4 October 2002
RYDBERG, Johannes Robert (1854-1919). Recherches sur la constitution des spectres d'émission des éléments chimiques. Offprint from: Kongl. Svenska Vetenskaps-Akademiens Handlingar, Bandet 23, No. 11. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt, 1890.
4o. 4 plates. Original printed wrappers, uncut and unopened (rebacked); cloth folding case.
FIRST EDITION, offprint issue. Rydberg developed a general mathematical formula for expressing all series in all elementary line spectra (the formula includes the constant N<->0, now known as Rydberg's constant), which allowed him to discover some important relationships between types of series. Rydberg's formula was of fundamental importance to Niels Bohr's quantum theory of the atom (1913), providing Bohr the means of incorporating the quantum of action into the theory of atomic construction. "The formal similarity between the terms of the Rydberg formula R/n2 and the expression for the energies W<->n =A/n2 of the possible stationary states of the atom suggested to [Bohr], in the spirit of Planck's conception of the quanta of radiation, that the emission by the atom of light of frequency v<->n<->m occurred in the form of single quanta of energy hv<->n<->m; Rydberg's formula then indicated that in this process the atom passed from an initial stationary state W<->n to another stationary state W<->m. . . .Bohr later said that the clue offered by Rydberg's formula was so transparent as to lead uniquely to the quantal description of the radiation process he proposed; this gave him the conviction that it was right, in spite of the radical break with classical ideas that it implied" (DSB). SCARCE.
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