Perspectives on “The Theory of Atomic Spectra”

  • B. R. Judd


“The Theory of Atomic Spectra” by E. U. Condon and G. H. Shortley1 has dominated atomic spectroscopy over the last forty years in a way that few books in other fields have done. It is not difficult to see how this has come about. In 1935, when the book was published, it was possible to give a reasonably complete account of the subject without making concessions to the reader. The frontiers of the field are described in a lucid and compelling style. It is wholly accurate. Most important of all, the theory is firmly based on quantum mechanics. Condon’s wide experience in different areas of physics is apparent here. In fact, his publication list2 reveals only six articles on atomic spectra that were written before 1935 — and even fewer afterwards. But although his work in other fields, such as the enunciation of the Franck-Condon principle, almost certainly made a greater impact on the development of physics, his book with Shortley has probably attracted more readers than any of his other writings.


Vector Model Atomic Spectrum Atomic Spectroscopy Publication List2 Slater Integral 
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  1. 1.
    E, U. Condon and G. H. Shortley, “The Theory of Atomic Spectra,” Cambridge University Press (1935).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    W. E. Britten and H. Odabasi (Eds.), “Topics in Modern Physics,” Colorado University Press (1971).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    R, H. F (...), Nature, 138, 525 (1936).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    H. E. White, “Introduction to Atomic Spectra,” McGraw-Hill, New York (1934).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    K. M. Howell, “Tables of 9j-Symbols,” University of Southampton Research Report 59–2 (1959).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    G. Racah, Phys. Rev. 62, 438 (1942).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    C. W. Ufford and G. H. Shortley, Phys, Rev. 42, 167 (1932).ADSMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    G. Racah, Phys. Rev. 63, 367 (1943).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. See also J. C. Slater, “Quantum Theory of Atomic Structure,” Vol. II, McGraw-Hill, New York (1960), p. 159.MATHGoogle Scholar
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    G. Racah, Phys. Rev. 76, 1352 (1949).ADSMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    E. Fick and G. Joos, Handbuch der Physik, Vol, 28 (Ed, S. Flügge ), Spectroscopy II, Springer-Verlag, Berlin (1957), p. 269.Google Scholar
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    G. H. Dieke and R. Sarup, J. Chem, Phys. 29, 741 (1958);ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. K. H. Hellwege, G. Hess, and H. G. Kahle, Zeits. f. Phys. 159, 333 (1960).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. R. Judd
    • 1
  1. 1.Physics DepartmentThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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