Lancaster: American Institute of Physics, 1957. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL PRINTED WRAPS OF FEYNMAN’S ONLY PAPER ON SUPERCONDUCTIVITY IN PRISTINE CLAMSHELL CASE. Feynman’s work did not unravel the mysteries of superconductivity, but it significantly impacted all work in the field, including the eventual and seminal BCS Theory “‘in which electrons, through interaction with lattice vibrations, form Cooper pairs, which move in a coordinated manner, rather than randomly as in a normal conductor, allowing electricity to flow with no resistance’” (APS Physics).
Feynman’s paper was first a lecture at the International Congress on Theoretical Physics held in Seattle in September 1956. This issue is entirely dedicated to the work presented at the congress and, apart from the Feynman, is inclusive of an important series of papers. It is worth noting that the congress took place and this journal was printed just prior to Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer’s announcement of their fully developed theory in December of 1957.
Superconductivity, for Feynman, was “the one that got away” (Krauss, Quantum Man, 189). Though he spent much of the early 1950s working on it, he never succeeded in the type of breakthrough that the work of BCS yielded. That said, their approach to explaining the phenomenon, “borrowed heavily from the ideas [Feynman] introduced to study the properties of materials in general, and specifically, the ideas he developed to explain superfluidity” (ibid). Feynman’s space-time approach to understanding the properties of electrons in materials “turned out to be of crucial importance in understanding the interactions that allow electron pairs to bind together and condense in a superconductor” (ibid).
A year before Schrieffer et al., cracked the problem of superconductivity, Schrieffer sat in an audience listening to Feynman talk about both superfluidity and superconductivity. While that lecture was never printed, it was a less-detailed version of the lecture/paper offered here. Schrieffer “was fascinated to hear Feynman talk in great detail about his own ideas about superconductivity that went wrong. [Schrieffer and his teams] approach to understanding superconductivity was to figure out, just as Feynman had, how a Bose-Einstein-like condensate could form, in this case for particles like electrons that were not bosons. Equally important was demonstrating, as Feynman had… that there was an energy gap between the ground state and the excited states, so that at low energies, collisions which otherwise produce excitations that dissipate energy could not occur” (ibid).
Feynman’s work also greatly impacted that of Alexei Abrikosov as well. Abrikosov would later win the Nobel Prize for showing that "one can force magnetic field lines through a superconductor, but they too will permeate the superconductor in thin vortex lines” (ibid). In his Nobel address, Abrikosov said that he had initially put his original proposal for this work in a drawer "because Landau didn’t think much of it. It was only after learning about Feynman’s thoughts about rotational vortices in superfluids that [he] had the courage to publish his ideas on magnetic vortices. Feynman’s foray into condensed matter physics was thus remarkable not just for the manner in which his intuition led to key insights, but by the way in which… his imprint on the field was demonstrable" (ibid).
Still Feynman was human. He had worked so hard on superconductivity that he later said, “I developed an emotional block against the problem of superconductivity, so that when I learned about the BCS paper I could not bring myself to read it for a long time’ (APS).
Issue includes important contributions by Bargmann, Weisskopf, Jensen, Mottelson, Lane, van Hove, Yukawa, Low, Michel, Yang, Morrison, and Salpeter. Item #957
CONDITION & DETAILS: 4to. Original printed wraps; pristine maroon clamshell case. Very slight scuffing and crease at the edges of the wraps; very slight spotting where staples appear to have bled through. (See photo). Bright and clean. Very good condition.