Angel "Java" Lopez en Blog

6 de Abril, 2011


Publicado el 6 de Abril, 2011, 11:10

En 1933, el nazismo llega al poder en Alemania. Gran parte del desarrollo de la física cuántica teórica de esos tiempos se había desarrollado en Alemania o cercanías. Muchos científicos alemanes dimitieron de sus cargos (como Schrodinger, y en el caso de los matemáticos, Hermann Weyl) porque no estaban de acuerdo con el clima creado por el Tercer Reich. Otros, como Heisenberg, siguieron trabajando para su país (el trabajo de Heisenberg durante la guerra da para toda una serie de posts: la guerra del uranio). Muchos físicos teóricos emigraron (recordemos a Einstein). Uno podría pensar que esos emigrados fueron recibidos con entusiasmo en sus destinos, pero no parece haber sido tan así. Hoy me encuentro con este texto de Paul Hoch

This is all very well, and was to be very important as a foundation for the growth of theoretical physics in America in the subsequent decades. But in 1933 the number of theoreticians on the physics sta¨ at those institutions considered to be the main centres of this discipline in America was -with the possible exception of the University of Michigan- tiny compared to those primarily engaged in experimentation, and rarely exceeded one or occasionally two permanent staff.

If one is going to write a dispassionate history of the transmission of this new branch of knowledge, one has to bring into the equation not only those factors facilitating it but also those opposing it. The predominant attitude to physics in Britain and America at that time was that it wasÐand should be almost as matter of morality -an experimental science (at Oxford it was still known as "experimental philosophy''). Cambridge had a considerable mathematical aspect to its physics at least since Maxwell, which embraced in part the work of Kelvin, Rayleigh and J. J. Thomson among others. However, by the 1930s it was assumed even within this tradition that Cavendish physicists did their own experiments and that those not doing experiments were not physicists and belonged to the mathematics faculty. This was still the case in the early 1930s, even for the Stokes Lecturer in Mathematical Physics, Ralph Fowler, and for his most promising students Nevill Mott and Alan H. Wilson, all of whom were attached to mathematics. [Moreover, Fowler's] own main interests were within statistical and older mathematical physics, rather than, for example, in the new "German'' quantum mechanics and its application to solids, in which such visitors to Germany and Denmark as Wilson and Mott were to play a considerable part. In the years after 1933 a great number of refugee theoreticians obtained temporary accommodation at Cambridge including Hans Bethe, Max Born, Rudolf Peierls and P. P. Ewald, among others. But none of these was able to obtain a post on the permanent staff and all went elsewhere.

Es decir, no parece haber habido centros de actividad de física teórica que los recibiera. Solamente con el tiempo, y con la colaboración que dieron en la segunda guerra, algunos de estos físicos teóricos fueron aceptados por sus comunidades adoptivas. Noten que "los que no hacían experimentos no era físicos y se los asociaba a la facultad de matemáticas". Pero a principios de 1930, no parece haber sido fácil su situación. Mi fuente (citada al final) hasta menciona que había sentimientos antisemíticos en las facultades, especialmente en EE.UU. Es nueva para mí la expresión "'German' quantum mechanics".

Este texto es de "Flight into self absorption and xenophobia" publicado en Enero de 1990 en Physics World que pueden encontrar aquí (necesitan acceso). El abstract:

The year after 1933 saw a remarkable growth and transformation of physics in Britain and America. Following the rise of a Nazi government in Berlin, over a hundred German-speaking and predominantly Jewish physicists emigrated to other countries, especially to the English speaking ones. Their reception in Britain and America was to be strongly influenced by the disparity between the then predominantly experimental physics – center on Rutherford's nuclear physics school at Cambridge and Lawrence Bragg's crystallography at Manchester – and the quantum theoretical work done in the main German center of Gottingen, Munich and Berlin, with which many of them has been previously associated.

No encontré referencias sobre Paul Hoch. El fragmento mencionado lo encontré en: "The Historical Development of Quantum Theory", Volumen 6 The Completion of Quantum Mechanics 1926-1941, de Jagdish Mehra, Helmut Rechenberg. Estos autores mencionan el antisemitismo de las facultades, pero no encontré si eso se menciona en el artículo original de Hoch.

Hoch olvida a Dirac. Un artículo de Nicholas Kemmer publicado en Marzo de 1990: Dirac's Attraction.

The article 'Flight into self-absorption and xenophobia' by Paul Hoch (January p23-6) recalls a chapter in recent history that is still vivid in my memory. There is very little in the article that I would want to correct or emphasise differently, except for one omission that to me seems glaring: the name of Paul Dirac is missing.

Tengo que estudiar la biografía de Dirac. Un libro a leer es la biografía que de él escribió @grahamfarmelo "The strangest man".

Nos leemos!

Angel "Java" Lopez
http://www.ajlopez.com
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Por ajlopez, en: Ciencia