Article ID: CBB000932049

Adventures of a Theoretical Physicist, Part II: America (2009)


This second part of my interview with Andor Frenkel focuses on my life and work in America. After arriving in New York in March 1941 and visiting relatives and friends in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, my friend Edward Teller, who had a professorship at George Washington University, invited me to his home in Arlington,Virginia, where I stayed until June while he attempted to locate a position for me. Eventually, John Clarke Slater, Head of the Physics Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), offered me a one-year instructorship beginning in the fall of 1941, which evolved into an assistant professorship in 1945, an associate professorship in 1948, and a full professorship in 1960. During these years, I established close friendships at MIT with Herman Feshbach, Philip Morrison,Victor Weisskopf, and other colleagues, and pursued productive researches with my graduate students. I developed a new course on thermodynamics in 1941 based on my notes of Max Born's lectures at the University of Göttingen in 1929, Lev Landau and Evgenii Lifshitz's book, Statistical Physics of 1938, and Slater's book, Introduction to Chemical Physics of 1939, which I revised and refined over the following years. In 1966 I published my book, Generalized Thermodynamics. I also reflected on the role that my two-fluid theory of 1938 played in clarifying superfluidity, as well as on my relations with Lev Landau and Fritz London, and on their controversial relations with each other. In 1947 I widened Landau's phenomenological theory of phase transitions to include mathematical singularities. Subsequently, I concentrated more and more on the paradoxes of quantum mechanics, a first result being an unpublished manuscript of 1950, which I reproduce in the Appendix. In later decades, both before and after my retirement from MIT in 1973, my concern with the foundation of quantum mechanics continued unabated.


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Article Tisza, Laszlo (2009) Adventures of a Theoretical Physicist, Part I: Europe. Physics in Perspective (p. 46). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Sutherland, Serenity
Spero, Ellan F.
Tisza, Laszlo
Sebastiani, Fabio
Schweber, Silvan Sam
Schroer, Bert
Physics in Perspective
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
World Scientific
MIT Press
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
Theoretical physics
Emigration; immigration
Atomic, nuclear, and particle physics
Science education and teaching
Quantum mechanics
Fermi, Enrico
Sommerfeld, Arnold Johannes Wilhelm
Schwinger, Julian Seymour
Kármán, Theodor von
Waller, Ivar
Tisza, Laszlo
Time Periods
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
19th century
United States
Naples (Italy)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)
Università di Roma
Università di Napoli
Mellon Institute
Universität Göttingen

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