AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XL, No. 2, Fall 2008

Recent Publications of Interest
Compiled by Will Thomas

This is our usual compilation of some (by no means all) recently published articles on the history of modern physics, astronomy, geophysics and allied fields. Note that these lists have been posted on our Website since 1994, and you can search the full text of all of them (along with our annual book bibliography as well as other parts of our Website) by using our Search page at Enter your search term(s) in the box, then scroll down in the results page to "Source: Bibliographies;" you may need to click on "More Results."
For a complete list of our bibliographies of published books and journal articles on the history of physics and allied fields, visit

Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, Vol. 38, No. 2, presents Ionna Semendefri, “Legitimating a Nuclear Critic: John Gofman, Radiation Safety, and Cancer Risks.” No. 3, contains three articles of likely interest to readers interested in physics and allied fields: Joan Lisa Bromberg, “New Instruments and the Meaning of Quantum Mechanics;” Daniela Monaldi, “The Indirect Measurement of the Decay of Mesotrons: Italian Experiments on Cosmic Radiation, 1937-1943;” and Edward Jones-Imhotep, “Icons and Electronics” on the representation of the transistor in circuit diagrams.

Physics in Perspective, Vol. 10, No. 1, offers Michael A. Day, “E. U. Condon: Science, Religion, and the Politics of World Peace;” Francesco Guerra and Nadia Robotti, “Ettore Majorana’s Forgotten Publications on the Thomas-Fermi Model” (continuing the recent spate of publications on Majorana); and Sara Lippincott, “A Conversation with Valentine L. Telegdi— Part II;” while A. P. French presents “In Memorian: Philip Morrison.” Highlights of No. 2, include Osvaldo Pessoa, Jr., Olival Freire, Jr., and Alexis De Greiff, “The Tausk Controversy on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics: Physics, Philosophy, and Politics;” Joseph I. Kaputsa, “Accelerator Disaster Scenarios, the Unabomber, and Scientific Risks;” and Allen Franklin, “Are the Laws of Physics Inevitable?”; Matthew Trainer writes this issue’s “In Memoriam: Lord Kelvin, Recipient of The John Fritz Medal in 1905;” and The Physical Tourist visits Germany with “Physics in Leipzig: An Amble Through the Centuries.”

Historical highlights from Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Vol. 39, No. 2, include Oliver Schulte, “The Co-discovery of Conservation Laws and Particle Families;” and Slobodan Perovic, “Why Were Matrix Mechanics and Wave Mechanics Considered Equivalent?” No. 3, includes Aitor Anduaga, “The Realist Interpretation of the Atmosphere;” Amit Hagar, “Length Matters: The Einstein- Swann Correspondence and the Constructive Approach to the Special Theory of Relativity;” and Anthony Duncan and Michel Janssen, “Pascual Jordan’s Resolution of the Conundrum of the Wave-Particle Duality of Light.”

Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, Part A, Vol. 39, No. 1, features Paolo Palmieri, “The Empirical Basis of Equilibrium: Mach, Vailati, and the Lever;” and John Preston, “Mach and Hertz’s Mechanics.”

Archive for History of Exact Sciences, Vol. 62, No. 3, has one article with a bearing on physics: Paolo Palmieri, “Breaking the Circle: The Emergence of Archimedean Mechanics in the Late Renaissance;” as does No. 5, Shaul Katzir, “From Ultrasonic to Frequency Standards: Walter Cady’s Discovery of the Sharp Resonance of Crystals.”

Isis, Vol. 99, No. 1, features Alex Wellerstein, “Patenting the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Intellectual Property, and Technological Control.”

Vol. 23 of Isis’ yearly sister-journal Osiris is dedicated to the topic “Intelligentsia Science: The Russian Century, 1860-1960.” Articles of particular interest include Sonja D. Schmid, “Organizational Culture and Professional Identities in the Soviet Nuclear Industry;” Slava Gerovitch, “Stalin’s Rocket Designers’ Leap into Space: The Technical Intelligencia Faces the Thaw;” Karl Hall, “The Schooling of Lev Landau: The European Context of Postrevolutionary Soviet Theoretical Physics;” and Asif Siddiqi, “Imagining the Cosmos: Utopians, Mystics, and the Popular Culture of Spaceflight in Revolutionary Russia.”

British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. 41, No. 2, features Part II of Russell Smith’s “Optical Reflection and Mechanical Rebound: The Shift from Analogy to Axiomatization in the Seventeenth Century.”

Historia Scientarum, Vol. 17, No. 2, presents Takehiko Hashimoto, “Leonard Bairstow as a Scientific Middleman: Early Aerodynamic Research on Airplane Stability in Britain, 1909-1920.”

Perspectives on Science has featured a number of articles related to physics so far this year. Vol. 16, No. 1, offers William Rehg and Kent Staley, “The CDF Collaboration and Argumentation Theory: The Role of Process in Objective Knowledge;” and Alisa Bokulich, “Paul Dirac and the Einstein-Bohr Debate.” In No. 2, Andreas Blank looks at 16th-century matter theory in “Julius Caesar Scaliger on Corpuscles and the Vacuum.” Vol. 16, No. 3, is dedicated to discussion of Miriam Solomon’s “Science and Social Epistemology.” Readers may find Alan Richardson, “Solomon’s Science without Conscience, or, On the Coherence of Epistemic Newtonianism;” and Naomi Oreskes, “The Devil is in the (Historical) Details: Continental Drift as a Case of Normatively Appropriate Consensus?” of specific interest.

Annals of Science, Vol. 65, No. 3, presents Dirk van Delft, “Zero-Point Energy: The Case of the Leiden Low Temperature Laboratory of Heike Kamerlingh Onnes.” In the last newsletter, Van Delft’s piece on Onnes from Physics Today was mistakenly noted as being in the February issue. It is in the March issue.

History of Science, Vol. 46, No. 1, features David Marshall Miller, “The Thirty Years War and the Galileo Affair;” and Yves Gingras, “The Collective Construction of Scientific Memory: The Einstein-Poincaré Connection and its Discontents, 1905-2005.”

Minerva, Vol. 46, No. 2, is dedicated to historical issues. Of particular relevance to the history of physics are Matthew Stanley, “Mysticism and Marxism: A. S. Eddington, Chapman Cohen, and Political Engagement Through Science Popularization;” Anja Skaar Jacobsen, “The Complementarity Between the Collective and the Individual: Rosenfeld and Cold War History of Science;” and Christian Forstner, “The Early History of David Bohm’s Quantum Mechanics Through the Perspective of Ludwig Fleck’s Thought-Collectives.”

Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Vol. 31, No. 2, presents Myles W. Jackson, “Music and Physics: A Cultural, Interdisciplinary History” in English; and Julia Kursell, “Hermann von Helmholtz und Karl Stumpf über Konsonanz und Dissonanz” in German.

In the American Journal of Physics Vol. 76, No. 6, John H. Marburger, III calls attention to how “A Historical Derivation of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Relation is Flawed;” in No. 7, Caroline L. Herzenberg responds to the counterfactual from No. 2, (“Would Bohr be Born if Bohm were Born Before Born?”) in “Speaking of Lessons from the History of Physics, Does the Name “Hermann” Ring a Bell?;” and in Vol. 76, No. 8, J. D. Jackson looks at the phenomenon of things in physics being named after the wrong people in “Examples of the Zeroth Theorem of the History of Science.”

In Vol. 48, No. 6, of the CERN Courier Franco Bonaudi, Francis Farley, Guido Petrucci, Emilio Picasso, and Henk Verweij recall Frank Krienen in “A Talent for Ingenious Invention.”

Physics Today offers the following historical articles: in April 2008 we have Philip Anderson’s Reference Frame entry, “Who or what is RVB?;” as well as Edith Dudley Sylla’s discussion of “Medieval dynamics;” in May 2008 there is Giorgio Margaritondo’s look at Tantalus in “The Evolution of a Dedicated Synchrotron Light Source;” in June 2008, Peter J. Westwick presents “The Strategic Offense Initiative? The Soviets and Star Wars;” and in August 2008, we have Daniel Kleppner’s Reference Frame entry, “Hanbury Brown’s Steamroller.”

Physics World also has a number of history-related features. Robert Crease’s recurring column, Critical Point, discusses mathematician Alicia Boole Stott in “A Mind of Her Own” in the March 2008 issue; while in the May 2008 issue he revisits the contributions of the godfather of quantum mechanics in “The Bohr Paradox.” In the April 2008 issue, meanwhile, historian of physics Lillian Hoddeson writes about “John Bardeen: An Extraordinary Physicist.” In June 2008, Giorgio Margaritondo discusses the discovery of radioactivity in “Henri Becquerel: Serendipitous Brilliance;” while in August 2008, Alan Griffin brings us “Superfluidity: Three People, Two Papers, One Prize.”

In Vol. 39, No. 2, of the Journal for the History of Astronomy, François Wesemael and René Racine ask “Why Was the Companion of Sirius Not Seen Prior to 1862?”; while Michael Hoskin presents “Gravity and Light in the Newtonian Universe of Stars.”

The June 2008 issue of Sky and Telescope features Govert Schilling, “A Bump in the Night” about the accidental discovery of Pluto’s moon, Charon, thirty years ago.

Return to Newsletter Table of ContentsRETURN to Fall 2008 Newsletter Table of Contents

AIP History CenterCenter for History of Physics
Phone: 301-209-3165
American Institute of Physics Copyright © 2008
American Institute of Physics,
One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740-3843. E-mail:
Phone: 301-209-3100; Fax: 301-209-0843