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The Tiger and the Shark

The early twentieth century brought about the rejection by physicists of the doctrine of determinism - the belief that complete knowledge of the initial conditions of an interaction in nature allows precise and unambiguous prediction of the outcome. This book traces the origins of a central problem leading to this change in viewpoint and paradoxes raised by attempts to formulate a consistent theory of the nature of light. It outlines the different approaches adopted by members of different national cultures to the apparent inconsistencies, explains why Einstein's early (1905) attempt at a resolution was not taken seriously for fifteen years, and describes the mixture of ideas that created a route to a new, antideterministic formulation of the laws of nature. Dr Wheaton describes the experimental work on the new forms of radiation found at the turn of the century and shows how the interpretation of energy transfer from X-rays to matter gradually transformed a classical wave explanation of light to one based on particle like quanta of energy, and further, he explains how influential scientists came reluctantly to accept a wave like interpretation of matter as well. This new and distinctively different account of one of the major theoretical shifts in modern physical thought will be of fundamental interest to physical scientists and philosophers, as well as to historians of science.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Thomas S. Kuhn; Preface; Notes on sources; 1. Introduction; Part I. The Introduction of Temporal Discontinuity, 1896-1905: 2. The electromagnetic impulse hypothesis of x-rays; 3. The analogy between y-rays and x-rays; Part II. Ionization and the Recognition of Paradox, 1906-1910: 4. Secondary rays: British attempts to retain mechanism; 5. The appeal in Germany to the quantum theory; Part III. Seeking an Electrodynamic Solution, 1907-1912: 6. Localized energy in spreading impulses; 7. Problems with visible light; Part IV. Interference of X-Rays and the Corrobation of Paradox, 1912-1922: 8. Origins of x-ray spectroscopy; 9. Quantum transformation experiments; Part V. The Conceptual Origins of Wave-Particle Dualism, 1921-1925: 10. Synthesis of matter and light; Epilogue: The tiger and the shark; Bibliography; Index.


"...attention to this early work is clearly of contemporary, and not just historical or pedagogic, interest. The author is to be warmly commended for performing this task in such a clear and useful fashion." Physics Today "...the symmetry and novelty of Wheaton's narrative are beautiful...the metaphysical problem so profound that careful readers will be well rewarded." American Historical Review "...will be a delight to historians and philosophers of science. Meticulously researched, it exposes the reader to hitherto obscure manuscripts relating the story of experimental research in the x-ray and ^D*g-ray regions of the spectrum from the end of the last through the first quarter of this century...This fine book will undoubtedly be a valuable addition to the history of this golden age of physics..." Edward L. O'Neill, Optics & Photonics News

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