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Atomic Physics

The Los Alamos Primer: The First Lectures on How To Build an Atomic Bomb

The Los Alamos Primer: The First Lectures on How To Build an  Atomic Bomb Lowest new price: $36.36
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Author: Robert Serber
Brand: Robert Serber

The classified lectures that galvanized the Manhattan Project scientists—with annotations for the nonspecialist reader and an introduction by a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian.

In March 1943 a group of young scientists, sequestered on a mesa near Santa Fe, attended a crash course in the new atomic physics. The lecturer was Robert Serber, J. Robert Oppenheimer's protégé, and they learned that their job was to invent the world's first atomic bomb.

Serber's lecture notes, nicknamed the "Los Alamos Primer," were mimeographed and passed from hand to hand, remaining classified for many years. They are published here for the first time, and now contemporary readers can see just how much was known and how terrifyingly much was unknown when the Manhattan Project began. Could this "gadget," based on the newly discovered principles of nuclear fission, really be designed and built? Could it be small enough and light enough for an airplane to carry? If it could be built, could it be controlled?

Working with Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of the development of the atomic bomb, Professor Serber has annotated original lecture notes with explanations of the physics terms for the nonspecialist. His preface, an informal memoir, vividly conveys the mingled excitement, uncertainty, and intensity felt by the Manhattan Project scientists. Rhodes's introduction provides a brief history of the development of atomic physics up to the day that Serber stood before his blackboard at Los Alamos. In this edition, The Los Alamos Primer finally emerges from the archives to give a new understanding of the very beginning of nuclear weapons. No seminar anywhere has had greater historical consequences.

In April 1943, a young physicist named Robert Serber stood up before a small group of fellow scientists in a laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and, as one attendee later recalled, began to speak in "a hazy, uncertain voice" about the project on which they would all be working. "The object," he said, "is to produce a practical military weapon in the form of a bomb in which the energy is released by a fast neutron chain reaction in one or more of the materials known to show nuclear fission." That mechanism, of course, was the atomic bomb, which a little more than two years later would be used against Japan.

In the following weeks, Serber touched on many themes, racing to an array of chalkboards to scribble complex formulas and equations. Among other things, he addressed how big a bomb would need to be in order to achieve critical mass--between 13.5 centimeters and 9 centimeters, he calculated--and what the probability of premature detonation might be. (It was, he concluded, always a danger.) At the end of the series, his lecture notes, classified as top secret, were gathered and printed for distribution to later cadres of scientists who came to work at Los Alamos. Years after the war they were declassified, and Serber, who died in May of 1997, took the opportunity to reflect on his work and the strange culture of the laboratory, adding postscripts and other commentary reproduced in the present edition.

Serber's book is an important document in the history of science, and remains one of the most accessible introductions to nuclear physics ever written. (On that note, those who worry that it is all too easy to find bomb-building instructions in the library or on the Web should rest assured: these lectures were tough for the greatest theoretical physicists of the time to follow.) It all makes for provocative reading. --Gregory McNamee


  • The Los Alamos Primer The First Lectures on How To Build an Atomic Bomb

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Why the Universe Exists: How particle physics unlocks the secrets of everything (Instant Expert)

Why the Universe Exists: How particle physics unlocks the secrets of everything (Instant Expert) Lowest new price: $12.87
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Author: New Scientist


As you read this, billions of neutrinos from the sun are passing through your body, antimatter is sprouting from your dinner and the core of your being is a chaotic mess of particles known only as quarks and gluons.

Following the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson, Why The Universe Exists takes you deeper into the world of particle physics, exploring how the universe functions at the smallest scales.

Find out about the hunt for dark matter, discover how accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider are rewinding time to the first moments after the big bang, and learn how ghostly neutrino particles may hold the answers to the greatest mysteries of the universe.

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Atom: Journey Across the Subatomic Cosmos

Atom: Journey Across the Subatomic Cosmos Lowest new price: $11.51
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Author: Isaac Asimov
Brand: Isaac Asimov

“Amazing… If you’ve been searching for a basic text on how the atom works, this is it.” —Booklist
“A masterpiece.”—Omni
The legendary Isaac Asimov starts what is perhaps the most fascinating of all his books with a simple query: how finely can a piece of matter be divided? But like many simple questions, this one leads us on a far-flung quest for a final answer, a search that becomes a series of beautifully structured building blocks of knowledge.
It begins with the earliest speculations and investigations by the Greeks and Romans, and then, step by step and century by century, it traces the path of discovery that revealed more and more of the nature of the atom, of light, of gravity, of the electromagnetic force—and even the nature and structure of the universe.
Atom also encompasses such phenomena as light and electricity; the protons, neutrons and quarks that are the fundamental units of the universe; hard-to-observe “anti-particles”; and other strange bits of matter that challenge our assumptions about the very nature of space and time.
Atom is the only book of its kind, by the renowned author whose genius for bringing clarity and excitement to complex subjects has made him the most celebrated science author of our time.


  • Atom Journey Across the Subatomic Cosmos

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The End of the Certain World: The Life and Science of Max Born

The End of the Certain World: The Life and Science of Max Born Lowest new price: $63.54
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Author: Nancy Thorndike Greenspan
Brand: Brand: Basic Books

In 1920, Albert Einstein wrote to Max Born, “Theoretical physics will flourish wherever you happen to be; there is no other Born to be found in Germany today.” The End of the Certain World presents for the first time Born's full story: Nobel physicist, a discoverer of quantum theory, exile from Hitler's Germany, teacher of nine Nobel physicists. Born's role in the “Golden Age of Physics” helped to shape the science of the twentieth century and open the door to the modern era. Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller, and Eugene Wigner, among others, flocked to Göttingen, Germany in the 1920's to work with Born, the physicist who had discovered one of the most profound principles of the century - the physics of indeterminacy. In a cruel twist of fate Born, a pacifist who loved science for its beauty, had educated these renowned scientists who developed the atom bomb. Not everyone embraced Born's revolutionary quantum principle. Throughout much of his forty year friendship with Einstein, the two debated the nature of the universe - deterministic versus non-deterministic - with Einstein declaring “God does not play dice”, even though the Nobel Committee supported Born's position when they awarded him the 1954 Prize. A social history and a history of science as well as an intimate biography, The End of the Certain World reveals the story of a great physicist and humanitarian and his struggle with the forces of religion, politics, and war during the upheavals of the twentieth century.


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The Plutonium Story: The Journals of Professor Glenn T. Seaborg 1939-1946

The Plutonium Story: The Journals of Professor Glenn T. Seaborg 1939-1946 Lowest new price: $125.32
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Author: Glenn T. Seaborg

This book chronicles on a day-to-day basis the astounding story of the discovery of plutonium and the feverish activities to unlock its secrets and enhance its productivity to the levels necessary for the building of an atomic bomb in World War II by its discoverer, Professor Glenn T. Seaborg. Seaborg, who shared the 1951 nobel Prize in Chemistry with his colleague Edwin T. McMillan, was a meticulous diarist whose detailed records of thousands of pages have been edited and supplied with accompanying notes by a trio consisting of a professional scientist with a strong interest in history and two professional historians of science. The work provides not only the step by step description of the scientific activities and the thought processes of Seaborg and his team throughout the war years, but also gives keen insight into the operation of the Manhattan District and of the scientists who played an important role in its functions. Virtually all of the players are identified in the annotations, which also serve to explain the significance of key events and findings as well as obscure or arcane scientific procedures.
The professional chemist or nuclear scientist will find this an exciting and compelling saga of a great scientific discovery, carried out in a bygone era of unfettered and productive science that is not likely to occur again. The copious annotations and identifications not only add to the story, but make this a vital and necessary reading and reference source not only for the historian of science, but for those interested in the behind the scenes history of World War II and the Manhattan District.

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Critical Assembly: A Technical History of Los Alamos during the Oppenheimer Years, 1943-1945

Critical Assembly: A Technical History of Los Alamos during the Oppenheimer Years, 1943-1945 Lowest new price: $59.48
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Author: Lillian Hoddeson
Brand: Cambridge University Press

This volume is a lucid and accurate history of the technical research that led to the first atomic bombs. The authors explore how the "critical assembly" of scientists, engineers, and military personnel at Los Alamos, responding to wartime deadlines, collaborated to create a new approach to large-scale research. The book opens with an introduction laying out major themes. After a synopsis of the prehistory of the bomb project, from the discovery of nuclear fission to the start of the Manhattan Engineer District, and an overview of the early materials program, the book examines the establishment of the Los Alamos Laboratory, the implosion and gun assembly programs, nuclear physics research, chemistry and metallurgy, explosives, uranium and plutonium development, confirmation of spontaneous fission in pile-produced plutonium, the thermonuclear bomb, critical assemblies, the Trinity test, and delivery of the combat weapons.


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Elementary Atomic Structure

Elementary Atomic Structure Lowest new price: $56.01
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Author: G. K. Woodgate
Brand: G K Woodgate

Elementary Atomic Structure


  • Elementary Atomic Structure

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An Introduction to Graphene Plasmonics

An Introduction to Graphene Plasmonics Lowest new price: $48.16
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Author: Paulo Andre Dias Goncalves
Brand: Ingramcontent

"The authors have aimed to make their book as self-contained as possible, so they discuss all of the relevant aspects of the topic. The book is intended both for students of and newcomers to the field, but it could also be a reference for researchers already working on graphene plasmonics." Cern Courier This book is meant as an introduction to graphene plasmonics and aims at the advanced undergraduate and graduate students entering the field of plasmonics in graphene. In it different theoretical methods are introduced, starting with an elementary description of graphene plasmonics and evolving towards more advanced topics. This book is essentially self-contained and brings together a number of different topics about the field that are scattered in the vast literature. The text is composed of eleven chapters and of a set of detailed appendices. It can be read in two different ways: Reading only the chapters to get acquainted with the field of plasmonics in graphene or reading the chapters and studying the appendices to get a working knowledge of the topic. The study of the material in this book will bring the students to the forefront of the research in this field.


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Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, and the Bomb

Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, and the Bomb Lowest new price: $11.41
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Author: David C. Cassidy
Brand: David C Cassidy

“A fascinating, well-documented biography.” —New York Times Book Review

“A monumental effort.” —New York Review of Books

“An excellent piece of science writing. . . . Cassidy does not so much exculpate Heisenberg as explain him, with a transparency that makes this biography a pleasure to read.” —Los Angeles Times

“Cassidy has written the definitive biography of a great and tragic physicist.” —Richard Rhodes, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, long-suppressed information has emerged on Werner Heisenberg’s role in the Nazi atomic bomb project. In Beyond Uncertainty, Cassidy interprets this and other previously unknown material within the context of his vast research and tackles the vexing questions of a scientist’s personal responsibility and guilt when serving an abhorrent military regime.

David C. Cassidy is the author of Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, and the Bomb; A Short History of Physics in the American Century; J. Robert Oppenheimer and the American Century; and Einstein and Our World. He is the recipient of the Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics from the American Physical Society, the Science Writing Award from the American Institute of Physics, the Pfizer Award from the History of Science Society, and an honorary doctorate from Purdue University. Dr. Cassidy is Professor of Natural Sciences at Hofstra University and resides in Bay Shore, New York.


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Atomic and Electronic Structure of Solids

Atomic and Electronic Structure of Solids Lowest new price: $93.49
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Author: Efthimios Kaxiras
Brand: Brand: Cambridge University Press

This graduate textbook designed for students in physics, chemistry and materials science provides a modern treatment of the theory of solids dealing with the physics of electron and phonon states in crystals and how they determine the structure and properties of solids. The first part of the book deals with electrons and atoms in a crystal, and the second part extends the discussion to defects in crystals and to structures without crystalline symmetry. There are numerous exercises throughout and appendices to provide the necessary background.


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