Download A century of Nature: twenty-one discoveries that changed by Laura Garwin, Tim Lincoln, Steven Weinberg PDF

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By Laura Garwin, Tim Lincoln, Steven Weinberg

A few of the clinical breakthroughs of the 20th century have been first pronounced within the magazine Nature. A Century of Nature brings jointly in a single quantity Nature's maximum hits—reproductions of seminal contributions that modified technology and the area, followed via essays written by means of major scientists (including 4 Nobel laureates) that supply ancient context for every article, clarify its insights in sleek, available prose, and rejoice the serendipity of discovery and the rewards of attempting to find needles in haystacks.

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Further reading Dart, R. A. The osteodontokeratic culture of Australopithecus prometheus (Transvaal Museum Memoir No. 10, Pretoria, 1957). Johanson, D. C. & Edey, M. A. Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1981). Leakey, R. E. The Making of Mankind (Michael Joseph, London, 1981). Lewin, R. Bones of Contention: Controversies in the Search for Human Origins (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1987). Lewin, R. Human Evolution: An Illustrated Introduction (Freeman, New York, 1984).

While light waves were being rediscovered as particles, the reverse fate awaited electrons. J. J. Thomson had identified electrons as negatively charged particles that comprised the radiation from cathode ray tubes, and had deduced that they were elementary constituents of all atoms. When, in 1911, Ernest Rutherford discovered the atomic nucleus, he proposed a “planetary” model for the atom, in which negatively charged electrons orbit the positively charged nucleus. But according to classical physics, the electrons would be expected to radiate energy as they orbited, causing them to spiral down into the nucleus; in such a picture, no atom could survive for longer than about a hundred trillionths of a second.

But Davisson did not believe Born and Elsasser’s interpretations, because the earlier results had been obtained with polycrystalline samples, which would not have produced interference peaks. Once Davisson was back in the United States, he and Germer pursued their experiments with renewed vigor: their objective now was to test the wave nature of electrons. They calculated the diffraction angles that would result from the de Broglie wavelength of their electrons (calculated from the electron energy) and compared these to the positions of the weak peaks that Germer had managed to produce during Davisson’s absence.

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