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Sources of Quantum Mechanics (Dover Books on Physics) [Paperback]

B. L. van der Waerden , Physics
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 2, 2007 048645892X 978-0486458922
Max Planck's famous lecture of 1900 expressed quantum theory in its essential form, but his statement was just the beginning. This volume features seventeen early papers that developed quantum theory into its modern form. These papers appeared from 1917 to 1926 and were written by the leading physicists of the early twentieth century.
The collection begins with Einstein's "On the Quantum Theory of Radiation," an illuminating derivation of Planck's Law. Other important early papers by Ehrenfest, Bohr, Born, Van Vleck, Kuhn, and others prepared the way for the "turning point" in quantum mechanics. This crucial step is taken in Heisenberg's paper "Quantum-Theoretical Re-Interpretation of Kinematic and Mechanical Relations." Additional papers by Born, Dirac, Pauli, and Jordan develop the theory in full. Eleven of these seventeen papers are reproduced unabridged; all are in English.
A 59-page historical introduction by the editor, Professor B. L. van der Waerden, provides connective commentary. Quoting from relevant correspondence, noting the thinking behind each discovery, and evaluating the extent of each individual's contribution, it re-creates the era's intellectual foment and excitement.

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Sources of Quantum Mechanics (Dover Books on Physics) + The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory + Lectures on Quantum Mechanics
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Physics
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (February 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048645892X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486458922
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #962,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By qp~h SH
It's no wonder some might feel frustrated or discouraged reading the papers in this collection. Even though those papers were written several decades ago, they had been all forefront research papers then. Some papers should be difficult even for a physics major if one is not in the specific field; some are difficult because of the usage of "old-style" notations such as writing matrix equations in a certain way; still you may find a couple papers very much readable even with a minimal amount of training in mathematical skills.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, but... April 16, 2013
By Justin
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This goes beyond a simple collection of the translated papers (which could probably be found free of charge elsewhere): it starts with a 60-page introduction where the author summarizes each paper, giving its context in the development of quantum physics broadly, and its relation to the other papers in particular -- but even beyond that, the editor provides plentiful background, clarification and anecdotes from his (obviously voluminous) personal correspondence with the authors.

My one gripe: while all of the actual papers are provided in English, the editor gives quotations from correspondence (both his own and that between the authors and their collaborators) in the original language (mostly German) without translation. This isn't an insurmountable barrier to understanding the gist, but it seems like an odd choice in a collection of translated articles.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where is Schroedinger's paper? May 1, 2011
This book collects seventeen papers which contributed to laying down the foundations of quantum mechanics. Part I comprises eleven papers (1-11) dealing with the old quantum theory of the pre-Heisemberg period 1900-1925; Part II contains six papers (12-17) concerned with the new quantum theory. Paper nr. 12 is the famous Heisemberg's 1925 paper written when the brilliant, young physicist stationed in Heligoland (or Helgoland in German), an island in the North Sea, while recovering from an attack of hay fever. This paper is well known for it being difficult to read since Heisemberg assumed that several equations were known to his colleagues and, hence, spared them of all the mathematical derivations. Help comes from the author, Dutch mathematician and historian of science professor van der Waerden, who included inside the Introduction a summary of paper 12 (see page 28). The remaining papers in Part II were authored by Born, Jordan, Dirac, and Pauli. A mysterious surprise is the absence of any paper written by Schroedinger, the Austrian physicist who is credited, together with Heisemberg and Dirac, of being the father of quantum mechanics (for his biography see Moore's book: "Schroedinger: Life and Thought"). In 1926 he wrote in the journal Annalen der Physik four important papers, one of which introduces the famous Schroedinger eigenvalue equation. The exclusion from Part II of Schroedinger's paper(s) is puzzling while the book index associates to his name only three pages (52, 56, and 379). This absence (it would be interesting to know why) forced me to assign it only three stars.
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6 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Over My Head August 31, 2007
I have read several dozen books on the subject of Cosmology and related topics. This is a technically oriented book filled with intricate mathematical formulas and is clearly geared for advanced students. I am not shy about mathematics or formulas as a rule and have handled other books on Quantum mechanics, relativity and physics but this book was just over my head.
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