5 1 0 D O C U M E N T 3 2 9 O C T O B E R 1 9 2 4
329. From Robert A. Millikan
[Pasadena,] October 2, 1924
I am writing to ask if you would not like some time to follow the good example
set by Dr. Lorentz and Dr. Ehrenfest and spend the months of January, February,
and March playing in and about the Norman Bridge Laboratory and the Mount Wil-
son
Observatory.[1]
Your work is of such importance that I should not suggest this
at all if I thought there was the slightest danger of its interfering in any way with
that work, but I hope that the latter would actually be stimulated rather than other-
wise.
What we should want you to do would not be to give any courses at all, unless
you wished to do so, but merely to be one of the half a hundred men, all intensely
interested in the latest developments in physics and astronomy, who inhabit the
Norman Bridge Laboratory and the Mount Wilson Observatory, attending our sem-
inar as Ehrenfest did, three times a week, talking with the men when their own
problems interest you, visiting the Mount Wilson Observatory and seeing the sort
of problems upon which they are engaged, and finally, getting into contact with the
very large amount of magnetic results which have been accumulated by the Carn-
egie Institution in Baur’s laboratory at Washington, and to some extent in our own
laboratory where Dr. Barnett is
working,[2]
all for the sake of stimulating us and in-
cidentally yourself toward new generalizations and interpretations of our experi-
mental results.
The problem which
Bowen[3]
and myself are engaged upon, and which I talked
over with you in Geneva, seems to us at the present of fundamental interest and one
which is right along the line of your more recent work. We see no solution of our
dilemma unless it be to deny in toto the applicability of the principle of change of
mass with speed to our electronic orbits. This denial encounters most serious diffi-
culties, and perhaps when you see how we obtain our results you might see some
other
solution.[4]
At any rate, this is only one of dozens of problems here in which
I am sure you would be interested.
We have a large new laboratory and could give you rooms in which you would
be completely undisturbed for your own work. We would agree to keep the report-
ers away from you, and let your stay here be solely for the purposes of the progress
of physics rather than for publicity purposes of any kind. We should simply ask you
to be a “Research Associate of the Mount Wilson Observatory and the Norman
Bridge Laboratory of Physics”, such as Lorentz, Ehrenfest, and
Michelson[5]
have
been already.
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