Biography"

A fraction of this book provides incidental historical details complete with charts and graphs, i.e. the number of spectroscopy papers written between 1890 and 1910, or the raise of physics in the USA, and effects of the war on physics, etc. Now historians proper, will expect this in a history of twentieth century physics, but if you are purely interested in the development of modern physics theories, this will seem like padding, although perhaps interesting. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it highly.

4-0 out of 5 stars Physics in a nutshell . . .
Quantum Generations is a history of physics in the twentieth Century. What a pleasure to have the history put into perspective and all in one place. From fundamental theories to particle discoveries, to the growth and progress physics and other sciences have given our society, this book keeps our interest. Those who enjoy physics or history will find this book compelling.

Ever wonder what people mean when they are talking about "unification theory?" How about Quantum Cosmology? Well, you can get an excellent overview of these topics in Kragh's book. To further assist the reader, the appendix lists, for each chapter, relevant books for additional study.

I have found the information here to fill in the gaps that were left from my own engineering training and recent self-directed learning. Kragh's book will definitely be on my reference shelf as I continue to try and understand where we are heading with science and technology these days. But most of all, I hope books such as this might inspire our young people to decide to matriculate in the sciences so that we can be assured of continued increases in our knowledge of the universe.

5-0 out of 5 stars a means to understanding what happened...
I am extraordinarily relieved to find this book. My previous attempts at understanding quantum physics fell into confusion due to an absence of context. It is only this meticulously crafted abstraction of all of the various discoveries, speculations and personalities that has equipped me with sufficient knowledge to begin a coherent understanding of what happened to physics, metaphysics and philosophy.

The author achieves a sublime sense of distance from the controversies that captures the basic processes without twisting them to any apparent agenda.

I would recommend this book to every inquisitive individual as an antidote for the last few decades of nonsense that has passed for popular physics. The math is minimal and not essential to the information about processes.

This book would be especially useful to any high school student who feels the allure of revolutionary discoveries in science.

2-0 out of 5 stars A cure for insomnia...
I used this as a textbook in a college course on the history of 20th century physics.Kragh may be factual, and he may be a good historian, but he simply is not a good writer.(Even the professor admitted it was a good book to aid in falling asleep.)Emilio Segre offers a more personable view in From X-rays to Quarks, which I found far more valuable.

3-0 out of 5 stars Extensive History of Modern Physics
This is good History book about Modern Physics, starting from Maxwell to current level. Author provides considerable statistical data that also proves some claims about the success of some nations, and importance of some subjects etc. Author always identifies individuals with their nationality and I got a feeling that he also has a bias to German Physicists. Neverthelese it is a good Chronological and very lively description of the developments with a lot of references. The book does not get into the details of all the problems, tests, interpretations such as EPR, Aspec or Schro's Cat etc. So if you do not know particular Physical Problems and issues that led into certain theories, you do not get the reasons behind the developments. A lot of History is covered, Theory of Mass, Theory of Electron, Quantum Mechanics, Nuclear Physics, Political relations and influences on subjects and individuals. Atom Bomb, quantum electrodynamics, etc.It is very encylopedical knowledge that may guide you certain subjects if you are intereseted to explore. Author paints a good picture of the socio political conditions of the time. Simply said a lot of Historical Information and if you know physics and problems behind these developments from other sources than this book will be complete. ... Read more

20. A Source Book in Physics (Source Books in the History of the Sciences)
by William Francis Magie
 Hardcover: 636 Pages (1935-01-01)
list price: US$135.00 -- used & new: US$135.00
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Asin: 0674823656
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This is the reprint of a well-known and valuable work that has been out of print and widely sought for a number of years. A volume in the series of Source Books in the History of the Sciences, it consists of selections from the writings of the great physicists from the 16th through the 19th century--such figures as Galileo and Newton, Franklin and Faraday, Rowland, Hertz, and the Curies--making available to the student in English translation their most important contributions, described in their own words, together with biographical and explanatory notes by the editor.

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