World War II[ edit ] Margenau worked on the theory of microwaves and the development of duplexing systems that enabled a single radar antenna both to transmit and receive signals. He also worked on spectral line broadening , a technique used to analyse and review the dynamics of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. His topic was Scientific Indeterminism and Human Freedom.
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It was an experimental problem. Margenau: It was an experimental problem. At that time, theoretical problems were not available.
Neither you nor Page had any or wanted any students. I remember this very distinctly. Lindsay: too much cross-talk on Page, because he had the kind of feeling that most students, I think, really should do an experimental job. He, himself, had done that for his Ph. Even men like Norman Adams were asked to do an experimental thesis.
This broke down a little later, you remember, in connection with people like Seeger and others. Margenau: Yes, yes. This limited me, of course, to experimental work, and about the only people who had problems to offer were McKeon, Zelaney, who worked in what we now call plasma physics.
The problem I did had to do with the effect of surface treatment on the optical properties of metals, surface properties of metals. What I did was to examine the reflected light from a silver surface in various conditions of cold working.
I would take a highly polished silver surface, then one that had been, well, electroplated, one that had been etched, one that had practically all its crystals exposed and was more or less in its normal state.
And I examined the spectrum that was reflected. Silver has a reflecting power minimum at about Angstrom units. I built photocells, and I discovered the effect very easily. There was a clear shift in the minimum by about 30 Angstrom units as the degree of cold work became more and more intense. Highly polished surfaces would reflect one wave length; unpolished surfaces reflected another, and there was a continuous gradation in the position of the minimum as you passed from one extreme to the other.
Hence, I was finished long before the deadline. It was a very easy job. Lindsay: Somewhat remarkable… Margenau: Yes, it was a very lucky coincidence that the problem was available, the experimental means were easily constructed, and the problem turned out to be extremely easy.
As a matter of fact, after I had discovered this shift, I did the whole thing over again photographically, and I could discover the shift in the minimum on a photographic plate in one day.
If I had sense enough, I could have done the whole thesis job in one day. Margenau: Oh, my! Do you remember, for example, old Fred Beech, who was always asking these questions about geometrical optics. My recollection is that you, unlike many of the others, even knew how to trace the rays through a Galilean telescope. Lindsay: Very few could do it, Henry, at that time.
It always came up. Always the only modification was to ask for another kind of telescope. I believe I was not asked that. I thought it was too simple a problem. But E. Wilson has another opinion about that. But you must remember something about. Was it a highly satisfactory and pleasant occasion? Many people, of course, get very nervous at those examinations. Margenau: What I remember best about it is that Franz Curly waited for me and after the examination, when it was clear that I had passed, he congratulated me, and we took a walk up East Rock.
Lindsay: Well! This must have been late at night. Margenau: It was late at night. But the details of the examination have more or less escaped me. It was not a difficult examination. But, of course, I had learned a little, having been at Yale for two years and I learned a little in the meantime. Lindsay: Well, of course, our own associations during that time began to be fairly extensive, but perhaps we can overlook those at the moment and come to the year that you spent in Germany as a Sterling Fellow after you received your degree.
There you went to Munich and Berlin, and Jim and I were wondering if you could give us the reason why you picked out Munich. We know, of course, that Sommerfeld was there, but was there any other reason why you felt you wanted to go there. Margenau: That was the main reason. The fellowship I had was, of course, one of the Sterling fellowships at Yale.
I chose to go to Germany because I felt I could live there very cheaply, knowing the ropes, knowing the country. The Sterling Fellowship was the only one that permitted you to go abroad. Now, why did I choose Munich? A: because Sommerfeld was there; B: because I knew Munich as a pleasant place, I had been there before you.
That beautiful year I spent at the height of the inflation in the train of this lady as a tutor of her boy had endeared that part of Germany to me. I knew Munich as a very pleasant city, and I wanted to go to Sommerfeld. Lindsay: And you, of course, by that time had been interested in the electron theory of metals.
Margenau: Yes. This was rather amusing. I had done a little job here with Walterman, a small calculation which involved an estimation of the change in the conductivity of a metal when it is subjected to very high temperature. That calculation was based upon a formula that had been proposed by Compton.
I had published this calculation in the Physical Review, I believe, and this little paper, a short paper, two or three pages, came out just when I arrived at Munich. Sommerfeld saw it. I gave the paper. I talked for one hour without too much interruption. During, the second hour I became a little flustered. Then it was pointed out that the derivation of the formula, while correct, may be inapplicable to the case to which I had in fact applied it in this paper.
The seminar was a complete fiasco. I went home with my head swimming, in utter panic. I was almost ready to leave Munich. But I regained my composure when, after several weeks, I found that everybody who talked in that seminar left it like a rag; everybody went home weeping. Only one man did not, and this was Nathan Franck. Nathan Franck chose to give two seminars on the work of others, whom he criticized severely, and he came through with flying colors.
And this involved the use of the new-fangled statistics, in which Sommerfeld was interested. The calculation turned out to be a very simple one; I did it in a few weeks. Bethe was always a very skeptical and highly critical person. It was a bit complicated. You can do this thing in five minutes.
Why should I publish it? You should publish it. It was greatly in need of refinement and modification, and this who problem of the number of free electrons done statistically has become rather academic. I first went to Gottingen, visited there, where I met Nortdeim, who was just going to play tennis. We just chatted a bit and then he walked off. And then I had an appointment with Born in Gottingen.
I went to see the great man. Born asked me to come to his office at a certain time. I did. I bowed politely, introduced myself and addressed the gentleman as Professor Born.
Born came a little later. I had a pleasant little chat with him. I spent only a week, I think, in Gottingen; it was during vacation, and I passed through on my way to Berlin. This required the signing of a card. He looked at it; he shook the fountain pen and squirted ink all over his face.
He signed my card, and then I had to take my handkerchief and wipe the ink off his face. That was all to my meeting with Schrodinger. And then I came to Fritz London, and I saw a good deal of him. These were turbulent days in Germany. Lindsay: When did he finally come to the United States? Well, London showed me what he had done on van der Waals forces, and this interested me very much, so I began to work on that problem. I did a paper while I was there, van der Walls forces between dipole molecules, and when I returned I extended his theory to include higher poles, and this sort of thing.
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World War II Margenau worked on the theory of microwaves and the development of duplexing systems that enabled a single radar antenna both to transmit and receive signals. He also worked on spectral line broadening , a technique used to analyse and review the dynamics of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. His topic was Scientific Indeterminism and Human Freedom. Margenau embraced indeterminism as the first step toward a solution of the problem of human freedom.
The latter was not recognized until the present century. The problem of freedom, however, has been with us since the dawn of philosophy, and it behooves us now to follow up the allusions at the beginning of section 1 and comment on the uneasy union between deterministic science and freedom-conscious moral philosophy which existed throughout the centuries that preceded ours. A systematic review of all the devices whereby philosophers have tried to harmonize causality and freedom is impossible here. A sketch of three of them must suffice. One, which has the authority of Spinoza and some modern theologians, invokes a distinction between inward and outward experiences.