ELEMENTARY THEORY OF NUCLEAR SHELL STRUCTURE. New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. London, Chapman & Hall, Ltd.

1955. 8vo, pp. xiv, 269, [5] blank; clean and crisp; First edition of this classic text on nuclear shell structure and which explained the stability of specific atomic nuclei. ‘The authors of this monograph shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics for the nuclear shell model of atomic nuclei. In addition to theoretical work, the book includes a large body of experimental data interpreted with the aid of the shell model. As the second author admitted in a letter, Mayer wrote most of the book’ (Grolier). Mayer was only the second woman, after Marie Curie, to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics. Her co-author J. Hans D Jenson was a Professor of Physics at the University of Heidelberg.
‘The nuclear shell model was a key discovery for the development of nuclear physics. It explained facts, such as the abundance of specific isotopes of elements that were beyond the predictive capability of the liquid drop model of nuclei, which treated the particles - protons and neutrons - of atomic nuclei as one ensemble and had been adequate for a basic explanation of fundamental nuclear processes such as fission’ (Grolier).
Maria Gertrud Käte Goeppert (1906-1972) grew up in Göttingen, where her father had an academic appointment. ‘For a woman at that time, it is noteworthy that she gained entry to Göttingen University; her original plan had been to study mathematics, but she quickly switched to physics. Her talent was quickly recognized and she became associated with some of Göttingen’s most famous research physicists. Her doctoral thesis of 1930 presented a theory of a phenomenon only observed later. In 1927 the Goeppert household was upset by the death of Maria’s father, and her mother took in students as lodgers. One of those students was an American, Joseph Mayer, and in 1930 Maria and Joseph were married and moved to the United States. An academic appointment for her in Germany would have been very difficult to obtain, but as she discovered, an academic position in the United States was not much easier to obtain, as nepotism rules were common. As well ... no academic institution in the United States had yet shown an interest in her speciality, the application of quantum mechancs to problems in physics and chemistry’ (ibid). ‘Though Goeppert-Mayer had an outstanding background in quantum mechanics and was to become a Nobel laureate in physics, upon her arrival in the United States … she was treated not as a brilliant academic, but as “an academic wife, whose husband has a fairly secure position”’ (Rayner-Carter). Grolier, Extraordinary Women, pp. 65-68; Rayner-Carter p. 233.

Condition: in the original blue publisher’s cloth, spine lettered in gilt, cloth lightly sunned and rubbed along upper margins, with the original printed cream dust-jacket lettered in red, slight loss at head of spine, tail of spine nicked,with some fraying and nicking to upper margins, jacket covers a little soiled.

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