The Historical Context of Josephson’s Discovery

  • A. B. Pippard
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (NSSB, volume 21)


In an introductory talk like this you might expect a complete history of superconductivity from 1911 onward. I was not a physicist in 1911; I never met Kamerlingh Onnes and I cannot tell you how it was then, nor am I going to try. I am going to start considerably later, about the time of the B. C. S. theory. I am not a historian, and when one start’s to think about writing history, one realizes that historians may not be skilled in physics, but they certainly have expertise of their own. It is quite difficult to both write history and be involved in discovery. The thing which normally saves historians from being completely bogged down in detail is that they let enough time elapse between the events and the writing for almost everything to be forgotten; then it is possible to reconstruct the bits you care about and let the trivial details fade into insignificance. Because we are not talking about that sort of time lapse here it is very hard to separate the details from the important things. We feel the urge to find out what people were really thinking as the discoveries were made, but this is an extremely hard task.


Weak Link Historical Context Physical Review Letter Landau Equation Josephson Effect 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. B. Pippard
    • 1
  1. 1.Cavendish LaboratoryCambridgeEngland

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