Encyclopaedic dictionary of physics

Encyclopaedic dictionary of physics

It Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Physics. Edited by J. THEWLIS, D. J. HUGHES, A. R. MEETHAMand R. C. GLASS. 7 Vols. and glossary of foreign terms. Perg...

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Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Physics. Edited by J. THEWLIS, D. J. HUGHES, A. R. MEETHAMand R. C. GLASS. 7 Vols. and glossary of foreign terms. Pergamon Press, 1961-1962, &106. Vols. 2-5, [email protected] Radiation Constants, 3392 pp. Now that more volumes of this work are available, its merits can be more clearly evaluated and the expectations expressed in an earlier review* can be re-examined. It may be said at once that the high standards of authenticity and of presentation set in the first volume have been fully maintained. With more than half the text now published, the reader is able to see to what extent his particular interests are satisfied and to gain an idea of the breadth of general coverage. Particular attention has evidently been paid to scientific developments of the last few decades: even the Miissbauer Effect is accorded an informative article which includes reference to work on gratitational shift at Harwell and Harvard. Students of the nuclear sciences should be well satisfied to find 55 pages (45,000 to 50,000 words) devoted to various aspects of Nutlear Reactors, plus a good general article on Nuclear Energy. Items beginning Neutronoccupy 48 pages and those beginning Isotope-20 pages. These last are but a small part of the information contained on isotopic and radioactive phenomena and their measurement and use, but they do include articles on Production, Industrial Uses, Research Uses, Separation of Stable Isoto$es and a short introductory account of Isotopes, Radioactive. A comparison with articles on Nuclide is instructive, especially in the clear distinction between definitions. It is a consequence of the alphabetical arrangement, as compared with Glazebrook’s arrangement in subjects, that much of the information on isotopes and associated topics is to be found elsewhere. There are, for example, 18 pages specifically devoted to Gamma Rays, as well as articles on other radiations, and a short entry on Geiger-Miiller Counter refers the reader to 19 pages under headings beginning Counter, which treat the electronic counters of nuclear radiations in some detail. The end of Volume 5 includes articles on Radiochemistry and Radio-chemical Processes besides a rather alarming account of Radiation, Biological Effectsalarming because it parades the biological results of radiation damage with insufficient emphasis on the doses required to produce them. * Znt. J. a#.

Rad. Isotopes 12, 70 (1961).

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elegant little appreciation of some 250 similar treatment is given to Mathematics, although articles on mathematical theories and operations, especially those applicable to experimental or theoretical physics, are numerous and thorough. Indeed a ‘I-page article on Legendre Functions appears to be the longest single entry in the five volumes. Academic subjects are refreshingly interspersed with severely practical ones. Three pages on Paper Manufacture, including a working account of the Foudrinier machine, are a good example. The alphabetical arrangement makes for easier reference to a specific topic than does arrangement by subject, in which the required information may be obscured by a mass of related material. However it brings fresh problems to the reader. Although it is seldom difficult to find information on a given topic, it is also desirable that all the information available should be used. To ensure this without undue duplication of entries is a problem which no doubt the Index will help to solve. Many of the articles have admirable cross-references to other relevant entries, but this seems to depend more on the individual authors than was apparent in Volume 1. For example in referring to “Radiation Chmistry” it is possible to miss a much longer and more detailed article on “Radiation ChemicalProcesses” which precedes Maxwell’s Relations (thermoit by a few pages. dynamic) are the subject of a short entry, but Maxwell’s Equations are to be found only as a subheading under Electromagnetic Field. Trivial jargon such as Co& is explained but “G-value” (of a radiation chemical process) and ‘%ked-back” (of an amplifier) are only described in context. It should be emphasized that such difficulties are the exception rather than the rule and that omissions of entries are covered by the oft-repeated injunction to refer to the index. Perhaps the apparent absence of properties of the separate chemical elements, except under such general headings as Actinide Elements and Lanthanide Elements, will also be explained by the Index. At present it seems a serious omission. Another surprising omission is of a genera1 article on A&radiography. Although there is an excellent one on Autoradiography in Bio2oa and Medicine, the important uses of this technique in metallurgy and other sciences seem to have been overlooked. Minor duplications like Geiger-Miiller Counter actually assist in cross-reference. Major duplications


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some duplication, as well as some differences of opinion. A work of this magnitude is easier to criticize than to construct and it must be a tribute to the painstaking efforts of the Editors and the many hundreds of distinguished contributors that faults are hard to find. The general standard of the Dictionary is very

high, its balance is admirable and it is remarkably free from serious typographical errors. The remaining volumes will be keenly anticipated, in which further articles on subjects of Radiation, Radioactivity, Radioactivation Analysis and Semi-conductors are to be expected, to mention but a few. The new Dictionary of Physics has already established claim to the attention of all scientists and engineers seriously concerned with the subject. J. L. PUTMAN