Physics of the 20th Century


    THE story of the rise and development of twentieth century physics has been told so often and by so many 'leading world authorities', that, fascinating as it is, one's first reaction to any further author who proposes to guide the footsteps of the 'layman' along the now well-worn and familiar track is to ask (perhaps a little ungraciously): "Is your journey really necessary ? Have you some points of view of interest to disclose which your predecessors have missed, or some matters of moment to discuss which others have, perhaps, insufficiently considered?" It may be said at once that, in the case of Dr. Jordan, the answer is definitely in the affirmative. While some authors have dealt more fully, and perhaps more clearly, with the experimental discoveries upon which the concepts of the new physics are based, and others have expatiated on the impact of these discoveries on industry, commerce and the social order, to Dr. Jordan the main interest of the story is in its intellectual content; to him it is primarily a spiritual adventure. "Our most wonderful moments of scientific evolution," he writes in his preface, "are experienced when it is shown that we must revise our ideas from the ground up to agree with a new concept. Modern physics effected many such changes; and in the most fundamental respects. That is what this book would like to tell about."

    Physics of the 20th Century

    By Pascual Jordan. Translated by Eleanor Oshry. Pp. xii + 185. (New York: Philosophical Library, Inc., 1944.) 4 dollars.

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