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Shared Identities in Physics, Philosophy, and Literature

The separateness and connection of individuals is perhaps the central question of human life: What, exactly, is my individuality? To what degree is it unique? To what degree can it be shared, and how? To the many philosophical and literary speculations about these topics over time, modern science has added the curious twist of quantum theory, which requires that the elementary particles of which everything consists have no individuality at all. All aspects of chemistry depend on this lack of individuality, as do many branches of physics. From where, then, does our individuality come?

In Seeing Double, Peter Pesic invites readers to explore this intriguing set of questions. He draws on literary and historical examples that open the mind (from Homer to Martin Guerre to Kafka), philosophical analyses that have helped to make our thinking and speech more precise, and scientific work that has enabled us to characterize the phenomena of nature. Though he does not try to be all-inclusive, Pesic presents a broad range of ideas, building toward a specific point of view: that the crux of modern quantum theory is its clash with our ordinary concept of individuality. This represents a departure from the usual understanding of quantum theory. Pesic argues that what is bizarre about quantum theory becomes more intelligible as we reconsider what we mean by individuality and identity in ordinary experience. In turn, quantum identity opens a new perspective on us.

An Insoluble Task?

Given the ever-increasing acceleration of science and technology, every modern scientist is to some degree concerned about the future of his subject and, as a teacher, about how to come to terms with the interaction of science and the needs and aspirations of his students.

This book reports the proceedings of the International Congress on the Education of Teachers of Physics in Secondary Schools, held in Eger, Hungary, during September 1970. It reviews the recruitment and education of prospective physics teachers in secondary schools, considers the solutions found by some countries and attempts to aid others in solving the problems of their own local situations. The 151 participants from 28 countries represented many different educational systems and the conference's location made possible the attendance of teachers from the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Africa, the United States, and the United Arab Republic, in addition to a large group from the host country. In presenting the material, the editors have attempted to retain the conversational tone—the "free flow of information"—of the conference.

Chapter 1, "The Response to Modern Society," provides the backdrop against which all further discussions are cast—namely, a concern for the relation of physical science to culture in the most general sense and to the problems of society in particular. Subsequent chapters begin with guidelines formally adopted by each international "working group" as it pursued such specific topics as: constraints on teacher education; the recruitment, initial training, and in-service education of teachers; curriculum innovation in teacher education; the technology of physics education; procurement of low-cost equipment; and special problems of developing countries. Five appendixes provide information on papers and documents contributed to the conference, the names and addresses of participants, curriculum projects, teaching films, and the conference exhibition.

Elements of Neutron Interaction Theory is a first-year textbook for graduate students in nuclear engineering, dealing with the interactions of neutrons, photons, and charged particles with nuclei, atoms, and electrons. The aim of the book is to present, as simply as possible, those aspects of neutron interaction theory which follow directly from conservation laws and elementary quantum mechanics. It is intended to be understood by anyone who has obtained the equivalent of a bachelor's degree in physics, chemistry, or one of the engineering disciplines. No mathematical background beyond differential equations and elementary vector analysis and no physics background beyond elementary modern physics is assumed.

Based on Discussions at the International Conference on Physics in General Education, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1963

This volume contains a readable, condensed, and interpretive account of discussions among physicists from 26 countries from the Conference on Physics in General Education held in Rio de Janeiro in July, 1963. The meeting dealt with physics as part of a liberal education. The serious practical difficulties of teaching physics in a way that is appropriate to this purpose are now widely recognized in those countries that are highly developed scientifically, and many projects have been launched to solve them. Reports on some of these projects were given at the Conference, and still others are referred to in the book. In the comparatively underdeveloped countries, on the other hand, it is still necessary to establish the importance of including physics and other sciences in the curriculum. The book will be useful to all those who are concerned with science education. It will prove particularly useful to science educators working in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

This was the second conference on education to be organized under the auspices of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), in association with a number of other national and international organizations. The Conference material was reduced to about one-third of its volume, rearranged, and in instances largely rewritten, so as to present the essence of the formal addresses and discussions in as useful and readable form as possible.

Including Tables of Separation Constants and Coefficients

A set of tables of spheroidal wave functions designed to simplify the computation of acoustic and electromagnetic scattering from spheroids. The tables were computed to five-place accuracy on the Whirlwind digital computer, and automatically tabulated. An introduction discusses the mathematical properties of the functions and describes some of their applications.

A list of errata for this title is available upon request directed to A. Bers at bers@mit.edu.

Quantum Foundations of Electromagnetism

In this book Carver Mead offers a radically new approach to the standard problems of electromagnetic theory. Motivated by the belief that the goal of scientific research should be the simplification and unification of knowledge, he describes a new way of doing electrodynamics—collective electrodynamics—that does not rely on Maxwell's equations, but rather uses the quantum nature of matter as its sole basis. Collective electrodynamics is a way of looking at how electrons interact, based on experiments that tell us about the electrons directly. (As Mead points out, Maxwell had no access to these experiments.)

The results Mead derives for standard electromagnetic problems are identical to those found in any text. Collective electrodynamics reveals, however, that quantities that we usually think of as being very different are, in fact, the same—that electromagnetic phenomena are simple and direct manifestations of quantum phenomena. Mead views his approach as a first step toward reformulating quantum concepts in a clear and comprehensible manner.

The book is divided into five sections: magnetic interaction of steady currents, propagating waves, electromagnetic energy, radiation in free space, and electromagnetic interaction of atoms. In an engaging preface, Mead tells how his approach to electromagnetic theory was inspired by his interaction with Richard Feynman.

This textbook takes an innovative approach to the teaching of classical mechanics, emphasizing the development of general but practical intellectual tools to support the analysis of nonlinear Hamiltonian systems. The development is organized around a progressively more sophisticated analysis of particular natural systems and weaves examples throughout the presentation. Explorations of phenomena such as transitions to chaos, nonlinear resonances, and resonance overlap to help the student to develop appropriate analytic tools for understanding. Computational algorithms communicate methods used in the analysis of dynamical phenomena. Expressing the methods of mechanics in a computer language forces them to be unambiguous and computationally effective. Once formalized as a procedure, a mathematical idea also becomes a tool that can be used directly to compute results.The student actively explores the motion of systems through computer simulation and experiment. This active exploration is extended to the mathematics. The requirement that the computer be able to interpret any expression provides strict and immediate feedback as to whether an expression is correctly formulated. The interaction with the computer uncovers and corrects many deficiencies in understanding.

Proceedings of the 1999 Conference

The annual conference on Neural Information Processing System (NIPS) is the flagship conference on neural computation. It draws preeminent academic researchers from around the world and is widely considered to be a showcase conference for new developments in network algorithms and architectures. The broad range of interdisciplinary research areas represented includes computer science, neuroscience, statistics, physics, cognitive science, and many branches of engineering, including signal processing and control theory. Only about 30 percent of the papers submitted are accepted for presentation at NIPS, so the quality is exceptionally high. These proceedings contain all of the papers that were presented.

Edited by N. M. Swerdlow


In the ancient world, the collection and study of celestial phenomena and the interpretation of their prophetic significance, especially as applied to kings and nations, were closely related sciences carried out by the same scholars. Both ancient sources and modern research agree that astronomy and celestial divination arose in Babylon. Only in the late nineteenth century, however, did scholars begin to identify and decipher the original Babylonian sources, and the process of understanding those sources has been long and difficult.

This volume presents recent work on Babylonian celestial divination and on the Greek inheritors of the Babylonian tradition. Both philological and mathematical work are included. The essays shed new light on all of the known textual sources, including the omen series Enuma Anu Enlil, which contains omens from as far back as the early second or even third millennium, and the earliest personal horoscopes, from about 400 B.C., as well as the Astronomical Diaries, ephemerides, and other observational and mathematical texts. One essay concerns astronomical papyri that confirm the extensive transmission of Babylonian methods into Greek; a study of Ptolemy's lunar theory suggests that Ptolemy relied more on his own observations than previously thought; and an analysis of Theon's commentary on Ptolemy's Handy Tables shows that Theon explicated their meaning both conscientiously and competently.

Contributors: Asger Aaboe, Alan C. Bowen, Lis Brack-Bernsen, John P. Britton, Bernard R. Goldstein, Gerd Graßhoff, Hermann Hunger, Alexander Jones, Erica Reiner, F. Rochberg, N. M. Swerdlow, Anne Tihon, C. B. F. Walker.


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