Max Planck Institute For Wissenschaftsgeschichte

Berlin, Germany

Max Planck Institute For Wissenschaftsgeschichte

Berlin, Germany
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Bangham J.,Max Planck Institute For Wissenschaftsgeschichte | Bangham J.,University of Cambridge
British Journal for the History of Science | Year: 2014

In the 1940s and 1950s, British and American journals published a flood of papers by doctors, pathologists, geneticists and anthropologists debating the virtues of two competing nomenclatures used to denote the Rhesus blood groups. Accounts of this prolonged and often bitter episode have tended to focus on the main protagonists' personalities and theoretical commitments. Here I take a different approach and use the literature generated by the dispute to recover the practical and epistemic functions of nomenclatures in genetics. Drawing on recent work that views inscriptions as part of the material culture of science, I use the Rhesus controversy to think about the ways in which geneticists visualized and negotiated their objects of research, and how they communicated and collaborated with workers in other settings. Extending recent studies of relations between different media, I consider the material forms of nomenclatures, as they were jotted in notebooks, printed in journals, scribbled on blackboards and spoken out loud. The competing Rhesus nomenclatures had different virtues as they were expressed in different media and made to embody commitments to laboratory practices. In exploring the varied practical and epistemic qualities of nomenclatures I also suggest a new understanding of the Rhesus controversy itself. © 2013 British Society for the History of Science.

Bonolis L.,Max Planck Institute For Wissenschaftsgeschichte
European Physical Journal H | Year: 2017

Since the mid-1920s, different strands of research used stars as “physics laboratories” for investigating the nature of matter under extreme densities and pressures, impossible to realize on Earth. To trace this process this paper is following the evolution of the concept of a dense core in stars, which was important both for an understanding of stellar evolution and as a testing ground for the fast-evolving field of nuclear physics. In spite of the divide between physicists and astrophysicists, some key actors working in the cross-fertilized soil of overlapping but different scientific cultures formulated models and tentative theories that gradually evolved into more realistic and structured astrophysical objects. These investigations culminated in the first contact with general relativity in 1939, when J. Robert Oppenheimer and his students George Volkoff and Hartland Snyder systematically applied the theory to the dense core of a collapsing neutron star. This pioneering application of Einstein’s theory to an astrophysical compact object can be regarded as a milestone in the path eventually leading to the emergence of relativistic astrophysics in the early 1960s. © 2017, The Author(s).

Friedrich B.,Fritz Haber Institute | Hoffmann D.,Max Planck Institute For Wissenschaftsgeschichte | James J.,Fritz Haber Institute
Angewandte Chemie - International Edition | Year: 2011

We outline the institutional history and highlight aspects of the scientific history of the Fritz Haber Institute (FHI) of the Max Planck Society, successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, from its founding in 1911 until about the turn of the 21st century. Established as one of the first two Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, the Institute began as a much-awaited remedy for what prominent German chemists warned was the waning of Germany's scientific and technological superiority relative to the United States and to other European nations. The history of the Institute has largely paralleled that of 20th century Germany. It spearheaded the research and development of chemical weapons during World War I, then experienced a "golden era" during the 1920s and early 1930s, in spite of financial hardships. Under the National Socialists it suffered a purge of its scientific staff and a diversion of its research into the service of the new regime, accompanied by a breakdown in its international relations. In the immediate aftermath of World War II it suffered crippling material losses, from which it recovered slowly in the postwar era. In 1952, the Institute took the name of its founding director and the following year joined the fledgling Max Planck Society, successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Institute supported diverse research into the structure of matter and electron microscopy in its geographically isolated and politically precarious location in West Berlin. In subsequent decades, as Berlin benefited from the policies of détente and later glasnost and the Max Planck Society continued to reassess its preferred model of a research institute, the FHI reorganized around a board of coequal scientific directors and renewed its focus on the investigation of elementary processes on surfaces and interfaces, topics of research that had been central to the work of Fritz Haber and the first "golden era" of the Institute. Throughout its one-hundred-year history, the Institute's pace-setting research has been shaped by dozens of distinguished scientists, among them seven Nobel laureates. Here we highlight the contributions made at the Institute to the fields of gas-phase kinetics and dynamics, early quantum physics, colloid chemistry, electron microscopy, and surface chemistry, and we give an account of the key role the Institute played in implementing the Berlin Electron Synchrotron (BESSY I and II). Current research at the Institute in surface science and catalysis as well as molecular physics and spectroscopy is exemplified in this issue [Angew. Chem. 2011, 123, 10242; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2011, 50, 10064]. A retrospect: The institute that was later renamed the Fritz Haber Institute began as a much-awaited remedy for the feared waning of Germany's scientific and technological superiority. The history of the Institutea-from its "golden era" in the 1920s and early 1930s, through war-related research during both World Wars, crippling losses following World War II, and impressive growth since the 1950sa-has largely paralleled that of 20th century Germany. © 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Salisbury D.C.,Austin College | Salisbury D.C.,Max Planck Institute For Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Journal of Physics: Conference Series | Year: 2010

In an article published in 1930 Léon Rosenfeld invented a general Hamiltonian formalism that purported to realize general coordinate, local Lorentz, and U(1) symmetries as canonical phase space transformations. He applied the formalism to a q-number version of tetrad gravity in interaction with both the electromagnetic field and a spinorial Dirac electron matter field. His procedure predated by almost two decades the algorithms of Dirac and Bergmann, and with regard to internal (non-spacetime) symmetries is fully equivalent to them. Dirac was in fact already in 1932 familiar with Rosenfelds work, although as far as I can tell he never acknowledged in print his perhaps unconscious debt to Rosenfeld. I will review the general formalism, comparing and contrasting with the work of Dirac, Bergmann and his associates. Although Rosenfeld formulated a correct prescription for constructing the vanishing Hamiltonian generator of time evolution, he evidently did not succeed in carrying out the construction. Nor did he have the correct phase space generators of diffeomorphism-induced symmetry variations. He did not take into account that some of the Lagrangian symmetries are not projectable under the Legendre transformation to phase space. © 2010 IOP Publishing Ltd.

Creager A.N.H.,Princeton University | Creager A.N.H.,Max Planck Institute For Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C :Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences | Year: 2014

This essay discusses three common issues arising from the special collection "100 Years of Cancer and Viruses." The first is the tension between small-scale and big-scale approaches to cancer research; the second is the difference between how physicians and biologists regarded cancer, and how they assessed the value of investigating viruses as a causative agent; and the third is how the pace and temporality ofscience have varied over the century of research on cancer viruses. An unpublished piece written by C.H. Andrewes in 1935, "A Christmas Fairy-Story for Oncologists," provides the touchstone for the commentary. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Blum A.,Max Planck Institute For Wissenschaftsgeschichte
European Physical Journal H | Year: 2014

The spin-statistics theorem, which relates the intrinsic angular momentum of a singleparticle to the type of quantum statistics obeyed by a system of many such particles, isone of the central theorems in quantum field theory and the physics of elementaryparticles. It was first formulated in 1939/40 by Wolfgang Pauli and his assistant MarkusFierz. This paper discusses the developments that led up to this first formulation,starting from early attempts in the late 1920s to explain why charged matter particlesobey Fermi-Dirac statistics, while photons obey Bose-Einstein statistics. It isdemonstrated how several important developments paved the way from such generalphilosophical musings to a general (and provable) theorem, most notably the use of quantumfield theory, the discovery of new elementary particles, and the generalization of thenotion of spin. It is also discussed how the attempts to prove a spin-statisticsconnection were driven by Pauli from formal to more physical arguments, culminating inPauli’s 1940 proof. This proof was a major success for the beleaguered theory of quantumfield theory and the methods Pauli employed proved essential for the renaissance ofquantum field theory and the development of renormalization techniques in the late1940s. © 2014, EDP Sciences and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Jahnert M.,Max Planck Institute For Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Annalen der Physik | Year: 2013

Bohr's 1913 trilogy marked a turning point in the history of quantum physics for its introduction of the planetary model of the atom and its derivation of the Balmer formula for the hydrogen spectrum. Bohr's 1913 trilogy made a third crucial major assumption, which entailed key elements of the correspondence principle formulated IN 1918. This assumption postulated a relation between the mechanical frequency of a stationary state and the radiation frequency in analogy with classical radiation theory. This assumption allowed Bohr to quantize the energy of the stationary states through a relation between the radiation and the motion of the electron: using the Planck relation in terms of a quantum number. The relation between radiation and motion played a major role in the initial work establishing the Bohr model and its extension to the Stark and Zeeman effect.

Badino M.,Max Planck Institute For Wissenschaftsgeschichte | Badino M.,Fritz Haber Institute
European Physical Journal H | Year: 2011

An intricate, long, and occasionally heated debate surrounds Boltzmann's H-theorem (1872) and his combinatorial interpretation of the second law (1877). After almost a century of devoted and knowledgeable scholarship, there is still no agreement as to whether Boltzmann changed his view of the second law after Loschmidt's 1876 reversibility argument or whether he had already been holding a probabilistic conception for some years at that point. In this paper, I argue that there was no abrupt statistical turn. In the first part, I discuss the development of Boltzmann's research from 1868 to the formulation of the H-theorem. This reconstruction shows that Boltzmann adopted a pluralistic strategy based on the interplay between a kinetic and a combinatorial approach. Moreover, it shows that the extensive use of asymptotic conditions allowed Boltzmann to bracket the problem of exceptions. In the second part I suggest that both Loschmidt's challenge and Boltzmann's response to it did not concern the H-theorem. The close relation between the theorem and the reversibility argument is a consequence of later investigations on the subject. © EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag 2011.

Ren X.,Fritz Haber Institute | Rinke P.,Fritz Haber Institute | Joas C.,Fritz Haber Institute | Joas C.,Max Planck Institute For Wissenschaftsgeschichte | Scheffler M.,Fritz Haber Institute
Journal of Materials Science | Year: 2012

The random-phase approximation (RPA) as an approach for computing the electronic correlation energy is reviewed. After a brief account of its basic concept and historical development, the paper is devoted to the theoretical formulations of RPA, and its applications to realistic systems. With several illustrating applications, we discuss the implications of RPA for computational chemistry and materials science. The computational cost of RPA is also addressed which is critical for its widespread use in future applications. In addition, current correction schemes going beyond RPA and directions of further development will be discussed. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Bernd G.,Max Planck Institute For Wissenschaftsgeschichte
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences | Year: 2015

This article discusses the development of the statistical methods employed by psychiatrists to study heredity as a causative factor of mental diseases. It argues that psychiatric asylums and clinics were the first institutions in which human heredity became the object of systematic research. It also highlights the different concepts of heredity prevalent in the psychiatric community. The first of four parts traces how heredity became a central category of asylum statistics in the first half of the nineteenth century. The second part deals with attempts to introduce new methods of surveying in order to generate more precise data about psychopathological inheritance in the 1860s and 1870s. The third part discusses how, by the end of the nineteenth century, a widespread discontent with the results of asylum statistics led to an increasing interest in the use of family studies. Finally, the fourth part examines the impact of Mendelian theory on psychiatric statistics in the early twentieth century. © Springer International Publishing AG 2014.

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