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Fritz London
A Scientific Biography

$82.00 (P)

  • Date Published: November 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521023191

$ 82.00 (P)
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  • Fritz London was one of the twentieth century's key figures in the development of quantum physics. A quiet and self-effacing man, he was one of the founders of quantum chemistry, and was the first to give a phenomenological explanation of superconductivity. This thoroughly researched biography gives a detailed account of London's life and work in Munich, Berlin, Oxford, Paris, and finally in the United States. Also, by following his correspondence, collaborations, and controversies with other leading physicists and chemists including Erwin Schrödinger, Walter Heitler, Linus Pauling, Robert Mulliken, John van Vleck, Max von Laue, and Lev Landau, it examines the process by which scientific theories become legitimized. Covering a fascinating period in the development of theoretical physics, and containing an appraisal of London's work by the late John Bardeen, this book will be of great interest to physicists, chemists, and to anyone interested in the history of science.

    • In-depth study of a key figure in twentieth-century theoretical physics
    • Interesting disputes on key scientists
    • His life was signed by controversial European events
    • Afterword by John Bardeen, twice Nobel Prize winner
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Covering a fascinating period in the development of theoretical physics, and containing an appraisal of London's work by the late John Bardeen, this book will be of great interest to physicists, chemists, and to anyone interested in the history of science." Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society

    "Gavroglu has given proper attention to the physics, and has done particularly well to use it as a framework for the story of a troubled life. I am personally grateful for the full-length picture of a man from whom I learnt many things, who always had time for serious discussion and whose welcoming smile is among my happiest of memories." Sir Brian Pippard, Nature

    "The book itself is a microhistory of an age of exploration into the uncharted realms of chemistry and the quantum physics of superfluidity and conductivity, something that we may not experience for decades and perhaps longer..." The Chemist

    ""...this is truly a scientific biography; it is not simply a history of a scholar; it is a serious discussion of London's thought, his contributions to physics and his life....As such, I found it interesting and exciting." Russell J. Donnelly, American Journal of Physics

    "Gavroglu gives a fascinating account of London's peregrinations by sketching their political and social backgrounds, including the side trips to Leningrad and Rome. It is the historian's tour de force to produce such convincing background pictures with a few brush strokes....the definitive book on Fritz London's life and oeuvre...." Laszlo Tisza, Isis

    "It is organized to be accessible to less scientifically sophisticated readers. It contains much that will interest readers concerned with the public and private aspects of life as talented in important areas of modern physics and chemistry...Gavroglu has successfully interwoven the details that compose the tapestry of London's short life." American Historical Review

    "The book is organized to be accessible to less scientifically sophisticated readers. It contains much that will interest readers concerned with the public and private aspects of life as a scientist in the early twentieth century. london was talented in important areas of modern physics and chemistry....Gavroglu has successfully interwoven the details that compose the tapestry of London's short life." Katherine R. Sopka, American Historical Review

    "Superconductors are a hot research frontier. Electric conduction with no electrical resistance and at not too low temperatures suggests vast commercial profit....The liquid has the most peculiar properties, such as the ability to creep uphill. It will not solidify under its own pressure even at 0K. By far the most important step toward understanding the[se] phenomena writes John Bardeen in an afterward to Kostas Gavroglu's Fritz London: A Scientific Biography, was the recognition by Fritz London that both superconduction and superfluid helium are macroscopic quantum systems....The book also presents a very sensitive and human account of the lives of Fritz and Edith London as they responded to the slings and arrows of their outrageous fortunes." Chemical Heritage

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2005
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521023191
    • length: 324 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 170 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.515kg
    • contains: 22 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface
    Acknowledgements
    Part I. From Philosophy to Physics: The years that left nothing unaffected
    1. The appeal of ideas
    2. Goëthe as a scientist
    3. How absolute is our knowledge?
    4. How do we come to know things?
    5. London's teachers in philosophy
    6. Husserl's teachings
    7. Expectations of things to come
    8. The thesis in philosophy
    9. Tolman's principle of similitude
    10. The necessary clarifications
    11. Work on quantum theory
    12. Transformation theory
    13. Unsuccessful attempts at unification
    Part II. The Years in Berlin and the Beginnings of Quantum Chemistry: The mysterious bond
    14. London in Zürich
    15. Binding forces
    16. The Pauli principle
    17. Reactions to the Heitler-London paper
    18. Polyelectronic molecules and the application of group theory to problems of chemical valence
    19. Chemists as physicists?
    20. London's first contacts in Berlin
    21. Marriage
    22. Job offers
    23. Intermolecular forces
    24. The book which could not be written
    25. Leningrad and Rome
    26. Difficulties with group theory
    27. Linus Pauling's resonance structures
    28. Robert Mulliken's molecular orbitals
    Part III. Oxford and Superconductivity: The rise of the Nazis
    29. Going to Oxford
    30. Lindemann, Simon and Heinz London
    31. Electricity in the very cold
    32. The end of old certainties
    33. The thermodynamic treatment
    34. The theory of Fritz and Heinz London
    35. Initial reactions by von Laue
    36. The discussion at the Royal Society
    37. Termination of the ICI fellowship
    Part IV. Paris and Superfluidity: The Front Populaire
    38. The article in Nature 1937 and 'Nouvelle Conception'
    39. Laue again
    40. The structure of solid helium
    41. The peculiar properties of helium
    42. Bose-Einstein condensation
    43. The note in Nature
    44. The two-fluid model
    45. The trip to Jerusalem
    46. Leaving again
    47. The observer in quantum mechanics
    Part V. United States and the Typing up of Loose Ends: Duke University, North Carolina
    48. The Soviet Union, Kapitza and Landau
    49. The war years
    50. The 1946 Cambridge Conference
    Unsettled and unsettling issues in superfluidity and superconductivity
    51. Heisenberg's theory and London's program for a microscopic theory
    52. More problems with Laue
    Hopeful signs from helium-3
    53. 'Second sound' at very low temperatures
    54. Writing Superfluids
    55. The trip to Europe
    56. Some developments in superconductivity
    57. An ugly finale
    58. Could Landau be right?
    59. The worrisome realities of the post-war era
    60. The second volume of Superfluids
    61. William Fairbank
    62. Further developments
    63. The Lorentz Model
    64. Consultantship at Los Alamos and the interview for security clearance
    65. The last days
    List of publications of Fritz London
    Bibliography.

  • Author

    Kostas Gavroglu, National Technical University of Athens

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