Radioactive Transformations

Ernest Rutherford; With a Foreword by Frank Wilczek

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Radioactive Transformations describes Ernest Rutherford’s Nobel Prize-winning investigations into the mysteries of radioactive matter. In this historic work, Rutherford outlines the scientific investigations that led to and coincided with his own research—including the work of Wilhelm Rӧntgen, J. J. Thomson, and Marie Curie—and explains in detail the experiments that provided a glimpse at special relativity, quantum mechanics, and other concepts that would shape modern physics.

This new edition features a comprehensive introduction by Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek which engagingly explains how Rutherford's early research led to a better understanding of topics as diverse as the workings of the atom’s nucleus, the age of our planet, and the fusion in stars.

Ernest Rutherford, famous for his discoveries in nuclear physics, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 for his research on radioactive substances. Frank Wilczek shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the theory of quantum chromodynamics. He is the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of three books, including The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces.

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"Ernest Rutherford’s Silliman lectures, delivered in 1905, provide a fascinating account of the birth of nuclear and particle physics and a master class in how to solve scientific puzzles."—Roger Blandford, KIPAC, Stanford University

"Radioactive Transformations gives a very accurate insider’s description of how the field of radioactivity developed. Rutherford answers questions that current historians and physicists tend to forget. . . . It clarifies the theories and makes them accessible to both historians and the general public."—Maria Rentetzi, National Technical University of Athens, Greece

"This book provides an account of one of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century during a period of discovery which inaugurated modern atomic physics."—John Polkinghorne, Cambridge University

“[S]uddenly atoms were no longer the ideal objects posited by ancient philosophy and contemporary theory: indivisible, unchanging, and therefore immune to analysis. No! Atoms had parts, and they changed, spontaneously, in peculiar, seemingly whimsical ways. Lacking ultimate simplicity, atoms could--and for a man like Rutherford, that meant they must--be understood more deeply. They must be looked into, and taken apart, until their inner logic was revealed.”—from Frank Wilczek’s foreword

ISBN: 9780300181302
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
336 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
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