EXCEPTIONAL PRESENTATION ASSOCIATION COPY OF SODDY'S THE INTERPRETATION OF THE ATOM, INSCRIBED TO PHYSICIST JOHN JOLY, THANKING HIM FOR PHOTOGRAPHS USED IN THE BOOK
SODDY, Frederick. The Interpretation of the Atom. London: John Murray, (1932). Thick octavo, original red cloth, original dust jacket. $3200.
First and only edition, presentation copy, of Frederick Soddy's second book on physics and radioactivity, with two folding tables and dozens of half-tones, inscribed on a tipped-in slip: "J. Joly Esq. F.R.S., Somerset House, Temple Road, Dublin. Thanks for the use of illustrations. FS. October 1932."
The Interpretation of the Atom, Soddy's second book, is an analysis of the rapid developments in radioactivity and atomic theory in the early decades of the 20th century. A pioneer in atomic theory, Soddy was Rutherford's collaborator in, among other things, the crucial alpha-ray experiments that led to their revolutionary disintegration theory of radioactivity. Together, "they showed how the radioactive element thorium decayed at a fixed rate over time into a series of other elements… [which] led to the concept of 'half life'" (Simmons, The Scientific 100 19). As a result of their experiments in radioactivity, Soddy independently became the first to recognize that chemically identical atoms of different atomic weights were all varieties of the same atom, leading him to coin the term "isotope" (Jenkins-Jones, 446). In 1921, he was awarded the Nobel Prize "for his contributions to the knowledge of the chemistry of radioactive substances and his investigations on the occurrence and nature of isotopes" (Callum & Taylor, 143). This copy is inscribed to Irish physicist John Joly, who died the following year. The inscription thanks Joly for photographs, including the one at Figure 33 that depicts "Haloes of Unknown Origin in Ytterby Mica." Professor of Geology at Trinity College, Joly was known for his endless innovation and creativity, which resulted in the invention of several scientific instruments and the publication of scores of papers. His greatest fame, however, came in the area of radioactivity, where he made groundbreaking discoveries into "terrestrial heat and the effect it would have on calculations of the age of the earth made by Kelvin's method," dating geological formations, and using radioactivity for therapeutic purposes (DSB).
Slight foxing to half title and scattered mottling to original cloth. Light edge-wear and minor sunning to rear panel of scarce original dust jacket. A near-fine inscribed copy with an outstanding association.