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Werner Heisenberg
A Bibliography of His Writings

Expanded Edition
Compiled by David C. Cassidy

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Introduction

Most bibliographies of the writings of scientists, especially scientists of the twentieth century, have concentrated upon their technical research reports. Yet most influential twentieth-century scientists have, owing to their scientific stature, exerted considerable influence upon the culture, politics, and social standing of science in their own time through their numerous writings aimed at general readers. In this bibliography of the works of the German physicist Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976), all of his published writings, as well as references to all re-publications and translations of them, have been included. Interviews are also included, since Heisenberg granted a considerable number of interviews and occasionally used interviews as vehicles for reaching the public quickly and directly.

This is the second edition of Werner Heisenberg: A Bibliography of His Writings (Berkeley Papers in History of Science, IX. Office for History of Science and Technology, University of California, Berkeley, 1984). This second edition, which is prepared in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Heisenberg's birth, includes a considerable number of new publications as well as a host of reprints and new translations appearing since 1983. The formatting and presentation follow the style of the other bibliographies in the Berkeley Papers series.

Since the publication of the first edition, Heisenberg's published works referenced in the first edition of the bibliography have been collected and re-published in the 10-volume Heisenberg Gesammelte Werke/Collected Works (Springer-Verlag and Piper Verlag), edited by W. Blum, H. P. Dürr, and H. Rechenberg. These volumes also include first publications of numerous previously unpublished manuscripts, many from the Heisenberg files. Significant among these are the 22 declassified research reports authored or co-authored by Heisenberg on German nuclear fission research during World War II (1989a). In this second edition of the bibliography, a reference to the location in the Collected Works is provided under each entry in the bibliography that represents a first publication. Works published for the first time in the Collected Works are listed in the year the volume appeared.

Although bibliographies are compiled to be consulted, not read, significant insights into Heisenberg's scientific and cultural activities may be gained from a perusal of the items listed here. In statistical terms, the list contains a total of 1165 entries, including the members of collections. Of these 1165 entries, over half (587) are first publications. Divided into decades, the most technical research reports (55) appeared during the 1920s (30) and 1930s (25); the most non-technical writings (209) appeared during the postwar decades, the 1960s (114) and 1950s (95). The postwar era also witnessed the greatest exploitation of Heisenberg's writings through numerous reproductions, translations, translations of translations, and excerpts. The latter have turned up in such diverse locations as desk calendars (1949p), prayer books (1972z, 1979b), and readers for Japanese school children (1967k, n). Such attention to Heisenhergs writings probably derived less from Heisenberg himself than from a phenomenal fascination with the wisdom of scientists after the last war and from efforts to cash in on the resulting market. A peculiar fascination with the fateful but seemingly incomprehensible aspects of science also motivated such activity. The fascination apparently continues to this day.The learned editors of the Frankfurter Hefte declared upon reprinting Heisenberg's non-technical sketch of the history of quantum theory, delivered to a meeting of German scientists and doctors (GDNA) in 1950: "We are publishing this lecture although we are convinced that not 5% of our readers will understand it. Even we have not understood it and do not understand it, for we are no specialists in physics. But we hold this manuscript to be a classic document showing what is occurring in our world today and on what our fate can depend" (1951j, p. 395).

An indication of the topics treated in these writings, and of the audiences to which they were delivered, may be gathered from the index. The technical works follow fairly closely the problems of quantum physics, with a sprinkling of other subjects such as hydrodynamics. Quantum mechanics and its interpretation occupied Heisenberg's attention during the 1920s; quantum field theory, nuclear and cosmic-ray physics during the 1930s; nuclear energy production, particle physics, turbulence, and superconductivity during the 1940s; and unified field theories of elementary particles thereafter. Many of the technical works of the late 1940s originated during his internment at Farm Hall in England at the end of the war.

The subjects of Heisenberg's writings directed at educated audiences of non-specialists tend to display the epistemological concern found in the works of other physicists of the time. Although interest today in the meaning and implications of the so-called uncertainty principle is high, owing in part to the recent play "Copenhagen," Heisenberg wrote surprisingly little explicitly on this subject, even for general audiences. Those audiences were apparently eager to hear less about physical principles than about broader issues surrounding the impact of physics on the human condition and our outlook on the natural world.

Beginning in the 1930s Heisenberg's writings for general, educated audiences also increasingly reflected the fate of German science. When Heisenberg and theoretical physics fell under ideological disfavor during the Third Reich, he attempted to convince scientific and lay audiences that the new quantum and relativity theories were not superfluous obfuscations introduced by a foreign or Jewish "spirit" in science (as claimed by Nazi ideologues), but rather products of continuous, reasonable scientific research and tradition extending over centuries. The first edition of his most popular essay collection Wandlungen (1935i) contained two such historical accounts. This theme remained in his historical writings long after 1945 (see 1973q). In addition, Heisenberg never failed during the 1930s to inform wider audiences immediately of any new advances in physics, and of the likelihood of more if German physicists were only left alone, and even given more support (1939g)--themes that recurred thereafter in his works. That German audiences were eager for such information is indicated by the fact that Hans Geiger had to repeat his non-technical lectures in Berlin two or three times to audiences of over 1000.

In the postwar period, Heisenberg's non-technical works continued to reflect the situation in German science. Planck, approaching ninety, had effectively retired, and Heisenberg, taking his place, pleaded the case for science at the seats of power. His approach to the public took an even more direct and oral character than earlier. The majority of his non-technical publications after 1945 originated as public addresses. While offering a variety of epistemological and historical surveys of recent physics, Heisenberg took up the political cause through lectures on the necessity of federal support of research and through a successful memorandum to the new Bundestag (1949m). Two of his most frequently republished essays, 1946h and 1949o, on international relations in science and the need for a well-rounded education, stem from the same period. (See The Essential Heisenberg.)

Beginning in 1953 Heisenberg's political writings reflected a new task as the western allies prepared to grant full sovereignty to the Federal Republic and to remove all restrictions upon German nuclear research. Heisenberg and many of his colleagues launched a public compaign for a crash program on nuclear energy development. At the same time they sought (successfully) a renunciation of German nuclear weapons possession and research (1955x, 1957r). Interviews and press statements on such topics abound in this period. During this period Heisenherg also produced a considerable number of obituaries and contributions to Festschriften. As president of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, he authored many conference addresses and forwards to foundation publications.

The first edition of this bibliography drew upon two earlier listings, one prepared by Heisenberg's secretary Frau Annemarie Giese, the other compiled by Henry Lowood. It made extensive use of Heisenberg's papers and files, currently housed in the Werner-Heisenberg-Archiv at the Werner-Heisenberg-lnstitut für Physik of the Max-Planck-Insititut für Physik und Astrophysik in Munich. I thank Dr. Helmut Rechenberg and the late Frau Elisabeth Heisenberg for granting me access to this collection and Dr. Rechenberg for his continuing kind advice in evaluating the materials. I am grateful to the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, to the Werner-Heisenberg-lnstitut für Physik, and to the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics for their generous support.

David C. Cassidy


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