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In spite of the cordiality and warmth which made him very popular with his students. His wealthy father had given him the following advice before he began his studies: This was merely due to a clerical error.
In almost every age a certain sphere of human reflection and creative activity exercises a peculiar fascination for gifted minds. Born refused to give in and insisted on the letter of the law. He would tell his pupils that only one who was entirely absorbed by physics and actually dreamed about it could hope for enlightenment.
He could never forget his Hamburg origin. This was not only because of Franck's great kindness of heart but also because of his almost religious devotion to physics. He spoke of his own inspirations in the language of a medieval mystic.
Born was probably the most interested in the outside world. He remained always a Hamburg aristocrat. His talents were so various that he might well have become a first-rate pianist or author. He was able. They kept their pupils posted on their private correspondence where unsolved problems were discussed with their foreign colleagues. Atomic physics exercised this magnetic power in the years after the First World War. James Franck.
Since there was so much that was new and uncertain in the domain of atomic research. Hilbert would interrupt him in broadest East Prussian: Old and young became comrades on this journey into the interior of matter. Disclosures were still possible in the study of the most invisible and microscopic of all phenomena. The problem was tackled afresh every time. Here one might come upon traces of new laws.
It was taken up by the philosophically talented. Now tell me over again. But whenever any of the young geniuses sought refuge on the esoteric heights of complicated mathematical explanations. Both alike took pride in their common conquest of fragments of knowledge. Experience and knowledge were worth little.
It became almost a tradition for Hilbert to open the proceedings with a pretence of innocence: Both showed equal modesty and bewilderment before the impenetrable.
A highlight of every week of the term was the 'Seminar on Matter' conducted in Room of the Institute by Born. I'd just like you to tell me. They were joined by some older hands. In a little less than twenty years he was to become world famous: He was often able to improvise on the spur of the moment entire dissertations. These debates were concerned more and more with the most basic problems of epistemology. They could be discussed without end and everyone had something to say about them.
Robert Oppenheimer. They sometimes called themselves 'Knights of Columbus in reverse'. But after a time his excessive garrulity and eloquence began to cause irritation and possibly also envy among a number of his companions. Almost all these young Americans came to Europe richly endowed with travelling scholarships. They returned from it to their own country. Had the discoveries of atomic physics abolished the duality between the human observer and the world observed?
Was there no longer any real distinction between subject and object? Could two mutually exclusive propositions on the same topic both be regarded as correct from a loftier standpoint? Would one be justified in abandoning the view that the foundation of physics is the close connexion of cause and effect? But in that case could there ever be any such thing as laws of Nature? Could any reliable scientific forecasts ever be made? At first the new boy was listened to with fascination. Oppenheimer was one of the many young Americans who came to the Old World in those years to study physics.
In the winter semester of a slender. They submitted a written petition to one of the professors suggesting that a check might be put on the Wunderkind. Nearly all the Americans who became well known later on for the development of atomic energy had been at Gottingen at various times between and The Americans showed their German colleagues how to eat turkey and sweet corn and learned in turn to drink beer.
In the s there were often a dozen or more Americans en. They brought with them to Gottingen a little of the unburdened atmosphere of the American campus.
Their annual Thanksgiving dinners. What would Privy Councillor Sommerfeld at Munich have done without the occasional improvement in his scanty resources provided by the Rockefeller Foundation? Whenever Wickliff Rose. They included Condon. Compton in He was particularly deep in Dante's Inferno and in long evening walks along the railway tracks leading from the freight station would discuss with colleagues the reason why Dante had located the eternal quest in hell instead of in paradise.
These scientific tourists from the other side of the Atlantic brought foreign currency into the university towns of Europe. The impoverished German scientific institutes in particular. On the size of his cheque depended the number of research programmes which could be continued during the ensuing year and the number of young research workers who could be given scholarships. The American mathematicians and physicists were particularly fond of Gottingen.
Further capital in the shape of dollars often followed them.
They brought the outside world into the provincial parlour and received in return a measure of domestic security which they smiled at first but soon came to value and look track on with longing.
How on earth can you do two such things at once? In science one tries to tell people. In the spring of he applied for permission to take the examination for a doctor's degree. The young English astrophysicist Robertson wanted one day to check the exact weight of a letter he was going to send abroad.
I want to do something risky. Dr Cario. I want to weigh something. But in the case of poetry it's the exact opposite! A surprising number of the wives of professors on the five continents come from little Gottingen.
One evening Paul Dirac. From these families the foreign students often learned German very quickly. I meant to say haben Sie eine Waage? Icit miichte etwas wiegen. They frequently even wrote articles in German for scientific periodicals during the period of their studies. He burst into a shop and breathlessly asked the girl behind the counter: Ich mochte etwas wagen. To everyone's astonishment his request was flatly refused by the Prussian Ministry of Education.
In conversation. Between those who leased the rooms and those who rented them often grew long-standing friend. The villa belonged to a medical man. Even Oppenheimer stumbled over them.
It was a usual practice for Gottingen families of good social position to take in students as 'paying guests'. An inquiry by the dean of the Natural Science Faculty elicited the following reply from Ministerial Councillor von Ruttenburg in Berlin: He had never formally matriculated. Consequently it was not so much money that Oppie lacked. Born's only criticism stated that 'the one fault to be found with the work is that it is difficult to read.
Oppenheimer made a wholly inadequate application. The petition went through without further objection. In the Gottingen of these twenty years it was possible to get along without a scholarship or a fat monthly cheque. He was bound to regard a further term at Gottingen as a waste of time. But this formal shortcoming counts for so little in comparison with the content that I propose the paper be marked "with distinction".
Quantitative Biology > Quantitative Methods
The Russian mathematician Schnirelmann brought nothing with him but his toothbrush and a copy of his latest work on prime numbers. The professors of the future father of the atom bomb had to write imploring letters to the Rectorial Board and the Ministry.
Robert Oppenheimer took his oral examination on the after. Was this argument justified by the facts? Oppenheimer was the son of a New York businessman who had left Germany for the United States at the age of seventeen and made a fortune there. He passed in all subjects. His written work for the doctorate was pronounced by Max Born to be evidence of a high grade of scientific achievement. Obviously the Ministry had to refuse it. The plea that the American undergraduate could not wait another term at Gottingen to take his examination in regular fashion was expressed to the authorities in a petition for the grant of belated matriculation.
Max Born said Oppenheimer's work for his doctor's degree had been so outstanding that Born wanted to publish it in one of the series of Gottingen dissertations. In these years. Fritz Houtermans. The two worked until dawn on calculations with the newly established equations. Werner Heisenberg the son of a professor of ecclesiastical history.
He was often seen slowly making his way down the main street of Gottingen. I'm busy! His anonymous patrons also sent him every month a small money order to cover out-of-pocket expenses. But the fallen student. In those exciting years it was not unusual for such sudden 'brain waves' by very young men to make a great stir in inter. Far from driving the intruder from his door.
He had just had a splendid idea. The eminent stage director Kurt Hirschfeld. Far from merely listening with reverence to the great man from Copenhagen. Hirschfeld rushed up and tried to help him to his feet.
To bring food to his starving family in the blockaded city he had twice. But the opinion stated in Plate's Timaeus that atoms were ordinary substantive bodies satisfied him as little as a drawing in his physics textbook which depicted them with hooks and eyes. While on sentry duty on the roof of a theological seminary he had read Plate and been aroused by the atomic theories of the ancient Creeks. One of his fellow students was begging urgently for admission. He once saw a member of Born's 'kindergarten'.
For example. This critical attitude of refusal to be impressed by any authority did not desert Heisenberg even when his instructor. He had brought his revolutionary quantum mechanics with him in from Heligoland. One of his closest friends states in his recollections of Heisenberg at Gottingen: He looked even greener in those days than he really was. The 'mystic of the atom' was not in the least worried by that. When he was barely thirtytwo years old Heisenberg received the Nobel prize for theoretical studies of fundamental importance.
Even the initiated could not always follow his mental processes. He always considered himself constitutionally lucky and this was quite true. At twenty. Brilliant intellectual achievements. The lean and lanky Dirac. I doubt if he had any sleep worth mentioning during that blissful Whitsun vacation. Because of these conversations.
When he was not at Cambridge he could often be seen working in one of the classrooms of the Second Physics Institute at Gottingen.
Even in the presence of a second person Dirac hardly ever accompanied the. As if in a dream. Those who came to know Heisenberg later. His name would soon be read as a collaborator in one of Sommerfeld's publications. George Gamow. Then there was Wolfgang Pauli. There could be no question in this case of any ordinary process of combustion.
That merry and freakish soul from Soviet Russia. But ever since Einstein's formula of the interchange ability of matter and energy the suspicion had been growing that in all probability a process of atomic transmutation was at work in that tremendous laboratory in the sky. Speech of course would never have been able to express what he had to say.
They all knew. When once he's past his thirtieth year! The young Austrian Houtermans could never have suspected at that time that certain ideas which he advanced one hot summer day in during a walking tour near Gottingen with his fellow student Atkinson would lead a quarter of a century later to the explosion of the first hydrogen bomb. Another was 'Pat' Blackett.
To pass the time the two undergraduates had raised partly as a joke the old. But they never dreamed that their somewhat esoteric studies would so soon. He's better dead than living still. The other physicists used to say that Dirac was so silent that he uttered an entire sentence only once every light year.
Age is of course a fever chill That every physicist must fear. The rooms at the Institute were hardly heated at all during the cold winter of Atkinson had participated in Rutherford's transformations of atom at Cambridge. The development of this idea led straight to the Hbombs that threaten humanity today.
How could it happen in the case of the sun? One evening a foreign physicist. He suggested to his companion that what had been accomplished in the Cavendish Laboratory must also be possible 'up there'.
But on this occasion he was listened to with more than usual attention. As soon as it grew dark the stars came out. The theory for the first time put forward the conjecture that solar energy might be attributed. I went for a walk with a pretty girl. At that movement. The man from Leningrad declared that at his own institute there were three hundred students and numerous well-paid assistants. There they had no financial worries like those the Second Physics Institute had to contend with. At late seasons of the year.
Houtermans reports: But I simply stuck out my chest and said proudly: At that time. They could ail count on safe employment and steady promotion. Unluckily he ran into so violent a storm that he was glad to be rescued from imminent shipwreck by the motor-boats of the frontier police patrol.
They demanded active ideological support. Landau himself had defended the new order of society with fiery zeal. The few who did visit the rest of Europe began noticeably to keep their distance. And yet Gamow belonged.
Only a few years earlier the exact opposite had been the case. Modern physics in particular. He had come to Berlin with holes in his shoes and couldn't under.
Certain Soviet physicists. The Soviet physicist Landau. He was caught. He planned to cross the Black Sea. Then he lowered his voice suddenly and added in a barely audible tone: One never knows when.
It was rumoured in Gottingen. When he found that he was no longer to be allowed to visit the West. The tranquility even of Gottingen was disturbed. Such a concession amounted in the eyes of the official philosophers of the Soviet Union to 'dangerous idealism' which could only end in 'ecclesiastical obscurantism '.
He then added. There was. For this view allowed the individual far too much influence over natural phenomena. The assertion made. Even the article under Frenkel's name in the Soviet Encyclopedia did not fail to censure Soviet Russia's possibly greatest contemporary teacher of physics: The philosophical ideas of Ja. Many of the statements in his books suffer directly or indirectly from idealist distortion and have been rightly subjected to strong criticism by the community of Soviet scientists.
The leading newspaper of the city. It started to praise Adolf Hitler as a redeemer at a time when the rest of the nationalist press in Germany still qualified their judgment of the 'leader' with certain reservations.
Students of the Second Physics and the Mathematical Institutes were discreetly combining into a National Socialist group. She administered a stern rebuke to the lecturer for indulging in 'bourgeois propaganda. Jaroslav Frenkel. For the moment they confined themselves to spreading anti-Semitic propaganda among their followers.
Frenkel are not notable for their lucidity and consistency so far as his attitude to materialism is concerned. The incident had disgusted people in Gottingen. Now they were sacrificed for the second time to racial prejudice.
Leo Szilard. Johannes Stark was especially bitter against Sommerfeld. Planck's quantum formula. The brown-shirted students made a particular onslaught against Jewish or half-Jewish undergraduates who had come from Poland or Hungary to study in Germany.
They were never really able to get over the shock of the inroad of political fanaticism upon the peace of academic life. Even at that time they characterized as 'Jewish-minded' the Aryans who founded their published work on relativity and quantum mechanics. They attempted to dismiss.
This group boldly declared Einstein's theory of relativity to be 'Jewish world. Only a few years later they became the most active champions of the construction of the atom bomb. These people were already victims of the 'cold' anti-Semitism of their native lands.
Some years before. They marched out to the house of a famous Physicist who has just arrived and gave him an enthusiastic welcome by chanting in the twilight. Although the culprits were not discolored.
Long before Hitler's seizure of power a small group of German physicists. The alarm which they then felt at the possibility that Hitler might be the first to possess so terrifying a weapon can only be understood when one realizes what abuse and persecution they had to endure from National Socialist students in and This arrogant inventor. Talented young natural scientists such as Eugen Wigner. The matter was Investigated. John von Neumann. We scientists seem to be unable to apply these principles to the immensely complex problems of the political world and its social order.
For the time being professional achievement counted more than anything else. We are trained to subject our results to the most severe criticism. But the Gottingen atomic physicists. In general we are. The adherents of 'German physics' who had become agitators no longer attracted much attention. Every day the newspapers reported meeting-hall riots between 'brown shirts' and members of other political parties.
Stork in German means 'strong'. It was in that he told the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists: It is a custom in science. The learned world of the Weimar Republic did not take very seriously these excursions of a few of their number into the foggy regions of demagogic racialism. Stark also held his eminent Munich colleague responsible for his dismissal from the University of Wurzburg. Political assassination became a commonplace event. The growing agitation of the cranks. In reality Stark had been fired because he had used his Nobel prize money for the download.
Adherence to these two principles results in our knowing very little. The reasons for this ostrich-like policy were clearly analysed by Franck fifteen years later. With an obstinacy amounting to monomania they applied themselves even more intensively than before to their work.
Unemployment statistics rose week by week. But neither his reference to the fact that he considered himself entitled to be treated as a 'patriotic German' after being shot in the stomach and badly gassed as a front-line soldier at Verdun in the First World War. But he had sufficient pride to dispense. For barely a month after Hitler's seizure of power telegraphic orders were received from Berlin for the immediate retirement of seven members of the Natural Science Faculty.
Our very objectivity prevents us from taking a strong stand in political differences. For there one knew one's fellow citizens too well to believe in the incessant flood of accusations from the new masters of the state.
Franck was at first exempted. Almost a hundred years before. There were brutal expulsions of respected scholars whose opinions or heredity were flung in their faces like crimes. The fame of the University of Gottingen had slowly grown over centuries of patient. There were fiery speeches by political demagogues to proclaim the coming of the 'new order'.
In Gottingen's retreat this seemed even more senseless and outrageous than in Other university cities. Now also. It was known for certain that the men who were being given notice to quit their posts were irreplaceable.
Only one member. Most of them. So we took the easiest way out and hid in our ivory tower. It had spread throughout the world. A few months.
Gottingen would sink to the level of a provincial establishment. Max Born. Pupils from all Europe. We felt that neither the good nor the evil applications were our responsibility. At the Georgia Augusta.
If they left. Only a single one of Gottingen's natural scientists had the courage to protest openly against the dismissal of the Jewish savants.
The great majority of the Gottingen professors deplored the invasion of their quiet retreat by demagogues and hatred. Instead of defending academic freedom and intellectual dignity forty-two lecturers and professors forwarded an infamous document to the headquarters of the local Gottingen group of the National Socialist Party.
The intention was to cooperate in order to rescue what could still be salvaged. Two days later he informed the public. Some weeks after these melancholy events the colleagues. On the eve of their chief's departure they wished to assure him of their gratitude and esteem.
In 17 April he sent in his resignation. This was the physiologist Krayer. His assistant Cario handed him. Through this policy the remaining professors became more or less disguised supporters of a regime destined to bring untold misfortune on the country it administered and on the world. He did not allow him. When second. The great physicist's honourable attitude was. In this communication they condemned Franck's action as 'playing into the hands of foreign atrocity propaganda'. The new National Socialist Dozen.
Though he was recognized by many. Had more sense than our new leaders! The more shamelessly the pretensions of halftruths and lies spread from one nation to another in public life. At the Universitets Institut for Teoretisk Fysik.
The supposedly unworldly Bohr took more rapid and effective action than any other member of the family of physicists to help those of his colleagues who were. The dearest account of the state of the university was given by the mathematician Hilbert. About a year after the great purge of Gottingen he was seated at a banquet in the place of honour next to the new Minister of Education.
Rust was unwary enough to ask: He drove to the station unaccompanied. The Dozentenfuhrer. It just doesn't exist any more! Franck was visibly moved as he acknowledged the gift. Engine didn't want to go. Next day he vacated his rooms in the Merckelstrasse villa. Herr Minister. The new dictators did not tolerate anything outside the items in their programmes and inflicted savage punishment upon the mildest critics of their plans. The 'spirit of Copenhagen'. It insisted upon the observation of everything from several points of view and postulated the eventual synthesis on another level which appeared to be contradictory.
BOHR [the Lord]: Hast thou naught else to say? Comest thou ever with complaint? Is physics never to thy mind? Bohr lacked. The free. He showed no signs of offended pride when his ideas were sternly or even rudely criticized. The part of Mephisto was allotted to his pupil and tireless critic Wolfgang Pauli. Those who. Many of those engaged in atomic research who were still resident in Germany found sudden and urgent invitations from Bohr in their letter boxes.
One conversation between these two. E'en in my days of dule it grieves me sore and I must ever plague these physicists the more. He was neither a pedagogue nor a tyrant. The Lord in this play is obviously intended to be Bohr himself. I quite agree! What's that got to do with it? We shall abolish it! It's not to criticize. If both mass and load are abolished.: I understand perfectly.
In this situation we must remember the essential failure of classical concepts.. What we've got left will be the neutron! But Pauli. What for? These men uncompromisingly repudiated every kind of specialization and all attempts, however tentative, to make any practical application of mathematics. Hilbert's lofty spirit, exclusively concentrated upon ultimate essences, could feel only contempt for 'technicians'. On a certain occasion he had to replace Klein, who was ill, as the faculty member in charge of students of the Mathematical School at the annual engineers' congresses at Hanover which Klein had arranged.
Hilbert was warned that he must give a conciliatory lecture and speak against the notion that science and technology were irreconcilable. Bearing this admonition in mind, he declared in the somewhat harsh East Prussian dialect he affected: 'One hears a lot of talk about the hostility between scientists and engineers.
I don't believe in any such thing. In fact I am quite certain it is untrue. There can't possibly be anything in it because neither side has anything to do with the other. Dozens of such anecdotes about Hilbert, whose frankness amounted to positive gruffness, circulated in Gottingen, but no one resented his ironic malice and well-aimed gibes. They expressed the same inflexible honesty with which he approached his own field of mathematics. This trait permitted him to proceed repeatedly to the most unexpected conclusions without paying the slightest attention to intellectual conventions.
With justice his lectures attracted students from all over the world. When he stood by the enormous slide rule that overlooked his desk and raised the still-unsolved problems of mathematics, all who listened felt that they were taking direct part in the revelation of new knowledge.
His hearers did not leave the lecture room with dead facts long proved, but with living questions. There was only one problem from whose solution Hilbert deliberately abstained, though he might have been able to win a small fortune - a hundred thousand gold marks - by elucidating it.
This was the sum which a learned citizen of Darmstadt had bequeathed to anyone who could find the answer to a certain mathematical problem, 'Fermat's Last Theorem', which had remained unsolved ever since the seventeenth century. So long as no correct solution came to light the trustees of the bequest were entitled to devote the interest on the fund to any object they chose.
It was used every year to enable prominent mathematicians and physicists to hold a series of lectures in Gottingen. Henri Poincare, H. All made invaluable suggestions. A big blackboard stood there, half in the open.
Hilbert had often been scribbling on it right up to the last moment, as the chalk on the sleeves of his jacket would show.
The discussion of a new series of formulae often began there and then. It would continue while the participants climbed through the woods and over the open fields in all weathers up to the 'Kehr' hotel on the heights. There, over coffee, the illustrious quartet would argue about all the small and large questions of their private lives, their beloved university, and the wide world. Again and again, as the talk went on, often reaching the most rarefied atmosphere of the limits of human understanding, loud laughter would intervene, giving comfort and relaxation to minds that had reached the seemingly unconquerable frontiers.
One of the many important new institutions which Felix Klein's inventive gift for organization had bestowed upon Gottingen was the mathematical readingroom in the Auditorium building.
It contained not only the leading mathematical and physical periodicals of the world, as well as a reference library of manuals, but also summaries and occasionally even the entire typescripts of current lectures. Teachers and students who possessed the keys to both rooms could work in perfect peace between lectures and also-which often turned out to be more important- discuss the subjects of their reading in the ante-room, where the strict rule of silence did not have to be observed.
Debates between physicists and mathematicians had never ceased since modern developments in natural science had required the help of mathematics to express their contradictory perceptions. Hilbert had remarked in his usual irritable style: 'This will never do! Physics is obviously much too difficult for physicists! With characteristic zest he took up the study of what he used to call the 'intellectually povertystricken' science of physics and attempted to give mathematical assistance. Probably owing to his influence one of the most gifted theoretical physicists of the 'new school' was invited to Gottingen in Max Born, at that time just thirty-eight years old, was no stranger to the Georgia Augusta.
The son of a wellknown Breslau biologist, he had graduated at Gottingen in as one of the most brilliant pupils of the Mathematical Institute, receiving a prize for his work. His studies and travels took him to Cambridge, Breslau, Berlin, and Frankfurt. With his arrival at the Second Physics Institute in the Bunsenstrasse - a red-brick building with an unspeakably homely exterior like a Prussian cavalry barracks the brief but incessantly productive golden age of Gottingen atomic physics began.
A small bureaucratic error, one of those tricks of fate which can accomplish so much, helped Born soon after his arrival. Although a chair for experimental physics already existed in Gottingen, its occupant, Professor Pohl, spent practically all his time teaching and had far too little leisure for the research to which Born was looking forward. But the new head of the institute discovered on examining its papers that provision had been made in the budget for a second chair which had never been filled.
This was merely due to a clerical error, he was told. Born refused to give in and insisted on the letter of the law. He was able, therefore to call to Gottingen James Frank, already well known for his experimental discoveries, including the one which later gained him his Nobel prize.
Hilbert, Born, and Franck, a trio of men of high talent, tireless industry, and a fervent passion for the new view of Nature, worked together in Gottingen after Each differed fundamentally from the others.
Born was probably the most interested in the outside world, the most accessible and the most versatile. His talents were so various that he might well have become a first-rate pianist or author. His wealthy father had given him the following advice before he began his studies: 'Be sure you try out all the courses before you decide which one to follow. He felt himself most attracted to the last because, so he said, he preferred to all the other buildings that in which lectures on the world of stars Franck, like Born, came of a Jewish family which had long been settled in Germany.
He could never forget his Hamburg origin. In spite of the cordiality and warmth which made him very popular with his students, he kept other people at a certain distance. He remained always a Hamburg aristocrat. Later those who worked with him called him a saint. This was not only because of Franck's great kindness of heart but also because of his almost religious devotion to physics.
He would tell his pupils that only one who was entirely absorbed by physics and actually dreamed about it could hope for enlightenment. He spoke of his own inspirations in the language of a medieval mystic. In almost every age a certain sphere of human reflection and creative activity exercises a peculiar fascination for gifted minds.
In others they apply themselves to painting or music, theology or philosophy. Suddenly, no one knows how it happens, the most alert spirits perceive where new ground has recently been broken and press forward eagerly to become, not only its heirs, but its founders and masters. Atomic physics exercised this magnetic power in the years after the First World War.
It was taken up by the philosophically talented, by men with artistic gifts, by politically minded young men who were repelled by the confusion of day-to-day politics, and by adventurous spirits who could find no more to conquer in a world whose most distant continents had been explored.
Disclosures were still possible in the study of the most invisible and microscopic of all phenomena. Here one might come upon traces of new laws, and might experience the peculiar delight, mingled with fear, of having thought something which no one had yet thought, of having seen something which no one had yet seen. Since there was so much that was new and uncertain in the domain of atomic research, teachers and pupils drew closer together than in other disciplines.
Experience and knowledge were worth little. Old and young became comrades on this journey into the interior of matter. Both alike took pride in their common conquest of fragments of knowledge. Both showed equal modesty and bewilderment before the impenetrable. James Franck, who already held the Nobel prize for physics, could turn from the blackboard on which he had lost his way in a difficult calculation and inquire of one of his students, 'Perhaps you can see the next step?
They kept their pupils posted on their private correspondence where unsolved problems were discussed with their foreign colleagues, and encouraged their youthful collaborators to seek for explanations which their elders had been denied.
A highlight of every week of the term was the 'Seminar on Matter' conducted in Room of the Institute by Born, Franck, and Hilbert, gratis et privatissime.
It became almost a tradition for Hilbert to open the proceedings with a pretence of innocence: 'Well, now, gentlemen, I'd just like you to tell me, what exactly is an atom? The problem was tackled afresh every time, and every time they searched for a different solution. But whenever any of the young geniuses sought refuge on the esoteric heights of complicated mathematical explanations, Hilbert would interrupt him in broadest East Prussian: 'I just can't understand you, young man.
Now tell me over again, will you? These debates were concerned more and more with the most basic problems of epistemology. Had the discoveries of atomic physics abolished the duality between the human observer and the world observed?
Was there no longer any real distinction between subject and object? Could two mutually exclusive propositions on the same topic both be regarded as correct from a loftier standpoint? Would one be justified in abandoning the view that the foundation of physics is the close connexion of cause and effect? But in that case could there ever be any such thing as laws of Nature? Could any reliable scientific forecasts ever be made? Questions, questions, and still more questions.
They could be discussed without end and everyone had something to say about them. In the winter semester of a slender, rather delicate looking American student distinguished himself, even among such highly talented people as these. He was often able to improvise on the spur of the moment entire dissertations, so that hardly anyone else had a chance to speak. At first the new boy was listened to with fascination. But after a time his excessive garrulity and eloquence began to cause irritation and possibly also envy among a number of his companions.
Strange men," she added for emphasis. Earl of Billington. He was one of the county's most eligible bachelors. So eligible that even she'd heard of him, and she wasn't on anybody's list of eligible young ladies. Rumor had it that he was the worst sort of rake. Ellie had heard him whispered about at village gatherings, although as an unmarried lady she'd never been privy to the juiciest gossip. She tended to think that his reputation must be very black if he did things that couldn't even be mentioned in her presence.
Ellie had also heard that he was fantastically wealthy, even more so than her sister Victoria's new husband, who was Earl of Macclesfield. Ellie couldn't personally vouch for that, as she hadn't seen his personal finance ledgers, and she made it a point never to speculate on financial matters without hard evidence. But she did know that the Billington estate was vast and ancient. And it was a good twenty miles away. Charles looked suspicious and a bit protective. He's recently married.
To my sister. With a gentle touch, she slid his swollen foot from his boot. Charles looked down at his mangled boot with a pained expression. Ellie expertly prodded his ankle. But I cannot imagine that you'd be that much different from a dog.
Now then, I fear you will require a cane for several days. Possibly a week. Have you one at your disposal? She spied a long stick several yards away and scrambled to her feet. She supposed that was why he was such a successful rake. She stepped around to his back and put her hands under his arms. Are you ready? It wasn't an easy task. He outweighed her by a good four stone and was drunk, to boot.
His knees buckled, and Ellie only just managed to keep herself from cursing as she planted her feet and braced them. Then he started to topple over in the other direction, and she had to scoot to his front to keep him from falling. He flinched at the noise, then shook his head. He chewed thoughtfully on his lower lip. Do you accept my apology? She pulled him to his feet again, stepping out of his reach once he had steadied himself on his makeshift cane.
Will you be able to get home from there? She cleared her throat. I may be a spinster, but I do have a reputation to protect. I know that I shouldn't, but I do care what people think of me, and I have to live here for the rest of my life.
With fisted hands, she began to march toward town. Charles hobbled behind her, smiling all the way. She was walking much more quickly than he, however, and the space between them grew until he was forced to call out her name. Ellie turned around. Charles offered her what he hoped was an appealing smile. Ellie rushed forward to straighten him. You can lean on my shoulder. Together we should be able to get you into town.
She was small, but she was a sturdy little thing, so he decided to test the waters by leaning on her a little more closely.
She stiffened, then let out another loud sigh. Slowly they moved toward town. Charles felt himself leaning on her more and more. Whether his incompetence was due to his sprain or his drunkenness he didn't know.
She felt warm and strong and soft all at once next to him, and he didn't much care how he had gotten himself into this fix—he just resolved to enjoy it while it lasted. Each step pressed the side of her breast up against his ribs, and he was finding that to be a most pleasant sensation indeed. Is there no way you can move a little bit faster?
We're losing our balance. There was something about this Miss Lyndon that made him glad she was on his side. Not that he thought she would make a vicious enemy, just that she seemed loyal, levelheaded, and fair. And she had a wicked sense of humor. Just the sort of person a man would want standing beside him when he needed support. He turned his face toward hers. And she was fun to torture. Had he remembered to add that to his list of attributes?
It was always good to surround oneself with people who could take a bit of teasing. He schooled his face into an innocent mask. He wished he could see the color of her hair under that monstrous bonnet. Her eyebrows were blond, and they stood out comically against her blush.
He fell silent for a few minutes, and then, as they rounded a corner, asked, "Are we almost there yet? It is growing late. Papa will have my head. Ellie turned toward him so quickly that her nose bumped into his shoulder. He grunted and turned his head away from her. I see orange, and pink, and peach. Oh, and a touch of saffron right over there. He sighed, thinking about what was waiting for him there.
A pile of stones that made up Wycombe Abbey. A pile of stones that cost a bloody fortune to keep up. A fortune that would slip through his fingers in less than a month thanks to his meddling father. One would think that George Wycombe's hold on the purse strings would have loosened with death, but no, he still found a way to keep his hands firmly around his son's neck from the grave.
Charles swore under his breath as he thought about how apt that image was. He certainly felt like he was being strangled. In precisely fifteen days, he would turn thirty.
In precisely fifteen days, every last unentailed scrap of his inheritance would be snatched away from him. Unless— Miss Lyndon coughed and rubbed a piece of dust from her eye. Charles looked at her with renewed interest. Unless—he thought slowly, not wanting his still somewhat groggy brain to miss any important details—unless sometime in these next fifteen days, he managed to find himself a wife.
Miss Lyndon steered him onto Bellfield's High Street and pointed south. I don't see your curricle. Is it 'round back? She had a nice voice, and a nice brain, and a nice wit, and— although he still didn't know what color her hair was—she had a nice set of eyebrows.
And she felt damned nice with his weight pressed up against her. He cleared his throat. I knew that putting weight on it was a bad idea, but I didn't know how else to get you into town. Ice would—" "Miss Lyndon! That got her to close her mouth.
In the end he just blurted it out. He landed in a tangle of arms and legs, yelping with pain as his ankle gave way beneath him. Charles scratched his head. I am on the shelf by choice. I am being utterly serious. Perhaps somewhere where I might sit in a chair rather than in the dirt.
She still wasn't certain that he wasn't making sport of her, but her recent treatment of him had been less than gentle, and her conscience was nagging her.
She didn't believe in kicking a man when he was down, especially when she was the one who had put him there. He took her hand and eased himself back onto his feet. It is why I am considering taking you to wife. I never lie. And I must say, you have developed an exceedingly poor opinion of me. Why, I wonder? Even my brother-in-law has said so. I wouldn't know, since I haven't left Kent in years, but—" "They say rakes make the best husbands," he interrupted.
Besides, I'm not going to marry you. They said insanity was in the blood. He simply left me in a cursed bind. Ellie took another step backward, deciding that Billington was beyond mad—he was ready for Bedlam. I'm sure you'll be able to manage from here. Your carriage You should be able to—" "Miss Lyndon," he said sharply.
She stopped in her tracks. I have no choice. Every last unentailed farthing. Don't they call it The Marriage Mart? He was devilishly handsome and thoroughly charming, and she knew she was far from immune. I know that. But here you are, dropped into my life at my most desperate—" "Excuse me, but I believe you dropped into my life. So I was thinking, 'Well, she'll do as well as any, and—" "If your aim was to woo me," Ellie said acidly, "you are not succeeding. He didn't really need anything out of a wife save for her name on a marriage certificate.
Still, one had to spend some time with one's wife, and she might as well be a decent sort. Miss Lyndon seemed to fit the bill nicely.
And, he added silently, he'd have to get himself an heir eventually. Might as well find someone with a bit of a brain in her head.
Wouldn't do to have stupid progeny. He eyed her again. She was staring at him suspiciously. Yes, she was a smart one. There was something damned appealing about her. He had a feeling that the process of getting that heir would be just as pleasant as the result.
He gave her a jaunty bow, clutching onto her elbow for support.
physicists' conference in America. Luckily for me there was a particularly boring
Shall we have a go at it? Really, this was not the proposal of her dreams. The truth is, Miss Lyndon, that if one's got to get oneself a wife, she might as well be someone one likes. We'd have to spend a bit of time together, you know. How drunk was he? She cleared her throat several times, trying to find words. Finally she just blurted out, "Are you trying to say you like me? I have only fifteen before my odious cousin Phillip gets his paws on my money.
Ellie had the unpleasant sensation that he was already trying to decide who he would turn to if she refused him. After a moment, he said, "Shall I see you home? I am only a few minutes down the road. You will be able to manage on your own from here? Lyndon did not tolerate his daughters taking the Lord's name in vain, but Ellie was sufficiently stunned by Billington's proposal that she was still muttering, "Oh my God," when she walked through the front door of their cottage.
Ellie smiled tightly as she tried to make a beeline for her room. She turned around. Foxglove stood and crossed her plump arms. Ellie had half a mind to remind the older woman that she was not Ellie's mother and had no authority over her, but she held her tongue. Life was going to be difficult once her father remarried. There was no need to make it downright impossible by deliberately antagonizing Mrs.
Taking a deep breath, Ellie placed her hand over her heart and feigned innocence. Foxglove stared at her with patent disbelief. Hence I was saying, 'So I thought,' because, you see, I held a certain thought, and if I had not held that thought, I would not have been mistaken in my logic. Foxglove looked so befuddled that Ellie wanted to whoop with delight.
Foxglove continued. Foxglove preened and smoothed down her puce-colored skirts. She was afraid that if she actually allowed herself to form words, she'd do far far worse than taking the Lord's name in vain. She exhaled slowly and tried to smile.
Foxglove, I find I am most weary. I believe I will retire to my room. Was Mrs. Foxglove threatening her? I thought that this evening might be a good time. While your father is gone. Ellie didn't move for fear that she'd strangle her future stepmother. She cooked him three meals a day. She brought food to the poor. She even polished the pews in his church.
No one could say that she did not earn her keep. But Mrs. Foxglove clearly did not share her opinion on the matter, because she rolled her eyes and said, "You live off of your father's largesse.
He is entirely too indulgent with you. One thing the Reverend Mr. Lyndon had never been called was indulgent. He had once tied up her older sister to prevent her from marrying the man she loved.
Ellie cleared her throat in yet another attempt to control her temper. Foxglove handed Ellie a slip of paper. Ellie looked down, read the lines, and choked on her fury.
You eat too much. Foxglove said, "you can always marry and leave the house. Foxglove was so determined to see her gone. She was probably one of those women who could not tolerate anything less than absolute authority in her household. And Ellie, who had been managing her father's affairs for years, would be in the way.
Ellie wondered what the old biddy would say if she were to tell her that she'd received a proposal of marriage just that afternoon. And from an earl, no less. Foxglove held out another slip of paper. This she had to see. She unfolded the paper and looked down. Without lifting her eyes back up, she said, "Richard Parrish is engaged. Foxglove was the worst gossip in Bellfield, so Ellie was inclined to believe her.
Not that it made a difference.
Richard Parrish was stout and had bad breath. She read on and choked.
Foxglove sniffed disdainfully. Rumor had it that Anthony Ponsoby had beaten his first wife. There was no way that Ellie was going to shackle herself to a man who thought that marital communication was best conducted with a stick.
What were you thinking? Foxglove was about to respond, but Ellie interrupted her. Everybody knows that. How dare you try to marry me off to someone like him! Foxglove smirked. Foxglove lurched backward. Foxglove's collar and pushed her out the door. Foxglove yelled from the walkway.
Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health
There was no doubt about it. She was going to have to find a way to escape her father's household. The Earl of Billington's face danced in her head, but she pushed it aside. She wasn't so desperate that she had to marry a man she'd scarcely met. Surely there had to be some other way. She wasn't as helpless as Mrs. Foxglove would like to believe. She had a bit of money tucked away. It wasn't a vast sum, but it was enough to support a woman of modest taste and frugal nature. Ellie had put the money in a bank years ago but had been dissatisfied with the paltry rate of interest.
So she took to reading the London Times, making special note of items relating to the world of business and commerce. When she felt she had a comprehensive knowledge of the change, she went to a solicitor to handle her funds. She had to do it under her father's name, of course. No solicitor would handle money on the behalf of a young woman, especially one who was investing without the knowledge of her father.
So she traveled several towns away, found Mr. Tibbett, a solicitor who did not know of the Reverend Mr. Lyndon, and told him that her father was a recluse. Tibbett worked with a broker in London, and Ellie's nest egg grew and grew.
It was time to draw on those funds. She had no other choice. Living with Mrs. Foxglove as her stepmother would be intolerable. The money could support her until her sister Victoria returned from her extended holiday on the continent. Victoria's new husband was a wealthy earl, and Ellie had no doubt that they would be able to help her find a position in society—perhaps as a governess, or a companion.
After ten minutes, his secretary ushered her in. Tibbett, a portly man with a large mustache, rose when she entered. I must say, it is a pleasure to do business with a man who pays such close attention to his investments.
I have come to withdraw some of my funds. One-half, to be precise. Tibbett agreed. I could not possibly release the funds into anyone's hands but your father's. Your father is the primary holder. You know that. He never leaves the house. How can I get him to come here? Tibbett shrugged his shoulders. Most nervous. His heart, you know.
I really couldn't risk it. She could forge her father's signature in her sleep. Tibbett's eyes narrowed suspiciously. You may obtain his signature as a witness. She also knew the magistrate, and she knew that there would be no way to get his signature on that vital piece of paper unless he actually witnessed her father write out the instructions.
Tibbett," she said, her voice catching in her throat. She felt like a cornered animal. There was no way she was going to be able to get her money from Mr. And Victoria wasn't due back from the continent for several months. Ellie supposed she could throw herself on the mercy of Victoria's father-in-law, the Marquess of Castleford, but she wasn't at all certain that he would be any more amiable to her presence than Mrs. The marquess didn't much like Victoria; Ellie could only imagine how he'd feel about her sister.
Ellie wandered aimlessly through Faversham, trying to gather her thoughts. She had always considered herself a practical sort of female, one who could rely on a sharp brain and a quick wit.
She had never dreamed that she might someday find herself in a situation she couldn't talk her way out of. And now she was stuck in Faversham, twenty miles away from a home she didn't even want to go back to. With no options except— Ellie shook her head. She was not going to consider taking the Earl of Billington up on his offer. The face of Sally Foxglove loomed in her mind. Then that awful face started talking about chimneys, and spinsters who ought to be and act grateful for anything and everything.
The earl started looking better and better. Not, Ellie had to admit to herself, that he had ever looked bad to begin with, if one was going to take the word "look" in its literal sense. He was sinfully handsome, and she had a feeling he knew it. That, she reasoned, should be a black mark against him. He was most likely conceited. He would probably keep scores of mistresses. She couldn't imagine he'd find it difficult to gain the attentions of all sorts of females, respectable and otherwise.
The blasted man probably had to beat women away with a stick. She certainly didn't want to deal with a husband with those kinds of "problems. She might be able to get used to the idea of an unfaithful husband. It went against everything she stood for, but the alternative was a life with Sally Foxglove, which was too horrifying to contemplate. Ellie tapped her toe as she thought. Wycombe Abbey wasn't so very far away. If she remembered correctly, it was situated on the north Kent coast, just a mile or two away.
She could easily walk the distance. Not that she was planning to blindly accept the earl's proposal, but maybe they could discuss the matter a bit. Maybe they could reach an agreement with which she could be happy. Her mind made up, Ellie lifted her chin and began walking north.
She tried to keep her mind busy by guessing how many steps it would take to reach a landmark ahead. Fifty paces to the large tree.
Seventy-two to the abandoned cottage. Forty to the— Oh, blast! Was that a raindrop? Ellie wiped the water from her nose and looked up. The clouds were gathering, and if she weren't such a practical woman, she would swear that they were congregating directly over her head. She let out a sound that one could only call a growl and trudged onward, trying not to curse when another raindrop smacked her on the cheek.
And then another pelted her shoulder, and another, and another, and— Ellie shook her fist at the sky. Ellie jumped nearly a foot. What was it that her sister's husband had told her so many years ago? The closer the thunder follows the lightning, the closer the lightning is to oneself? Robert had always been of a scientific bent; Ellie was inclined to believe him on this measure.
She took off at a run. Then, after her lungs threatened to explode, she slowed down to a trot. After a minute or two of that, however, she settled into a brisk walk. After all, she wasn't likely to get any wetter than she was already. Thunder pounded again, causing Ellie to jump and trip over a tree root, landing in the mud.
If ever there was a time to begin the habit of cursing, however, it was now. She staggered to her feet and looked up, rain pelting her face. Her bonnet sagged against her eyes, blocking her vision. She yanked it off, looked at the sky, and yelled, "I am not amused! Tibbett, whoever it was who controlled the weather— More thunder. Ellie gritted her teeth and moved onward. Finally, an old stone behemoth of a building loomed over the horizon. She'd never seen Wycombe Abbey in person, but she'd seen a pen and ink drawing of it for sale in Bellfield.
Relief finally settling within her, she made her way to the front door and knocked. A liveried servant answered her summons and gave her an extremely condescending look. Really, this was beyond tolerable. She was cold, wet, unable to get her hands on money that was rightfully hers, and now some puffed-up butler was calling her a prostitute? It's raining out here. In fact, she would have melted with relief if she weren't so certain that any sort of softening on her part would prompt the butler to squeeze her out of the doorway.
There were beautiful rugs on the floors, a painting on the wall that she would swear had been done by Rembrandt, and that vase that she'd knocked over as she fell down—well, she had a sick feeling that it had been imported from China.
She looked up, desperately trying to peel the wet locks of hair from her face. Charles looked handsome, amused, and disgustingly dry. She sounded decidedly unlike herself, raspy and hoarse from her arguments with God and the butler. Charles blinked as he regarded her. Oh, she was, as her father frequently pointed out, a bit mouthy, but on the whole she was a sensible and levelheaded lady, not given to outbursts and tantrums.
This aspect of her personality, however, was not in evidence at Wycombe Abbey. Charles groaned. She was certain she bore more than a passing resemblance to a drowned rat, her clothes were liberally streaked with mud, and her bonnet She looked around. Where the devil was her bonnet? He smiled. I was wondering what color your hair was. She hated her hair, had always hated her hair. Charles coughed to cover up yet another smile. Ellie was spitting mad, well beyond furious, and he couldn't remember the last time he'd had so much fun.
Well, actually he could.She pulled him to his feet again, stepping out of his reach once he had steadied himself on his makeshift cane. Max Born said Oppenheimer's work for his doctor's degree had been so outstanding that Born wanted to publish it in one of the series of Gottingen dissertations.
How bad. She had always considered herself a practical sort of female, one who could rely on a sharp brain and a quick wit.
While on sentry duty on the roof of a theological seminary he had read Plate and been aroused by the atomic theories of the ancient Creeks. He had himself photographed lying close to the wheels of a car.
The West at first suspected nothing of all this.