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Superconductivity: A Very Short Introduction [Paperback]

Stephen J. Blundell
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 15, 2009 019954090X 978-0199540907 1st
Superconductivity--the flow of electric current without resistance in certain materials as temperatures near absolute zero--is one of the greatest discoveries of 20th century physics, but it can seem impenetrable to those who lack a solid scientific background. Outlining the fascinating history of how superconductivity was discovered, and the race to understand its many mysterious and counter-intuitive phenomena, Stephen Blundell explains in accessible terms the theories that have been developed to explain it, and how they have influenced other areas of science, including the Higgs boson of particle physics and ideas about the early Universe. This Very Short Introduction examines the many strange phenomena observed in superconducting materials, the latest developments in high-temperature superconductivity, the potential of superconductivity to revolutionize the physics and technology of the future, and much more. It is a fascinating detective story, offering invaluable insights into some of the deepest and most beautiful ideas in physics today.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

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Editorial Reviews


"Superconductivity is an excellent addition to Oxford's 'Very Short Introductions' series. Blundell effectively weaves the history of discovery with theoretical understanding in a seamless, entertaining fashion. The reader is provided with both the progression of ideas and an insightful glimpse at the personalities involved in unraveling the phenomenon of superconductivity...Highly recommended." --CHOICE Reviews

About the Author

Stephen Blundell is Professor of Physics at Oxford University. He was joint winner of the Daiwa-Adrian Prize in 1999 for his work on organic magnets.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (July 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019954090X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199540907
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 4.3 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent History and Physics July 15, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This short introduction does a very good job of explaining both the relevant physics and the history of superconductivity. The author begins by tracing back to the roots of low temperature physics and explains how advances led to the discovery of superconductivity. This historical approach of tracing the ideas as they happened is used throughout the book, and is very helpful in guiding the discussion about what superconductivity is, and the possible mechanism through which it works; it allows you to understand the evolution of physicists' thoughts on superconductivity and have an idea of the progress made in the past century (and of the amount of progress that still needs to be made). This approach also works to bring the human element into the picture, often talking about the physicists who made the discoveries (giving some attention to two-time Nobel Prize winner John Bardeen).

In the end, superconductivity remains to be thoroughly understood, and the author does a good job explaining in a non-technical manner what is understood about superconductivity, and, perhaps as importantly, what is not fully understood. The author also points to the very important applications of superconductors in the modern world and possible future uses.

If you are interested in physics, condensed matter in general is an underrepresented subject for popular audiences, and this book does an excellent job of not only remedying this, but showing that this branch of physics can be just as interesting as particle and astrophysics.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More is different June 23, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The twentieth century was replete with profound new discoveries in Physics that radically reshaped the way we think about the world around us. In a nutshell, we can think of these conceptual breakthroughs in terms of two simple slogans: "small is different" and "more is different." "Small is different" refers to the fact that when we look at the world at the very smallest scale the usual laws of everyday Physics start to break down. We are unable to determine position of objects with any finite certainty, objects seem to be able to be at two possible locations at a same time, and properties of objects don't vary smoothly but come in terms of discrete values. The realm of the very smallest is investigated in the parts of Physics that we call Quantum Mechanics (see for instance Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)) and Particle Physics (see for instance Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction. When we think of modern Physics, this is usually what we first have in mind. However, another important conceptual line of investigation is encapsulated in the other phrase, "more is different." This refers to the fact that many times, a whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and under certain conditions it is impossible to understand the behavior of a system of particles just by understanding the properties of individual particles. In fact, in some cases the notion of individual particle itself becomes suspect. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good read! November 6, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is really good. Reading this short book gave me incentive to look for more information on this aspect of physics. As an introduction to superconductivity, it is excellant.
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