# Great Physicists: The Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking

By William H. Cropper | Go to book overview

Glossary

absolute temperature: Temperature reckoned on a scale that places zero at about —273 degrees on the Celsius scale.

acceleration: The rate of change of velocity with time; measured in meters per second per second, feet per second per second, etc.

acceleration of gravity: The rate of change of velocity with time due to gravitational attraction; on Earth equal to about 32.2 feet per second per second. Represented by the symbol g.

adiabatic system: A system insulated thermally from its surroundings.

algebra: A branch of mathematics that generalizes arithmetic by representing numbers with symbols.

alpha particles (or rays): Helium ions originating in radioactive decay.

amplitude: In quantum mechanics, a quantity calculated for an event and squared to obtain the probability for occurrence of the event.

angstrom: A very small distance unit, equal to 1CT8 centimeter.

anion: A negatively charged ion.

anode: In electrochemistry, the positive electrode of an electrolysis cell, toward which negative ions (anions) are attracted.

antielectron: A positive electron or positron.

antiparticle: A particle that is like its corresponding particle except that it has a charge and certain other properties opposite to those of the particle. When a particle and its corresponding antiparticle meet, they annihilate each other, leaving only energy. All particles of matter have their anti counterparts.

astronomy: The study of stars, galaxies, and other celestial objects, through observations with telescopes and associated instruments.

astrophysics: The theoretical study of the physical nature of stars, galaxies, and other celestial objects.

atomic number: A number assigned to each chemical element that determines the element's place in the periodic table; also equal to the charge on the element's atomic nucleus in units of the proton charge.

atomic weight: The mass of an atom relative to the mass of a hydrogen atom taken to be about 1 (actually, 1.008).

Avogadro's number: The number of molecules of hydrogen in about 2 grams (actually, 2.016 grams) of hydrogen.

baryon: A heavy hadron composed of three quarks; examples are protons and neutrons.

base: Of a logarithm, the number that is raised to a power equal to the logarithm.

beta particles (or rays): Electrons originating in radioactive decay.

blackbody: An object that emits its own radiation when heated, but does not reflect incident radiation.

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#### Cited page

Great Physicists: The Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking

• Title Page *
• Contents v
• Preface ix
• Acknowledgments xi
• I - Historical Synopsis 3
• 1 - How the Heavens Go 5
• 2 - A Man Obsessed 18
• II - Historical Synopsis 41
• 3 - A Tale of Two Revolutions 43
• 4 - On the Dark Side 51
• 5 - A Holy Undertaking 59
• 6 - Unities and a Unifier 71
• 7 - The Scientist as Virtuoso 78
• 8 - The Road to Entropy 93
• 9 - The Greatest Simplicity 106
• 10 - The Last Law 124
• III - Historical Synopsis 135
• 11 - A Force of Nature 137
• 12 - The Scientist as Magician 154
• IV - Historical Synopsis 177
• 13 - Molecules and Entropy 179
• V - Historical Synopsis 201
• 14 - Adventure in Thought 203
• VI - Historical Synopsis 229
• 15 - Reluctant Revolutionary 231
• 16 - Science by Conversation 242
• 17 - The Scientist as Critic 256
• 18 - Matrix Mechanics 263
• 19 - Wave Mechanics 275
• VII - Historical Synopsis 293
• 20 - Opening Doors 295
• 21 - On the Crest of a Wave 308
• 22 - Physics and Friendships 330
• 23 - Complete Physicist 344
• VIII - Historical Synopsis 363
• 24 - Iγ·∂ψ = Mψ 365
• 25 - What Do You Care? 376
• 26 - Telling the Tale of the Quarks 403
• IX - Historical Synopsis 421
• 27 - Beyond the Galaxy 423
• 28 - Ideal Scholar 438
• 29 - Affliction, Fame, and Fortune 452
• Chronology of the Main Events 464
• Glossary 469
• Invitation to More Reading 478
• Index 485
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