Brookhaven National Laboratory was the first major national laboratory built for basic civilian research. From Nobel Prize-winning work in atomic physics to addressing community concerns over radiation leaks, the history of Brookhaven parallels the changing fortunes of "big science" in the United States. Robert P. Crease brings to life the people, the instruments, the science, and the politics of Brookhaven's first quarter-century.
"[A] very readable, well illustrated and sometimes even racy, recounting of Brookhaven's history, politics and personalities."—Denys Wilkinson, Physics World
Winner of the the Susan Elizabeth Abrams Prize in History of Science.
When Isaac Newton published the Principia three centuries ago, only a few scholars were capable of understanding his conceptually demanding work. Yet this esoteric knowledge quickly became accessible in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Britain produced many leading mathematical physicists. In this book, Andrew Warwick shows how the education of these "masters of theory" led them to transform our understanding of everything from the flight of a boomerang to the structure of the universe.
Warwick focuses on Cambridge University, where many of the best physicists trained. He begins by tracing the dramatic changes in undergraduate education there since the eighteenth century, especially the gradual emergence of the private tutor as the most important teacher of mathematics. Next he explores the material culture of mathematics instruction, showing how the humble pen and paper so crucial to this study transformed everything from classroom teaching to final examinations. Balancing their intense intellectual work with strenuous physical exercise, the students themselves—known as the "Wranglers"—helped foster the competitive spirit that drove them in the classroom and informed the Victorian ideal of a manly student. Finally, by investigating several historical "cases," such as the reception of Albert Einstein's special and general theories of relativity, Warwick shows how the production, transmission, and reception of new knowledge was profoundly shaped by the skills taught to Cambridge undergraduates.
Drawing on a wealth of new archival evidence and illustrations, Masters of Theory examines the origins of a cultural tradition within which the complex world of theoretical physics was made commonplace.
Robert Geroch University of Chicago Press, 1984 Library of Congress QC20.G47 1985 | Dewey Decimal 530.15
Mathematical Physics is an introduction to such basic mathematical structures as groups, vector spaces, topological spaces, measure spaces, and Hilbert space. Geroch uses category theory to emphasize both the interrelationships among different structures and the unity of mathematics. Perhaps the most valuable feature of the book is the illuminating intuitive discussion of the "whys" of proofs and of axioms and definitions. This book, based on Geroch's University of Chicago course, will be especially helpful to those working in theoretical physics, including such areas as relativity, particle physics, and astrophysics.
"Not the least unexpected thing about Mathematics and the Unexpected is that a real mathematician should write not just a literate work, but a literary one."—Ian Stewart, New Scientist
"In this brief, elegant treatise, assessable to anyone who likes to think, Ivar Ekelund explains some philosophical implications of recent mathematics. He examines randomness, the geometry involved in making predictions, and why general trends are easy to project (it will snow in January) but particulars are practically impossible (it will snow from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the 21st)."—Village Voice
Meeting the Universe Halfway is an ambitious book with far-reaching implications for numerous fields in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. In this volume, Karen Barad, theoretical physicist and feminist theorist, elaborates her theory of agential realism. Offering an account of the world as a whole rather than as composed of separate natural and social realms, agential realism is at once a new epistemology, ontology, and ethics. The starting point for Barad’s analysis is the philosophical framework of quantum physicist Niels Bohr. Barad extends and partially revises Bohr’s philosophical views in light of current scholarship in physics, science studies, and the philosophy of science as well as feminist, poststructuralist, and other critical social theories. In the process, she significantly reworks understandings of space, time, matter, causality, agency, subjectivity, and objectivity.
In an agential realist account, the world is made of entanglements of “social” and “natural” agencies, where the distinction between the two emerges out of specific intra-actions. Intra-activity is an inexhaustible dynamism that configures and reconfigures relations of space-time-matter. In explaining intra-activity, Barad reveals questions about how nature and culture interact and change over time to be fundamentally misguided. And she reframes understanding of the nature of scientific and political practices and their “interrelationship.” Thus she pays particular attention to the responsible practice of science, and she emphasizes changes in the understanding of political practices, critically reworking Judith Butler’s influential theory of performativity. Finally, Barad uses agential realism to produce a new interpretation of quantum physics, demonstrating that agential realism is more than a means of reflecting on science; it can be used to actually do science.
In Megawatts and Megatons, world-renowned physicists Richard L. Garwin and Georges Charpak offer an accessible, eminently well-informed primer on two of the most important issues of our time: nuclear weapons and nuclear power. They begin by explaining clearly and concisely how nuclear fission and fusion work in both warheads and reactors, and how they can impact human health. Making a strong and eloquent argument in favor of arms control, Garwin and Charpak outline specific strategies for achieving this goal worldwide. But they also demonstrate how nuclear power can provide an assured, economically feasible, and environmentally responsible source of energy—in a way that avoids the hazards of weapons proliferation. Numerous figures enliven the text, including cartoons by Sempé.
Cline recounts the development of quantum theory, capturing the atmosphere of argument and discovery among physicists in the 1920s. She explores the backgrounds of the major figures—Rutherford, Bohr, Planck, Einstein—separately, but draws them together as they begin to consider each other's questions about the nature of matter.
An engaging critique of the science and metaphysics behind our understanding of the universe
The James Webb Space Telescope, when launched in 2021, will be the premier orbital observatory, capable of studying every phase of the history of the universe, from the afterglow of the Big Bang to the formation of our solar system. Examining the theoretical basis for key experiments that have made this latest venture in astrophysics possible, Bjørn Ekeberg reveals that scientific cosmology actually operates in a twilight zone between the physical and metaphysical.
Metaphysical Experiments explains how our current framework for understanding the universe, the Big Bang theory, is more determined by a deep faith in mathematical universality than empirical observation. Ekeberg draws on philosophical insights by Spinoza, Bergson, Heidegger, and Arendt; on the critical perspectives of Latour, Stengers, and Serres; and on cutting-edge physics research at the Large Hadron Collider, to show how the universe of modern physics was invented to reconcile a Christian metaphysical premise with a claim to the theoretical unification of nature.
By focusing on the nonmathematical assumptions underlying some of the most significant events in modern science, Metaphysical Experiments offers a critical history of contemporary physics that demystifies such concepts as the universe, particles, singularity, gravity, blackbody radiation, the speed of light, wave/particle duality, natural constants, black holes, dark matter, and dark energy. Ekeberg’s incisive reading of the metaphysical underpinnings of scientific cosmology offers an innovative account of how we understand our place in the universe.