Lot 215: Paul Ehrenfest

RR Auction

2015-08-21 10:51:45

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Lot 215: Important theoretical physicist (1880–1953) who made major contributions to the field of statistical mechanics and its relations with quantum mechanics. Three ALSs in Dutch, totaling eight pages on four sheets, dated January–February 1925, presumably to a student of his at the University of Leiden. One letter, dated January 9, 1925, in part (translated): "I would very much enjoy writing to you both often. But of course my sole inexhaustible subject are matters scientific. Therefore, I should like to send you sheets in which various subjects from the fields of mechanics and physics are developed very briefly. If you collect these sheets and occasionally study them together (have any incomprehensible bits elucidated by Joffe, Frenkel, Bursian, Krutkov, Friedmann!), you will find much there that is interesting and even useful! Tanja knows much less real physics than you do, but probably knows much more mathematics than you—so you both might profit by the 'exchange.'"A second, dated February 23, 1915, in part (translated): "You must not believe that others who in any way involve themselves with science are better off in general. You ought to see Bohr and Einstein struggle. The short instants of great leaps ahead always seem to disappear in a sea of failures." In overall fine condition, with central vertical and horizontal folds and scattered soiling. Accompanied by an original matte-finish candid photo of Ehrenfest with some of his students. Following H. A. Lorentz's resignation from the University of Leiden, Ehrenfest was appointed chair of theoretical physics. He was deeply invested in the success of his students, as is readily apparent in these encouraging letters. During his time at Leiden he was also in close contact with prominent physicists around the world—including Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, who joined Ehrenfest at his home during their famous 1925 'Bohr-Einstein debates.' An excellent collection of letters, mentioning some of the biggest names in the history of science. RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 460 Wednesday, 16th September 2015 Estimate: $6000-8000
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