The Path to Quantum Mechanics

  • Gerhard EckerEmail author
Part of the Undergraduate Lecture Notes in Physics book series (ULNP)


Niels Bohr finished his studies at the University of Copenhagen in 1911 with a thesis on the magnetic properties of metals. In September of the same year he went to Cambridge to continue his studies at the famous Cavendish Laboratories with Thomson. Thomson received him cordially and seemed to be interested in the work of the young Dane. However, in the literature one can find the cryptic remark that their communication was hampered by language barriers; maybe Thomson’s knowledge of Danish was only rudimentary ...While Bohr still had to grapple with these difficulties, Rutherford visited Cambridge and reported on his new insights concerning the structure of atoms. Bohr was fascinated by Rutherford and decided to move to Manchester. To the surprise of many colleagues soon also Rutherford was quite impressed by Bohr. This was not necessarily to be expected because in general Rutherford did not have a very favourable opinion of “pure” theoreticians. After all, he had not needed a theoretician to deduce the structure of atoms from the scattering experiments in Manchester. When asked why he made an exception for Bohr, he is reported to have said: “Bohr is different, he is a football player.”


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fakultät für PhysikUniversität WienViennaAustria

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