Richard C. Tolman

Last updated
Richard C. Tolman
Tolman & Einstein.jpg
Richard C. Tolman and Albert Einstein at Caltech, 1932.
Born(1881-03-04)March 4, 1881
West Newton, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedSeptember 5, 1948(1948-09-05) (aged 67)
Pasadena, California, U.S.
Scientific career
Doctoral students Allan C. G. Mitchell

Richard Chace Tolman (March 4, 1881 – September 5, 1948) was an American mathematical physicist and physical chemist who was an authority on statistical mechanics. He also made important contributions to theoretical cosmology in the years soon after Einstein's discovery of general relativity. He was a professor of physical chemistry and mathematical physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Mathematical physics Application of mathematical methods to problems in physics

Mathematical physics refers to the development of mathematical methods for application to problems in physics. The Journal of Mathematical Physics defines the field as "the application of mathematics to problems in physics and the development of mathematical methods suitable for such applications and for the formulation of physical theories". It is a branch of applied mathematics, but deals with physical problems.

Statistical mechanics is one of the pillars of modern physics. It is necessary for the fundamental study of any physical system that has a large number of degrees of freedom. The approach is based on statistical methods, probability theory and the microscopic physical laws.

Contents

Biography

Tolman in 1945 Richard C. Tolman 1945 2003 902 314 ng451h74s.tiff
Tolman in 1945

Tolman was born in West Newton, Massachusetts and studied chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1903 and Ph.D. in 1910 under A. A. Noyes. [1]

West Newton, Massachusetts village of Newton, Massachusetts

West Newton is a village of the City of Newton, Massachusetts and is one of the oldest of the thirteen Newton villages. The West Newton Village Center is a National Register Historic District. The postal ("Zip") code 02465 roughly matches the village limits.

Chemical engineering branch of science that applies physical sciences and life sciences together with applied mathematics and economics to produce, transform, transport, and properly use chemicals, materials and energy

Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that uses principles of chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, and economics to efficiently use, produce, transform, and transport chemicals, materials, and energy. A chemical engineer designs large-scale processes that convert chemicals, raw materials, living cells, microorganisms, and energy into useful forms and products.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology University in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. It has since played a key role in the development of many aspects of modern science, engineering, and mathematics, and is widely known for its innovation and academic strength, making it one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the world. The Institute is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant university, with an urban campus that extends more than a mile alongside the Charles River.

He married Ruth Sherman Tolman in 1924.

In 1912, he conceived of the concept of relativistic mass by writing that "the expression m0(1 - v2/c2)−1/2 is best suited for the mass of a moving body." [2]

In a 1916 experiment with Thomas Dale Stewart, Tolman demonstrated that electricity consists of electrons flowing through a metallic conductor. A by-product of this experiment was a measured value of the mass of the electron. [3] Overall, however, he was primarily known as a theorist.

Thomas Dale Stewart was an American chemist.

Electricity Physical phenomena associated with the presence and flow of electric charge

Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion of matter that has a property of electric charge. In early days, electricity was considered as being not related to magnetism. Later on, many experimental results and the development of Maxwell's equations indicated that both electricity and magnetism are from a single phenomenon: electromagnetism. Various common phenomena are related to electricity, including lightning, static electricity, electric heating, electric discharges and many others.

Electron subatomic particle with negative electric charge

The electron is a subatomic particle, symbol
e
or
β
, whose electric charge is negative one elementary charge. Electrons belong to the first generation of the lepton particle family, and are generally thought to be elementary particles because they have no known components or substructure. The electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton. Quantum mechanical properties of the electron include an intrinsic angular momentum (spin) of a half-integer value, expressed in units of the reduced Planck constant, ħ. Being fermions, no two electrons can occupy the same quantum state, in accordance with the Pauli exclusion principle. Like all elementary particles, electrons exhibit properties of both particles and waves: they can collide with other particles and can be diffracted like light. The wave properties of electrons are easier to observe with experiments than those of other particles like neutrons and protons because electrons have a lower mass and hence a longer de Broglie wavelength for a given energy.

Tolman was a member of the Technical Alliance in 1919, a forerunner of the Technocracy movement where he helped conduct an energy survey analyzing the possibility of applying science to social and industrial affairs. [4] [5] [6]

Technical Alliance

The Technical Alliance was a group of engineers, scientists, and technicians based in New York City, formed towards the end of 1919 by American engineer Howard Scott. The Alliance started an Energy Survey of North America, aimed at documenting the wastefulness of the capitalist system.

Technocracy movement social movement

The technocracy movement is a social movement which arose in the early 20th century. Technocracy was popular in the United States and Canada for a brief period in the early 1930s, before it was overshadowed by other proposals for dealing with the crisis of the Great Depression. The technocracy movement proposed replacing politicians and businesspeople with scientists and engineers who had the technical expertise to manage the economy.

Tolman was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1922. [7] The same year, he joined the faculty of the California Institute of Technology, where he became professor of physical chemistry and mathematical physics and later dean of the graduate school.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences United States honorary society and center for independent policy research

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. Founded in 1780, the Academy is dedicated to honoring excellence and leadership, working across disciplines and divides, and advancing the common good.

California Institute of Technology private research university located in Pasadena, California

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a private doctorate-granting research university in Pasadena, California. Known for its strength in natural science and engineering, Caltech is often ranked as one of the world's top-ten universities.

One of Tolman's early students at Caltech was the theoretical chemist Linus Pauling, to whom Tolman taught pre-Schrödinger quantum theory.

In 1927, Tolman published a text on statistical mechanics whose background was the old quantum theory of Max Planck, Niels Bohr and Arnold Sommerfeld. [8] In 1938, he published a new detailed work that covered the application of statistical mechanics to classical and quantum systems. [9] [10] It was the standard work on the subject for many years and remains of interest today.

In the later years of his career, Tolman became increasingly interested in the application of thermodynamics to relativistic systems and cosmology. An important monograph he published in 1934 titled Relativity, Thermodynamics, and Cosmology [11] demonstrated how black body radiation in an expanding universe cools but remains thermal  a key pointer toward the properties of the cosmic microwave background. [12] Also in this monograph, Tolman was the first person to document and explain how a closed universe could equal zero energy. He explained how all mass energy is positive and all gravitational energy is negative and they cancel each other out, leading to a universe of zero energy. [12] His investigation of the oscillatory universe hypothesis, which Alexander Friedmann had proposed in 1922, drew attention to difficulties as regards entropy and resulted in its demise until the late 1960s.

During World War II, Tolman served as scientific advisor to General Leslie Groves on the Manhattan Project. At the time of his death in Pasadena, he was chief advisor to Bernard Baruch, the U.S. representative to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission.

Each year, the southern California section of the American Chemical Society honors Tolman by awarding its Tolman Medal "in recognition of outstanding contributions to chemistry."

Family

Tolman's brother was the behavioral psychologist Edward Chace Tolman.

See also

Related Research Articles

Big Bang The prevailing cosmological model for the observable universe

The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the observable universe from the earliest known periods through its subsequent large-scale evolution. The model describes how the universe expanded from a very high-density and high-temperature state, and offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of phenomena, including the abundance of light elements, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), large scale structure and Hubble's law. If the observed conditions are extrapolated backwards in time using the known laws of physics, the prediction is that just before a period of very high density there was a singularity which is typically associated with the Big Bang. Physicists are undecided whether this means the universe began from a singularity, or that current knowledge is insufficient to describe the universe at that time. Detailed measurements of the expansion rate of the universe place the Big Bang at around 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the universe. After its initial expansion, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow the formation of subatomic particles, and later simple atoms. Giant clouds of these primordial elements later coalesced through gravity, eventually forming early stars and galaxies, the descendants of which are visible today. Astronomers also observe the gravitational effects of dark matter surrounding galaxies. Though most of the mass in the universe seems to be in the form of dark matter, Big Bang theory and various observations seem to indicate that it is not made out of conventional baryonic matter but it is unclear exactly what it is made out of.

Inflation (cosmology) rapid expansion of the universe

In physical cosmology, cosmic inflation, cosmological inflation, or just inflation, is a theory of exponential expansion of space in the early universe. The inflationary epoch lasted from 10−36 seconds after the conjectured Big Bang singularity to some time between 10−33 and 10−32 seconds after the singularity. Following the inflationary period, the universe continues to expand, but at a less rapid rate.

Energy quantitative physical property transferred to objects to perform heating or work on them

In physics, energy is the quantitative property that must be transferred to an object in order to perform work on, or to heat, the object. Energy is a conserved quantity; the law of conservation of energy states that energy can be converted in form, but not created or destroyed. The SI unit of energy is the joule, which is the energy transferred to an object by the work of moving it a distance of 1 metre against a force of 1 newton.

General relativity Theory by Albert Einstein, covering gravitation in curved spacetime

General relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1915 and the current description of gravitation in modern physics. General relativity generalizes special relativity and supersedes Newton's law of universal gravitation, providing a unified description of gravity as a geometric property of space and time, or spacetime. In particular, the curvature of spacetime is directly related to the energy and momentum of whatever matter and radiation are present. The relation is specified by the Einstein field equations, a system of partial differential equations.

In theories of quantum gravity, the graviton is the hypothetical quantum of gravity, an elementary particle that mediates the force of gravity. There is no complete quantum field theory of gravitons due to an outstanding mathematical problem with renormalization in general relativity. In string theory, believed to be a consistent theory of quantum gravity, the graviton is a massless state of a fundamental string.

Physics Study of the fundamental properties of matter and energy

Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its motion, and behavior through space and time, and that studies the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to physics:

Quantum gravity (QG) is a field of theoretical physics that seeks to describe gravity according to the principles of quantum mechanics, and where quantum effects cannot be ignored, such as near compact astrophysical objects where the effects of gravity are strong.

Vacuum energy is an underlying background energy that exists in space throughout the entire Universe. This behavior is codified in Heisenberg's energy–time uncertainty principle. Still, the exact effect of such fleeting bits of energy is difficult to quantify. The vacuum energy is a special case of zero-point energy that relates to the quantum vacuum.

Heat death of the universe A possible end of the universe

The heat death of the universe, also known as the Big Chill or Big Freeze, is an idea of an ultimate fate of the universe in which the universe has evolved to a state of no thermodynamic free energy and therefore can no longer sustain processes that increase entropy. Heat death does not imply any particular absolute temperature; it only requires that temperature differences or other processes may no longer be exploited to perform work. In the language of physics, this is when the universe reaches thermodynamic equilibrium.

Big Bounce A hypothetical cosmological model for the origin of the known universe

The Big Bounce is a hypothetical cosmological model for the origin of the known universe. It was originally suggested as a phase of the cyclic model or oscillatory universe interpretation of the Big Bang, where the first cosmological event was the result of the collapse of a previous universe. It receded from serious consideration in the early 1980s after inflation theory emerged as a solution to the horizon problem, which had arisen from advances in observations revealing the large-scale structure of the universe. In the early 2000s, inflation was found by some theorists to be problematic and unfalsifiable in that its various parameters could be adjusted to fit any observations, so that the properties of the observable universe are a matter of chance. Alternative pictures including a Big Bounce may provide a predictive and falsifiable possible solution to the horizon problem, and are under active investigation as of 2017.

Howard Percy "Bob" Robertson was an American mathematician and physicist known for contributions related to physical cosmology and the uncertainty principle. He was Professor of Mathematical Physics at the California Institute of Technology and Princeton University.

Cyclic model

A cyclic model is any of several cosmological models in which the universe follows infinite, or indefinite, self-sustaining cycles. For example, the oscillating universe theory briefly considered by Albert Einstein in 1930 theorized a universe following an eternal series of oscillations, each beginning with a big bang and ending with a big crunch; in the interim, the universe would expand for a period of time before the gravitational attraction of matter causes it to collapse back in and undergo a bounce.

James Hartle American physicist

James Burkett Hartle is an American physicist. He has been a professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara since 1966, and he is currently a member of the external faculty of the Santa Fe Institute. Hartle is known for his work in general relativity, astrophysics, and interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Theoretical physics branch of physics

Theoretical physics is a branch of physics that employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. This is in contrast to experimental physics, which uses experimental tools to probe these phenomena.

In mathematical physics, de Sitter invariant special relativity is the speculative idea that the fundamental symmetry group of spacetime is the indefinite orthogonal group SO(4,1), that of de Sitter space. In the standard theory of general relativity, de Sitter space is a highly symmetrical special vacuum solution, which requires a cosmological constant or the stress–energy of a constant scalar field to sustain.

Branches of physics sub-field of study of physics

Physics deals with the combination of matter and energy. It also deals with a wide variety of systems, about which theories have been developed that are used by physicists. In general, theories are experimentally tested numerous times before they are accepted as correct as a description of Nature. For instance, the theory of classical mechanics accurately describes the motion of objects, provided they are much larger than atoms and moving at much less than the speed of light. These "central theories" are important tools for research in more specialized topics, and any physicist, regardless of his or her specialization, is expected to be literate in them.

In physics, a non-relativistic spacetime is any mathematical model that fuses n–dimensional space and m–dimensional time into a single continuum other than the (3+1) model used in relativity theory.

References

  1. Richard C. Tolman at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. Tolman, R. C. (1912). "Non-Newtonian Mechanics, The Mass of a Moving Body". Philosophical Magazine. 23: 375–381. doi:10.1080/14786440308637231.
  3. Tolman, R. C.; Stewart, T. D. (1916). "The electromotive force produced by the acceleration of metals". Physical Review. 8 (2): 97–116. Bibcode:1916PhRv....8...97T. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.8.97. PMC   1090978 .
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-12-21. Retrieved 2013-03-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Retrieved March-16-13
  5. Anderson, Larry (2002). Benton MacKaye: Conservationist, planner, and creator of the Appalachian Trail. JHU Press. p. 136. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  6. Anderson, Larry (2002). Benton MacKaye: Conservationist, planner, and creator of the Appalachian Trail. JHU Press. p. 48. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  7. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter T" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences . Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  8. Bartky, W. (1927). "Review: Statistical Mechanics with Applications to Physics and Chemistry by Richard C. Tolman". Astrophysical Journal. 66: 143–144. Bibcode:1927ApJ....66..143B. doi:10.1086/143076.
  9. Sterne, Theodore E. (1941). "Review: The Principles of Statistical Mechanics by Richard C. Tolman". Astrophysical Journal. 93: 513. Bibcode:1941ApJ....93..513.. doi:10.1086/144301.
  10. Infeld, L. (July 1939). "Review: The Principles of Statistical Mechanics by Richard C. Tolman". Philosophy of Science. 6 (3): 381. doi:10.1086/286579.
  11. Chant, C. A. (1934). "Review: Relativity, Thermodynamics, and Cosmology by Richard C. Tolman". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 28: 324–325. Bibcode:1934JRASC..28Q.324C.
  12. 1 2 Reynosa, Peter. "Why Isn't Edward P. Tryon A World-famous Physicist?". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 22, 2016. (See Edward Tryon.)

Books by Tolman