Arguably the most famous photograph of
physicists is the group portrait taken at the 1927 Solvay Conference
in Belgium. It turns out that a brief motion picture of that event
also exists. In the course of this three-minute film, a dozen or
more present and future Nobel laureates walk in and out of the
frame, including Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Niels Bohr, and Max
Forgotten or neglected for decades, the film was shown in public for
the first time at the APS meeting by Nancy Greenspan, author of “The
End of the Certain World,” the first full biography of Max Born (http://www.maxborn.net).
Born is credited with the insight that the wavefunction appearing in
Erwin Schrodinger’s famous equation provided not the exact location
of an electron inside an atom but rather merely a statistical likelihood
of the electron being at various locations.
This view of quantum reality
would later take on the name of the “Copenhagen interpretation,” in
honor of Niels Bohr. Greenspan argues that Born has been
underappreciated in histories describing the establishment of
quantum science. Speaking at a press conference, APS president
Marvin Cohen (Univ California, Berkeley) underscored this point.
Max Born’s group at the University of Gottingen, active over the
period from 1922 to 1932, was, Cohen suggested, the most illustrious
theoretical physics “school” of all time.
The list of Born students
or junior colleagues includes no less than Werner Heisenberg,
Wolfgang Pauli, Enrico Fermi, Maria Goeppert-Mayer, Linus Pauling,
Eugene Wigner, and Robert Oppenheimer.