The Physical Basis of Things

The Physical Basis of Things

The Physical Basis of Things

The Physical Basis of Things

Excerpt

In introducing the fourteenth edition of the Encyclopaedia BritannicaJ. L. Garvin, the editor in chief, surveys the transformation of life in the last generation. "The map of the intellectual world," he says, "more than that of the political, is changed beyond recognition. On every side we see new mechanisms and agencies with consequent new social activities and habits; in many ways we are farther from the youth of our grandparents, even from the youth of our parents, than were they from the middle ages. This is ordinary evidence to the physical eye. But let the eye of the mind turn to inward views. In every direction new prospects and vistas stretch out. . . . In all the physical sciences, interacting more and more, the marches of experiment and perception during the last couple of decades are known even by the layman to be very wonderful. Many authorities pronounce that ideas in this sphere have been more profoundly altered than ever before in any equal period."

Dr. Garvin, continuing, opines that Einstein's theory of relativity is apt to have as profound an influence on the thought of this century as did the work of Darwin in the last or that of Newton in the eighteenth or of Bacon in the seventeenth. And now the New Mechanics in its implications seems almost to dwarf the theory of relativity.

We cite Dr. Garvin as a detached observer. In physics the years of this century have seen one monumental discovery rapidly succeeding another--no other science can show anything comparable. The physicist presents a superb view of nature. His discoveries are a most recent, dramatic episode in human culture. The discovery of the atom is one of the proudest achievements of intellectual man. It should not be necessary to give a brief for a course in modern physics as a part of a liberal education. Primarily this book is written not for the physics specialist but for the student of general interests. It does not aim primarily to give information but to give appreciation of the meaning of modern physics.

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