Lancaster: American Physical Society, 1947. 1st Edition. BOUND FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE of the paper in which Lamb announced the fine structure of the hydrogen atom, discovered the discrepancy in electromagnetic theory called the Lamb Shift, and began the revolution that led to Quantum Electrodynamics (QED). Full volume with many other papers of significance throughout.
QED basically describes how light and matter interact, addressing it as a small difference between energy levels of two orbitals of the hydrogen atom that was unexplained and at odds with prevailing electromagnetic theory, then Dirac's quantum theory of the electron. Lamb explains "electromagnetic attraction and repulsion… in terms of the exchange of photons between charged particles" (Peacock, The Quantum Revolution, 100).
The Lamb Shift, then, is a small difference between energy levels of two orbitals of the hydrogen atom that was unexplained and at odds with prevailing electromagnetic theory, then Dirac's quantum theory of the electron. This small difference, caused by the interaction between the electron and the vacuum, became the impetus for the development of QED. QED, sometimes said to be the most accurate physical theory ever written, became the model for quantum field theories that would be developed in the future" (ibid).
Able to mathematically describe all phenomena involving electrically charged particles interacting by means of exchange of photons, QED can make extremely accurate predictions. Richard Feynman has called it "the jewel of physics" for this reason. In 1955, Lamb was awarded the Noble Prize along with P. Kusch (whose paper is also included here) "for his discoveries concerning the fine structure of the hydrogen spectrum" (Noble Prize Committee).
WITH Bethe's "The Electromagnetic Shift of Energy Levels," in which the author, considering the Lamb/Retherford discovery of the shift of the 2S-state of hydrogen upward in energy evidenced in "Fine Structure," took up an idea of Hans Kramer's that if one renormalized the mass of the electron ("taking into account its interaction with its own electromagnetic field, then only those parts of the self-energy which are not contained in the mass of the particle would be observable and amenable to experimentation") (Mehra, The Conceptual Completion, 1039). "The main idea in Bethe's calculation was to use Kramer's renormalization procedure (although in a quantum, rather than a classical context) for the self-energy of the electron in a nonrelativistic consideration of this problem" (ibid).
When done, Bethe had "completed the first non-relativistic computation of the shift of the lines of the hydrogen atom as measured by Lamb and Retherford. Despite the linmitations of the computation, agreement was excellent. [Bethe's] idea was simply to attach infinities to corrections at mass and charge that were actually fixed to a finite value by experiments. In this way, the infinities get absorbed in those constants and yield a finite result in good agreement with experiments. This procedure was named renormalization" (Wikipedia). Item #293
CONDITION & DETAILS: Full volume. Lancaster: American Physical Society. 4to (10.75 x 8 inches; 268 x 200mm). Entire volume, continuously paginated pp. 1-1304. Lamb's paper: pp. 241-243; Bethe's pp. 339-341. Ex-libris with no markings at the spine whatsoever. Pictorial bookplate on front pastedown; small stamp on blank front flyleaf and title page. Illustration: In-text figures throughout. Exterior: Bound in tan cloth with a gilt-lettered spine; very slight rubbing at the edges. Tightly and solidly bound. Small closed tear at the corner of two pages; interior is bright and clean throughout. Very good condition.