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ABC of Relativity by Bertrand Russell

By Bertrand Russell

First released in 1925, Bertrand Russell’s ABC of Relativity was once thought of a masterwork of its time, contributing considerably to the mass popularisation of technological know-how. Authoritative and available, it presents a amazing introductory consultant to Einstein’s conception of Relativity for a normal readership. the most definitive reference courses of its sort, and written via one of many 20th century’s such a lot influential philosophers, ABC of Relativity is still as correct this present day because it was once on first publication.

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As an example, suppose that at ‘‘time zero’’ you have 1,000 atoms of some isotope that has a half-life of 10 days. You can then state that 500 of them will have decayed after 10 days. You cannot predict which of the 500 will have decayed, however. Over the following 10 days a further 250 of the original remaining atoms will decay, and so on. Remarkably, the probability that a given atom will decay in some specified interval of time is completely independent of how long it has managed to avoid decaying; in the subatomic world, age is not a factor in the probability of continued longevity.

Specifically, atoms of all elements weighed about twice as much or more as could be accounted for on the basis of their numbers of protons. For some time, this extra mass was thought to be due to additional protons in the nucleus which for some reason contained electrons within themselves, an electrically neutral combination. This would give net-charge nuclei consistent with the scattering experiments, while explaining measured atomic weights. By the mid-1920s, however, this proposal was becoming untenable: the Uncertainty Principle of quantum mechanics ruled against the possibility of containing electrons within so small a volume as a single proton, or even a whole nucleus.

Right Seated left to right in this 1921 photo are J. J. Thomson (1856–1940), Rutherford, and Francis Aston (1877–1945), inventor of the mass spectrograph (Sect. 4). J. 1 Radioactivity, Nuclei, and Transmutations: Developments to 1932 21 with the energy we use to do useful work such as the preparation of book manuscripts. Rutherford’s intrinsic intelligence, capacity for sheer hard work, and unparalleled physical insight combined with propitious timing to set him on a path to become one of history’s great nuclear pioneers.

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