By Jagdish Mehra

Jagdish Mehra's old account of the Solvay meetings from 1911 to 1973 demonstrates not just the nice impact which those meetings have had at the improvement of contemporary physics, however it additionally exhibits essentially how far-sighted and good­ deliberate have been the intentions of Ernest Solvay whilst he took the initiative for organizing a brand new kind of overseas meetings. unlike the normal conferences within which stories are given at the profitable answer of clinical difficulties, the Solvay meetings have been conceived to aid without delay in fixing particular difficulties of bizarre hassle. the significance of the quantum constitution of Nature had develop into good lower than­ stood already by way of 1911, yet at the moment there has been no wish for a solution to the ex­ tremely tough new questions posed by way of the atomic phenomena. the recent meetings should still accordingly be dedicated essentially to thorough discussions of such difficulties be­ tween a small variety of the main powerfuble physicists, and Ernest Solvay used to be guided through the wish that the discussions may ultimately bring about a true and titanic development. The earliest Solvay meetings which I attended have been these of 1927, 1930 and 1933, and so they served this function tremendous good. In 1926 the mathematical formalism of quantum-and wave-mechanics approached its ultimate form, however the interpretation used to be nonetheless debatable. Schrodinger was hoping that his topic waves can be regarded as waves in third-dimensional house and time, and that the discontinuous characteristic of quantum 'jumps' can be refrained from thereby.

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Extra resources for The Solvay Conferences on Physics: Aspects of the Development of Physics Since 1911

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It read: Invitation to an 'International scientific conference to elucidate certain current questions 0/ the kinetic theory'. It appears that we find ourselves at present in the midst of an all-encompassing re-formulation of the principles on which the erstwhile kinetic theory of matter has been based. On the one hand, this theory leads to a logical formulation - which nobody contests - of a radiation formula whose validity is contradicted by all experiments; on the other, there follow from the same theory certain results on the specific heat (constancy of the specific heat of a gas with the variation of temperature, the validity of Dulong and Petit's law up to the lowest temperature), which are also completely refuted by many measurements.

Jeans (Cambridge), E. Rutherford (Manchester). France: M. Brillouin, Madame Curie, P. Langevin, J. Perrin, H. Poincare (all from Paris). Austria: A. Einstein (Prague), F. Hasenohrl (Vienna). Holland: H. Kamerlingh Onnes (Leyden). Denmark: Martin Knudsen (Copenhagen). The Scientific Secretaries of the Conference were: R. Goldschmidt (Brussels), M. de Broglie (Paris), and F. A. Lindemann (Berlin). As we have already noted, the theme of the first Solvay Conference in 1911, Radiation Theory and the Quanta, indicated the central question in physics in those days.

Ernest Solvay opposed the amassing of 'unearned' inherited wealth. He noted that there were three major socio-economic classes in society: one, the producers; second, those who have authority over the first; and a third, which struggles to survive by serving the other two. Solvay thought that the well-being of both the individual and humanity would be advanced if all people became producers. Countries with higher productivity would help less advanced countries in increasing their productivity.

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