In this science-physics anthology, Richard P. Brennan chronicles the lives, times, and ideas of twentieth century’s Great Physicists. In preface, he commends extraordinary principals who made great contribution to Quantum Mechanics’ principles: advanced reasoning from the likes of Newton, Einstein, Planck, Rutherford, Bohr, Heisenberg and Feynman. Each of these great minds contributed major theory and breakthroughs to enhance the physics world-view; their thinking projects a continuing study into the very essence of matter.
Setting the stage and basis for Classical Physics, Brennan quotes the great physicist Isaac Newton (1676), who refers to even more ancient theorists, even back to the time of biblical Daniel and Greek Democritus. Newton said: “If I have seen further than other men, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants.” Indeed, more giants were on the way; they would develop a division of effort between Classical Physics and Quantum Mechanics. In the interim, our intrepid author touches on Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler’s contribution to motion and velocity; which observations were built upon in Newton’s inquisitive mind. He was first to disperse light into its spectrum and back into white light, concluding light to consist of tiny particles. In Principia, Newton entered F = ma (Force equals mass times acceleration), now considered the most useful physical law ever written. Newton assumed the cosmological system to prove God existence and thought science a form of worship.
Brennan briefly addresses the next four hundred years of minor advances, until advent of the supreme genius of our time, Albert Einstein. Quietly, Einstein thought his way into history. He envisioned Special Relativity, constancy of light speed and infiniteness of mass at light speed, E = mc2, and incorporated Relativity of Simultaneity. To this observation, he later developed General Relativity: containing, in essence, Principles of Equivalence, whereas gravity and inertia are two different words for the same thing. Einstein forever changed the way intellect must intercept the appearance of time, space, and matter. Add to this his Cosmological Constant, later rejected, later still revived: a factor to account the invisible force holding our universe in space continuum.
Contemporaneous with Albert Einstein, Max Karl Ernest Ludwig Planck, came to prominence in 1900, aged 42, Einstein then aged about 21. Equally astute, Planck is the father of Quantum Physics, ushering in Modern Physics as opposed to Classical Physics: Quantum Theory the operative medium. Planck developed his E = hf equation and thereby removed the stalemate over light and heat frequency, wavelength and radiation propensity. His equation designated: ‘a quantum of energy, E, is equal to the frequency, f, of the radiation times ‘Planck’s constant,’ h. Einstein wrote a glowing tribute to Max Planck, as one outstanding in the field of science.
Also contemporaneous with Einstein and Planck, Ernest Rutherford rose to prominence and received accolades as “the father of nuclear energy.” Rutherford also originated the determination for half-life in radioactive substances, whereas, every living thing contains Carbon. With a half-life of 5,570 years, Carbon-14 decays into Nitrogen-14 and can be measured with some precision. The unwavering habit is useful to age-date many geophysical, archaeological and paleontological specimens.
Brennan notes: ‘Where Einstein was a theorist, Rutherford was an experimentalist.’ As a side note, his bibliographic anthology praises the renowned physicists as intellectuals inclined to musical talent — aside from abiding interest in metaphysics. Not unlike the requirement in metaphysical exegesis, search for the unseen and unknown in physics depends on like-developed insight, intrepidity, serendipity and above all, concentration.
Niels Bohr was another contemporary of the great physicists already mentioned and was prominent in the Fifth Solvay Congress, where about 30 of the world’s most renowned physicists gathered to debate Quantum Mechanics, complementarity, discontinuity, continuity, correspondence, duality and the uncertainty principle. Niels Bohr was not the last, but one of many honored by Brennan’s pen. If one wants to travel the long physics road to Quantum Mechanics, advancement of knowledge, or to explore the intellect of thinkers who paved the way, then this book is a good place to begin. How wonderful to have this assembly of thoughts from the great minds of physics giants.
Aside from the world’s important physics studies, the vast metaphysics field lies open to reevaluation, to syllogistic affirmation or rejection. Advanced studies are available to explore mankind’s greatest motivating force: his susceptibility to the unfathomable, to the unseen and to the unknown. Brennan makes several observations of the great minds preoccupation with the mystery of biblical interpretation.