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Physics: A Short History from Quintessence to Quarks

Popular Science
An engaging narrative, describing and explaining the transformations undergone by physics during its 2,500 years of development from its origins in Ancient Greece to its current worldwide cultivation
Explores the emergence of "physics" as a distinct field of study and its changing relations with mathematics, experiment, technology, ethics, and the societies that have supported it
Discusses the limits of our knowledge, and the questions physics has yet to answer

By: John L Heilbron (Author)

208 pages, 20+ b/w illustrations

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Oct 2015 | #226133 | ISBN-13: 9780198746850
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £10.99 $14/€13 approx

About this book

How does the physics we know today – a highly professionalised enterprise, inextricably linked to government and industry – link back to its origins as a liberal art in Ancient Greece? What is the path that leads from the old philosophy of nature and its concern with humankind's place in the universe to modern massive international projects that hunt down fundamental particles and industrial laboratories that manufacture marvels?

John Heilbron's fascinating history of physics introduces us to Islamic astronomers and mathematicians, calculating the size of the earth whilst their caliphs conquered much of it; to medieval scholar-theologians investigating light; to Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton, measuring, and trying to explain, the universe. We visit the 'House of Wisdom' in 9th-century Baghdad; Europe's first universities; the courts of the Renaissance; the Scientific Revolution and the academies of the 18th century; the increasingly specialised world of 20th and 21st century science.

Highlighting the shifting relationship between physics, philosophy, mathematics, and technology – and the implications for humankind's self-understanding – Heilbron explores the changing place and purpose of physics in the cultures and societies that have nurtured it over the centuries.


Contents

Introduction

1: Invention and Diversity in Greece and Rome
2: Selection and Development in Islam
3: Domestication in the West
4: A Second Creation
5: Classical Physics and its Cure
6: From Old World to New
7: By Way of Conclusion

References and Further Reading
Index


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Biography

John Heilbron was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, in physics and history; and began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania in 1964. He returned to Berkeley in 1967, where he rose to become professor of history and vice chancellor. After retiring in 1994 Heilbron taught sporadically at Caltech and Yale, and lived mostly around Oxford, where he has been Senior research Fellow at Worcester College and the Oxford Museum for History of Science. He has written several books for Oxford University Press, including Galileo (2010) and Love, Literature, and the Quantum Atom. Niels Bohr's 1913 trilogy revisited (2013), with Finn Aaserud.

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