Fritz London: A Scientific Biography by Kostas Gavroglu

By Kostas Gavroglu

This can be anything greater than an unalloyed biographical caricature of Fritz London. furthermore, this is often anything greater than a customary run-of-the-mill evaluate, because it can also be a remark at the growth of technology. The ebook, Fritz London: a systematic Biography (Cambridge, 1995), by means of Kostas Gavroglu, is itself a microhistory of a bygone age of exploration into the uncharted geographical regions of chemistry and the quantum physics of superfluidity and superconductivity, anything that we won't adventure back for many years. during this example Gavroglu's concentration is on one of many crucial and comparatively unsung champions of that period--the past due Fritz London (1900-1954), thinker of technological know-how, visionary philosopher, and devoted theoretician in quantum thermodynamics.

Professor Gavroglu himself has been a vacationing pupil at universities within the US and the united kingdom, with learn pursuits within the historical past of low temperature physics and actual chemistry, and is at present Professor of the heritage of Physics on the college of Athens.

The untold tale really starts over a century in the past, the place even the overdue Nobelist John Bardeen--who wrote the Afterword to Gavroglu's book--repeated a common false impression. The heritage of superconductivity is in detail attached with that of cryogenics. And, that historical past begun 118 years in the past, in 1877, with the 1st liquefaction of oxygen through the French physicist Louis Paul Cailletet and the Swiss Raoul Pierre Pictet. through 1894 the Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes of Leiden validated the 1st advertisement liquid-air plant, and 4 years later the British chemist Sir James Dewar liquefied hydrogen. however it wasn't until eventually July 10, 1908, that Onnes succeeded in liquefying helium, the main tough of all of the gases to liquefy as a result of its super low 4.2° ok (-269° C) boiling point.

3 years later superconductivity used to be came upon in a rod of frozen mercury through Georg Holst, a pupil of Onnes, who used to be assisted through G.J. Flim, an tool maker and grasp craftsman of Leiden who had equipped the 1st helium liquefier for Onnes. Flim later based a faculty for tool makers, whereas Holst grew to become the 1st director of the Philips learn Labs within the Netherlands.

Onnes, himself, was once hugely skeptical steel resembling mercury may possibly simply unexpectedly lose all resistivity to an electrical present, and did not think Holst's discovering until eventually he had repeated the test numerous instances himself. that very same 12 months (1911), Onnes released the result of these landmark experiments as an appendix to a different paper, during which he did provide credits to Holst yet none to Flim. years later Onnes obtained the Nobel award for his paintings in cryogenics. And, even if one will be tempted to assert that he wasn't the primary discoverer of list for superconductivity, which certainly he used to be no longer, the accomplishments of Onnes have been still impressive.

It used to be in this interval of fascinating discoveries early in our century that Fritz London grew up. His first released attempt in 1921, the 12 months he graduated from the collage of Munich, was once an strange philosophic essay on antipositivist and antireductionist rules within the face of triumphing positivist attitudes of the clinical neighborhood. This initial view through London was once a key to his early improvement towards a extra mature "systematic try to discover the probabilities of a special theoretical technique, which will articulate the variations among a macroscopic concept at the one hand, and the phenomenological and primary theories at the other." His look for macroscopic ideas amidst quantum mechanical nuclear occasions set the tenor for the remainder of his life.

And, whilst his mathematical talents elevated, so did his horizons. yet there have been additionally a few fake trails, as whilst his younger enthusiasm led him into an abortive try to expand Hermann Weyl's thought unifying gravitation and electromagnetism in the framework of quantum mechanics.

In 1924, Satyendra Bose, taking into account on Planck's radiation legislation, and soon after, Albert Einstein, contemplating molecular subject, formulated the quantum mechanical impact of a fantastic gasoline with essential electron spin that will start condensing less than a undeniable temperature. this may start up London's eventual curiosity in superconductivity and superfluidity via his research of macroscopic quantum phenomena. In 1925 London released his first physics paper with Helmut Hönl on atomic band spectra. In 1926 Erwin Schrödinger, in a four-part paper, defined his equations of wave mechanics in keeping with the idea that of subject waves brought 4 years previous by way of Louis de Broglie.

yet, the earliest program of quantum mechanics to covalent chemical bonding via such atomic wave capabilities through spin-pairing of electrons used to be provided in 1927 through London and Walter Heitler, then at Zürich, exhibiting a dependence at the Pauli exclusion precept. yet, in accordance with critic Linus Pauling, they have been additionally construction at the semiempirical 1916 idea through chemsist Gilbert Lewis that ionic and homopolar bonding will be defined via electron-pair sharing of atoms. The Heitler-London paper was once virtually universally hailed as featuring the most promising theories relating to chemical valence. London, although, was once livid on the americans, Pauling, John Slater, and Robert Mulliken for their--in his view--excessively pragmatic method of chemical bonding.

through 1928 London was once Schrödinger's assistant in Berlin, and his occupation appeared firmly confirmed. Then, because the family winds started to swap tremendously in Germany with the increase of nationwide Socialism, Fritz London and his brother Heinz, being Jews, have been urged to discover appointments in more secure political climates.

Frederick Lindemann, then at Oxford, used to be constructing a low temperature laboratory and wanted physicists and theoreticians to employees the ability and educate. Imperial Chemical Industries generously underwrote fellowships for displaced Jewish scientists. Arnold Sommerfeld and Einstein had urged London and Hans Bethe to Lindemann, and so Fritz went to Oxford in 1933, through Heinz London a 12 months later, whereas Bethe opted for Manchester. Max Planck used to be disappointed and concept Fritz used to be creating a mistake by means of leaving Berlin.

approximately this time Walther Meissner and R. Ochsenfeld had established that superconductors exhibited powerful diamagnetism. And, inside a couple of months of Heinz becoming a member of Fritz, that they had labored out the electrodynamics of superconductivity and awarded a theoretical inspiration of the phenomenon. In 1935 Fritz London had formulated that superconductive electrons exhibited a inflexible wave functionality with a wavelength of the size of the superconductor and, a result of restraints of the uncertainty precept, has to be comprehended in momentum house instead of section area. hence, superconductivity is a macroscopic quantum phenomenon, the place the superconductor itself turns into in impact a unmarried diamagnetic atom.

regardless of such industriousness, London was once unsatisfied at Oxford. whilst the ICI supply ran out in 1936 London moved to the Henri Poincaré Institute in Paris. inside a little while he had labored out the equations of country for superfluid helium, one other macroscopic phenomenon, which happens lower than 2.19° ok, and obeys the Bose-Einstein facts within the condensation section that can't be defined and understood by way of classical hydrodynamics.

while the inclement political winds reached into France, London took a place at Duke college within the US throughout the fall of 1939 and spent the battle years in relative isolation. yet in 1940, his brother Heinz, Walter Heitler, and different German clinical refugees in England have been without notice interned for numerous months. thankfully, all have been ultimately published. but Fritz discouraged his brother from coming to the U.S., mentioning the loneliness and anonymity, whereupon Heinz finally turned a British topic and labored on their atom bomb undertaking. nonetheless, in the course of the early Forties, London persisted to theoretically examine van der Waals forces, or even entered the theoretical lists in biology by way of responding to a piece of writing by means of Albert Szent-Györgyi and agreeing with him that there has been even more of an interrelationship among quantum mechanics and biochemistry than have been theretofore demonstrated.

by means of 1946, while London used to be invited to talk on the Cambridge convention on Low Temperatures, he was hoping to satisfy a lot of his outdated colleagues in addition to a number of from the USSR, even if the latter by no means arrived as a result of trip regulations for Soviet scientists. London have been at theoretical odds with Lev Landau, the outspoken Russian enfant negative who had as soon as been victimized via a Stalinist purge as a result of his personal candid perspectives, and who had independently formulated a thought of superfluidity in response to vortex phenomenon in quantum hydrodynamics. London, who had up till then been serious of his pal and colleague, Lazlo Tisza, for his two-fluid version of superfluidity, suddenly reversed his stance, because it seemed that the Soviet physicist had additionally embraced Tisza's version, and London was hoping to reconcile the highbrow distinction he had via recourse to the Bose-Einstein condensation as a purpose. Landau's strategy was once bold and infeasible, in response to London. yet when you consider that Landau used to be held in excessive esteem and had differently neglected London's paintings, it appeared greater to proffer a theoretical olive department. yet then Landau later criticized Tisza, and Tisza in flip were supported by means of London, yet by way of 1950 experiments in adiabatic demagnetization mockingly tended to aid Landau. however, London may well by no means philosophically settle for Landau's approach.

within the early Nineteen Fifties autonomous relevance of the Bose-Einstein condensation for sup

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Additional resources for Fritz London: A Scientific Biography

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Attracted by Goethe's force of intellect, London, nevertheless, was unwilling to adopt Goethe's methodology, not because its results rendered it questionable, but because it was problematic on epistemological grounds. And at that level his sympathies and preferences were with Kant. How absolute is our knowledge? The second essay from his early years is titled Speculations about the absoluteness of our knowledge. London wrote this essay in November 1918, having already graduated from the Gymnasium, and there are no indications that he wrote it for any kind of course requirements.

When two groups of judgements a and b have identical domains, then they are called 'equipotent'. The set of groups of judgements which are equipotent to a group of judgements

He felt that he had developed the necessary notions to examine that 'old prejudice whereby a deductive conclusion should necessarily lead from the general to the more particular . . [and show] that it is also possible to deduce from something general, something equally general'. London was convinced that the only way to comprehend the syllogistic processes involved in proofs was to devise a way of thinking which regarded theories as wholes. This could only be done with the application of the methods which had been first created in the manifold theory, and for this reason the problem is only indirectly of a logical origin.

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