Physics in Perspective

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 238–252 | Cite as

Mathematics, Experiments, and Theoretical Physics: The Early Days of the Sommerfeld School

  • Michael Eckert

Atomic Structure and Spectral Lines.

The names of his students read like a Who’s Who of the pioneers in modern physics Peter Debye, Peter Paul Ewald, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Hans A. Bethe – to name only the most prominent. In retrospect, the success of Sommerfeld’s school of modern theoretical physics tends to overshadow its less glorious beginnings. A century ago, theoretical physics was not yet considered as a distinct discipline. In this article I emphasize more the haphazard beginnings than the later achievements of Sommerfeld’s school, which mirrored the state of theoretical physics before it became an independent discipline.

Key words: Sommerfeld; Munich; atomic physics; theoretical physics; scientific schools. 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Eckert
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, der Universität München, Sommerfeld-Edition, Deutsches Museum, D-80306 München, (Germany), e-mail: m.eckert@lrz.uni-muenchen.deDE

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