HISTORY OF 20TH-CENTURY PHYSICS
Taught in 1997 by Joel Genuth at the University of Maryland, College Park 
 
Course requirements and textbooks

Weekly outline

Readings


Course Requirements and Grading

Two, one-hour exams (each counting for 15% of grade) 
One research paper, approximately 15 pages (30% of grade) 
One final exam (30% of grade) 
Class contributions (10% of grade) 

Course Readings

Galison, Peter and Bruce Hevly. Big Science: The Growth of Large-Scale Research. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992.
 

Jungnickel, Christa and Russell McCormmach. The Intellectual Mastery of Nature, vol. 2, The Now Mighty Theoretical Physics, 1870-1925. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.
 

Kevles, Daniel J. The Physicists: The History of a Scientific Community in Modern America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995.
 

Pais, Abraham. Inward Bound: Of Matter and Forces in the Physical World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
 

Additional Readings not in the assigned books will be xeroxed for your purchase or placed on reserve at Hornbake. 


Weeky Course Outline

Introduction: What history of science is about; what questions historians of science ask 

Weeks 1 & 2 The Institutions, Concepts, and Horizons of 19th-Century Physicists 

Weeks 3 & 4 Relativity Theorizing, Quantum Theorizing, and Experimental Techniques 

Week 5 Catch-up and First Hour Exam 

Weeks 6 & 7 Quantum Mechanics, Wave Mechanics, and "Crisis" in Physics 

Weeks 8 & 9 Physics American Style: Philanthropies, Industrial Laboratories, and the Creation of New Specialties 

Week 10 Second Hour Exam; meetings on term papers 

Weeks 11 & 12 Physicists and the U.S. Government in World War II Weeks 

13 & 14 Physicists in Germany and Russia; The Postwar Framework for Physics 


Readings

Weeks 1 and 2
Jungnickel: 1-32, 59-72, and 154-160. 
Kevles, 25-44, 60-74. 
"On Faraday's Lines of Force." The Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell, vol. 1, edited by W. D. Niven. Printed several times, most recently in New York: Dover, 1965. Read 156-209. 
This is a long assignment, but note that I have only assigned Parts 1 and 2 of an even longer paper. Think of this assignment as shock treatment in the problems of doing history as well as exposure to a seminal work of 19th-century physics. Can one read for the historically interesting content of an extended scientific treatise without getting absorbed in considering the the technical and logical soundness of the treatise? 
Maxwell, James Clerk "Molecules." In ibid., vol. 2, 361-377. 
Mach, Ernst. "The Economical Nature of Physical Inquiry" (1892). Pages 186-213 of Popular Scientific Lectures, first published in 1894 and reprinted numerous times. Translated by Thomas J. McCormack and printed in the United States at La Salle, Il: Open Court Publishing. 
Boltzmann, Ludwig. "On Energetics" (1896) and "On the Indispensability of Atomism in Natural Science" (1897). Pages 37-56 of Theoretical Physics and Philosophical Problems, edited by Brian McGuiness. Boston: D. Reidel, 1974. 

Weeks 3 and 4 
Jungnickel, 98-111 211-253, 323-334, and 304-323. 
Pais, 35-92, 163-207. 
Holton, Gerald. "Mach, Einstein, and the Search for Reality" and "Einstein, Michelson, and the ‘Crucial' Experiment." Pp. 237-370 of Thematic Origins of Scientfic Thought: Kepler to Einstein. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988. 
DON'T PANIC! Skip Sections III, IV, V, and IX of the latter. 
Holton, Gerald. "Of Physics, Love, and Other Passions: The Letters of Albert and Mileva." Pp. 45-73 of Einstein, History and Other Passions. Woodbury, NY: AIP Press, 1995. Concentrate on 59-64 and 69-72.
Kuhn, Thomas S. Black Body Theory and the Quantum Discontinuity, 1894-1912. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. Pp. 3-37 and and 92-187. 
Lorentz, H.A. "Michelson's Interference Experiment" (1895) and "Electromagnetic Phenomena in a System Moving with any Velocity Less than that of Light," (1904). Pp. 1-34 of The Principle of Relativity. New York: Dover, 1952. 
Einstein, Albert. "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies" (1905). Best translated in pp. 391-415 of Arthur I. Miller, Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity: Emergence (1905) and Early Interpretation. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1981. 
Cunningham, E. The Principle of Relativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1914. Pp. 193-204. 
Magie, W.F. "The Primary Concepts of Physics." Science, 35 (1912): 281-293. 
Planck, Max. "The Origin and Development of Quantum Theory" (1920). Pp. 159-179 of A Survey of Physics, transltated by R. Jones and D.H. Williams. London: Methuen, 1925. 
Rutherford, Ernest. "Scattering of and Particles by Matter and the Structure of the Atom." Originally in Philosophicl Magazine 21 (1911). 
Bohr, Niels. "On the Constitution of Atoms and Molecules." Philosophical Magazine 26 (1913): 1-25, 476-502, 857-875. 

Weeks 6 and 7
Pais, 208-220, 244-264 
Jungnickel, 348-372 
Bohr, Niels, H.A. Kramers, and J.C. Slater. "The Quantum Theory of Radiation." Originally in Philosophical Magazine 47(1924): 785-802. Reprinted on pp. 159-176 of Sources of Quantum Mechanics, B.L. Van der Waerden, editor. New York: Dover, 1967. 
Heisenberg, Werner. "Quantum-Theoretical Reinterpretation of Kinematic and Mechanical Relations" (1925). Originally in Zeitschrift für Physik. Translated and reprinted on pp. 261-276 of Sources of Quantum Mechanics.
de Broglie, Louis. "Investigations on Quantum Theory" (1925). Originally in Annales de Physique, translated and reprinted on pp. 73-93 of Wave Mechanics, edited by Gunther Ludwig. New York: Pergamon Press, 1968. 
Schrödinger, Erwin. "Quantization as an Eigenvalue Problem" (1926), first and second communications. And "On the Relationship of the Heisenberg-Born-Jordan Quantum Mechanics to Mine" (1926). All originally in Annalen der Physik. All translated and reprinted on pp. 94-150 of Wave Mechanics.
Born, Max. "Physical Aspects of Quantum Mechanics." Nature 119 (1927): 354-357. 
Bohr, Niels. "The Quantum Postulate and the Recent Development of Atomic Theory," (1927). Originally published in Nature, reprinted on pp. 52-91 of Bohr's Atomic Theory and the Description of Nature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961. 
Bohr, Niels. "Discussion with Einstein on Epistemological Problems in Atomic Physics." Pp. 199-242 of Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, edited by Paul Schilpp. New York: Tudor, 1949. 
Einstein, Albert. "Reply to Criticisms." Pp. 665-688 of ibid.
Einstein, Albert, B. Podolsky, and N. Rosen. "Can Quantum-mechanical Description of Physical Reality be Considered Complete?" Physical Review 47 (1935): 777-780. 

Weeks 8 and 9
Kevles, 25-101, 170-235. 
Pais, 296-323, 397-444 
Seidel in Galison, 21-45 
Hounshell in Galison, 236-261 
Servos, John W. "Mathematics and the physical sciences in America, 1880-1930." Isis 77 (1986): 611-629. 
Dupree, Science in the Federal Government, 271-301. 
Weart, Spencer. "The Physics Business in America, 1919-1940: A Statistical Reconnaissance." In The Sciences in the American Context: New Perspectives, edited by Nathan Reingold. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979: 295-358. 
Reich, Leonard S. The Making of American Industrial Research: Science and Business at GE and Bell, 1876-1926. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Chapters 5 and 8 
Kohler, Robert E. Partners in Science: Foundations and Natural Scientists, 1900-1945. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. 201-263. 
Weart, Spencer. "The Solid Community." In Lillian Hoddeson, et. al, eds., Out of the Crystal Maze: Chapters from the History of Solid-State Physics. Oxford and New York, Oxford Univ. Press: 1992. 
Compton, Karl T. "Physics in 1931," MIT Archives, Speech File, 77-60, Box 1. 
Corbino, Orso Mario. "The New Goals of Experimental Physics," translated by Fausta Segrè, Minerva, 9 (1971), 530-538; originally "I nuovi compiti della fisica sperimentale," Atti Società Italiana Progresso delle Scienze, 18 (1929), 1157. 

Weeks 11 and 12
Kevles, 252-266, 287-323 
Hoddeson in Galison, 265-289 
Dupree, A. Hunter. "The Great Instauration of 1940: The Organization of Scientific Research for War." Pp. 443-467 of The Twentieth-Century Sciences, Gerald Holton editor. New York: Norton, 1970. 
Genuth, Joel. "Microwave Radar, the Atomic Bomb, and the Background to U.S. Research Priorities in World War II." Science, Technology, and Human Values, 13 (1988): 276-289. 

Weeks 13 and 14
Kevles, 324-392 
Galison, Hevley, and Lowen in Galison and Hevley, 46-77 
Schweber in Galison and Hevley, 149-183. 
Needell in Galison and Hevley, 290-311. 
Neufeld, Michael. "The guided missile and the Third Reich: Peenemunde and the forging of a technological revolutionon." In Science, technology, and national socialism, edited by Monika Renneberg and Mark Walker. Cambridge [England] and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994. 
Wise, M. Norton. "Pascual Jordan : quantum mechanics, psychology, National Socialism" in the same volume as the Neufeld. 
Walker, Mark. Nazi science: myth, truth, and the German atomic bomb. New York: Plenum Press, 1995. Pp. 183-242. 
Holloway, David. Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy 1939-1956. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994. Pp. 8-48, 134-149, 172-223. 
Jeffries, Zay , et al. "Prospectus on Nucleonics." Franck, James, et al. "The Franck Report." Rabinowitch, Eugene. "Memo to the Committee on Panel Discussions, July 12, 1945." All published as Appendices on pp. 539-575 of Smith, Alice K., A Peril and a Hope: The Scientists' Movement in America, 1945-1947. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965. 
Bush, Vannevar. Science the Endless Frontier: A Report to the President on a Program for Postwar Scientific Research. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1945. Pp. 1-12, 17-22, 70-117. 


 

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