Public lecture at the Academy
On Tuesday 11 June 2013 at 16.00 Professor emeritus, John Heilbron, University of California, Berkeley, gave a talk at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters:

“My courage is ablaze so wildly”
Niels Bohr en route to his quantum atom

Among Einstein’s reactions to Bohr’s quantum atom was amazement at the courage of the young man who put it forward. Material from the Bohr family archives soon to be published indicates the psychological source of his courage and the support system that maintained it. Of special value are the many letters to his fiancée, Margrethe Nørlund, dating from Bohr’s postdoctoral sojourn in England in 1911/12, during which he began his struggle to quantize Rutherford’s nuclear model. The new material also helps to explain why Bohr felt it desirable, and even necessary, to ground the quantum condition defining his atom in four conflicting ways. The explanation invokes considerations outside of physics and invites a deeper inquiry into Bohr’s unusual mental makeup.

See the lecture HERE.

About the Speaker:
John Heilbron is an emeritus professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley. He began his career working on the history of atomic physics in the offices Bohr set up in stables in the Carlsberg brewery. Since then he has worked in many less comfortable archives and has written on many other things, most recently biographical studies of Galileo and other Italian savants. Most of his work now is directed to biography and in that connection he has returned to his old interest in Niels Bohr.