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they, rather all fields of knowledge. Assyriology, for ex., is about the miscreations
of idle brains. What the intrepid researchers decipher as text is in actuality only—
chaff! Strindberg entitles the chapter “Mesopotamian Chaff” and proves that the
scribble-scrabble is only the chaff that the Assyrians mixed into their brickstones
before baking them.—In physics you can learn much, e.g., that X rays can also be
generated with a kerosene lamp, which physicists don’t do, however, because it
costs too little money!–
For you, dear Elsa, I enclose a little book that also falls within the realm of art.
I love it as the testimony of an earnestly struggling artistic soul.—How are your
daughters?[6]
So, now I want to crawl into bed and read Busch; I often find there a fine echo
of my heretical
soul![7]
Good night, dear people! Yours,
Hedi Born.
21 October 1919
I attach another joke I made yesterday at our house in honor of Landé’s Habilita-
tion. A sideshow to the Becker
letter.[8]
Please return Wertheimer’s letter
ev[entually].[9]
145. From Max von Laue
Würzburg, 40 Mergentheimer St., 18 October 1919
Dear Einstein,
I would like to ask you for advice about a scientific problem.
For 6 years now I have been agonizing over the outcome of an experiment by
Harress at the Jena Observatory, conducted under the direction of O. Knopf, on the
optics of moving
bodies.[1]
The author set a large glass object of about 20-cm radi-
us in rotation, let a ray of light pass through its periphery (approximately) in the
direction of rotation, another in the opposite direction, and then from the interfer-
ence between the two rays inferred an influence on the velocity of light by the
motion of the glass. His result, according to his opinion, absolutely did not agree
with the Fresnel dragging coefficient.
I want to tell you right away that I succeeded in detecting Harress’s basic error
in his theory. Upon correction, one arrives at a quite fair result. According to Prof.
Knopf’s reworking (Harress became a victim of the war), which is appearing immi-
nently in the Annalen, one finds 0.570 from Harress’s experiment as the dragging
coefficient, whereas the theoretical value would be
0.595.[2]
Nevertheless, this out-
come is not all that secure. Harress had, due to faulty theory, completely failed to
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