495 pages | 1989 | PDF | 10,5 Mb

is based upon a series of lectures on physics that Born gave in Germany in 1933. Since then it has been translated into English updated significantly as physics developed. This means that the book represents sound physics, and not the relatively undeveloped 1933 picture of the physics.

I should note that the title of the book is slightly misleading. The original German edition was called modern physics. However, the publisher of the English version already had a book called modern physics, so the English version was renamed Atomic Physics.

Born covers a wide range of topics dealing with the gasses, elementary particles, the structure of the nucleus, atoms, molecules. He has written the book in the context of describing the historical development of each topic. This is done in a flowing style by only including important equations in the text. Derivations and so fourth are placed in the 130 pages of appendices in the back of the book. This allows the text to tell a story without the burden of constant discontinuities due to equations. If you want to see the maths, just flip to the back of the book.

I would classify this book somewhere between popular science and a textbook. Like a popular science it tells a story, it flows and readable. People with some knowledge of physics can read this book and learn a lot form it. Even without the appendices. On the other hand, like a text it doesn’t give hand wavy, simplified descriptions of the physics. This is good hard physics.

While I wouldn’t call this book a text, it is far too general for that, it does give an excellent overview of the development and character of modern physics from one of the people who was there in the thick of it. I highly recommend it to any person that is acquainted with physics. Non-scientists would probably benefit more from reading something like Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe.

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