Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences, Volume 7

Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences, Volume 7

RUSSELL McCORMMACH Editor
Copyright Date: 1976
Pages: 528
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x167j
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  • Book Info
    Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences, Volume 7
    Book Description:

    The first article in this volume, by Tetu Hirosige, is a definitive study of the genesis of Einstein's theory of relativity. Other articles treat topics-theoretical, experimental, philosophical, and institutional-in the history of physics and chemistry from the researches of Laplace and Lavoisier in the eighteenth century to those of Dirac and Jordan in the twentieth century.

    Contents: The Ether Problem, the Mechanistic World View, and the Origins of the Theory of Relativity (Tetu Hirosige); Kinstein's Early Scientific Collaboration (Lewis Pyenson); Max Planck's Philosophy of Nature and His Elaboration of the Special Theory of Relativity (Stanley Goldberg); The Concept of Particle Creation before and after Quantum Mechanics (Joan Brombery); Chemistry as a Branch of Physics: Laplace's Collaboration with Lavoisier (Henry Guerlac); Mayer's Concept of "Force": The "Axis" of a New Science of Physics (P. M. Heimann); Debates over the Theory of Solution: A Study of Dissent in Physical Chemistry in the English-Speaking World in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (R. G. A. Dolby); The Rise of Physics Laboratories in Britain (Romualdas Sviedrys); The Establishment of the Royal College of Chemistry: An Investigation of the Social Context of Early-Victorian Chemistry (Gerrylynn K. Roberts)

    Originally published in 1976.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7018-9
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Editor’s Foreword
    (pp. xi-2)

    In the lead article in this seventh volume ofHistorical Studies in the Physical Sciences,Tetu Hirosige discusses the genesis of Einstein’s theory of relativity against the background of the mechanized world picture. He again treats a subject—the development of physical thought around the turn of this century—to which he devoted a large share of his historical researches, tragically cut short by his death earlier this year. See pp. 488-489 of this volume for Sigeko Nisio’s moving appreciation of Hirosige and his work.

    Hirosige’s article in this volume belongs to a growing number of major studies on recent...

  4. The Ether Problem, the Mechanistic Worldview, and the Origins of the Theory of Relativity
    (pp. 3-82)
    TETU HIROSIGE

    Since the first systematic account by Max von Laue,¹ it has been, and still is, the common practice to introduce the theory of relativity with a survey of the nineteenth century ether problem. By “ether problem” I mean the theoretical and experimental investigations of possible influences of the earth’s motion relative to the ether on optical and electromagnetic phenomena. I shall cite a few arbitrarily chosen examples from recent textbooks. Christian Moller begins his book with “a short historical survey of the numerous optical experiments which have been performed in an attempt to detect effects depending on the motion of...

  5. Einstein’s Early Scientific Collaboration
    (pp. 83-124)
    LEWIS PYENSON

    With his earliest work toward the general theory of relativity Einstein joined a direction in physics that, as he saw it, was marked by a prevalent interest in field theory. He recalled in 1933 that, “like most physicists, at this period I endeavoured to find a ‘field law,’ since, of course, the introduction of action at a distance was no longer feasible in any plausible form once the idea of simultaneity had been abolished.”¹ The many field-theoretical studies carried out about 1905 were of two kinds. Some physicists were using field theory in the form of Maxwellian electrodynamics to develop...

  6. Max Planck’s Philosophy of Nature and His Elaboration of the Special Theory of Relativity
    (pp. 125-160)
    STANLEY GOLDBERG

    For more than three years after the publication of Einstein’s first paper on the theory of special relativity Max Planck was nearly the only physicist of importance who received the new theory with the attention it deserved¹ and who immediately and without regard for the generally hesitant response to it by his colleagues applied himself to the exacting task of its elaboration. Almost all of his original contributions to the theory of special relativity appeared during this brief period. Planck defended the theory although it did not yet agree with experimental results, he encouraged his students to examine applications of...

  7. The Concept of Particle Creation before and after Quantum Mechanics
    (pp. 161-192)
    JOAN BROMBERG

    “One of the most important results in the recent development of electron theory,” Victor Weisskopf wrote in the mid-thirties, “is the possibility of transforming electromagnetic field energy into matter. A light quantum, for example, in the presence of other electromagnetic fields in empty space, can be absorbed and transformed into matter, with the creation of a pair of electrons with opposite charge.”¹ By “recent,” Weisskopf meant the period since P. A. M. Dirac’s theory of the electron, which was published in 1928.² Today, physicists by and large still believe that the concept of the creation of fundamental particles, as well...

  8. Chemistry as a Branch of Physics: Laplace’s Collaboration with Lavoisier
    (pp. 193-276)
    HENRY GUERLAC

    Few collaborations in the history of science can equal, for the eminence of the two participants, that between the coryphaeus of the Chemical Revolution, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, and his colleague in the Royal Academy of Sciences, the mathematician and physicist, Pierre-Simon de Laplace. We remember this collaboration chiefly, if not solely, for the famous investigation on calorimetry which resulted in one of the acknowledged classics of science,¹ the joint “Mémoire sur la chaleur,” published in theHistoire et Mémoiresof the Academy of Sciences in 1784. Yet no one has tried to determine when the partnership began, what brought it about,...

  9. Mayer’s Concept of “Force”: The “Axis” of a New Science of Physics
    (pp. 277-296)
    P. M. HEIMANN

    Mayer’s conception of nature has received inadequate attention from historians. His works tend to be regarded as speculative, confused, and obscure, yet containing strong elements of positive science which justifies his inclusion among the “pioneers” of energy conservation.¹ The analysis of Mayer’s ideas from the perspective of the “simultaneous discovery” of energy conservation presupposes that though the intentions of the different pioneers may have been different, their ideas can be understood in terms of concepts common to them all.² Mayer’s first published paper, “On the Forces of Inorganic Nature” in 1842,³ which is traditionally regarded as his first publication on...

  10. Debates over the Theory of Solution: A Study of Dissent in Physical Chemistry in the English-Speaking World in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
    (pp. 297-404)
    R. G. A. DOLBY

    Modern physical chemistry is often dated from 1887. In that year J. H. van’t Hoffs theory of solution and S. A. Arrhenius’ theory of electrolytic dissociation were made the core of a new chemical specialty promulgated by the school formed around Wilhelm Ostwald. The new approach to chemistry encountered resistance, particularly in Britain; it came to dominate British ideas of solution only after more than a decade of strenuous opposition. Arrhenius’ theory of electrolytic dissociation was attacked particularly strongly. In the twentieth century, the debate continued in a subdued form in Britain, and in America, too, the new theories remained...

  11. The Rise of Physics Laboratories in Britain
    (pp. 405-436)
    ROMUALDAS SVIEDRYS

    In this paper I will discuss some factors in the origin of teaching and research physics laboratories in nineteenth-century British colleges and universities. I will pay close attention to the laboratories of the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Oxford, and especially Cambridge, for these provided the directors and often the models for laboratories elsewhere. I will examine in less detail a number of other laboratories. By the end of the century there were more than twenty-five academic physics laboratories; their rapid development in the last third of the nineteenth century in Britain paralleled that in several other countries. The invention, recognition,...

  12. The Establishment of the Royal College of Chemistry: An Investigation of the Social Context of Early-Victorian Chemistry
    (pp. 437-486)
    GERRYLYNN K. ROBERTS

    The Royal College of Chemistry opened in London in October 1845. During its first eight years when it relied exclusively on private support and consequently labored under severe financial constraints,¹ the College, under the academic direction of A. W. Hofmann, became one of England’s most productive scientific centers in terms both of the individuals to whose training it contributed and, concomitantly, of the scientific work which it generated.² Retrospective accounts by contemporary witnesses of the establishment and development of the Royal College of Chemistry, as well as subsequent historical treatments, have tended to follow Hofmann’s lead in evaluating the significance...

  13. NOTE ON CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 487-487)
  14. IN MEMORIAM: Tetu Hirosige (1928–1975)
    (pp. 488-489)
    Sigeko Nisio