Monday, October 23, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Edward Condon (1902 – 1974)


Distinguished nuclear physicist, a pioneer in quantum mechanics, a participant in the development of radar and nuclear weapons in World War II, research director of Corning Glass, director of the National Bureau of Standards, and president of the American Physical Society (as well as, late in his life, professor of physics at the University of Colorado.
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Edward Condon
When [Born and Heisenberg and the Göttingen theoretical physicists] first discovered matrix mechanics they were having, of course, the same kind of trouble that everybody else had in trying to solve problems and to manipulate and to really do things with matrices. So they had gone to Hilbert for help and Hilbert said the only time he had ever had anything to do with matrices was when they came up as a sort of by-product of the eigenvalues of the boundary-value problem of a differential equation. So if you look for the differential equation which has these matrices you can probably do more with that. They had thought it was a goofy idea and that Hilbert didn’t know what he was talking about. So he was having a lot of fun pointing out to them that they could have discovered Schrödinger’s wave mechanics six month earlier if they had paid a little more attention to him.
Condon quotes
In short, the greatest contribution to real security that science can make is through the extension of the scientific method to the social sciences and a solution of the problem of complete avoidance of war.
Condon
If physics is too difficult for the physicists, the nonphysicist may wonder whether he should try at all to grasp its complexities and ambiguities. It is undeniably an effort, but probably one worth making, for the basic questions are important and the new experimental results are often fascinating. And if the layman runs into serious perplexities, he can be consoled with the thought that the points which baffle him are more than likely the ones for which the professionals have not found satisfactory answers.




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