Cover image for Histories of the electron : the birth of microphysics
Histories of the electron : the birth of microphysics
Buchwald, Jed Z.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xi, 514 : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Introduction / Jed Z. Buchwald and Andrew Warwick -- I, Corpuscles and electrons. J.J. Thomson and the electron, 1897-1899 / George E. Smith -- Corpuscles to electrons / Isobel Falconer -- The questionable matter of electricity: the reception of J.J. Thomson's "corpuscle" among electrical theorists and technologists / Graeme Gooday -- Paul Villad, J.J. Thomson, and the composition of cathode rays / Benoit Lelong -- II, What was the newborn electron good for? The Zeeman effect and the discovery of the electron / Theodore Arabatzis -- The electron, the protyle, and the unity of matter / Helge Kragh -- O.W. Richardson and the electron theory of matter, 1901-1916 / Ole Knudsen -- Electron gas theory of metals: free electrons in bulk matter / Walter Kaiser -- III, Electrons applied and appropriated. The electron and the nucleus / Laurie M. Brown -- The electron, the hole, and the transistor / Lillian Hoddeson and Michael Riordan -- Remodeling a classic: the electron in organic chemistry, 1900-1940 / Mary Jo Nye -- The physicists' electron and its appropriation by the chemists / Kostas Gavroglu -- Philosophical electrons. Who really discovered the electron? / Peter Achinstein -- History and metaphysics: on the reality of spin / Margaret Morrison -- What should philosophers of science learn from the history of the electron? / Jonathan Bain and John D. Norton -- The role of theory in the use of instruments; or, How much do we need to know about electrons to do science with an electron microscope? / Nicolas Rasmussen and Alan Chalmers.
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QC793.5.E62 H57 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the mid- to late-1890s, J.J. Thomson and colleagues at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory conducted experiments on cathode rays (a form of radiation produced within evacuated glass vessels subjected to electric fields) - the results of which some historians later viewed as the discovery of the electron. This book is both a biography of the electron and a history of the microphysical world that it opened up.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The editors' introduction offers an excellent guide to this rich and varied work originating in discussions in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London in 1997 commemorating the 100th anniversary of J.J. Thomson's discovery of the electron. The interesting, often provocative, and always well-documented papers (16, by 19 scholars from Europe and the Americas) constitute a 100-year-plus biography of the fundamental particle named "electron." The editors succinctly suggest the complexity and fascination of the issues raised: "[Electrons] are 'discovered' by J.J. Thomson at the Cavendish--or by someone else at some other place--or perhaps 'electrons' were not discovered at all; they worked hard to make instruments operate or they didn't do much work at all; electrons colonized the chemical world--or the chemical world just assimilated electrons." Headings for the four groups of four essays hint at the tremendous range of historical and philosophical material: "Corpuscles and Electrons," "What Was the Newborn Electron Good For?" "Electrons Applied and Appropriated," and "Philosophical Electrons." Although specialists can best appreciate the details, there is much here to interest and intrigue those wishing to explore the science of the century that made ours the age of electronics. Graduate students; faculty and researchers. E. R. Webster emerita, Wellesley College

Table of Contents

Jed Z. Buchwald and Andrew WarwickGeorge E. SmithIsobel FalconerGraeme GoodayBenoit LelongTheodore ArabatzisHelge KraghOle KnudsenWalter KaiserLaurie M. BrownLillian Hoddeson and Michael H. RiordanMary Jo NyeKostas GavrogluPeter AchinsteinMargaret MorrisonJonathan Bain and John D. NortonNicolas Rasmussen and Alan Chalmers
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Contributorsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
I Corpuscles and Electrons
1 J. J. Thomson and the Electron, 1897-1899p. 21
2 Corpuscles to Electronsp. 77
3 The Questionable Matter of Electricity: The Reception of J. J. Thomson's "Corpuscle" among Electrical Theorists and Technologistsp. 101
4 Paul Villard, J. J. Thomson, and the Composition of Cathode Raysp. 135
II What Was the Newborn Electron Good for?
5 The Zeeman Effect and the Discovery of the Electronp. 171
6 The Electron, the Protyle, and the Unity of Matterp. 195
7 O. W. Richardson and the Electron Theory of Matter, 1901-1916p. 227
8 Electron Gas Theory of Metals: Free Electrons in Bulk Matterp. 255
III Electrons Applied and Appropriated
9 The Electron and the Nucleusp. 307
10 The Electron, the Hole, and the Transistorp. 327
11 Remodeling a Classic: The Electron in Organic Chemistry, 1900-1940p. 339
12 The Physicists' Electron and Its Appropriation by the Chemistsp. 363
IV Philosophical Electrons
13 Who Really Discovered the Electron?p. 403
14 History and Metaphysics: On the Reality of Spinp. 425
15 What Should Philosophers of Science Learn from the History of the Electron?p. 451
16 The Role of Theory in the Use of Instruments: Or, How Much Do We Need to Know about Electrons to Do Science with an Electron Microscope?p. 467
Indexp. 503