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The book attempts to outline a program for a unified world theory similar to string theory. A very stimulating book. Summing Up: Recommended.

Ulrich Bartosch

Graduate students through professionals. The Structure of Physics should be of value to anybody with interests in physics, its history, or its philosophy, since it contains far more than the particular focus on the ur theory The hard cover book is nicely edited following Springer's high-quality standards. It will be a valuable addition to libraries since it records the mature views and perspectives of a figure who walked at the centre of the mid-century stage of physics The book is certainly very thought-provoking and many of its sections are well worth careful study.

It is good to have this material made available to a broader readership. That is, the idea of a quantum theory of binary alternatives the so-called ur-theory , a unified quantum theoretical framework in which spinorial symmetry groups are considered to give rise to the structure of space and time. In him the intercultural and interdisciplinary dialogue has found one of its most important proponents: a great thinker who combines the perspectives of science, philosophy, religion and politics with a view towards the challenges as well as the responsibilities of our time.

Some original chapters and sections have been deleted, and a new chapter about further insights and results of ur-theoretic research of the late 's and 's has been included.

Carl Friedrich von Weizsacker combines the perspectives of science, philosophy, religion and politics with a view towards the challenges as well as the responsibilities of our time. Read more Read less. And of course we said, astronomy there is, one great problem — I would say, every physicist who was working in fields like ours, like, for instance nuclear physics, knew that the problem of the interior of the stars was probably solved by Eddington, with the exception of the problem of the energy and that this was a problem of physics was clear, too.

It was not clear how it was to be solved. Atkinson offered a solution. Atkinson and Houtermans, by the way — and so we liked discussing this, of course. There was always some interest in the question whether the nuclear energy might be technically used. And later on, I learned that Rutherford had said, "Who is talking about that is talking moonshine. I mean, not an active interest but some general interest in astronomical questions.

But none of them, I think, had the idea that he would be working in astronomy. I had been interested in the problem of the origin of the planetary system. And this was not quite a common interest in the group of physicists.

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But I had read a little bit about that, and had the impression that the problem was absolutely not solved, and on the other: hand, it probably would be possible to solve it but probably only after having better understood the problem of the history of a star, which on its side depended on the question of energy production. And so I tried to know what was known in the astronomic circles, on the problem of the origin of planets. Do you recall any books you read in the early period, popular books maybe, that would be of interest?

He was not a university man.

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I think he, was a gymnasium teacher in Bremen, and he thought that he had solved the problem, that he knew the solution, and I was never convinced that he knew the solution, but he also told about the earlier attempts, and from him, I think, from his book I think I learned that there had been a theory by Kant and Laplace and so on, and that Kant and Laplace were not identical and so on.

I mean, not the persons of course but also the theories. No, I never met him. I exchanged letters with him, because after I had published my own theory on the origin of planets he wrote me a letter that I was mistaken because he had already solved the problem. How did you happen to publish —? And he said that modern physics was no good because it didn't correspond to the classical views of philosophy. And then, they felt that this, was not a good article for them to publish, at least not the final one. They looked for somebody to answer the philosopher.

And they found me because they knew I was interested in philosophy. Well, my idea had always been to finish my studies with Heisenberg. And the idea was, just that I had wanted to see some other place, and I was not quite sure when I left, whether I would leave for one semester or two, but in principle it was clear that I would return to Heisenberg. It was just for the exams, and I didn't prepare very much for the examination, and I don't remember how it went but it went well.

Hopman was a nice man, but I was not very deeply impressed by the astronomy I could learn with him.

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Heisenberg was impressed with your performance on the exam. At least in a letter to Bohr he mentioned it. After taking your Ph. The institute was a broad ranging place, and I'm sure that discussions of astrophysical problems came up from time to time? During the time you were there Gamow and Landau were there and both — Gamow for instance had collaborated with Houtermans and Atkinson on that first paper.

I think Gamow is one of the people with whom again you could talk about anything. He was always interested. He had always new ideas about things, and left it to others to find out whether they were correct or not, and I'm sure I talked about astrophysical matters — with Gamow. But in fact I cannot remember it. Yes, with Landau, partly we had contact of a completely different nature, because we had very interesting and complicated talks on political matters, and he told us many interesting things. But my main contact with Landau I think was that he participated in discussion of the problems of radiation of what we called "Bremstrahlung," of radiation produced in electrons by being deflected by atomic nuclei.

That was a long discussion in which I took part. And I finally wrote a paper about it, in that winter, and that was one of the main contacts with Landau. Contacts may have continued. Yes, I know he was there, but I don't know for instance whether he would have been a regular at Bohr's Institute? What about Bohr? Do you recall any interest that he might have had in astronomical or astrophysical questions? I can't remember definite astronomical or astrophysical interests on the side of Bohr.


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No, I don't think so. He was open minded, but I can't remember any specific interests.

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As you were finishing this monograph, you seem to have given increasingly serious consideration to the possibility of working on nuclear processes in stellar interiors. And by the fall of , when you were again at the Bohr Institute for an extended period, you were hard at work on the stellar problem — that's clear from this letter to Bethe. He didn't write any subsequent papers in this period, I'm wondering if the two of you discussed such things? Yes, I think so. And I think that I now remember that I once gave a talk in the physics colloquium which was directed by Debye in Leipzig, upon problems of the stellar interior, and energy production, and since I had not yet finished my monograph, it must have been rather, a report on the stellar interior for the physicists.

I don't remember exactly what it was, but I think I remember that during the last minute of the talk, I said — I was asked in the discussion, perhaps, by somebody, on the idea that neutrons were in the stars. And I answered, "Assume there are a lot of neutrons in the star in this very moment — and wait a minute, then no neutron would be left, because they would all be absorbed by the atomic nuclei.

I remember precisely. When I wrote the final chapters of my monograph, in which I briefly mentioned the question of stellar reactions in the stars, I suddenly — it was in summer, '36 — I suddenly had the idea "Now the problem can be solved. And then I had the idea that thereby, you can solve the problem of the abundances, of the elements, of the isotopes, which seemed difficult to understand, under the idea that it would be thermodynamic equilibrium at any temperature, and this I started immediately, when I had finished my monograph, and I started it I think in Bern in my father's house, who then was the German minister or ambassador to Bern, to Switzerland, and went on with it in Copenhagen.

He refers, in a letter written in early '37, [ 7 ] to seeing a manuscript by you. Do you recall that? It's rather an oblique reference. Why would you have referred, in your letter to Bethe of September '36, to your work in this area as "astrophysical fantasy? Well, of course, it wasn't clear — I mean, it was fantasy. One didn't know. I felt that I could ask Bethe on a matter on which he and I had been working before — that was the semi-empirical formula for nuclei, for the energies, and radii and so on — and then I felt that this was a good way of introducing the theme in which I was more interested at the moment, which was, the astrophysical ideas.

And it's fantasy because the way I put it, it was, wrong. But you referred to the other things as "normal physics. Oh no.

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Well, speculative, of course — but I mean, physicists would have said, "Well, if you want to do good work in astronomy" — astrophysics was not yet a term very much used at that time — "If you want to do some work in astronomy, you must learn astronomy. So I would have referred to that as something outside our common normal field. And besides, questions like production of elements of course were speculative. And they still are speculative. In November '36 you went to Berlin, and I guess you were there first with Meitner and then with Debye, and you soon became a dozent in Berlin University.

It's during these first two years in Berlin that you showed the greatest interest in stellar problems. Well, later on again I was interested in the origin of the planetary system, and after the war even I did some work in cosmogony. But in the nuclear origin of the energy of the stars, it was the Berlin years. Could you say something about who you might have discussed the paper with in Berlin? That answer I gave you, I think — that Debye was the editor. And I think my main contact in Berlin at that time in matters of astrophysics was Biermann, who then was in Babelsberg, if I remember correctly, and we even had I think some common days in the week when we met, so we had long talks about these matters.

Maybe Freundlich had been interested earlier? Ten Bruggencate, yes.

And the others, ten Bruggencate and Grotrian, did their own work and took some interest in these things. Looking over the list of attendees, you were the only physicist in the group.