Atomic physics in its wider sense, including nuclear, molecular, and solid‐state physics, as well as quantum mechanics, seems to be taught at most schools either as separate fields of knowledge, or under the unwritten but nevertheless unmistakable label “For Physicists Only”. That means that it is taught with all the details and in particular with all the mathematics required for a thorough mastery of this difficult field. This custom was justified at a time when atomic physics was merely a small and restricted region of physics striving to establish its right of existence beside the older fields of mechanics, heat, acoustics, electricity, magnetism, and optics. This custom may have advantages for the graduate physicist who looks toward a career in atomic physics, though even here the predominance of mathematics makes many a student overlook the fact that the basic difficulties of a true understanding of atomic physics lie in its new concepts and ideas rather than in its mathematical formalism.

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