BOOKS

 

INTRODUCTION TO MODERN PHYSICS

Fifth Edition

by F. K. Richtmyer, E. H. Kennard and T. Lauritsen

McGraw‑Hill      $8.50

 

THIS SURVEY of twentieth century physics has long been a standard intermediate text designed, in general, for students at the senior‑college or first‑year‑graduate‑school level.  It was originally written by the late F. K. Hichtmyer; in subsequent editions, E. H. Kennard, former professor of physics at Cornell University, became co‑author with him.

 

Now, in this fifth edition of the book, which covers advances in the field over the last seven years, a new co‑author has been added.  Thomas Lauritsen, Caltech professor of physics, has rewritten the final chapters on cosmic rays and nuclear physics, which now include material on some of the newly‑discovered fundamental particles, while Professor Kennard has brought the remainder of the book up to date by rewriting, rearangement and abbreviation of older material, to reflect the further change in perspective in the physical scene.

 

THE ATOMIC NUCLEUS

by Robley D. Evans

McGraw‑Hill, 1955  $14.50

 

Reviewed by Ward Whaling

Assistant Professor of Physics

 

PROFESSOR Evans has produced a new text book that will be widely used in introductory nuclear physics courses at the graduate level.  The book represents a new viewpoint in nuclear physics texts in that it is designed specifically to meet the needs of experimental students who are just beginning their laboratory work.  However, it is in no sense a laboratory manual; there is no discussion of experimental technique nor of the apparatus of nuclear physics.  The treatment of counters illustrates the aim of this book to supplement concurrent laboratory experience; in­stead of a description of particular types of counters one finds a thorough discussion of the physical principles of ionization, excitation, scattering, and brehmstrahlung, the basic phenomena which govern operation of all nuclear counters.

 

In an effort to make the book of maximum utility to beginning students, only the unavoidable minimum of quantum mechanics is employed.  The author presumes only a working knowledge of the calculus and some familiarity with atomic physics.  Thory is introduced only as it is needed to interpret experiment and the book will not appeal to students whose interest is primarily theoretical.

 

Starting with the fundamental static properties of nuclei in the first nine chapters, the author proceeds in the next eight chapters to a consideration of nuclear forces and nuclear models, nuclear reactions, radioactive decay, and the conservation laws of nuclear dynamics.

 

These first seventeen chapters make up the core of most introductory courses in nuclear physics; Professor Evans' treatment of this basic material is much more thorough than that in any previous book attempting to cover this broad field.  Experimental students will especially welcome the sections on the interpretation of the results of angular distribution, angular correlation, and excitation experiments.  Frequent reference to the historical development of our present picture of the nucleus adds interest to the exposition of this material and helps to orient the student who is making his first introduction to the subject.  Abundant references to the original research papers are provided for those who wish to pursue their particular interests further; more than a thousand entries appear in the bibliography.  The author's rather discursive style will he popular with students; I have never heard my students object to a text because the ratio of prose to equations was too high.

 

Following the discussion of the nucleus itself are eight chapters on the interaction of charged particles and electromagnetic radiation with matter.  The excellent treatment of this subject which has been Professor Evans' own particular research interest for many years, cannot be found elsewhere and will appeal especially to radiobiologists and radiochemists and others who are interested in the physical effects of nuclear radiation.  Another feature that cannot he found in other texts is the extensive treatment of the application of statistical theory to the problem of counting random events; the last three chapters of the book are devoted to this subject.

 

Caltech alumni will he interested to know that this text is now being used in the graduate nuclear physics course here.  Professor Evans, now at M.I.T., is a Caltech alumnus himself, having received his BS here in 1928, his MS in 1929 and his PhD in 1932.

 

 

REFLECTIONS OF A PHYSICIST

Second Edition, enlarged

by P. W. Bridgman

Philosophical Library              $6

 

P. W. BRIDGMAN, Higgins Professor at Harvard and winner of the Nobel Prize in physics for 1946, collected most of his non‑technical writings for publication in 1950. 

 

In this second edition of "Reflec­tions of a Physicist," ten new papers have been added to the original collection and slotted neatly into the various editorial subdivisions which were set up for that collection.

 

These reflections range over a good many fields, but the essays have one thing in common in that they all reflect Bridgman's now-familiar "operational" approach.

 

With skill and clarity, Dr. Bridgman brings this experimental attitude to bear, not only on physical concepts, but on such things as the scientist's place in society, cybernetics, politics and the scientific method.