D O C U M E N T 5 A P R I L 1 9 2 3 9
5. From Max Born[1]
Göttingen, 7 April 1923
Dear Einstein,
They say that you are back
I wanted to write you a welcoming letter, but
now I’m too late. The main thing is that we heartily congratulate you belatedly on
the Nobel Prize. No one better than you and
could have been found; and we
were really pleased beyond bounds. We also heartily thank you for the pretty card
We never knew your address and could not reply. But now I would
like to resume our exchange of ideas, insofar as I may take up your time. How much
I would like to have you tell me about your experiences on the great voyage. Per-
haps I shall come to Berlin at the end of the month for a few days to visit an Amer-
ican benefactor and friend who is helping me support my students through to the
I hope to see you then.— We have been living here in very quiet isolation.
The only external event of importance was Lord
visit. The inside of
his mind looks quite confused; nonetheless, the general cultivation and European
essence of the man made a great impression on us (i.e., Hilbert, Franck,
and me).— If you leaf through the journal issues of the past half year, you will see
that I have been quite diligent and also kept quite a number of students
those are all minor problems I have been grappling with. Despite all my efforts, I
am getting no nearer to the great quantum puzzles. We studied perturbation theory
here (according to
in order to find out whether one gets the observed
term values from Bohr’s models through precise computation; but that is most defi-
nitely not the case, as has been demonstrated for helium, where we found all the
possible multiperiodic orbits (to sufficient
I had Heisenberg
here during winter (as Sommerfeld was in America); he is at least as talented as
Pauli but is a nicer and more pleasant
He also plays the piano very well.
Apart from the helium research, we examined some principal issues of Bohr’s
atomic theory together, particularly regarding phase relations in models of the atom
(Z. f.
Now I am finished, at last, with my great encycl. article on lattice
theory; it has become about 250 pages long and is supposed to appear as the 2nd
ed. of my old
I hope that it will be coming out in May. Thus, I consign
this project to the files until the problem of homopolar atomic binding is cleared up
from Bohr’s point of
Unfortunately, every attempt at forming a clear con-
cept fails. The only thing I see is that in reality it all must be very, very different
from what one currently thinks. Qualitative results, however, can be drawn in abun-
dance from Bohr’s ideas; Franck is magnificent doing just that and keeps perform-
ing fine experiments. I am in trepidation about Franck getting the appointment to
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