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Einstein and the Quantum

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition ix Acknowledgments ix Introduction A Hundred Times More Than Relativity Theory 1 Chapter 1 "An Act of Desperation" 5 Chapter 2 The Impudent Swabian 15 Chapter 3 The Gypsy Life 21 Chapter 4 Two Pillars of Wisdom 26 Chapter 5 The Perfect Instruments of the Creator 36 Chapter 6 More Heat Than Light 44 Chapter 7 Difficult Counting 51 Chapter 8 Those Fabulous Molecules 62 Chapter 9 Tripping the Light Heuristic 70 Chapter 10 Entertaining the Contradiction 80 Chapter 11 Stalking the Planck 86 Chapter 12 Calamity Jeans 94 Chapter 13 Frozen Vibrations 103 Chapter 14 Planck's Nobel Nightmare 111 Chapter 15 Joining the Union 122 Chapter 16 Creative Fusion 129 Chapter 17 The Importance of Being Nernst 141 Chapter 18 Lamenting the Ruins 149 Chapter 19 A Cosmic Interlude 160 Chapter 20 Bohr's Atomic Sonata 168 Chapter 21 Relying on Chance 181 Chapter 22 Chaotic Ghosts 193 Chapter 23 Fifteen Million Minutes of Fame 204 Chapter 24 The Indian Comet 215 Chapter 25 Quantum Dice 228 Chapter 26 The Royal Marriage: E = mc2 = hnu 241 Chapter 27 The Viennese Polymath 254 Chapter 28 Confusion and Then Uncertainty 268 Chapter 29 Nicht diese Tone 279 Appendix 1: The Physicists 287 Appendix 2: The Three Thermal Radiation Laws 291 Notes 295 References 319 Index 325

About the Author

A. Douglas Stone is the Carl A. Morse Professor of Applied Physics and Physics at Yale University.


Winner of the 2014 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, Phi Beta Kappa Society One of Physics World's Top Ten Books of the Year for 2014 One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2014 One of Scientific American's Best 2013 Books for the Physics Fan, chosen by Jennifer Ouellette One of Science Friday's Science Book Picks for 2013, chosen by Ira Flatow One of's "Holiday Gift Books Span the Science Spectrum" for 2014 "Brief, pacey and lucid... The breadth and depth of Einstein's contribution in this area becomes overwhelmingly clear... Worth a read because it demonstrates that there is more to Einstein's oeuvre than even most quantum physicists know. Stone concludes that Einstein's work was worthy of four Nobel prizes, and it is a measure of the book's achievement that his claim sounds quite reasonable."--Graham Farmelo, Nature "Albert Einstein (1879-1955) is as famous for his paradigm-shifting theories of relativity as he is for his grudge against quantum mechanics, but Stone's (Physics/Yale Univ.) engaging history of Einstein's ardent search for a unifying theory tells a different story. Einstein's creative mind was behind almost every single major development in quantum mechanics... The author adeptly weaves his subject's personal life and scientific fame through the tumult of world war and, in accessible and bright language, brings readers deep into Einstein's struggle with both the macroscopic reality around him and the quantum reality he was trying to unlock... A wonderful reminder that Einstein's monumental role in the development of contemporary science is even more profound than history has allowed."--Kirkus Reviews "A fascinating book, so well written lay people can easily understand this. It is full of science and personality."--Ira Flatow, Science Friday, NPR "In Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian (Princeton University Press), a historical analysis leavened by many personal stories about Albert Einstein, A. Douglas Stone argues persuasively and engagingly that although this iconic scientist rejected quantum theory as a final theory of microscopic physics, he was responsible for most of its central concepts, including wave-particle duality, indeterminacy and the implications of identicalness."--Sir Michael Berry, Times Higher Education "Professor Douglas Stone has written an engaging book about Einstein's contributions to early quantum theory. He makes a convincing case that these contributions, most of which were made in the 20 year period between 1905 and 1925, have been historically undervalued and that it was Einstein himself, not Planck or Bohr, who deserves most credit for the initial development of quantum theory... Excellent."--Paul Edwards, Australian Physics "This is an excellent book that I recommend without reservation... Any academic library should acquire this book as should any medium-to-large public library system. It would also make a wonderful gift for the physics or science fan in your life."--John Dupuis, Confessions of a Science Librarian "In consummate detail and with a flair for the written word, [Stone] delves into Einstein's original rationale for espousing the quantum, his use of it to account for the mysterious behavior of specific heats at low temperatures, his explanations of spontaneous and stimulated emissions, and the derivation of the statistics of integer-spin particles. Readers benefit from Stone's deep understanding of quantum physics as well as his thoroughness in citing primary Einstein documents--rather than regurgitating the opinions of others--to support his conclusions... There are only a few books on the history of physics that I can heartily recommend to both scholarly historians and physicists interested in the history of their discipline. Because of Stone's extensive research and writing abilities, Einstein and the Quantum is indeed one of those books."--Michael Riordan, Forum on the History of Physics "Einstein and the Quantum is delightful to read, with numerous historical details that were new to me and cham1ing vignettes of Einstein and his colleagues. By avoiding mathematics, Stone makes his book accessible to general readers, but even physicists who are well versed in Einstein and his physics are likely to find new insights into the most remarkable mind of the modern era."--Daniel Kleppner, Physics Today "This engaging book shows that Einstein spent more of his career on quantum physics than on relativity theory and was deeply involved in discussions that shaped current understanding of the subject... His well-written book makes often-trod history fresh, with new perspectives and unfamiliar quotations from Einstein and his peers. Anyone with an interest in the subject, from scholars to laypersons, can read and enjoy this book."--Choice "The book is probably best suited to readers who are already familiar with the basic principles of late classical and early quantum physics. However, in many cases, Stone's explanations are better and more intuitive than those found in traditional textbooks; for this reason, Einstein and the Quantum would make excellent 'further reading' for undergraduate courses in thermodynamics, modern physics or the history of science. Stone also has a knack for summing up complex ideas in a way that even novices will understand."--Physics World "A five star, standout book... If you really want a feel for where quantum physics came from ... it is well worth it."--Popular Science (U.K.) "Stone is a talented writer. Employing a sharp, clean and ironic prose, he translates into intuitive images and limpid reasoning a set of complex physics arguments, which might appear at first sight incomprehensible without a clear understanding of the technical terms. It is remarkable that the author manages to do this by employing just a handful of elementary equations. Even the uninitiated reader can grasp the essential features of Einstein's groundbreaking proposals as well as of the theoretical problems he was facing. In my opinion, this is the major strength of Stone's book, which makes it much more accessible than other scholarly works that present Einstein's involvement in the development of quantum theory in a more technical fashion."--Roberto Lalli, Metascience "[S]ome background knowledge in physics is required in order to understand the discipline-specific terminology and to fully appreciate the depth of Stone's elaborations. Having said that, even specialized physicists will not be disappointed by the author's scholarly efforts."--Christopher B. Germann, Leonardo Reviews "This excellent book can be best recommended to everybody interested is the early history of quantum theory and the impact of A. Einstein."--K. E. Hellwig, Zentralblatt MATH

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