Encyclopaedic dictionary of physics

Encyclopaedic dictionary of physics

Bioenergetics, Considerations of Processes of Absorption, Stabilization, Transfer and Utilization. (Proceedings of a symposium held at Brookhaven Nati...

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Bioenergetics, Considerations of Processes of Absorption, Stabilization, Transfer and Utilization. (Proceedings of a symposium held at Brookhaven National Laboratory, October 12-16, 1959.) Edited by LEROY G. AUGENSTINE. Academic Press Inc., 1960, 685 pp., $10. THE scope of bioenergetics has been described as the interaction of all forms of energy with living systems and the means by which this energy is transferred and changed from one form to another. This book constitutes the proceedings of a symposium, sponsored by the United States Atomic Energy Commission, with the object of collating existing knowledge in this embryonic field as well as providing some insight into the trends of future research. The result is a series (40) of extremely worthwhile discursive articles of a review nature formally grouped into five sessions which are entitled; Presentation of biological problems; Energy absorption or production and stability of primary intermediates; Storage, stability and migration of energy; Energy utilization through coupled systems; Effects of ionizing radiation. It is fortunate that the often lively and informative discussion on each paper has also been included. The symposium is somewhat (but not exclusively) oriented towards an understanding of the effects of ionizing radiation in biological materials and systems. Several contributions, however, particularly those in the penultimate session are concerned with photosynthesis, bioluminescence, photochemistry and mitochondrial electron-transport systems. The contributions by A. Szent-Gyorgyi (Submolecular biology) and B. A. Pullman (Electronic structure of energy-rich phosphates) on the possible relation between electronic structure and biological function are very stimulating and touch on issues of fundamental importance. Apart from minor errors and the occasional overlap in subject matter, the editor and contributors are to be congratulated on a most useful survey of many aspects of this most important subject. P. T. GRANT

Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Physics. Edited by J. THEWLIS, D. J. HUGHES, A. R. MEETHAM and R. Cl. GLASS. 7 Vols. + Glossary of foreign terms. Pergamon Press, 1961-1962, &98 ($298). Vol. 1. A to Compensated Bars, 800 pp., 1961. THIS ambitious


aims, in the words of the 70

publishers, ‘to put the whole of physical knowledge on the bookshelf.’ As Vol. 1 appears, the remainder of seven volumes are in active preparation and completion is expected during 1962. No work of this magnitude on the subject of physics has appeared since 1922-3 when Sir Richard Glazebrook published his Dictionary of Applied Physics and some comparison with the earlier Dictionary is Indeed the Editor-in-chief in his foreword inevitable. drawsattention to some of the differences in approach. The principal difference is that whilst Glazebrook’s Dictionary was divided as far as possible into subject volumes for the convenience of the specialist, the new one presents the subject of Physics as a whole in a purely alphabetical arrangement. To the reader of an early volume this presents the tantalizing prospect of an excellent system of cross-references to related topics in volumes as yet unpublished, so that it is difficult to assess the merit of the whole except by extrapolation. The ultimate inconvenience of having to refer to several volumes in covering a particular branch of the subject is more than outweighed by the ease of reference to specific topics. Moreover the alphabetical arrangement lends itself also to the juxtaposition of articles showing different aspects of the same terms and helps to avoid the need for repetition. In the preparation of this volume alone, the editors have drawn on the assistance of 444 authors, all experienced in their particular field and many of Separate (signed) articles them world authorities. range in length from 20 words for the definition of a term to 2,000 or occasionally more for full treatment of a topic. Detailed treatment has been preserved by subdividing broad topics into separate articles: for example there are 10 articles on calorimetry, 5 on calorimeters and 3 on calorific value. When many of these are by different authors, some overlapping is inevitable, but it has been reduced to a minimum, so that these 18 articles, and others like them, can be read as a treatise on the subject. An enormous wealth of scientific discovery has followed the publication of Glazebrook’s Dictionary, so that a new one is indeed welcome. By the same token the present editors find no dearth of subject material, having for example the whole fields of electronics, nuclear physics and most of radioactivity. Nevertheless the treatment is spread over a very broad front, not only within the generally accepted boundaries of pure and applied physics, but extending well into such related domains as mathematics,

Bookreziews biophysics and physical chemistry. Thus from ‘Chemical Analysis’ to ‘Chemistry’ occupies 38 pages, a total of some 28,000 words, and could be equated to a small monograph on Chemistry, apart from sizeable contributions on chemical topics (e.g. Actinide elements) found elsewhere. The level of presentation is high and necessarily formal for the sake of brevity, but authors and editors alike are to be complimented on the avoidance of specialist jargon except in some of the shorter contributions, so that the practising scientist can easily follow articles outside his own speciality. Considering the number of authors and the diversity of their disciplines the style is also fairly uniform. Each of the longer articles is followed by a short bibliography, adequate to introduce the reader to more detailed literature: agam ’ the presentation is commendably uniform, with very few exceptions. The text is liberally illustrated with very readable line diagrams and in some instances with photographs. Considering that the latter are interspersed in the text and not on separate pages, the level of half-tone reproduction is surprisingly high, as may be judged especially from an article on ‘Clouds’.


The reader is enjoined on every other page to ‘see index for terms not found in this volume’. In fact omissions are hard to find, even in the article headings. Specialists in radio propagation may find the descriptions of some special aerial types disappointingly brief and electronics enthusiasts may note the discrepancy in detail accorded to ‘Coincidence’ as opposed to ‘Anti-coincidence circuits’, but on the whole the coverage of details is phenomenal, especially that related to the physics of radioactivity. Volume 1, consisting of 800 pages, contains about 600,000 words, the length of 5 or 6 average textbooks. If other volumes are of comparable size, the whole work will be from 4 to 5 million words in length. This is evidently no “handy reference book” and may seldom be found on private book-shelves, But if the standard of Volume 1 is maintained throughout, and few will doubt that it will be, the Encyclopaedic Dictionary represents a major contribution to the annals of Physics and will be acclaimed by the libraries of both professional and academic institutions. .J. L. PUTMAN