AUTHORDahl, Per F.
TITLEFlash of the Cathode Rays: A History of J J Thomson's Electron
PUBLISHERInstitute of Physics Publishing
CITYBristol, England
ISBN0 7503 0453 7

This book traces the history of the electron, centering on Joseph John ("J. J.") Thomson’s discovery and explication of cathode rays in the late 1890s. The book traces the evolution of the concept of electrical charge, from the earliest glow discharge studies to the final cathode ray and oil drop experiments of Thomson and Robert Millikan. Using a variety of sources including archival writings of Thomson's, author Per F. Dahl covers the European and English race for the source of the cathode rays, Millikan's unambiguous isolation of the electron, the birth of Ernest Rutherford's nuclear atom, and the discovery of radioactivity in 1896. The author highlights the controversies over N-rays, Henri Becquerel's positive electron, and the famous dispute between Felix Ehrenhaft and Millikan over subelectrons. Structured chronologically, the book draws connections between Thomson’s theories and the work of his contemporaries. Scholarly yet accessible to readers with a basic knowledge of physics, it should appeal to historians of science, teachers and students of physics, and general readers interested in the development of modern physics. Many images and diagrams enhance the descriptions of experiments and discoveries. The book also contains extensive endnotes, a thorough bibliography, a subject index, and a useful index of the names of all the scientists referenced within the text of the book.

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