An Introduction to the Physics of Mass, Length, and Time

An Introduction to the Physics of Mass, Length, and Time

An Introduction to the Physics of Mass, Length, and Time

An Introduction to the Physics of Mass, Length, and Time

Excerpt

If one seeks for an alternative to the time-honoured designation Mechanics and Properties of Matter, other, at least, than the now more popular General Physics (which is sadly uninformative), one is hard pressed to discover--or invent--any form of words at the same time brief, comely and precise.

In offering the title of this book as a possible form, obviously I have had to forswear brevity: if I have thereby achieved any novelty, it is not for novelty's sake alone. For my aim is precisely to introduce the beginning specialist in physics to those parts of his subject which in any well-designed course he should study first, and to effect that introduction by examining first of all the bases of measurement of the fundamental physical quantities, mass, length and time. Derived quantities are then introduced, as the concepts which specify them take on significance in the course of a survey of the world of phenomena. In the end the result is not very different in scope from any elementary Mechanics and Properties of Matter, but the emphasis is different--and of that the present title is intended as an advertisement, and a warning.

The book has been written for the beginning specialist in physics --whether his specialisation begins, as is general in Scotland, during his first year at the University, or whether it begins, as it more frequently does in England, in the scholarship form at School. Indeed it is addressed, and has in part been addressed these dozen years in unscripted lectures, to a wider audience. The Ordinary Class of Natural Philosophy in a Scottish University includes many students who do not intend to proceed even to a second year of physics, let alone to pursue the subject, as some will do, for three further years of undergraduate study. These humanists, and others elsewhere in ever increasing numbers, are at this time, and with good reason, looking for an answer to the question, 'What is physics all about?' This book does not, I know, provide an adequate answer to such a question, but I am sufficiently old-fashioned to believe that a carefully-told story, starting at the beginning, is likely to be more satisfying to any serious . . .

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