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Statistical Mechanics

Nature volume 140, pages 382384 (04 September 1937) | Download Citation



PROF. R. H. FOWLER'S monumental work on statistical mechanics has, in this the second edition, in his own modest words, been rearranged and brought more up to date. But the new volume is much more than a revision, in that it is explicitly based on quantum mechanics from the outset ; the first dynamical equation found written in the formal presentation is a wave-equation. Prof. Fowler states in justification that although classical mechanics is used to derive the quantum mechanics by a process of generalization, "once the laws of quantum mechanics have been thus guessed, as they must be before we can discuss the theorems of statistical mechanics, quantized systems naturally come first. In 1935 this attitude hardly needs apology". In consequence of this, the concluding chapter of the first edition, dealing with quantum statistics, has been incorporated in the new exposition from the start, and what is effectively the opening chapter is now doubled in length. Otherwise there is no change of general structure. But a comparison of the two editions shows that the chapter of the first edition entitled "Thermionics" is now more than four times as long, and contains a treatment of the electron theory of metals and of semi-conductors ; that the chapter on dielectrics and magnetic constants has been similarly extended, and now includes an account of ferro-magnetism ; lastly, there is a new concluding chapter on "co-operative" and other phenomena. The number of references is almost doubled. It is difficult to over-estimate the amount of work involved in thus re-writing and extending what was already an encyclopædic work.

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