1899. 1st Edition. FIRST PUBLISHED ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THE ELECTRON IS A SUBATOMIC PARTICLE. Mention of J. J. Thomson’s report at the 1899 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement in Science in Dover “On the existence of masses smaller than atoms,” and published in the October 12 issue of Nature included here is the first published announcement that the electron is a subatomic particle.
Beginning in 1883, J. J. Thomson "had engaged himself in developing an atomic theory of electric discharge through gases" (Wagh, Essentials of Physics, 421). As his work progressed through his various discoveries, however, there was great reluctance to accept the idea of a body having smaller weight than an atom of hydrogen (this because the atom was then thought to be the ultimate, indestructible constituent of matter). It was not until Thomson read the aforementioned paper at the meeting in Dover, that his deeply interested but unconvinced audience began to accept that Thomson's experimental evidence with respect to subatomic mass was overwhelming.
In the paper Thomson read (and these words were quoted for the first time in the presentation of that meeting in this issue of Nature): "The new particle could be stripped off different atoms. It was always the same: light, fast and with the same mass and negative charge. It was not a new atom or the primordial atom, it was part of an atom, and is now called an electron." Item #582
CONDITION & DETAILS: Quarto. 11.25 x 8 inches (281 x 200mm). 636 pages. Ex-libris with the usual markings inclusive of a handsome woodcut bookplate of the Institute of Paper Chemistry in Wisconsin. Slight ghosting at the spine from the removal of a label. ILLUSTRATIONS: Figures and illustrations throughout. BINDING: Bound in green cloth, gilt-lettered at the spine. Very slight scuffing at the edges. Tightly and very solidly bound. INTERIOR: Very good condition throughout.