(1) Introduction to Atomic Spectra (2) The Theory of Atomic Spectra

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Abstract

THE experimental study of atomic spectra has a long and distinguished history. Even the descriptive analysis of spectra in terms of series and term values the systematic botany of spectra has a history of some sixty years. It is only, however, since Bohr's explanation of the hydrogen spectrum in 1913, and still more since his further work in 1921 explaining the structure of the periodic table of the elements, that any fundamental theory of atomic spectra has been available, or any rapid advance in observation or systematics has been made. Indeed no such advance was previously feasible, even on the experimental side, for the experimenter did not know what to look for. The field of atomic spectra provides in fact a perfect example of the way in which experiment and theory can react fruitfully on each other, yielding advances in our understanding of the field at a rate which could scarcely have been anticipated even by the most optimistic. Since 1921 the advance has been so rapid that it is fair to say, as Condon and Shortley do in their introduction, that the interpretation of atomic spectra is now finished in broad outline. All known features of atomic spectra have been at least semi-quantita-tively explained in terms of the nuclear atom, strictly according to the laws of quantum mechanics. The period of fruitful research in atomic spectra is not thereby closed, for there remain many important details to be elucidated further, and the proper relativistic theory of the many-electron system to formulate. None the less an epoch is ended.

(1) Introduction to Atomic Spectra

By Prof. H. E. White. (International Series in Physics.) Pp. xii + 457. (New York and London: McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., 1934.) 30s. net.

(2) The Theory of Atomic Spectra

By Prof. E. U. Condon Dr. G. H. Shortley. Pp. xiv + 442. (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1935.) 42s. net.

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