BROGLIE, Louis Victor, Prince de (1892-1987). Thèses présentées la Faculté des Sciences de l'Université de Paris pour obtenir le grade de docteur ès sciences physiques... 1re Thèse. Recherches sur la théorie des quanta. Paris: Masson, 1924.
8o. Small diagrams in text. Original printed wrappers (rebacked, few chips, lightly soiled); cloth folding case. Provenance: PIETER ZEEMAN (pencil signature on front wrapper).
FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY of de Broglie's doctoral thesis, which established a new era in physics and earned him the Nobel Prize in physics for 1929. INSCRIBED BY DE BROGLIE on the title: "Hommage de l'auteur," and signed in pencil by Nobel Prize winner Pieter Zeeman on the front wrapper. De Broglie proposed that matter may share the properties of both particles and waves, "analogous to the dual behavior of light demonstrated by Einstein and others in the first two decades of the century" (Norman). According to de Broglie's hypothesis, particles such as electrons should exhibit the traits of matter, which can be localized in space, under certain cirumstances, and of waves, which are a periodical phenomenon with extension in space and a measurable wavelength, under others. He suggested that it should be possible to detect these particle or matter waves experimentally. De Broglie's theory was greeted with general skepticism by his peers, with the exception of Einstein, who commented after reading de Broglie's manuscript, "he has lifted a corner of the great veil."
In 1927 de Broglie's ideas were vindicated, when the Americans Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer and the Scotsman G. P. Thomson experimentally proved the wave nature of electrons: "they directed a beam of electrons on to a crystal of metal , and found that instead of bouncing off, as particles would, the electron was diffracted; just as the X-rays had been in the experiments of von Laue and the Braggs. Thus the duality of both light and matter had been established, and physicists had to come to terms with fundamental particles which defied simple theories and demanded two sets of 'complementary' descriptions, both applicable under certain circumstances, but incompatible with one another" (PMM 417). To de Broglie's theory one can trace the development of quantum mechanics and modern physics, as well as the innumerable practical applications of electron diffraction in the analysis of microscopic structures, from the fields of medicine and biology to electronics and computer science.
De Broglie's thesis was reprinted within the year in the Annales de physique (vol. 3), with the type largely reset; offprints of this journal appearance are known and are easily distinguished from this first edition; both are rare. En français dans le texte 353; Norman 347.