The book is the culmination of the authors' many years of teaching and research in atomic physics, nuclear and particle physics, and modern physics. It is also a crystallization of their intense passion and strong interest in the history of physics and the philosophy of science.
The book gives students a broad perspective of the current understandings of the basic structures of matter from atoms, nucleus to leptons, quarks, and gluons along with the essential introductory quantum mechanics and special relativity. Fundamentals aside, the book retrospects the historical development and examines the challenging future directions of nuclear and particle physics. Interwoven within the content are up-to-date examples of very recent developments and future plans that show in detail how the techniques and ideas of atomic, nuclear, and particle physics have been used and are being used to solve important problems in basic and applied areas of physics, chemistry, and biology that are closely linked to the prevailing major societal problems in medicine, energy resources, new custom-made materials and environmental pollution, as well as areas that encroach the broad cultural and historical interest. The uncertain path of success and failure, opportunities seized and missed, and the axiom of probability and scientists' intuition in the unfolding human drama of scientific discovery are vividly presented. Throughout the highly perceptive book, readers, especially the students are encouraged to reflect on problems and ask questions.