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1927 Solvay Conference
January 18, 2011 6:28 AM   Subscribe

The Fifth Solvay Conference, where the leading physicists of the time gathered to discuss quantum theory, produced an iconic photo of the participants. 17 of the 29 pictured either already were or would be Nobel prize winners, including Marie Curie who was badass enough to have two. But did you know there is film footage of the conference as well?

This is the conference where Einstein famously said "God does not play dice" in opposition to quantum physics.

Bonus famous scientists video: Einstein, Gödel, Erdős, and Dirac (among others) in a family movie recorded on a visit to Princeton.
posted by kmz (8 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Marie Curie doing a pirouette would not have been on a list of things I thought I was likely to see today.
posted by him at 6:52 AM on January 18, 2011


I see that this gathering of great minds was unable to solve the most vexing question of the 20th century: what to do when someone shoves a video camera in your face.
posted by Tsuga at 7:16 AM on January 18, 2011


This is the conference where Einstein famously said "God does not play dice" in opposition to quantum physics.

Apparently Einstein made that statement a year earlier in a letter to Max Born:

"Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice. "

It is interesting that an experienced scientist like Einstein would beg the question and let his "inner voice" guide his judgment.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:52 AM on January 18, 2011


Marie Curie doing a pirouette would not have been on a list of things I thought I was likely to see today.

I didn't expect to see Paul Ehrenfest sticking his tongue out at me, either.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:01 AM on January 18, 2011


Much thanks kmz.

You know what's badass (other than the aforementioned M. Curie)?

Those hats are Badass.
posted by djrock3k at 10:49 AM on January 18, 2011


That's one of my favorite photos of all time, right up with Einstein and Gödel. I bet the photographer gained a few IQ points just standing there.
posted by Skorgu at 11:38 AM on January 18, 2011


It is interesting that an experienced scientist like Einstein would beg the question and let his "inner voice" guide his judgment.

Einstein was a theoretical physicist at heart, with a strongly physical intuition. The foundations of his theories were often derived from an intuitive insight into deep physical principles:
From the very beginning it appeared to me intuitively clear that, judged from the standpoint of such an observer, everything would have to happen according to the same laws as for an observer who, relative to the earth, was at rest. For how should the first observer know or be able to determine, that he is in a state of fast uniform motion? One sees in this paradox the germ of the special relativity theory is already contained.
So writes Einstein in his Autobiographical Notes about his imagining, at the age of 16, chasing a beam of light and how this was the seed of the Special Theory of Relativity.

Similarly the General Theory was based on his intuition that the Universe should obey the equivalence principle. To be sure, he backed these up with the maths but there was a core intuitive insight there.
posted by Electric Dragon at 12:04 PM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


So awesome!
posted by Kevin Street at 2:16 PM on January 18, 2011


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