Approach to Thermodynamic Equilibrium (And Other Stationary States)

  • Willis E. LambJr.
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSB, volume 135)


This Symposium on the Physicist’s Conception of Nature celebrates the 70th birthday of Paul Dirac. Before beginning the subject of my talk, I would like to make some remarks about ways in which Dirac has influenced me personally. The first edition of his book, The Principles of Quantum Mechanics, was published in 1930. In that same year I entered the University of California at Berkeley where I majored in Chemistry. I spent the summer of 1932 at home in Los Angeles, and came across Dirac’s book on the shelves of the public library. I remember that it made a great impression on me, although I could not really understand very much of it. In part, due to its influence, I changed to Physics for graduate study, and during the years 1934 to 1938 worked with J. R. Oppenheimer on theoretical physics. Every spring, accompanied by most of his students, Oppenheimer went to Caltech in Pasadena, and around 19361 had there the opportunity to hear a lecture by Dirac on magnetic poles. This was unfortunately not the occasion on which a member of the audience, addressing the speaker during the discussion period, was told of the difference between a question and a statement.


Density Matrix Thermodynamic Equilibrium Horizontal Scale Cavity Resonator Eigenvalue Spectrum 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    W. E. Lamb, Jr., and R. C. Retherford, Phys. Rev. 72, 241 (1947). For a fuller account, see W. E. Lamb, Jr., Rep. Progr. Phys. 14, 19 (1951).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    N. M. Kroll and W. E. Lamb, Jr., Phys. Rev. 75, 388 (1949).ADSzbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    See J. Mehra, “The golden age of theoretical physics: P. A. M. Dirac’s scientific work from 1924 to 1933” in Aspects of Quantum Theory (edited by A. Salam and E. P. Wigner ), Cambridge University Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See D. ter Haar, Rep. Progr. Phys. 24, 304 (1961).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    See T. Y. Wu ‘On the nature of theories of irreversible processes’, Int. J. Theor. Phys. 2, 325 (1969).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    J. C. Helmer, ‘Maser Oscillators’, Ph.D. thesis, Stanford University (1957). (Obtainable from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan.) Also see W. E. Lamb, Jr., ‘Quantum mechanical amplifiers’ in Lectures in Theoretical Physics, vol. n, Boulder, Colorado, 1959 (edited by W. E. Britten and B. W. Downs ), Interscience Publishers, New York (1960).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    M. O. Scully and W. E. Lamb, Jr., Phys. Rev. Letters 16, 853 (1966) and Phys. Rev. 159, 208 (1967).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Shimoda, Takehashi and Townes, J. Phys. Soc. Japan 12, 686 (1957).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    W. Feller, An Introduction to Probability Theory and its Applications, Vol. I, 2nd ed., John Wiley and Sons, Inc. New York (1957), chapter XVII.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Y. K. Wang, Ph.D. thesis, Yale University (1971). (Obtainable from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan.) Also, Y. K. Wang and W. E. Lamb, Jr., to be published in Phys. Rev. Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    P. Mandel, private communication.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    G. E. Uhlenbeck and S. A. Goudsmit, Phys. Rev. 34, 145 (1929).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Willis E. LambJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physics and Optical Sciences CenterUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations