Alembic Blog

Otto Robert Frisch's Hippopotamouse

This charming, Edward Lear-esque drawing isn't by an illustrator or humour writer, but a nuclear physicist! 

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Atomic Reactors Serve Peace: A Soviet-Era Czech Guide to Nuclear Power

For many people nuclear energy conjures horrific images - barrels of radioactive waste that can't be safely stored, or the hulking sarcophagus of Chernobyl. But during the 1950s nuclear power had very different connotations. For the men and women who lived through the Second World War, the atomic bombing of Japan, and the rise of the Cold War, nuclear energy for civilian use represented the hope for a better future, one that would be powered by almost unlimited supplies of clean, inexpensive power. It would be "Atoms for Peace" instead of war, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower put it in a speech to the UN in 1953.

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"Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!" The Birth of a Classic.

New in stock this week is a superb first edition of one of the most popular scientific memoirs of the 20th century, Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!. It was this volume of humorous short stories, depicting Feynman as an outsider and prankster, that cemented his popularity. But it's a book that almost wasn't written, and the story of its publication is as fascinating as the ones within its covers.

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Los Alamos to Princeton: Top Secret Manhattan Project Lectures

This book is rather unassuming - it bears the ownership signature of a Princeton student and looks like it could be any mid-century educational text in an inexpensive brown binder. But in fact, this is a rare and highly classified set of lectures printed for high-level employees of Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. How it came to be in the possession of a Princeton student a year before its contents were declassified is a fascinating story.

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Original Photos of the Pacific Theatre during the Second World War, including Nagasaki

Our most recent acquisition is an evocative collection of photographs documenting life in the Pacific fleet at the end of the Second World War, including the ruins of Nagasaki less than two months after the detonation of the atomic bomb.

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Bringing Some Culture to the Physicists: Nina Byers & Richard Feynman

This first edition of Richard Feynman's The Theory of Fundamental Processes is from the library of the pioneering female physicist Nina Byers (1930-2014), who made important contributions to particle physics and superconductivity and had a humorous personal connection with Feynman, earning her a mention in Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman.

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A School Prize Binding Inscribed by William Thomson, Baron Kelvin

Today's featured book is a wonderful find - a volume given to a student by the famous physicist William Thomson, Baron Kelvin. Though Thomson is best known today for his groundbreaking work on energy and heat, including the development of the temperature scale that bears his name, he also had an important career as a teacher, and this book is inscribed to one of his physics students at the University of Glasgow.

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The First Full Biography of Isaac Newton

This beautiful little volume, published in 1831, is the first full biography of the great Isaac Newton, written by David Brewster, a fellow scientist who would eventually uncover Newton's deep interest in alchemy and his unorthodox religious views.

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Relics of Rhoda Sale, a Near-Forgotten Female Physicist

In recent decades historians have made great strides in uncovering the hidden history of women in STEM, but many female scientists' stories remain obscure. Most of them were not Nobel Prize winners like Marie Curie, or famous authors such as Rachel Carson, but still talented and hard-working women whose efforts contributed to the progress of science at a time when their gender's participation was often undervalued or rejected outright. We recently acquired an evocative record of one such scientist, the physicist Rhoda Sale.

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January 27, 2015


20th century › physics ›

High Energy Phenomena & Meson Theories by Richard Feynman: Rare Lectures from the Dawn of Particle Physics

Richard Feynman is one of our favourite scientists here at Alembic, and we're pleased to present a true Feynman rarity - a copy of the first and only edition of High Energy Phenomena and Meson Theories, a collection of lecture notes on the emerging field of particle physics, from a course he taught during his first year as a professor at Caltech in 1951.

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