Saturday, October 31, 2015

Review: From Falling Bodies to Radio Waves: Classical Physicists and Their Discoveries by Emilio Segre

Synopsis: Meet a diverse group of highly original thinkers and learn about their lives and achievements: Galileo, a founding father of astronomy and physics; Christiaan Huygens, a seventeenth-century pioneer of wave-particle duality; and Isaac Newton, the English mathematician and physicist who laid the groundwork for a scientific revolution and promoted radical investigation as the means to reveal nature's hidden workings. This chronicle of physics and physicists traces the development of scientific thought from these originators to their successors, among them Faraday, Watts, Helmholtz, Maxwell, Boltzmann, and Gibbs. Combining his own engaging style with the physicists' original writings, the author illustrates the evolution of individual physical ideas, as well as their roles in the wider field. A student and colleague of Enrico Fermi, Emilio Segrè (1905–89) made numerous important contributions to nuclear physics, including his participation in the Manhattan Project. A Nobel laureate, Segrè is further renowned for his narrative skills as an historian. Hailed by the Journal of the History of Astronomy as "charming and witty," this book is a companion to the author's From X-Rays to Quarks: Modern Physicists and Their Discoveries, also available from Dover Publications. (from the online description)

Review: I'm currently in a Physics course and it's kicking my hiney. But my professor has a penchant for diverting from formulas to the history of Physics - which is quite interesting. He recommend this and the sequel, both of which I purchased for pennies. This was a well written book - as organized as the history of scientific discovery can be. Segre writes in clear, concise way. However, it's clearly written as a supplement to a math-based Physics course. Segre includes examples of formulas, derivations, and other conceptual ideas. At the end, he even includes the explanation of several of the largest discovers - Appendices like "The Essential of Boltzman's H-Theorem" and "The Arguments of the Newton of Electricity". These are math-heavy and pure Physics. This is a must for any Physics major, and an excellent supplement for a major in any science. Many of these giants contributed to chemistry, medicine, industry, and technology. For any one else, the abundance of math may be off-putting, But if you don't mind that, this is a worth while and interesting read. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-486-45808-3
Date Finished: 10-27-2015
Pages: 298

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