Basic Data of Plasma Physics
This second edition of Basic Data of Plasma Physics is, in essence, a new book, for several reasons. First, so voluminous have been the research results in this area since the first edition of 1959 that the basic data themselves are greatly changed and enlarged. Second, whereas the earlier edition presented much of the material in verbal form, this one displays almost all of it in a consistent set of graphic figures. And, finally, this new edition is one of the first implementations of computer-based information transfer, in which the basic data were searched out by means of a remote console tied into a central disk library containing an extensive collection of bibliographic information on physics literature.
This last matter deserves further amplification, since the new techniques employed here are likely to be used more and more often in the future—because of the ever more rapidly expanding volume of research results just mentioned. Professor Brown, writing in Physics Today, summarizes his aims and methods:
Any collection of data one can make these days is out of date before it is published. This is true, for example, of my Basic Data of Plasma Physics. In the book I tried to bring together in useful form the data of gaseous electronics and plasma physics upon which scientists base calculations and further work with basic parameters.
Updating this book seemed an ideal computer experiment. I used the Information Retrieval Service of the TIP (Technical Information Project) program not only to find material that has come out since publication of the book but also to arrange the program so that the computer could continue in the future to retrieve relevant information....
The Technical Information Project, upon which this experiment is based, has programmed 25 physics journals from the past few years and The Physical Review from 1959 onto the IBM 7094 operated by Project MAC. Project MAC uses a compatible time-sharing system that is available by standard telephone connections....
The TIP program contains title, author, reference and entire bibliography of every article covered by the computer.
...Entrance into the TIP system is made by choosing a key word or words most likely to be contained in the title of an article in a specific subject.
...in the revision of Basic Data of Plasma Physics the material is created in an open-ended form so that anyone with access to the computer program can search the literature for material that will appear after the report is printed. This feature of the bibliographic search by computers provides a new dimension to the published literature in book form which, without this open-ended feature, is out of date quite generally long before the actual publication date.
About the Author
Dr. Sanborn C. Brown was professor emeritus of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former associate dean of its graduate school.