Cover: Hydrogen: The Essential Element, from Harvard University PressCover: Hydrogen in PAPERBACK

Hydrogen

The Essential Element

Add to Cart

Product Details

PAPERBACK

$28.50 • £22.95 • €25.50

ISBN 9780674012523

Publication Date: 11/30/2003

Academic Trade

288 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

23 halftones, 13 line illustrations, 2 tables

World

Seduced by simplicity, physicists find themselves endlessly fascinated by hydrogen, the simplest of atoms. Hydrogen has shocked, it has surprised, it has embarrassed, it has humbled—and again and again it has guided physicists to the edge of new vistas where the promise of basic understanding and momentous insights beckoned. The allure of hydrogen, crucial to life and critical to scientific discovery, is at the center of this book, which tells a story that begins with the big bang and continues to unfold today.

In this biography of hydrogen, John Rigden shows how this singular atom, the most abundant in the universe, has helped unify our understanding of the material world from the smallest scale, the elementary particles, to the largest, the universe itself. It is a tale of startling discoveries and dazzling practical benefits spanning more than one hundred years—from the first attempt to identify the basic building block of atoms in the mid-nineteenth century to the discovery of the Bose-Einstein condensate only a few years ago. With Rigden as an expert and engaging guide, we see how hydrogen captured the imagination of many great scientists—such as Heisenberg, Pauli, Schrödinger, Dirac, and Rabi—and how their theories and experiments with this simple atom led to such complex technical innovations as magnetic resonance imaging, the maser clock, and global positioning systems. Along the way, we witness the transformation of science from an endeavor of inspired individuals to a monumental enterprise often requiring the cooperation of hundreds of scientists around the world.

Still, any biography of hydrogen has to end with a question: What new surprises await us?

Awards & Accolades

  • A Discover Magazine Best Science Book of 2002
Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, by Kathleen Belew, from Harvard University Press

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, by Lindsay Chervinsky, from Harvard University Press

Why You Should Participate in an (Online) Book Club

Online book clubs can be a rewarding way to connect with readers, Lindsay Chervinsky discovered, when she was invited to join one to discuss her book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution. Since my book was published in April 2020, I’ve discovered that my work appeals to three main audiences. First, the general readers who are enthusiastic about history, attend virtual events, and tend to support local historic sites. Second, readers who are curious about our government institutions and the current political climate and are looking for answers about its origins. And third, history, social studies, and government teachers