FIRST EDITION OF THREE LANDMARK PAPERS, each of seminal import in the history of physics.
FEYNMAN'S "Forces in molecules" is the first edition of Feynman's undergraduate thesis, the paper that began to establish his name in physics. Published when he was just twenty-one, his work here a fundamental discovery "that has played an important role in theoretical chemistry and condensed matter physics" (Selected Papers, p. 1). This extraordinary work documents the first steps in original research of one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century. Feynman showed in this paper that "the force on an atom's nucleus is no more or less than the electrical force from the surrounding field of charged electrons - the electrostatic force. Once the distribution of charge has been calculated quantum mechanically, then from that point forward quantum mechanics disappears from the picture. The problem becomes classical; the nuclei can be treated as static points of mass and charge. Feynman's approach applies to all chemical bonds. If two nuclei act as though strongly attracted to each other, as the hydrogen nuclei do when they bond to form a water molecule, it is because the nuclei are each drawn toward the electrical charge concentrated quantum mechanically between them" (Gleick, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman).
The paper is known as the Feynman-Hellmann theorem and it proposed an original and enduring approach to calculating forces in molecules. Feynman "treated the problem of molecular forces from a thoroughly quantum-mechanical point of view, arriving at a simple means of calculating the energy of a molecular system that continues to guide quantum chemists" (DSB). "Feynman was one of the most creative and influential physicists of the twentieth century. A veteran of the Manhattan Project of World War II and a 1965 Nobel laureate in physics, he made lasting contributions across many domains, from electrodynamics and quantum theory to nuclear and particle physics, solid-state physics, and gravitation" (ibid).
BOHR & WHEELER'S "The mechanism of nuclear fission" is the first fully worked out theory of nuclear fission and it laid the groundwork for atomic and hydrogen bombs"The paper is a masterpiece of clear thinking and lucid writing. It reveals, at the center of the mystery of fission, a tiny world where everything can be calculated and everything understood. The tiny world is a nucleus of uranium 236, formed when a neutron is freshly captured by a nucleus of uranium 235. The uranium 236 nucleus sits precisely on the border between classical and quantum physics" By studying this process in detail, they show how the complementary views provided by classical and quantum pictures are both essential to the understanding of nature. Without the combined power of classical and quantum concepts, the intricacies of the fission process could never have been understood. Bohr's notion of complementarity is triumphantly vindicated" (Barrow, Science and Ultimate Reality, xvii).
OPPENHEIMER & SNYDER'S "On continued gravitational contraction" constitutes the very first theoretical prediction of a singularity when a sufficiently large neutron star collapses -- the extraordinary correct physical description of what happens in a particular collapse of a neutron star. This phenomenon was later to be coined as a black hole. "Had J. Robert Oppenheimer not led the US effort to build the atomic bomb, he might still have been remembered for figuring out how a black hole could form" (American Physical Society). This paper has been described as the forgotten birth of black holes. Item #1672
Lancaster: American Institute of Physics, 1939. Royal 8vo. (10.5 x 8 inches); 267 x 203 mm. Entire volume in contemporary full black cloth, gilt-lettered at the spine. Ex-libris NO spine markings & bearing only a small, largely invisible perforated stamp at the foot of the title page. Tightly and very solidly bound. Bright and very clean throughout. Near fine condition.