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physics - 33 titles

Author:  Robert Boyle (1627-1691)
Title/Imprint: New Experiments Physico-Mechanical, Touching the Air
H. Hall, Printer to the University, for Tho: Robinson: Oxford , 1662

Boyle and his colleague Robert Hooke maded major improvements in the vacuum air pump and used it in several scientific experiments. This work, which came out two years after Boyle's intial report of his research, describes what is now known as "Boyle's Law," that is, the pressure of a gas varies inversely to a change in its volume at a constant temperature, and vice-versa.

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Author:  Sir Issac Newton (1642-1727)
Title/Imprint: Opticks: or, A Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light
Sam. Smith and Benj. Walford: London , 1704

After his first publication in optics (see Herald 144), Newton continued to study optics, and finally in 1704 he published this collection of his studies. In this book he discusses many phenomena including the colors that make up white light, the phenomena now called "Newton's Rings," and an explanation of double refraction to try and give him priority over Huygens's explanation.

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Author:  Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787-1826)
Title/Imprint: Bestimmung des Brechungs- und Farbenzerstreuungs-Vermögens Verschiedener Glasarten
Munich , 1817

Fraunhofer was an optician who became interested in the spectra of the light of various flames. In this critical work, he describes his observations of the dark lines that appeared in the spectrum of sunlight. This discovery (found independently by William Wollaston in 1802) led to the science of solar and stellar spectroscopy. The article appeared in the journal Denckschriften der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu München für die Jahre 1814 und 1815.

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Author:  James Prescott Joule (1818-1889)
Title/Imprint: The London and Edinburgh philosophical magazine and journal of science, vol.23
pp.263-76, 347-55, 435-43; , 1843

Already well known through his ex\stablishment of "Joule's Law," Joule described his study of the measurement of the mechanical equivalent of hear, in that it required 772 foot-pounds of work to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. Lord Kelvin recognized the importance of Joule's work and worked with him to deevelop the theories of thermodynamics.

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Author:  Otto Hahn (1879-1968)
Title/Imprint: Über das Zerplatzen des Urankernes Durch Langsame Neutronen
Walter de Gruyter und Co.: Berlin , 1939

Hahn and Strassman published this article that started scientists down the path to the atomic bomb. Originally working with Lise Meitner who was forced to flee Nazi Germany in1938, they had been working with uranium and bombarding samples with slow neutrons. They realized that this caused the uranium atoms to split into lighter nuclei and releasing large amounts of energy, and the implications were not lost to a world at war.

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Author:  Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695)
Title/Imprint: Traité de la Lumiere
P. vander Aa: Leiden , 1690

This is the first publication of Huygens's theory of the properties of light. As opposed to the corpuscular theory of light adhered to by Newton's followers, Huygens developed a coherent wave theory of light that beautifully explained the laws of relection and refraction as well as double refraction and the polarization of light.

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Author:  Robert Brown (1773-1858)
Title/Imprint: A Brief Account of Microscopical Observations…
London , 1828

Brown, a respected botanist, wrote this small pamphlet and had a few copies privately printed for distrribution to his colleagues. It describes his observations of small parrticles in the fluid within pollen grains. Finding this motion in both living and dead pollen, he believed it to be an inherent property of matter. This Brownian Motion was studied by many who tried to explain it over the following years, and in 1905 Einstein provided a satisfactory explanation, noting that it was caused by the motion of molecules bombarding the visible particles on all sides.

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Author:  Sadi Carnot (1796-1832)
Title/Imprint: Réflexions sue la Puissance Motrice du Feu et sur les Machines Propres à Développer Cette Puissance (Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire and on the Best Machines to Produce This Power)
Bachelier: Paris , 1824

Carnot was an engineer who, upon retiring from the military, began studying the principles of the steam engine. Resolved to improve on the efficieny of these engines, he published this work that discussed the general procecss of steam engines and not the mechanical details. The process he described became known as the Carnot cycle and although few copies were published, his work became an important contribution to the understanding of thermodynamic theory.

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Author:  Robert Boyle (1627-1691)
Title/Imprint: New Experiments Physico-Mechanical, Touching the Air
H. Hall, Printer to the University, for Tho: Robinson: Oxford , 1660

Boyle and his colleague Robert Hooke maded major improvements in the vacuum air pump and used it in several scientific experiments. This work, which came out two years after Boyle's intial report of his research, describes what is now known as "Boyle's Law," that is, the pressure of a gas varies inversely to a change in its volume at a constant temperature, and vice-versa.

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Author:  Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894)
Title/Imprint: Über die Erhaltung der Kraft (On the Conservation of Force)
G. Reimer: Berlin , 1847

One of the great thinkers of the 19th century, Helmholtz produced this groundbreaking work based on his study of the energy producecd in organic bodies. Helmholtz reasoned that all heat was related to forces and that these forcees could not be destroyed, an early form of the law of conservation of energy.

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Author:  Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Title/Imprint: Annalen der Physik, vol.17
pp.891-921; , 1905

This paper by Einstein was the first to introduce his theory of relativity. "On the electrodynamics of moving bodies" discussed the special theory of relativity which said that, for all frames of reference, the speed of light is a constant and that time and motion are all relative to the observer.

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Author:  Jean Baptiste Joseph, Baron Fourier (1768-1830)
Title/Imprint: Théorie Analytique de la Chaleur
Firmin Didot: Paris , 1822

This important work is an excellent example of the application of mathematical analysis to physical problems. Using a special type of infintie series, now known as a Fourier series, Fourier showed how to use it to analyze and determine the conduction of heat in solid bodies.

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Author:  Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Title/Imprint: Discorsi e Dimonstrazioni Matematiche, Intorno a Due Nuove Scienze Attenenti alla Mecanica & I Movimenti Locali
Elsevirii: Leiden , 1638

Near the end of his life, Galileo returned to some of his earlier studies on motion and mechanics. The result was this classic work which is famous for its development of ideas on the strength of materials and the law of falling bodies. It was published in the Netherlands because of the Inquisition's ban on Galileo's works.

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Author:  Archimedes (ca. 285 BCE-212/211 BCE)
Title/Imprint: Opera… Omnia
I. Heruagius: Basel , 1544

Archimedes is generally considered to be one of the great minds of ancient times with his important contributions to mathematics, hydraulics, and mechanics. This book is the first appearance in print of Archimedes's works in the original Greek.

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Author:  Alhazen (Ibn al-Haytham) (ca. 965-ca. 1040)
Title/Imprint: Opticae Thesaurus. Alhazeni Arabis Libri Septem
Episcopios: Basel , 1572

This work is the most important produced by this Egyptian mathematician and astronomer. His work on optics preserved much of the ideas of the Greeks, but added some of his own original ideas, including a complete working of the laws of reflection.

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Author:  Simon Stevin (1548-1620)
Title/Imprint: De Beghinselen der Weeghconst
3 pts. in 1 v. : ill. ; 22 cm. (4to); Christoffel Plantijn: Leiden , 1586

Stevin provided a great boost to the study of statics with this work. He moves statics away from just the study of the lever by describing how to work with forces and how to resolve a single force into two components. He also made some significant inroads into the understanding of hydrostatics.

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Author:  Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
Title/Imprint: Traitez de l'Equilibre des Liqueurs, et de la Pesanteur de la Masse de l'Air
G. Desprez: Paris , 1663

This work, published posthumously, was done during a period of intense scientific activity by Pascal. Here he describes his studies on the equilibrium of liquids and the weight of the air. This was the first discussion of the relationship of barometric change to weather.

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Author:  Sir Issac Newton (1642-1727)
Title/Imprint: Philosophia Naturalis Principia Mathematica
Joseph Streater: London , 1687

In addition to this work's description of Newton's law of gravity (explained in the Astronomy section), this book laid the foundations of Newton's physics with his famous three laws of motion. He was able to convincingly establish the relationship of mass, force, and direction of motion.

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Author:  Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695)
Title/Imprint: Horologium Oscillatorium, sive, De Motu Pendulorum ad Horologia Aptato, Demonstrationes Geometricae
F. Muguet: Paris , 1673

In this work Huygens finally explains, using his knowledge of mathematics and dynamics of bodies in motion, how the pendulum can be used to regulate the workings of a clock.

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Author:  Sir Issac Newton (1642-1727)
Title/Imprint: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol.6
pp.3075-87; London , 1672

This is Isaac Newton's first scientific publication in which he discusses his experiments on breaking up white light into a spectrum of colors. However, criticism of the paper by Robert Hooke devastated Newton and he withdrew into virtual scientific isolation for three years.

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Author:  Evangelista Torricelli (1608-1647)
Title/Imprint: Lezioni Accademische
Jacopo Guiducci, e Santi Franchi: Florence , 1715

Inspired by Galileo, Torricelli began studying air pressure and began pursuing experiments that led to his invention of the barometer in 1643. Unfortunately, his untimely death in 1647 led to many of his works remaining unpublished. This book marks the first appearance of most of Torricelli's works in print, 68 years after his death.

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Author:  Benjamin, Graf von Rumford (1753-1814)
Title/Imprint: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol.88
pp.80-102; London , 1798

This article laid the foundation for the measurement of heat and its equivalence to mechanical energy. Rumford, born in America, exiled to Britain, and employed in Bavaria, observed the heating of water in which cannon barrels were being bored out. His realization that the amount of heat produced only depended on the friction of the machines destroyed the old concept of "caloric" to explain heat.

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Author:  Thomas Young (1773-1829)
Title/Imprint: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol.92
pp.12-48, plate; London , 1802

Young was a physician by trade who became interested in, among other things, the nature of light and color. In this famous article, he discusses his experiments on light and how two light beams can constructively and destructively interfere with each other. This work put the wave theory of light on a solid experimental ground.

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Author:  Girolamo Cardano (1501-1576)
Title/Imprint: De Subtilitate Libri XXI
Ioh. Petreum: Nuremburg , 1550

Cardano was one of the great scholars of the 16th century, working in a wide variety of fields from medicine to mathematics to astrology. This work, a collection of various physical experiments and inventions, helped boost his popular notoriety.

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Author:  Julius Robert von Mayer (1814-1878)
Title/Imprint: Bemerkungen über das Machanische Aequivalent der Wärme (Remarks on the Mechanical Equuivalent of Heat)
Johann Ulrich Landherr: Heilbronn , 1851

Classic work by the German physicist Mayer, who studied the mechanical equivalent of heat and described the law of conservation of energy. James Joule dismissed Mayer's work, disturbing Mayer so much that he attempted suicide. In the 1860s, John Tyndall realized the value of Mayer's work and rehabilitated his standing in the physics community. The Dibner Library's copy was formerly owned by Tyndall.

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Author:  Albert Abraham Michelson (1852-1931)
Title/Imprint: On the Relative Motion of the Earth and the Luminiferous Aether
Taylor & Francis: London , 1887

This article discusses the famous experiment by Michelson and Morley designed to see if there really was an "ether," the basic substance that filled the universe and allowed light waves to propagate across space. At the Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, they perfected the experiment tried earlier in Berlin by Michelson and obtained the famous negative effect, proving that there was no ether. The result forced scientists to look for other standards of reference and led to Einstein's proposal that the speed of light is a constant. Extracted from: The London, Edinburgh and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, 5th ser., vol.24, no.151.

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Author:  Wilhelm Konrad Röntgen (1845-1923)
Title/Imprint: Ueber eine Neue Art von Strahlen
Stahel'schen k. Hof-u. Univers.-Buch-u. Kunsthandlung: Würzburg , 1895

First of two articles in which Röntgen reported on a new form of radiation that was able to fog covered photographic plates kept near a cathode-ray tube in his laboratory. He also noted that this radiation was able to penetrate normally opaque substances such as wood or aluminum. This radiation became known as Röntgen rays and are now known more commonly as X-rays.

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Author:  Wilhelm Konrad Röntgen (1845-1923)
Title/Imprint: Eine Neue Art von Strahlen. II, Mittheilung
Stahel'schen k. Hof-u. Univers.-Buch-u. Kunsthandlung: Würzburg , 1896

This is the second paper of the series of articles on the X-rays. The two papers by Röntgen together make up Herald of Science 162.

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Author:  Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852-1908)
Title/Imprint: Recherches sur une Propriété Nouvelle de la Matière, Activité Radiante Spontanée ou Radioactivité de la Matière
Firmin-Didot et cie: Paris , 1903

This work is an early collection of studies on radioactivity by Becquerel, whose father and grandfather were also noted scientists. In 1896 Becquerel discovered the phenomenon of radioactivity with his work on uranium. From Mémoires de l'Academie des Sciences de l'Instutut de France, t.46

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Author:  William, Sir Crookes (1832-1919)
Title/Imprint: The Mechanical Action of Light
London , 1875

Crookes performed a number of important experiments with high-vacuum tubes whcihc opened up interesting areas of research on radiation. This paper, originally printed in the Quarterly Journal of Science for July, 1875, he noted how cathode rays travel in straight lines and produce phosphorescence and heat when they strike certain materials. The rays were also influenced by a magnet, thus proving their electrtical nature.

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Author:  J.J. (Joseph John) Thomson (1856-1940)
Title/Imprint: Conduction of Electricity Through Gases
Cambridge University Press: Cambridge , 1903

This book is the summary of Thomson's work that led to his discovery of the electron in 1897. This far-reaching discovery led to Thomason's receiving the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1906.

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Author:  Max Planck (1858-1947)
Title/Imprint: Zur Theorie des Gesetzes der Energieverteilung im Normalspectrum
J.A. Barth: Leipzig , 1900

This article marks a major turning-point in the development of physics as it described Planck's concept of the quanta, an idea that would lead to the quantum theory of physics. Planck's theory indicated that energy could only be emitted in discrete (albeit very small) packets called quanta. Even though this idea was totally against the past thermodynamic laws of physics, it was eventually accepted and Planck won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1918. Our copy was formerly owned by the noted collector H. M. Evans and is accompanied by Planck's letter of transmittal.

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Author:  Robert Hooke (1635-1703)
Title/Imprint: Lectiones Cutlerianae, or, A Collection of Lectures, Physical, Mechanical,Geographical, & Astronomical…
J. Martyn: London , 1679

Hooke's work with Robert Boyle led him to become appointed the curator of experiments for the Royal Society of London. With the dedath of the Society's first secretary, Henry Oldenburg, Hooke took over these duties and published this famous set of six tracts on subjects in astrornomy, physics, and mechanics.

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