London: Macmillan, 1927. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL WRAPS OF THOMSON & REID’S NOBEL PRIZE WINNING PAPERS “for the experimental discovery of the diffraction of electrons by crystals” (Nobel Prize Portal). The experiments conducted here “beautifully confirmed the [de Broglie’s] wave theory” (Lindau Nobel Laureate Portal).
Sir George Paget Thomson was born in 1892, the son of the physicist Sir J. J. Thomson. Paget Thomson studied at Cambridge’s Trinity College, later working for a year studying atomic structure with his father; this was followed by work at Cavendish Laboratory until WWI. Following a post at Cambridge, Paget Thomson became Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen.
It is at Aberdeen that Paget Thomson began to carry out experiments revealing the phenomena of electron diffraction with thin metal foils and high-voltage electrons. In 1924, the de Broglie hypothesis argued that a wave must be associated with the motion of any material corpuscle. “Reasoning that the effect would be easier to analyze with a solid than with a gaseous target, Thomson asked one of his students, Alexander Reid, to modify an existing apparatus and investigate the scattering of a beam of electrons with energy in the keV range through this celluloid films at normal incidence” (Lindau).
In the first paper offered here (June 1927), Reid and Paget Thomson describe “the rings formed when a beam of cathode rays was sent at normal incidence through a thin film of celluloid and struck a photograph plate placed some distance behind the film. These were attributed to a diffraction of the cathode rays by the film, the cathode rays behaving as waves of wave-length h/mv according to de Broglie’s theory of wave mechanics, and regularities in the structure of the film, or in the size of the molecules, making it behave as a kind of diffraction grating” (Abstract).
In the paper of 1927 December, Paget Thomson (working alone) confirmed and extended his experimentation “to films of gold, aluminium, and of an unknown (probably organic) substance. In particular, the relation that the size of the rings is in all cases inversely as the momentum of the cathode rays is fully confirmed, and the number and size of the rings correspond remarkably with what is to be expected from the known crystalline structure of gold and aluminium, using de Broglie’s expression for the wave- length of the cathode rays” (Abstract).
“Whereas his father had seen the electron as a particle (and won his Nobel Prize in the process), Paget Thomson demonstrated that it could be diffracted like a wave, a discovery proving the principle of wave-particle duality which had first been posited by de Broglie in the 1920s as what is often dubbed the de Broglie hypothesis” (Strickland, Creators of Quantum Physics, 180). Item #694
CONDITION & DETAILS: Two issues in original wraps. London: Macmillan. 4to. (10.5 x 7.5 inches; 262 x 188mm). Ex-libris with stamps on front wraps; professionally rebacked at the spine (see scan). Slight wear; bright and clean throughout. Both very good condition.