D O C U M E N T 5 3 N O M I N A T I O N O F B O H R 7 3
On this occasion, I would like to add the personal comment to you, dear Col-
league, that I cannot, with the best of intentions, involve myself in electing foreign
correspondents.[5]
To my knowledge, ever since the war, not a single German phys-
icist—with you, of course, excepted—has been nominated as a correspondent to
any foreign academy; and as we in Germany have no shortage of competent phys-
icists, one should leave to them the available honors.—Besides, it is doubtful to me
whether foreigners benefit from an election. Kamerlingh-Onnes seems to me to
stand out for having published in French in the last no. [of the]
Communications[6]
(not just in the Solvay conference Rapport, 21
April).[7]
Moreover, through the
Solvay Institute he maintains ties with extremely anti-German
Belgians.–[8]
However, all this is my private opinion; and I do not doubt that the gentlemen
have cogent reasons for their nominations.
With best regards, ever yours,
E. Warburg.
53. “Proposal for the Nomination of a Corresponding
Member in Physics” [Niels Bohr]
[Berlin, before 16 February 1922]
[1]
When someday future generations will describe the history of the advances
made in the physics of our era, they will have to associate one of the most signifi-
cant advances in our knowledge of the nature of atoms with the name of Niels Bohr.
It was already known that classical mechanics had failed in regard to the building
blocks of matter, and that atoms consisted of positively charged nuclei that are sur-
rounded by a relatively loose layer of atoms. But the empirically almost completely
known structure of spectra differed so significantly from what could be expected
according to our older theories that no one envisaged the possibility of a convincing
theoretical interpretation of the observed regularities. Then, in 1913, Bohr found a
quantum theoretical interpretation of the simplest
spectra,[2]
for which he produced
such an abundance of quantitative confirmations in a short period of time that the
boldly chosen hypothetical basis of his considerations soon became a secure pillar
for atomic physics. Even though less than a decade has elapsed since Bohr’s initial
discovery, the system of thought which he devised and, for the most part, developed
dominates atomic physics and chemistry to such an extent that to the expert all
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