D O C U M E N T 1 0 3 M A R C H 1 9 2 1 8 3
103. To the Prussian Academy of Sciences
(Proposal for Director of the Astrophysical Observatory
in Potsdam)
[Berlin, 17 March
In the letter from the Ministry of Science, Arts, and Culture of
of this
yr., the Prussian Academy of Sciences was invited to make suggestions for the
reappointment of the directorship at the Astrophysical Observatory in Potsdam.
Following are the names of two scientists, one a prominent physicist and the other
an astronomer proven in the area of astrophysics.
1. Professor M[ax] von Laue, born in Pfaffendorf near Coblenz
his doctorate 1903 in Berlin for a dissertation on interference effects on plane-par-
allel plates, and qualified there in academic teaching [habilitiert] 1906 for the the-
sis “Zur Thermodynamik der Interferenzerscheinungen.” He became extraord.
professor 1912 at the University of Zurich, full professor 1914 in Frankfurt, full
professor 1919 in Berlin, and at the same time a member of our Academy.
From among his accomplishments, the following are singled out: In 1912, in
cooperation with younger collaborators, he carried out the remarkable experiments
by which the undulatory nature of Roentgen rays was proven, thus also their simi-
larity to normal light rays, furthermore simultaneously proving the atomic lattice
structure of crystals. There are surely few discoveries in physics of equally far-
reaching significance, such as, among other things, the consequence that the deeper
nature of the periodic system of the elements could be unraveled with the help of
Laue’s discovery. In numerous technical applications, where the precise geometri-
cal structure of solid materials is involved, von Laue’s apparatus arrangement is
currently also being used with brilliant success.– His papers and monographs about
relativity theory prove Laue’s acuity no less than his talent for theoretical formula-
tion.– His papers on thermions and amplifier tubes tend more toward experimenta-
tion.– With a number of investigations he proved furthermore that he has an
excellent command of theoretical optics, which has recently returned to the fore-
front of astronomy.
2. Professor Ludendorff, 47 years old, has belonged to the Potsdam Observatory
for 23
and is therefore completely familiar with all its aspects. His numer-
ous publications in the areas of astronomy and astrophysics, having been subject to
his great care and strict critique, are almost all authoritative in character, and his
personality is highly praised in all quarters. Most noteworthy are his researches on
the radial velocities of stars and on the orbital determinations of spectroscopic
binary stars. The field of stellar statistics, which is at the forefront of current inter-
est, he has been engaged in with great success, and stellar photometry also owes
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