The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-01-01
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics brings together cutting-edge writing by more than twenty leading authorities on the history of physics from the seventeenth century to the present day. By presenting a wide diversity of studies in a single volume, it provides authoritative introductions to scholarly contributions that have tended to be dispersed in journals and books not easily accessible to the general reader. While the core thread remains the theories and experimental practices of physics, the Handbook contains chapters on other dimensions that have their place in any rounded history. These include the role of lecturing and textbooks in the communication of knowledge, the contribution of instrument-makers and instrument-making companies in providing for the needs of both research and lecture demonstrations, and the growing importance of the many interfaces between academic physics, industry, and the military.

Author Biography

Jed Z. Buchwald, Doris and Henry Dreyfuss Professor of History at the California Institute of Technology,Robert Fox, Emeritus Professor of the History of Science, University of Oxford

Jed Buchwald is Doris and Henry Dreyfuss Professor of History at the California Institute of Technology. Awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1995 and a Killam Fellowship in 1990 (Canada), Buchwald was trained at Princeton (BA'71) and Harvard (MA and Ph.D '74.) From 1974 to 1992 he taught at, and then served as Director of, the University of Toronto's Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. From 1992 to 2001 he was at MIT as Dibner Professor of the History of Science, where he also directed the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology. Buchwald has authored or co-authored five books and edited eight volumes on the history of science and related matters, as well as about seventy articles.

Robert Fox read physics at Oxford (BA 1961) and then took a doctorate in the history of science, also at Oxford (DPhil 1967). He taught in the Department of History of the University of Lancaster from 1966, being awarded a personal chair in the history of science there in 1987. After a brief period as Assistant Director and Head of the Research and Information Services Division in the Science Museum, London, he was appointed to the chair of the history of science at the University of Oxford in 1988. Since retiring from the Oxford chair in 2006, he has held visiting professorships in the USA, at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD (2007) and East Carolina University, Greenville, NC (2009), and the Czech Republic, at the Czech National University of Technology (2010). He has served as President of the Division of History of Science of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science (1993-7) and of the IUHPS (1995-7).

Table of Contents

Introduction, Jed Buchwald and Robert Fox
Part I: Physics and the New Science
1. Was there a Scientific Revolution?, John Heilbron
2. Galileo's Mechanics of Natural Motion and Projectiles, Noel Swerdlow
3. Cartesian Physics, John Schuster
4. Physics and the Instrument-Makers, 1550-1700, Anthony Turner
5. Newton's Principia, Eric Schliesser and Chris Smeenk
6. Newton's Optics, Alan Shapiro
7. Experimentation in the Physical Sciences of the 17th Century, Bertoloni Meli
8. Mathematics and the New Sciences, Niccolo Guicciardini
Part II: The Long Eighteenth Century
9. The Physics of Imponderable Fluids, Giuliano Pancaldi
10. Physics on Show: Entertainment, Demonstration, and Research in the Eighteenth Century, Larry Stewart
11. Instruments and Instrument-Makers, 1700-1850, Anita McConnell
12. Mechanics in the Eighteenth Century, Sandro Caparrini, and Craig Fraser
13. Laplace and the Physics of Short-Range Forces, Robert Fox
14. Electricity and Magnetism to Volta, Jed Buchwald
Part III: Fashioning the Discipline: from Natural Philosophy to Physics
15. Optics in the Nineteenth Century, Jed Buchwald
16. Thermal Physics and Thermodynamics, Hasok Chang
17. Engineering Energy: Constructing a New Physics for Victorian Britain, Crosbie Smith
18. Electromagnetism and Field Physics, Friedrich Steinle
19. Electrodynamics from Thomson and Maxwell to Hertz, Jed Buchwald
20. From Workshop to Factory: The evolution of Instrument Making Industry, 1850-1930, Paolo Brenni
21. Physics Textbooks and Textbook Physics in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Josep Simon
22. Physics and Medicine, Iwan Morus
23. Physics and Metrology, Kathy Olesko
Part IV: Modern Physics
24. Rethinking 'Classical Physics', Graeme Gooday and Daniel Mitchell
25. The Emergence of Statistical Mechanics, Olivier Darrigol and Jurgen Renn
26. Three and a Half Principles: The Origins of Modern Relativity Theory, Daniel Kennefick
27. Quantum Physics, Suman Seth
28. The Silicon Tide: Relations between Things Epistemic and Things of Function in the Semiconductor World, Terry Shinn
29. Physics and Cosmology, Helge Kragh

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