The World of Physics

Edited by Arthur Beiser, read in 2012

Foreword by Edward U. Condon vii
Introduction by Arthur Beiser 1
Galileo Galilei FALLING BODIES 9
Bertrand Russell THE RISE OF SCIENCE 25
Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld CONSERVATION OF ENERGY45
George Gamow ENTROPY 69
K. Mendelssohn SUPERFLUIDS 79
James Clerk Maxwell ACTION AT A DISTANCE 101
Lincoln Barnett SPECIAL RELATIVITY 119
M. Stanley Livingston HISTORY OF THE CYCLOTRON 163
The British Information Service THE BIRTH OF ATOMIC ENERGY 177
Edward U. Condon QUANTUM PHYSICS 195
Richard F[sic]. Post FUSION POWER 249
29 "...Churches, everywhere, opposed as long as they could practically every innovation that made for an increase of happiness or knowledge here on earth." – Bertrand Russell
32 "[Galileo] was born on about the day on which Michelangelo died, and he died in the year in which Newton was born."
40 "...the conception of "force," which is prominent in the seventeenth century, has been found to be superfluous."
41 "What was observable was a certain relation between acceleration and configuration; to say that this relation was brought about by the intermediacy of "force" was to add nothing to our knowledge."
43 "The first explicit statement of conservation of energy was made by a German physician, Robert Mayer, in 1842. Nobody paid attention to his work, he received scant credit for priority when the idea was at last accepted, and he went mad."
43 "In The Evolution of Physics (Simon and Schuster, 1938),...Einstein and his distinguished collaborator Infeld set out "to sketch in broad outline the attempts of the human mind to find a connection between the world of ideas and the world of phenomena. We have tried to show the active forces which compel science to invent ideas corresponding to the reality of our world." Einstein's 3 "worlds" are different from Penrose's 3. The Ideal and Phenomenal are the same, but Einstein seems to ignore Penrose's Mental World and Penrose either considers Einstein's Real world to be all encompassing or unapproachable.
54 "It is a strange coincidence that nearly all the fundamental work concerned with the nature of heat was done by non-professional physicists who regarded physics merely as their great hobby. There was the versatile Scotsman Black, the German physician Mayer, and the great American adventurer Count Rumford, who afterward lived in Europe, and among other activities, became Minister of War for Bavaria. There was also the English brewer Joule who, in his spare time, performed some most important experiments concerning the conservation of energy." – Einstein
62 Explanation of Avogadro's number
70 "...the natural direction of heat flow is from hot regions to cold regions and the natural direction of energy transformation is from mechanical energy into heat energy."
70 "In thermodynamics, i.e., the study of the relation between heat and mechanical motion, the degree of "naturality" of heat transformation is called entropy. We say that the entropy increases when the process goes in the "natural" direction and decreases when it goes in the opposite direction."
70 " the grand total, the entropy of the entire system cannot decrease and it either remains constant or, in most cases, goes up."
72 "What is the interpretation of entropy from the point of view of the kinetic theory of heat, and what is the physical meaning of the statement that "the entropy can never decrease"? Let us consider a lead bullet flying towards a steel plate ...The "organized" motion of the molecules, when all of them were moving in the same direction, is transformed into a "disorganized" (or random) motion within the body of the bullet. The "mechanical energy" of motion is transformed into "heat." This example shows quite clearly that the transformation of mechanical energy into heat is the same as the transformation of organized motion into disorganized motion."
73 "Messy houses, impassable roads, and disorganized groups of men are "natural" states of affairs. Well-kept houses, good roads, and organized teams of men are "unnatural" states and require a lot of organizing activity in order to be maintained.

Since molecules have no feeling of personal responsibility, we should expect that the natural tendency of any physical system consisting of a large number of individual units is to go from a state of order into a state of disorder. While the "orderly" translatory motion of the molecules in a bullet goes quite easily into "disorderly" thermal motion as a result of an impact, it is impossible to heat a bullet in a flame and then to arrange things in such a way that all the molecular velocities are turned in the same direction, thus forcing the bullet to take off and fly away at a high speed!"
74 "..."mysterious" entropy is simply a measure of the disorder of molecular motion" It sounds like 'disorder' is defined as the variation in molecular velocity. If so, this definition does not involve human consciousness. But this definition would give the same entropy to a shuffled deck of cards as to an "ordered" deck.
75 Negative entropy and photosynthesis.
108 "Boscovich propounded his theory, that matter is a congeries of mathematical points, each endowed with the power of attracting or repelling the others according to fixed laws." – Maxwell
109 "Örsted found that an electric current acts on a magnetic pole, but that it neither attracts it nor repels it, but causes it to move round the current. He expressed this by saying that "the electric conflict acts in a revolving manner."" -- Maxwell
112 "Faraday defined with mathematical precision the whole theory of electromagnetism, in language free from mathematical technicalities, and applicable to the most complicated as well as the simplest cases." -- Maxwell
195 Excellent history of the development of quantum mechanics.
205 "Born...quotes a letter Einstein wrote in 1947 in which he says, "the statistical interpretation . . . has a considerable content of truth." However, he goes on to say, "I am absolutely convinced that one will eventually arrive at a theory in which the objects connected by law are not probabilities, but conceived facts as one took for granted only a short time ago." With characteristic modesty he concludes then by saying..."I cannot provide logical arguments for my conviction but can only call on my little finger as witness, which cannot claim any authority to be respected outside my own skin.""
206 "Think of the many pages of disputatious writings on free will and determinism!

In my view physics has nothing to say on this one way or the other as an issue related to human conduct. It was an unwarranted extrapolation in the first place to pass from the planetary successes of classical mechanics to extreme mechanistic determinism for human actions. It is equally incorrect to argue from the statistical determinism of quantum mechanics any support for the idea of free will in human behavior." – Edward U. Condon
213 Fig. 3 is wrong. The 3 upper right-hand arrows should point down, not up.
215 "If one gave up the demand that these conservation laws should hold, one would have to revise one's ideas about the structure of space-time." – Abdus Salam
217 "The fact that there are three π-mesons equivalent to each other immediately suggests that we should formally treat these three as components of a vector in a three-dimensional space. To distinguish between this abstract space and ordinary space we call this new space the isotopic space. The equivalence of the three π-mesons is then formally stated as the consequence of rotation symmetry in the isotopic space." – Abdus Salam Very interesting!!
218 "Just as in ordinary space rotation symmetry implies conservation of angular momentum, so in isotopic space, rotation symmetry implies conservation of isotopic spin." – Abdus Salam
218 "Clearly the electromagnetic interaction, in so far as it distinguishes charged particles from neutral particles, violates rotation symmetry in this space and thus the law of conservation of total isotopic spin is only approximate." – Abdus Salam
219 "...isotopic spin is the distinguishing feature of strong interactions." – Abdus Salam
221 "Weak interactions...are responsible for the spontaneous decay of all particles except p, e, n, and the photon." – Abdus Salam
247 "Nearly all the matter in the astronomical universe is in the plasma state" Of course this was the opinion when this was written in 1960.
254 "...the deuterium in one gallon of ordinary water has an energy content equivalent to 350 gallons of gasoline!" – Richard R. Post

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