When Laszlo Tisza first came to MIT in 1941, he had already made significant contributions to physics. In the years since, he has consolidated his position as one of the most important theoreticians of his time. Tisza's major areas of activity, closely reflected in these twenty-three essays, have included studies of quantum liquids (in particular, the remarkable properties of liquid helium and the nature of superfluidity and superconductivity), irreversible thermodynamics and the statistical thermodynamics of equilibrium, phase transitions and critical phenomena, and the application of group theory to molecular spectroscopy.
Tisza has also given long and close attention to the philosophy and history of his science, to a degree rarely attained by an active research physicist. His special contribution has been his insights into the logical and conceptual structure of physics. This aspect of Tisza's work is less well known than his technical contributions, and the book has been structured to right the balance by revealing Tisza the natural philosopher who collaborates with Tisza the physicist.
Written by Tisza's colleagues and former students, the essays are grouped under five headings: Foundations of Probability and Thermodynamics; Condensed Matter Physics; Quantum Mechanics and Relativity; Biological Systems; and History and Philosophy of Science.
Abner Shimony, Professor of Philosophy and Physics at Boston University, has contributed a closing evaluation of Tisza's philosophy of science, and Herman Feshbach, Head of the Department of Physics at MIT, has contributed an opening recollection of Tisza's scientific style.
When Philip Morse was promoted to Professor Emeritus of Physics at M.I.T. in 1969, he already had behind him at least three full professional careers—in Quantum physics, in acoustics, and in what Julius Stratton calls "the reduction of theory to numerically useful results," a general field of which Morse was a founder and for which no good term yet exists, that includes operations research, machine computation, and systems analysis. This volume contains papers in all these fields, written by Professor Morse's students and colleagues. By their presence here, they gratefully testify to the influence that Philip Morse has had on their work and, in many cases, on their lives.