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xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr"> Bohr, Mach, Einstein, et al. - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Against the Day

Bohr, Mach, Einstein, et al.

Niels Bohr (1885-1962), Danish physicist, born and educated in Copenhagen, received his Master's degree in 1909 and his Doctor's degree in 1911. He became Professor of Physics there in 1916 after working under J. J. Thompson at Cambridge and Lord Rutherford at Manchester, England. He greatly extended the theory of atomic structure when he explained the spectrum of hydrogen atom by means of an atomic model and the quantum theory (1913). During World II he escaped from German-occupied Denmark to Sweden and England. He eventually assisted atom bomb research in the U.S., returning to Copenhagen in 1945. He was founder and director of the Institute of Theorectical Physics at Copenhagen. He was awarded Nobel Prize in Physics 1922 for "his sevices in the investigation of the structure of atoms and of the radiation emanating from them."

Ernst Mach (1838-1916), Austrian physicist and philosopher. He studied at Vienna University and became Professor of Physics there in 1895. He carried out much experimental work on supersonic projectiles and on the flow of gases. His findings have proved of great importance in aeronautical design and the science of projectiles. The ratio of the speed of flow of a gas to the speed of sound was named after him: Mach number. (Mach Number.) And the angle of a shock wave to the direction of motion was called Mach Angle. (Mach Angle.) In fluid dynamics, a Mach Wave (Mach Wave.) is a kind of weak shock caused by a small disturbance in the flow. In the field of epistemology he was determined to abolish idle metaphysical specualtion. He was a strong critic of Newtonian absolute time and absolute space. His writings greatly influenced Einstein and laid the foundations of logical positivism.

young Einstein
Perhaps a reference to the 1988 movie of the same name. At the time of the F.I.C.O.T.T. (1895 at the earliest), Einstein would have already published "The Investigation of the State of Aether in Magnetic Fields." Ironically, Einstein's special theory of relativity would later essentially invalidate theories of luminiferous aether.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was a German-born mathematical physicist, who ranks with Galileo and Newton as one of the great conceptual revisors of man's understanding of the universe. He lived as a boy in Munich but left Germany for Switzerland in 1895. He renounced his German citizenship in 1896 and completed his education at Zürich Polytechnic (1896-1900), where Minkowski was his mathematics teacher. Taking Swiss nationality (which he kept until his death) in 1901, he was appointed examiner at the Swiss Patent Office (1902-05). He received his doctorate in 1905 from the University of Zürich. While working at the Swiss Patent Office, Einstein began to publish original papers on the theoretical aspects of problems in physics, such as Brownian movement (he explained the random motion using molecular kinetic theory of heat), photoelectric effect (in which he postulated photon), special theory of relativity, all in the same year 1905 while Einstein was still young (only 26-year old). The special theory of relativity provided, by the merging of the traditionally absolute concepts of space and time into a space-time continuum, a new system of mechanics whcih could accommodate Maxwell's electromagnetic field theory as well as the hitherto inexplicable results of the Michelson-Morley experiment on the speed of light. In that year, young Einstein also discovered and formulated an equivalence of energy (E) and mass (m): E = mc², where c is the speed of light in vacuum, a conversion factor required to convert from units of mass to units of energy. This equation would overturn classical physics and lay the foundations for the nuclear age. These four papers of 1905 by young Einstein, came to be known as The Annus Mirabilis Papers, contributed substantially to the foundation of modern physics and changed views on space, time, and matter forever. In 1909 he was offered an adjunct professorship at the University of Zürich. He resigned that position in 1910 to become full professor at the German University at Prague, and in 1912 he accepted the chair of theoretical physics at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich. In 1914 he was invited to be the director of theoretical physics at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, Berlin. Be default, as a civil servant of a German government organization, he became a German citizen again. In 1916 he cpmpleted his mathematical formulation of a general theory of relativity that included gravitation as a determiner of the curvature of a space-time continuum. He remained in Berlin until 1933 when Nazi rose to power. He renounced his German citizenship and left for the U.S. in 1934. He accepted a post at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, from 1934 until his death in 1955. He became an American citizen in 1940. While in the U.S. Einstein mainly worked, unsccessfully, on the construction of unified field theory combining the general theory of relativity with quantum mechanics. Einstein was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921, not for his theories of relativity, but "for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectirc effect", the work done by young Einstein in physics' Miracle Year of 1905.

Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), Greman historicist writer. Studied mathematics at universities in Munich and Berlin, received his Ph.D in 1904, and taught high school mathematics (1908) in Hamburg before devoting himself entirely to the compilation of the morbidly prophetic Decline of the West (Vol. I, 1918; Vol. II, 1922), in which he argues by analogy, in the historicist manner of Hegel and Marx, that all civilizations or cultures are subject to the same cycle of growth and decay in accordance with predetermined "historical destiny". The soul of Western civilization is dead. It is better for Western man, therefore, to be engineer rather than poet, soldier rather than artist. His verdict, achieved by his specious method, greatly encourage the Nazis although he never became one himself. (Spengler.)

Wells Cf page 398:H.G. Wells.

McTaggart Cf page 239: J.M.E. McTaggart.

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