Physics in Perspective

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 179–217

Writing the Biography of Hans Bethe: Contextual History and Paul Forman1


DOI: 10.1007/s00016-014-0136-6

Cite this article as:
Schweber, S.S. Phys. Perspect. (2014) 16: 179. doi:10.1007/s00016-014-0136-6


Some facets of the life of Hans Bethe after World War II are presented to illustrate how Paul Forman’s works, and in particular his various theses—on mathematics and physics in Wilhelmine and Weimar Germany, on physics in the immediate post-World War II period, and on postmodernity—have influenced my biography of Bethe. Some aspects of the history of post-World War II quantum field theory, of solid state/condensed matter physics, and of the development of neoliberalism—the commitment to the belief that the market knows best, to free trade, to enhanced privatization, and to a drastic reduction of the government’s role in regulating the economy—are reviewed in order to make some observations regarding certain “top-down” views in solid state physics in postmodernity, the economic and cultural condition of many Western societies since the 1980s, the decade in which many historians assume modernity to have ended.


Hans Bethe Paul Forman Weimar Forman theses postmodernity neoliberalism effective field theory nuclear theory mathematical physics physics summer schools Lamb shift Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) Nuclear Utilization Target Selection (NUTS) 

Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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