300 puzzling physics problems by Gnaedig P., Honyek G., Riley K.F.

By Gnaedig P., Honyek G., Riley K.F.

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The palace had been taken over by the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences. Einstein had come not to a ball, but to a science gathering. The bright lights that greeted him shone on a room filled with physicists. The Netherlands, despite its small size, was home to many theoretical physicists and most had turned out for the opportunity to view the great Einstein on his triumphal night. He saw that Lorentz was there and Ehrenfest had come up from Leiden. Lorentz and Ehrenfest together made a Dutch Mutt and Jeff team.

The fear that postwar chaos might send Einstein from Germany struck Planck as too terrible a cost of defeat and he was determined never to pay it. Einstein appreciated Planck’s regard. He knew that Planck was not the most quick-witted scientist, but Einstein admired his doggedness. In October 1900 Planck had written down an equation that no experiment would defeat. Its predictions about radiation were exactly right and continued to be right as measurements grew more refined, but technical success was never enough to win Einstein’s heart.

At age 40, it was natural to wonder, or at least for Einstein’s friends to wonder, if he would adapt to the changes or see them only as losses. Einstein had appreciated especially the old world’s internationalism. “A lost paradise,” Einstein said of the time when ideas leapt between cities without anybody worrying about which nationality had produced them. In 1911, Einstein had attended a groundbreaking conference financed by a Belgian, organized by Germans, chaired by a Dutchman, and whose speakers included French and British scientists.

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