Studying quantum mechanics as an undergraduate I was struck by both the elegance of the theory and its incomprehensibility. That lead to a PhD on the origins of the theory and its interpretations, which in turn led me back to the origins and interpretations of the classical physics that preceded it. I’m not sure I understand it any better now, but I certainly understand better our lack of understanding.


James Clerk Maxwell and the Theory of the Electromagnetic Field
Adam Hilger, 1986This book traces the development of electromagnetic theory up to and including the various formulations of the theory developed by James Clerk Maxwell. The emphasis is upon the interplay of physics and philosophy, and the book offers a significant revision of the traditional historiography of nineteenth century physics as well as insights to the thinking of one of history’s most famous scientists.

The Creation of Quantum Mechanics and the Bohr Pauli Dialogue
Kluwer / Springer, 1984Drawing on the correspondence between Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli, this book tells the story of how quantum mechanics emerged from their combined efforts to try and understand what was going on inside the atom. Overseen by Bohr, it was Pauli who first saw that the familiar concepts of space and time have no meaning for an electron in an atom, and that this was the key to the new theory. Heisenberg then converted this insight into a working theory. This book is currently available only from university libraries, or in the Japanese translation (Maruzen, 1992).  50+ cites

Cambridge Physics in the Thirties
Adam Hilger, 1984This book is based on recollections of the golden age of Cambridge physics from the physicists involved in the splitting of the atom, the discovery of the neutron and other major achievements of the Cavendish Laboratory in the 1930s.

Weimar Culture and Quantum Causality
History of Science 18: 155-180 (1980). Reprinted (1980) in Darwin to Einstein: Historical Studies on Science and Belief (London: Longman / Open University); (1994) in German translation in K.von Meyenn, ed., Quantenmechanik und Weimarer Republik (Brauschweig: Vieweg); (2008) in Quantum Mechanics: A Historical Approach (Crete University Press). 50+ cites
Niels Bohr: a World Beyond Visualization
In R.Porter ed, Man Masters Nature (London: BBC Publications, 1987).
The Scientific Origins of Controlled Fusion Technology
Annals of Science 44: 143-168 (1987).
The History of Complementarity
Rivista di Storia della Scienza 3: 391-407 (1985).
The Evolution of William Rowan Hamilton’s View of Algebra as the Science of Pure Time
Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 15: 63-81 (1984).
Understanding Science
History of Science 21: 415-424 (1983).
Monopoles Before Dirac
Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 14: 81-87 (1983).
Mayer, Herschel and Prévost on the Solar Motion
Annals of Science 39: 61-75 (1982).
Bohr-Kramers-Slater: A Virtual Theory of Virtual Oscillators and Its Role in the History of Physics
Centaurus 25: 189-221 (1981).
Pauli as Philosopher
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 32: 277-282 (1981).
Reminiscence and the Contemporary History of Science
British Journal for the History of Science 13: 258-262 (1980).
The Development of Attitudes to the Wave-Particle Duality of Light and Quantum Theory, 1900-1920
Annals of Science 37: 59-79 (1980).
Newton’s Theory of Colour
Centaurus 23: 230-251 (1980).