Ya saben que me interesa la historia de la ciencia, y en especial, he escrito bastante sobre el "mágico" año 1925 y alrededores, con el nacimiento de la mecánica cuántica. Uno de los personajes que aparecen una y otra vez en cualquier historia sobre el periodo, pero que tal vez no es tan conocido, es Pascual Jordan. Nunca consiguió el premio Nobel, aunque colegas como Born y Heisenberg lo consiguieron, por trabajos que de alguna manera también compartieron con Jordan. Como ayudante de Born, estuvo con él cuando llego el tiempo de escribir y expandir las ideas de Heisenberg de 1925. Luego involucrado con la actividad nazi en Alemania en los treintas, se dedicó a otros temas, además de la física. Encuentro hoy un texto, relato, de sus primeros años, en el excelente "QED and the Men Who Made It", de Silvan Schweber:
Jordan was bom in Hannover. Germany, in 1902. He was the younger of the two children in the family; a sister some ten years older than Pascual was the older sibling. Both his parents were well read in the natural sciences. His father was a painter and he got the young Pascual interested in the geometrical concepts involved in the "perspective" of drawing at an early age. In his interview with T. S. Kuhn, Jordan recalled that as a young boy his father read him books from the Kosmos series that acquainted him with the writings of Darwin and Haeckel. His mother introduced him to the world of plants, animals, and stars. "From her I... learned that... light has to go eight minutes from the sun to here. She was also very interested in calculation, in numbers and so on and from her 1 learned the first steps in arithmetic and so on" (Jordan 1963, p. 1). She often took him to visit the local zoo and he remembered collecting pictures of extinct animals, particularly those of dinosaurs. In his early teens he thought of becoming a painter or an architect, but gradually his interests shifted to natural history and biology, and eventually to physics and mathematics. He was clearly quite gifted and ambitious: "At fourteen, I had a plan of writing a big book on all the fields of science linking them all together" (Jordan 1963, p. 5). He had by then read and absorbed such books as Pauly"s Darwinismus und Lamarkismus and F. A. Lange"s Geschichte des Materialismus. He had also studied by himself classical physics and a great deal of mathematics. While in Gymnasium he taught himself the differential and integral calculus from Nernst and Schoenfiiess"s Kurzgefasstes Lehrbuch der Differentialuiid Integralrechnung, and the theory of complex variables from Knoff"s Funktionentheorie. During his last year in the Gymnasium he began to study physics in depth and carefully read Mach"s Mechanik and Prinzipien der Wärmelehre. Mach"s views influenced Jordan deeply and he became an ardent positivist. He later declared that he took up physics in order to help resolve the discrepancy he felt existed between Mach"s teachings and the old quantum theory (Jordan 1936). He adopted as the central tenet of his philosophical outlook what he considered to be the essential and decisive principle of the positivistic theory of knowledge: that scientifically sound proposilions arc limiled lo those that can be proved experimentally.
Interesante la influencia de su madre, y su inclinación a la ciencia, y varias ramas a la vez, por ejemplo, su interés en la biología evolutiva.
Angel "Java" Lopez