This book is dedicated to Kitty, my diligent and dedicated wife who makes every effort to ensure that we share the joys of a trip well-planned, well-traveled, and well-recalled, but also shares dealing with the inevitable adversities that accompany any trip no matter how well-planned it might be. She endeavors to make both ordinary and difficult things happen with an ease and sureness that defies how difficult or ordinary they might be.
This book is geared toward the scientist and his or her students, friends, and companions. Its goal is to give some insight to the men and women who devised and carried out experiments, who dreamed up ideas that helped explain these experimental results, and who collectively unveiled the mystery of the atom. As scientific/historical travelers, we hope to appreciate where and with whom they lived and worked, what equipment they used, how they looked at the world, and the nature of their contributions so that when we arrive at a site, be it rated “one-atom” or “five-atoms”, we understand, as much as time and space permits, its significance. The author's explanations of these experiments and ideas intended for his “students, friends, and companions” have had to pass muster with Kitty, the author's ultimate friend and companion. Her willingness to read every chapter, to engage in conversations about these atomic ideas, and enthusiastically and critically comment on the explanations, have been invaluable.
Traveling is best shared between people who share a passion for the good things of life, people who share the value that anything worth doing is worth doing as well as possible, that is, as well as it can be done – with aplomb, enthusiasm, balance, and patience. In our case, it is between two people who travel to places far and wide where we look forward to sharing the triumphs and struggles of the men and women who uncovered one of the greatest ideas developed by humankind, the atomic concept. Here we are lifting a toast to Ludwig Boltzmann, the martyr of the atom, in the Hofbrauhaus in Munich.