Selected Papers of Léon Rosenfeld by Robert S. Cohen, J.J. Stachel

By Robert S. Cohen, J.J. Stachel

The choice to adopt this quantity used to be made in 1971 at Lake Como through the Varenna summer time institution ofthe Italian actual Society, the place Professor Leon Rosenfeld was once lecturing at the background of quantum idea. We had lengthy been struck by way of the original mix of epistemological, histori­ cal and social issues in his paintings at the foundations and improvement of physics, and determined to technique him there with the belief of publishing a suite of his papers. He replied enthusiastically, and agreed to assist us choose the papers; in addition, he additionally agreed to put in writing a long creation and to remark individually on these papers that he felt wanted severe second look within the gentle of his present perspectives. For he was once nonetheless vigorously engaged in either theoretical investigations of, and significant now not reflections at the foundations of theoretical physics. We definitely did conceive of the amount as a memorial to a 'living saint', yet much more virtually, as a useful gizmo to put within the arms of work-mates and scholars engaged in wrestling with those tricky difficulties. All too unfortunately, destiny has additional a memorial point to our labors. We agreed that during order to make this ebook most valuable for the con­ transitority group of physicists and philosophers, we should always trans­ overdue all non-English goods into English.

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The matter is far from being clear, especially (as we shall show) for the very authors of the theories in question. Thus we are faced with a new crisis in our problem. This crisis is far from abated today and, in fact, we propose to bring forward a contribution to its solution in Section IV of this paper. But first, the present state of the question must be presented. The current opinion is the following: 'creations' in the manner of Dedekind cannot be considered as definitions of the new numbers, because a definition does not imply the existence of the defined, and thus, from a logical point of view, is not sufficient by itself to justify its introduction.

There it was that Casimir started his important calculation of the magnetic field exerted by an atomic Dirac electron on the nucleus of the atom. He had to work under very trying circumstances. For as soon as any part of the show started, the lights went out, and poor Casimir had to wait until the lovers had safely got over their troubles and married and all before he could resume his calculations. He did not lose a second either: every time the lights went up, they invariably disclosed our friend bent over odd bits of paper and feverishly filling them with intricate formulae.

Both these features become more and more prominent as we proceed throught the last part of the book, leaving the comparatively quiet abodes of science for the stormy seas of economics SCIENCE IN HISTORY 15 and sociology. Here, too, the partisan note becomes shriller (which, incidentally, will frighten away just those readers for whom a soberer exposition would have been most instructive). Doctrines and people are presented in highly imaginative black-and-white pictures. A glowing indictment of our decaying world and an idealised vision of the growth of a new civilisation alternate in a medley of brilliant vistas and piquant irrelevancies, so dazzling as to remind us of the author's Irish origin.

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