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Hydrogen: The Essential Element

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Hydrogen: The Essential Element.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    John Rigden(Author)

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Seduced by simplicity, physicists find themselves endlessly fascinated by hydrogen, the simplest of atoms. Hydrogen has shocked, it has surprised, it has embarrassed, it has humbled-and again and again it has guided physicists to the edge of new vistas where the promise of basic understanding and momentous insights beckoned. The allure of hydrogen, crucial to life and critical to scientific discovery, is at the centre of this text, which tells a story that begins with the big bang and continues to unfold today. In this biography of hydrogen, John Rigden shows how this singular atom, the most abundant in the universe, has helped unify our understanding of the material world from the smallest scale, the elementary particles, to the largest, the universe itself. It is a tale of startling discoveries and dazzling practical benefits spanning more than one hundred years-from the first attempt to identify the basic building block of atoms in the mid-nineteenth century to the discovery of the Bose-Einstein condensate only a few years ago. With Rigden as an expert and engaging guide, we see how hydrogen captured the imagination of many great scientists-such as Heisenberg, Pauli, Schr dinger, Dirac, and Rabi-and how their theories and experiments with this simple atom led to such complex technical innovations as magnetic resonance imaging, the maser clock, and global positioning systems. Along the way, we witness the transformation of science from an endeavour of inspired individuals to a monumental enterprise often requiring the cooperation of hundreds of scientists around the world. Still, any biography of hydrogen has to end with a question: What new surprises await us?

Hydrogen is the thread that weaves together a gripping survey of 20th Century atomic physics. -- Times Higher Education Supplement 2 May 2003The result is a fan's eye view of the men who have investigated hydrogen, and through it quantum mechanical theory, over the past two centuries… -- Times Literary Supplement 31 January 2003…its friendly size, straightforward style, numerous illustrations and pithy aphorisms all make for engaging reading. -- Nature 13 March 2003

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Book details

  • PDF | 320 pages
  • John Rigden(Author)
  • Harvard University Press (5 Jun. 2002)
  • English
  • 5
  • Science & Nature

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Review Text

  • By Oskar Axelsson on 7 April 2012

    This book was a pleasant surprise to open. It is about hydrogen and more specifically about the physics of hydrogen. It is told with a historical perspective on how the experimental and theoretical devlopments gave rise to quantum mechanics and QED theory. The writing is lucid and flows easily. I finished it in two days and I learned a lot. That is the most brilliant thing about this book. It is not entirely soft core popular blabbering about the persons involved in the devlopments but the author weaves in quite advanced physics in a very nice way. I highly recommend this book if you have an understanding of physics on a basic university level of higher. If you don't I guess it will be rather difficult.

  • By Toby Allen on 1 February 2009

    I mistakenly thought this was a popular science exploration of Hydrogen, but found it to be a much more dry scientific trestise. I was hoping for something similar to The Shocking History of Phosphorus: A Biography of the Devil's Element


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