Classical Fields, Particles, and the Theory of Relativity by William R. Davis

By William R. Davis

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Sample text

A s this is a sort o f close-up sketch, for the purpose o f bringing the personality o f the author o f the quantum theory vividly before the mind o f the reader, I shall conclude with a few remarks on Planck’s per­ sonal standing among his colleagues. H e is undoubtedly the most popular figure in the academic world o f G er­ many. Indeed one may say without the slightest fear o f exaggeration that he is the beloved o f his colleagues. Professor Som m erfeld o f M unich, whose name is also renowned in the realm o f quantum physics, wrote o f Planck some time ago: “ H is doctor’s diploma (in 1879) bore the superscription Summa Cum L aude.

W hile doing this I shall take into account also the cooperative work done by scientists in other countries. And if I mention certain names, while leaving out many others quite as eminent if not more so, these names w ill be cited merely as land­ marks to indicate a particular stage or turning-point, without any suggestion whatsoever o f making a personal valuation o f the work done by the scientist mentioned. L et us take the year 1880 as our starting-point. A t that time four great names shone out above all others to illum inate the direction along which physical inquiry was advancing.

A nd indeed, though a scientist and a perfectly practical man o f the world and an up-to-date gentleman in manner and dress and also a sportsman, who climbed the Jungfrau to cele­ brate his seventy-second birthday a few years ago— still one often thinks o f him in conjunction with Beethoven, I don’t know why, and one remembers that at the beginning o f Planck’s career there was a question whether he would develop the musical side o f his genius or the scientific side. H e developed the latter. But he could not develop the one without en­ riching the other also, because the pursuit o f theoretical science demands as its first prerequisite the construc­ tive imagination o f the artist.

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