The Story of Spin

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University of Chicago Press, 1997 - Science - 258 pages
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All atomic particles have a particular "spin, " analogous to the earth's rotation on its axis. The quantum mechanical reality underlying spin is complex and still poorly understood. Sin-itiro Tomonaga's "The Story of Spin" remains the most complete and accessible treatment of spin, and is now available in English translation. Tomonaga tells the tale of the pioneers of physics and their difficult journey toward an understanding of the nature of spin and its relationship to statistics. His clear unfolding of the tale of spin is invaluable to students of physics, chemistry, and astronomy, and his description of the historical development of spin will interest historians and philosophers of science.

" "The Story of Spin," as told by Sin-itiro Tomonaga and lovingly translated by Takeshi Oka, is a brilliant and witty account of the development of modern quantum theory, which takes electron spin as a pivotal concept. Reading these twelve lectures on fundamental aspects of physics is a joyful experience that is rare indeed."--Laurie Brown, Northwestern University

"This piece of the history of physics will provide excellent and exciting reading. . . . It also provides the personal touch of an expert in the field that is so often lacking in the physics literature. I recommend it very highly."--Fritz Rohrlich, "Physics Today"


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This book does presume a fairly high level of knowledge of quantum mechanics, but is a great exposition of the history of the development of ALL quantum mechanics. The reader will delight in the story behind so much we had to simply take for granted in the usual treatment of quantum mechanics in undergraduate course.
One of the delights is that we get a much better picture from this book than from class about how even the great physicists stumbled quite a bit with failures like the "Ersatzmodel" before they finally hit on the right idea: 'spin' and the 'spinor'.


Before the Dawn
Electron Spin and the Thomas Factor
Paulis Spin Theory and the Dirac Theory
Proton Spin
Interaction between Spins
PauliWeisskopf and the Yukawa Particle
The Quantity Which Is neither Vector nor Tensor
Spin and Statistics of Elementary Particles
The Year of Discovery 1932
Nuclear Force and Isospin
The Thomas Factor Revisited
The Last Lecture
Short Biography of SinItiro Tomonaga
Annotated Bibliography

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Page 10 - He has shown that the two must necessarily go together, but we have not been able to find a way of reproducing his arguments on an elementary level. It appears to be one of the few places in physics where there is a rule which can be stated very simply, but for which no one has found a simple and easy explanation. The explanation is deep down in relativistic quantum mechanics. This probably means that we do not have a complete understanding of the fundamental principle involved. For the moment, you...

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About the author (1997)

Born in Tokyo, the son of a philosophy professor, Sin-Itiro Tomonaga studied quantum mechanics with Hideki Yukawa at Kyoto University. After attending lectures at Kyoto by Paul Dirac and Werner Heisenberg, Tomonaga did research for the Japanese Navy on microwave theory, while continuing his research in quantum theory. From 1937 to 1939, he worked under Heisenberg in Germany. As early as 1942, Tomonaga suggested a new formulation of many ideas in the quantum field theory. Moreover, it was Tomonaga's theoretical work in developing a completely relativistic quantum field theory that led to the first successful form of quantum electrodynamics. Other forms were later developed independently by Julian Schwinger and Richard Feynman, who shared a Nobel Prize in physics with Tomonaga in 1965. In 1955 Tomonaga established the Institute for Nuclear Studies at the University of Tokyo and became president of the Tokyo University of Education in 1956. Later, he headed the Science Council for Japan and wrote popular books on quantum mechanics.

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