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20th Century Physics

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Language:  English
20th Century Physics: A Liberal Arts Approach is the story of the transition from classical to modern physics. It is also the story of a philosophical revolution.
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20th Century Physics: A Liberal Arts Approach is the story of the transition from classical to modern physics. Because this new physics demands radical, and at first incomprehensible, changes in our worldview, it is also the story of a philosophical revolution. Relativity, quantum mechanics and nuclear physics are covered at the mathematical level of high school algebra. Emphasized throughout the text is the history that produced these revolutionary ideas and the lives of the uniquely creative individuals who gave rise to them.

About the author

Thomas Michael “Mike” Corwin is an observational astronomer and a retired Professor of Physics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His principle research area is RR Lyrae variable stars in globular clusters. He is the author of numerous research publications and several textbooks.

  • Preface
  1. Measurements and Theories
    1. What is Physics?
    2. Which Came First, the Data or the Theory?
    3. Can’t You Speak Plain English?
    4. Fundamental Physical Quantities
  2. Conservation Laws and Energy
    1. Conservation of Charge
    2. Conservation of Momentum
    3. Energy
    4. Conservation of Energy
  3. Modern Physics: A Brief History
    1. Observations That Appeared To Defy Analysis Using Classical Physics
    2. Twentieth-Century Physics
    3. The Correspondence Principle
  4. Physical Laws in Different Frames of Reference
    1. Frames of Reference
    2. Inertial Frames of Reference
    3. The Principle of Relativity
  5. The Special Theory of Relativity: Time Dilation
    1. The Special Theory of Relativity
    2. Time Is a Relative Physical Quantity
  6. The Special Theory of Relativity: Length Contraction and Velocity Addition
    1. Length Contraction
    2. Space-Time
    3. Some Relativistic Examples
    4. The Twin Paradox
    5. Velocity Addition
  7. The General Theory of Relativity
    1. The Principle of Equivalence
    2. The General Theory of Relativity
    3. Evidence for the General Theory of Relativity
    4. The General Theory of Relativity Today
  8. Electromagnetic Radiation: The Classical Theory
    1. The Nature of Light
    2. Electromagnetism
    3. Properties of Electromagnetic Waves
    4. The Electromagnetic Spectrum
  9. The Photoelectric Effect
    1. The Photoelectric Experiment
    2. Einstein’s Quantum Hypothesis
    3. Particles or Waves?
  10. More Evidence of Photons
    1. The Compton Effect
    2. Antimatter
    3. Pair Production
    4. Pair Annihilation
    5. Wave-Particle Duality
  11. Classical Models of the Atom
    1. Dalton’s Indivisible Atoms
    2. The Nuclear Model of the Atom
    3. The Classical Planetary Model of the Atom
  12. The Bohr Model of the Atom
    1. Atomic Spectra
    2. Quantizing the Planetary Model of the Atom
    3. Difficulties with the Bohr Model
  13. Quantum mechanics
    1. De Broglie Waves
    2. Schrodinger’s Wave Equation
    3. Heisenberg’s Theory of Matrix Mechanics
    4. What is a Matter Wave?
    5. The Probability Interpretation of the Wave Function
    6. The Copenhagen Interpretation
  14. The Nucleus
    1. The Composition of the Nucleus
    2. Quarks
    3. Observing Subatomic Particles
    4. Nuclear Notation
    5. The Force Between Nucleons
    6. The Deuteron
    7. Mass Defect and Binding Energy
  15. Induced Nuclear Reactions
    1. Induced Nuclear Reactions
    2. Fission
    3. Fusion
  16. Radioactivity
    1. The Radioactive Decay Law
    2. Age-Dating with Radioactive Isotopes
    3. Gamma Decay
    4. Alpha Decay
    5. Beta Decay
  • Appendix A: Scientific Notation

I enjoyed it, it really helped me understand physics better
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About the Author

Mike Corwin