A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7000 images, 3.5 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, The Paris Review, Le Figaro, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places...
Earlier in this blog I posted a great graph on the publications on relativity from 1896 to 1924 as published in Maurice Lecat's Bibliographie de la Relativité, suivie d'un appendice sur les déterminants à deux dimensions, le calcul des variations, les séries trigonométriques, et l'azéotropisme (published in Bruxelles by Lamertin in 1924). Preceding that graph are a few tables of interesting bits on the history of relativity. though I can say that there aren't too many surprises--the information is still very interesting. The Physical Review does not make the top-14 list (in the middle table). [Also see here for a good summation of a 1921 bibliography of relativity.]
The second set of tables shows the distribution by nationality of the contributor--it is interesting to note that the Americans made up 11% of the authors while the Physical Review came nowhere close to that percentage, meaning that the PR hadn't yet come to its place of high regard as a premium publishing vehicle, though that would come soon enough, particularly by the early 1930's.
The founders of the Physikalische Gesellschaft zu Berlin (1845, “Physical Society at Berlin”, which would become the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (“German Physical Society”) in a lovely and very uncommon perspective, taken ca. mid-1850's. These founding membership pictured above included some first-class heavyweights in their fields:
Top row: Gustav Karsten, Wilelm Heintz, Carl Hermann Knoblauch.
Bottom row: Ernst Brücke, Emil du Bois-Reymond, Wilhelm von Beetz.
[Source: a very interesting paper by Fritz Scholz, "From the Leiden jar to the discovery of the glass electrode by Max Cremer" published in the Journal of Solid State Electrochemistry (Springer-Verlag, October 29, 2009, online). Apologies for not being able to link to this article behind the paywall.]
I wanted to reproduce Wolfgang Pauli's letter of 4 December 1930--in it he thinks very widely of missing stuff, of some of the basic bits of the universe, in a rather open and guarded way, about the ghost of the neutron. He didn't feel very comfortable with his ideas yet, at least for professional consumption--that would have to wait another three years when it was discussed at the 7th Solvay Conference (1933) and another three when it first came into print (1936). The name "neutron" would also be changed to the familiar "neutrino" ("little one") by Enrico Fermi in 1933 to differentiate it from the much larger nuclear particle discovered the year earlier by James Chadwick--Chadwick's paper was published in Nature, which would reject Fermi's paper in 1934 as too radical a leap.
[Source: Exhibition of the ETH-Bibliothek to the occasion of the 100th birthday ofWolfgang Pauli http://www.library.ethz.ch/exhibit/pauli/neutrino_e.html]
1932 in my book turns out to be one of the most collectively epochal years in the history of science. Certainly others stand out for individual achievements, like 1905 (Einstein’s four papers over two volume of the Annalen), 1687 (Principia), but there are other yeas with fabulous achievements by numerous people.
1543 is one.That year witnessed the published of Copernicus’ De revolutionibus and Andreas Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica, two giant achievements for the outer and inner worlds, one challenging the structure of the universe and the other the Galenic tradition of physiology and anatomy. (To a lesser extent is Peter Ramus’ Animadversions on Aristotle which was a very sustained and elegant attack on the ancient-precept Aristotle an physics.)
1859 saw the publication of On the Origin of Species…JC Maxwell’s work on the kinetic theory of gases, Riemann’s hypothesis, and the spectacular invention of the spectroscope of Kirchhoff and Bunsen (that turned much of the invisible universe visible).
1939 (nuclear fission, chain reaction, neutron stars, magnetic moments, penicillin (advancement), Vit K, FM) and 1948 (nuclear structure, QED, transistor, Big Bang) also come quickly to mind.
1932, though is really quite something, seeing a sweeping array of discoveries in the large and small. Carl Anderson identified the positron while James Chadwick discovered the neutron; also, the Joliot-Curies’ made their monumental discoveries in radiation.1Iwanenko described the neutron as a constituent f the nucleus, while Heisenberg described the nucleus as composed of protons and neutrons. Knoll and Ruska built the electron microscope, allowing a vision of the interior parts of the interiors of the smallest things, offering images almost as spectacularly new as Hooke’s two centuries earlier. Looking up and out, in the same year, Lev Landau postulated the existence of neutron stars while Karl Jansky invented radio astronomy. There was also the perfection of the “Polaroid” process by Ed Land, and the isolation of ascorbic acid (Vit C, byCharles Glen King, and the beginning of a long war between him and Szent-Gyorgyi on priority of discovery). (In the non-sciences, there was the addition of Franklin Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler to their national agendas. It was also a banner year for literature: Death in the Afternoon, Ernest Hemingway; Light in August, William Faulkner; 1919, John Dos Passos; The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett; Tobacco Road, Erskine Caldwell; Young Lonigan, James Farrell; Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder; and Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley…)
The thread of thinking about all of this came to mind looking at this image of a bombing instruction room for aviation in England in 1932. The image is also a great one; the aviator at far left looks like a marionette; the three men above responding to his piloting maneuvers as he concentrates on the endless panoramas of landforms that advances before him on a horizontal diorama. It is a fabulous analog flight simulator constructed at a time of great change in aviation
1932 is also the year of the publication of Carl W. Spohr’s classic future-vision/speculative fiction apocalyptic-atom bomb end-of-the-world two-parter (so many hyphens!) that appeared in Wonder Stories.2 The story begins with a relatively simple series of catastrophic bombings that lead to a sort of détente, a kind of mutually assured destruction, which is then upset when the combatants discover and construct the atomic bomb.MAD breaks down, and the ensuing massive exchanges result in adevastated world.Pretty prescient stuff, all-in-all, even so far as the policy goes—especially so when you wrap this sci-fi story around the elements of 1932—Chadwick, Anderson, Joliot-Curie—that made all of this stuff possible just 13 years later.
1 The Joliot-Curie discovery was called “one of the most important discoveries of the century... the consequences of the discovery of artificial radioactivity are immense" from Segrè, From X-rays to Quarks, 198-199).
2.Part one appeared in the March issue, which also carried stories like"Red April, 1965" by Frank K. Kelly; "The Eternal World" by Clark Ashton Smith; "Waves of Compulsion" by Raymond Gallun; "Mutiny on Mercury" by Clifford D. Simak; "The Time Stream" by John Taine (Eric Temple Bell), and others.Pretty good bumper crop of sci-fi writers in itself.
Not only is this a very early article approaching the subject of space-time, appearing in Nature in 1885 (volume 31, issue 804, page 481), but it is also the most probable source for H.G. Wells' earliest inspirational source for thinking that would result in such classics as The Time Machine. (See here for an earlier post in this blog for a review of Well's book in Nature.) I bumped into it recently on a graze through the endlessly interesting early-ish volumes of this great journal.
And there were certainly many who came before Wells on the subject of the fourth dimension (though not many on the subject of time as the fourth dimension): R.C. Archibald wrote on d'Alembert's (1754) use of time as a fourth dimension (in the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society for May 1914); Cayley's "Analytical Geometry of n-Dimensions (Cambridge Mathematical Journal, 1843); Grassmann's Die Lineale aus Dehnungslehre (1844); Riemann's 1854 effort on curved space (translated in 1873 for Nature by W. Kingdom Clifford); Beltrami's introduction of the pseudosphere in 1868; J.J. Sylvester (again in Nature for 30 December 1869); Hermann von Helmholtz and his curvature for three-dimensional spaces, and others. Also, according to Linda Dalrymple Henderson in her The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art (Princeton, 1983) in Appendix B there were only a few other efforts before this Nature article. (Some of these include Halsted, "The New Ideas about Space", in Popular Science Monthly, July 1877; Hinton's "What is the Fourth Dimension?", Dublin University Magazine, 1880; Lane "Transcendental Geometry" Popular Science Monthly, August 1882; and Fullerton, "On Space of Four Dimensions" the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, April 1894.)
Of the many portraits painted of Isaac Newton, the vast majority of them came after his death--some were fanciful, some were based on recollection, and others were based on the few examples that have survived painted of him in life. This happened quite a bit--even someone as esteemed as his semi-counter-rival, the great Robert Hooke, received no attention at all from portraitists during his lifetime.
I found this lovely portrait of Newton--a miniature, nearly--an engraving by Laderer after the 1726 painting by John Vanderbank, made just a year before his death, and almost 40 years after he ascent to great fame.
It is an image I don't see very often.
The original is about 1.5x1 inch on a 10x7 inch sheet, and printed in ca. 1820-30. I'm unsure of the engraving's origin. The full version is below.
THere's also this engraving, made of the same painting, and executed in the 1830's, that shows Newton in a little less flattering light--at least here he looks as though he has some decent age on him.
The Future of Nuclear Science, Princeton University Bicentennial Series, Series I Conference I (1946), with a forward by the director of the conference, E.P Wigner, is mostly just a short (36-page) introduction to the conference, though it does contain a very nice and not commonly seen photograph of the conference's participants. Of particular interest is the accompanying ghost/outline guide to identifying the group, which seems to take on its own life when viewed out-of-context.
It is a considerably heavyweight group of physicists--among them are Hofstadter, S.K. Alison, Kistiakowsky, Ladenburg, W.J. Eckert, L.A. Turner, R.H. Dicke, E. Amaldi, Urey, Conant, Tolman, Pais, Turkevich, Condon, Wheeler, Smyth, Chandrasekhar, Weisskopf, Seaborg, Wilson, Morrison, Veblen, Bargmann, Feynman, Van Vleck, Rabi, Eisenhart, Compton, Kramers, Dirac, DuBridge, Bridgman, Fermi, Blackett, and others. It is a wonderful photograph:
Here's a relatively-random detail featuring (bottom left -to-right) Compton, Kramers, Dirac, Bohr, plus (middle left-to-right) Margenau, Bargmann, Feynman, Harnwell, Tate, and (third row) Wheeler, Smyth, and Chandrasekhar. This was an extraordinary group.
Around 1870 James Clerk Maxwell--one of the great minds in the history of modern physics--responded to a request by Francis Galton to fill out a questionnaire for Galton's work on the characteristics of people-of-genius, and published as English Men of Science, their Nature and Nurture(1874).
This is a set of Maxwell's responses about himself, as well as his mother and father:
I found this fantastic list at the James Clerk Maxwell Foundation
and wanted to include this with a list of other Maxwell items but
simplycould not get a link to function directly to the most-interesting
JCM personal library page, so I converted the .pdf and include it below.
Please note that none of what follows is any of my work--all credit to the Clerk Maxwell Foundation folks.
"Bibliography: Entries for papers [and books] are arranged in this order:Author; title; periodical [place]; date; volume; pages; priority; location; notes."
1849Maxwell, James Clerk. ‘On the theory of rolling curves.’ Trans. Roy. Soc. Edinb., 1849, XVI,519-540. Read 19.2.1849. SP, I, ii, 4-29. Royal Observatory Lib., Edinburgh: (offprint). [Maxwell’s first printed paper. An earlier paper, read in 1846, was not printed until 1851.]1851Maxwell, James Clerk. ‘On the description of oval curves, and those having a plurality of foci.’ By Mr Clerk Maxwell junior; with remarks by Professor Forbes. Proc. Roy. Soc. Edinb., April 1851 (1844-1850), II, 89-91 & plate II. Read 6.4.1846. SP, I, i, 1-3. [The first paper by Maxwell to be read, it was evidently not taken very seriously, being belatedly printed in 1851. The original manuscript survives in the Royal Society of Edinburgh.]
James Chadwick--the discoverer of the neutron and leading Brit investigator in the Manhattan Project--announced his great discovery in the form of a letter-to-the-editor. Of course, this was a letter to the editor of Nature--not exactly the Billboard Breeze of Sumpin', Montana, or the NYT or WSJ for that matter--where letters like this were more a quick way to get experimental results announced quickly, a rapid-publication device in the days when the scientific weekly was the quickest way of getting news out the fellow researchers.
But, no matter--it is still a short introduction to a long idea, not quite as romantic as the lede implies. Chadwick's "Possible Existence of a Neutron", appeared in Nature on 27 February 1932. It takes up a tidy and compact 1.25 columns, all on one page (312) of this issue of the journal. It is in a sort of imaginary "tradition" of great letters-to-the-editor, like the Alpher-Bethe-Gamow paper ("The Origin of Chemical Elements", on the stuff of the Big Bang, a 1948 paper published in the journal Physical Review that worked out the basis for the formation of particles in the universe), another instance of a major scientific announcement being made as a "simple" presentation to the journal's editor.
Quantum Theory Timeline // Particle Adventure About 50 entries, no bibliographic data ; simple introductory timeline. http://www.particleadventure.org/other/history/quantumt.html .
Timeline of Quantum Mechanics Probably 150 entries and 77 bibliographic notes including links to the original articles. Pretty nice. The "History of QM" wiki entry is fairly basic. (Wiki) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_quantum_mechanics
Good introductory timeline from Northwestern U along with annotation (1814-1927) http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~infocom/Ideas/quantum_timeline.html
AlphaCenturi Quantum Timeline Short timeline but picks up James Franck in 1914. http://www.alpcentauri.info/quantum_mechanics_timeline.html
TimeRime. Kind of a short, splashy presentation with only a dozen dates or so. http://timerime.com/en/timeline/138786/Quantum+Theory/
Chronology of Quantum Mechanics, Molecular, Atomic, Nuclear, and Particle Physics http://www.3rd1000.com/chronology/chrono3.htm
And this, a chronology of general physics, with a good selection in QM:
Big but incomplete, which means you'll have to get the book itself: Chronology of Science by Lisa Rezende. Google book, here.
"...the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton."--Einstein on Maxwell
James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), only 48 when he died, was one of the supreme science minds of modern history, a giant among giants, a scientist who performed the second-greatest unification of physics after Newton.
Source: "Scientific Worthies, XVIII--James Clerk Maxwell." In: Nature, 27 October 1881, the weekly issue on page 601 (though a single page the article runs a tight 1500 words) with the fine steel engraved portrait of Maxwell and the article occupying pp 601-602.
The published works of James Clerk Maxwell, from the Maxwell Foundation, here along with a chronological arrangement, here. His last will and testament, here. Internet Archive collection o fMaxwell's online works, here. And lastly a short biography from Wolfram Research, here.
I've posted a variety below of the important papers of Murray Gell-Mann (b. 1929, his bio via Nobel.org is here) as they appear in Murray Gell-Mann, Selected Papers, and published by World Scientific in 2010. Each has a link to the original paper. [Source: Google Books]
Following this is a re-post of the full list of publications by Gell-Mann as presented on the website of the Santa Fe Institute. All I've done here is copy the somewhat-difficult-to-read text into a table to differentiate the entries and make it a friendlier document (for me, at least). Again, this is solely the work of those at the Santa Fe Insitute.
I found recently a very interesting and useful table of the top-100 cited papers published in the Reviews of Modern Physics (published to 1988, see pp 10-12). It was collected and generated by Dr. Eugene Garfield and for me displays some pretty valuable information. It is arranged alphabetically by author, and since it is in a pretty static format I generated from the converted pdf file an index showing the papers arranged by the number of citations together with the last name of the author and the placement in the RMP--unfortunately the quality of the original pdf was such that it restricted using the title of the paper because it would have resulted in re-entering all of the data. So to use this new table just refer to the original pdf and you'll be able to quickly find all of the rest of the bibliographic information.