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