Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein

By Abraham Pais | Go to book overview

11
The Prague Papers

11a. From Zürich to Prague

'I will most probably receive a call from a large university to be full professor with a salary significantly better than I have now. I am not yet permitted to say where it is' [E1]. So Einstein wrote to his mother on April 4, 1910, less than half a year after he had begun his associate professorship in Zürich. The call he expected was supposed to come from the Karl-Ferdinand University, the German university in Prague. He had to be discreet since the search committee convened in January had not even made a proposal to the faculty yet. The experimentalist Anton Lampa, committee chairman and Einstein's strong advocate, had sounded him out beforehand. The committee report dated April 21, 1910, proposed three candidates and stated that all of them were willing to accept a formal offer. Einstein was the first choice. This report quotes a glowing recommendation by Planck: '[ Einstein's work on relativity] probably exceeds in audacity everything that has been achieved so far in speculative science and even in epistemology; non-Euclidean geometry is child's play by comparison.'Planck went on to compare Einstein to Copernicus [Hl].

The news spread. In July 1910 the Erziehungsrat (board of education) petitioned the government of the Canton Zürich. It was noted that, according to experts, Einstein was one of the few authorities in theoretical physics; that students from the ETH were coming to the University of Zürich to attend his lectures; that he was teaching six to eight hours per week instead of the customary four to six; and that efforts should be made to keep him in Zürich. An annual raise of 1000 SF was proposed. The petition was granted [P1].

It would appear that Einstein was eager to go to Prague, however. In the summer of 1910 he wrote to Laub, 'I did not receive the call from Prague. I was only proposed by the faculty; the ministry has not accepted my proposal because of my Semitic descent' [E2]. (I have seen no documents to this effect.) In October he wrote to Laub that the appointment seemed pretty certain [E3], but in December he wrote that there had been no word from Prague yet [E4]. However, on January 6, 1911, His Imperial and Apostolic Majesty Franz Joseph formally approved the appointment, effective April 1. Einstein was notified by letter, dated January 13 [H1]. Prior to the beginning of his appointment, he had to record his religious affiliation. The answer none was unacceptable. He wrote 'Mosaisch'

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Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • To the Reader vii
  • Contents (entries in Italics Are Almost Entirely Biographical) xi
  • I- Introductory 3
  • 1- Purpose and Plan 5
  • 2- Relativity Theory and Quantum Theory 26
  • 3 - Portrait of the Physicist as a Young Man 49
  • II- Statistical Physics 53
  • 4- Entropy and Probability 55
  • 5- The Reality of Molecules 79
  • III- Relativity, the Special Theory 109
  • 6- ''subtle is the Lord . . .'' 111
  • 7- The New Kinematics 138
  • 8- The Edge of History 163
  • IV- Relativity, the General Theory 175
  • 9- ''The Happiest Thought of My Life'' 177
  • References 184
  • 10- Herr Professor Einstein 190
  • 11- The Prague Papers 192
  • 12- The Einstein-Grossmann Collaboration 208
  • 12- The Einstein-Grossmann Collaboration 208
  • References 228
  • 13- Field Theories of Gravitation 237
  • 14- The Field Equations of Gravitation 239
  • 15 - The New Dynamics 292
  • V- The Later Journey 297
  • 16- ''The Suddenly Famous Doctor Einstein'' 299
  • 17- Unified Field Theory 325
  • VI - The Quantum Theory 355
  • 18 - Preliminaries 363
  • 19- The Light-Quantum 364
  • 20- Einstein and Specific Heats 389
  • 21- The Photon 402
  • 22- Interlude- The Bks Proposal 416
  • 23- A Loss of Identity 423
  • 24- Einstein as a Transitional Figure 435
  • 25- Einstein''s Response to the New Dynamics 440
  • 26- Einstein''s Vision 460
  • VII- Journey''s End 471
  • 27- The Final Decade 473
  • 28- Epilogue 479
  • VIII- Appendices 481
  • 29- Of Tensors and a Hearing Aid and Many Other Things 483
  • 30- How Einstein Got the Nobel Prize 502
  • 31 - Einstein''s Proposals for the Nobel Prize 518
  • 32- An Einstein Chronology 520
  • Name Index 531
  • Subject Index 539
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