Physics in the Making. Essays on Developments in 20th by M.J. Sparnaay, A. Sarlemijn

By M.J. Sparnaay, A. Sarlemijn

H.B.G. Casimir's lifestyles, pursuits and works are intertwined with the real advancements that experience taken position in physics in this century. This ebook used to be compiled via his buddies and admirers in honour of his eightieth birthday and concentrates frequently on Casimir's achievements within the box of physics, notwithstanding with no ignoring the peripheral components of the background and philosophy of physics within which he used to be significantly .

The publication is split into 4 components. half I describes Casimir's lecturers, Ehrenfest, Bohr and Pauli, and may be of basic curiosity because of the key function which those physicists performed in glossy advancements. The articles do supply new proof and supply new insights into the background of contemporary physics.

Part II involves essays on fresh advancements in a variety of components of physics within which Casimir has taken an lively curiosity, reminiscent of the trendy thought of time, statistical foundations of electrodynamic idea and box theory.

The matters lined partially III were chosen due to Casimir's efforts within the commercial study region of physics. They disguise previous, current and destiny expectancies in research.

Part IV comprises an essay which discusses a philosophy of physics presently less than dialogue, which states that phenomenological legislation be triumphant over primary ones for the aim of experimental and technical physics. A moment bankruptcy during this ultimate half offers a serious research of this philosophical view.

The publication is concluded via an appendix discussing Casimir's actions as a lecturer, written through a former student.

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Sample text

He called attention to the prob­ lematic character of Maxwell's factorization of the distribution function into the product of three functions, all of the same form but each depending on only one of the Cartesian components of the molecular velocity. " A deeper foundation for the fundamental distribution law was needed, and Ehrenfest proceeded to follow Maxwell and Boltzmann by introducing the mechanism that brings about and maintains the equilibrium distribu­ tion - the collisions between the moving molecules.

When Ehrenfest was visiting at another university and attended its physics colloquium, he applied the same standards that he did at home. Max Born described an Ehrenfest intervention at a Göttingen colloquium in the early 1920's. "He listened patiently for a while to the student, who was reporting on some subject; then he began to throw in short remarks and questions, which became more and more formidable and destructive. They came first from his seat on the front bench, but after a while he joined the student at the blackboard and involved him in a Socratic web of questions and answers, generally with the result that all of us, including the speaker, had the feeling to understand nothing of the problem.

Since the calculations involving collisions tend to be lengthy and complicated, and since the elaborate equations one derives can easily conceal the probabilistic assumptions made along the way and the real problems of interpreting these assumptions, Ehrenfest prefaced his treat­ ment with a characteristic maneuver. He discussed a model that was, in his word, a "caricature" of the actual problem of molecular collisions, a caricature that captured only its most crucial features. This caricaturemodel had the great advantage that its behavior could be analyzed in just a few lines of simple calculation, and so it could be used to "survey the logical connections" between assumptions and results that would other­ wise be buried in the equations.

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