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Posted: August 24, 2009
Compendium of Quantum Physics - A milestone among quantum mechanics publications
(Nanowerk News) A reference work involving exactly 100 authors just recently appeared: Compendium of Quantum Physics. Concepts, Experiments, History and Philosophy. Five of them are researchers connected with the University of Stuttgart and the Max Planck Institute for Solid-State Research – Klaus von Klitzing, Alfred Seeger, Jürgen Weis, Daniela Wünsch and one of the editors.
Besides Klaus von Klitzing, who received the 1985 Nobel prize for the quantum Hall effect and wrote about it for this volume, there are two other Nobel laureates among these authors scattered over the entire globe. They are Frank Wilczek (currently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Anthony Leggett (University of Illinois and University of Waterloo), who wrote the articles on quantum field theory, Bell‘s theorem and Bose-Einstein condensation. This lexicon compiles over 200 specialized entries on 900 tightly set pages. They treat experimental and theoretical, historical and philosophical aspects of early quantum theory (1900 until the beginning of 1925) as well as quantum mechanics (from 1925 on) and more recent specialized areas of quantized matter and field theories, up to the latest developments. The most disparate interpretations of quantum mechanics are presented as well as their effects, some of them rather strange (such as nonlocality, wave function collapse or zero-point energy).
One of the Compendium’s editorial triad is the historian of science Prof. Klaus Hentschel, who directs the Section for History of Science and Technology at the University of Stuttgart. As a member of this editorial team including the renowned quantum physicist Daniel Greenberger (City College of New York) and the notable philosopher of the natural sciences Friedel Weinert (Bradford University, UK), he was primarily responsible for the authors of historically oriented contributions and checked all these texts for historical accuracy and balance. Hentschel moreover offered a good dozen of his own entries, ranging from atomic models to the Zeeman effect, for instance, about photons or the brief but hefty crisis period of the old quantum theory from 1922 to early 1925, just before the breakthrough of quantum mechanics.
“I’m relieved that this nerve-racking mammoth project has finally reached successful completion,” Klaus Hentschel stated. After all, he and his fellow coeditors had been working on it for over four years. The Stuttgart historian of science is now hoping for a broad and positive reception of this reference work. It should prove useful to physicists as well as interested chemists, materials scientists, mathematicians, information technologists and engineers, and partly even for the interested layman. A paperback version more affordable for students will soon be appearing; the original hardback reference work costs 160.45 euros.