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Atomic Physics


The Los Alamos Primer: The First Lectures on How To Build an Atomic Bomb

The Los Alamos Primer: The First Lectures on How To Build an  Atomic Bomb Lowest new price: $31.50
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Author: Robert Serber

The classified lectures that galvanized the Manhattan Project scientists—with annotations for the nonspecialist reader and an introduction by a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian.

In March 1943 a group of young scientists, sequestered on a mesa near Santa Fe, attended a crash course in the new atomic physics. The lecturer was Robert Serber, J. Robert Oppenheimer's protégé, and they learned that their job was to invent the world's first atomic bomb.

Serber's lecture notes, nicknamed the "Los Alamos Primer," were mimeographed and passed from hand to hand, remaining classified for many years. They are published here for the first time, and now contemporary readers can see just how much was known and how terrifyingly much was unknown when the Manhattan Project began. Could this "gadget," based on the newly discovered principles of nuclear fission, really be designed and built? Could it be small enough and light enough for an airplane to carry? If it could be built, could it be controlled?

Working with Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of the development of the atomic bomb, Professor Serber has annotated original lecture notes with explanations of the physics terms for the nonspecialist. His preface, an informal memoir, vividly conveys the mingled excitement, uncertainty, and intensity felt by the Manhattan Project scientists. Rhodes's introduction provides a brief history of the development of atomic physics up to the day that Serber stood before his blackboard at Los Alamos. In this edition, The Los Alamos Primer finally emerges from the archives to give a new understanding of the very beginning of nuclear weapons. No seminar anywhere has had greater historical consequences.

In April 1943, a young physicist named Robert Serber stood up before a small group of fellow scientists in a laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and, as one attendee later recalled, began to speak in "a hazy, uncertain voice" about the project on which they would all be working. "The object," he said, "is to produce a practical military weapon in the form of a bomb in which the energy is released by a fast neutron chain reaction in one or more of the materials known to show nuclear fission." That mechanism, of course, was the atomic bomb, which a little more than two years later would be used against Japan.

In the following weeks, Serber touched on many themes, racing to an array of chalkboards to scribble complex formulas and equations. Among other things, he addressed how big a bomb would need to be in order to achieve critical mass--between 13.5 centimeters and 9 centimeters, he calculated--and what the probability of premature detonation might be. (It was, he concluded, always a danger.) At the end of the series, his lecture notes, classified as top secret, were gathered and printed for distribution to later cadres of scientists who came to work at Los Alamos. Years after the war they were declassified, and Serber, who died in May of 1997, took the opportunity to reflect on his work and the strange culture of the laboratory, adding postscripts and other commentary reproduced in the present edition.

Serber's book is an important document in the history of science, and remains one of the most accessible introductions to nuclear physics ever written. (On that note, those who worry that it is all too easy to find bomb-building instructions in the library or on the Web should rest assured: these lectures were tough for the greatest theoretical physicists of the time to follow.) It all makes for provocative reading. --Gregory McNamee

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Atomic physics: An exploration through problems and solutions

Atomic physics: An exploration through problems and solutions Lowest new price: $43.75
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Author: Dmitry Budker

This book provides a bridge between the basic principles of physics learned as an undergraduate and the skills and knowledge required for advanced study and research in the exciting field of atomic physics. The text is organized in a unique and versatile format --- as a collection of problems, hints, detailed solutions, and in-depth tutorials. This enables the reader to open the book at any page and get a solid introduction to subjects on the cutting edge of atomic physics, such as frequency comb metrology, tests of fundamental symmetries with atoms, atomic magnetometers, atom trapping and cooling, and Bose-Einstein condensates. The text also includes problems and tutorials on important basics that every practicing atomic physicist should know, but approached from the perspective of experimentalists: formal calculations are avoided where possible in favor of 'back-of-the-envelope' estimates, symmetry arguments, and physical analogies. The 2nd edition contains over 10 new problems, and includes important updates, revisions, and corrections of several problems of the 1st edition.

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Physics of Atoms and Molecules (2nd Edition)

Physics of Atoms and Molecules (2nd Edition) Lowest new price: $53.90
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Author: B.H. Bransden

New edition of a well-established second and third year textbook for Physics degree students, covering the physical structure and behaviour of atoms and molecules. The aim of this new edition is to provide a unified account of the subject within an undergraduate framework, taking the opportunity to make improvements based on the teaching experience of users of the first edition, and cover important new developments in the subject.
 

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The Theory of Atomic Structure and Spectra (Los Alamos Series in Basic and Applied Sciences)

The Theory of Atomic Structure and Spectra (Los Alamos Series in Basic and Applied Sciences) Lowest new price: $85.97
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Author: Robert D. Cowan

Both the interpretation of atomic spectra and the application of atomic spectroscopy to current problems in astrophysics, laser physics, and thermonuclear plasmas require a thorough knowledge of the Slater-Condon theory of atomic structure and spectra. This book gathers together aspects of the theory that are widely scattered in the literature and augments them to produce a coherent set of closed-form equations suitable both for computer calculations on cases of arbitrary complexity and for hand calculations for very simple cases.

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Atomic Physics in Hot Plasmas (International Series of Monographs on Physics)

Atomic Physics in Hot Plasmas (International Series of Monographs on Physics) Lowest new price: $125.23
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Author: David Salzmann

The aim of this book is to provide the reader with a coherent and updated comprehensive treatise that covers the central subjects of the field. The style and content is suitable both for students and researchers. Highlights of the book include (among many others) the Ion-Sphere model, statistical models, Average-Atom model, emission spectrum, unresolved transition arrays, supertransition arrays, radiation transport, escape factors and x-ray lasers.


Laser Cooling and Trapping (Graduate Texts in Contemporary Physics)

Laser Cooling and Trapping (Graduate Texts in Contemporary Physics) Lowest new price: $37.10
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Author: Harold J. Metcalf

Intended for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduates with some basic knowledge of optics and quantum mechanics, this text begins with a review of the relevant results of quantum mechanics, before turning to the electromagnetic interactions involved in slowing and trapping atoms and ions, in both magnetic and optical traps. The concluding chapters discuss a broad range of applications, from atomic clocks and studies of collision processes, to diffraction and interference of atomic beams at optical lattices and Bose-Einstein condensation.

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Critical Assembly: A Technical History of Los Alamos during the Oppenheimer Years, 1943-1945

Critical Assembly: A Technical History of Los Alamos during the Oppenheimer Years, 1943-1945 Lowest new price: $63.48
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Author: Lillian Hoddeson

This volume is a lucid and accurate history of the technical research that led to the first atomic bombs. The authors explore how the "critical assembly" of scientists, engineers, and military personnel at Los Alamos, responding to wartime deadlines, collaborated to create a new approach to large-scale research. The book opens with an introduction laying out major themes. After a synopsis of the prehistory of the bomb project, from the discovery of nuclear fission to the start of the Manhattan Engineer District, and an overview of the early materials program, the book examines the establishment of the Los Alamos Laboratory, the implosion and gun assembly programs, nuclear physics research, chemistry and metallurgy, explosives, uranium and plutonium development, confirmation of spontaneous fission in pile-produced plutonium, the thermonuclear bomb, critical assemblies, the Trinity test, and delivery of the combat weapons.

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The Discovery of Anti-Matter: The Autobiography of Carl David Anderson, the Youngest Man to Win the Nobel Prize (Series in Popular Science , Vol 2)

The Discovery of Anti-Matter: The Autobiography of Carl David Anderson, the Youngest Man to Win the Nobel Prize (Series in Popular Science , Vol 2) Lowest new price: $33.76
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This volume presents the life story of Carl David Anderson, who in 1963, at the age of 31, became the youngest Nobel laureate for his discovery of antimatter when he observed positrons in cloud chamber. He is also responsible for developing rocket power weapons that were used in World War II, and was also a pioneer in the study of cosmic rays at high altitudes.

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Atom: Journey Across the Subatomic Cosmos (Truman Talley)

Atom: Journey Across the Subatomic Cosmos (Truman Talley) Lowest new price: $6.64
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Author: Isaac Asimov

The legendary Isaac Asimov starts what is perhaps the finest of all his books with a simple query: How finely can a piece of matter be divided? But like many simple questions, this one leads readers on a far-flung quest for a final answer, a search that encompasses such fascinating phenomena as light and electricity and their components--strange but real bits of matter that challenge our assumptions about the very nature of time and space. 40 illustrations.

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Atoms and Molecules in Strong External Fields (Advances in Behavioral Biology; 48)

Atoms and Molecules in Strong External Fields (Advances in Behavioral Biology; 48) Lowest new price: $158.29
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Proceedings of the April 1997 seminar. The designation strong fields applies to external static magnetic and/or electric fields that are sufficiently intense to cause alterations in atomic or molecular structure and dynamics. Thirty-eight contributions discuss the behavior and properties of atoms in


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