[Marxism] Partisanship and Objectivity in Theoretical Work: Politics and natural science
farmelantj at juno.com
Fri Mar 24 09:56:37 MST 2006
On Fri, 24 Mar 2006 10:32:59 -0500 Les Schaffer <schaffer at optonline.net>
> i don't really see how Einstein's big idea of relativity contributed
> directly to the bomb.
Out of relativity theory, it was really just the E=mc^2 formula
that was directly relevant to the work of the nuclear scientists.
The broader theory of special relativity was generally not directly
relevant to their work.
> people were playing with nuclear reactions independently of his
> historically, there was a whole branch of physics that took off at
> very end of the 1800's -- nuclear physics -- with a complete set of
> own questions and quandries. Roentgen (X-rays, high energy),
> (nuclear bombardment before they knew what "nuclear" meant), Walton
> Cockcroft (nuclear reactions, first **confirmation** -- not use --
> E=mc^2). these are people who dabbled with bombarding materials,
> developing the NOTION of a nucleus as they went along. Lise Meitner
> confirmed that the 200 MeV yield (U235) of a single nuclear fission
> first calculated using basic 19-th century electrostatics and some
> knowledge of the size of nuclei -- made sense in terms of measured
> "mass defects" and e=mc^2. thus relativity provided basically an
> (energy) accounting/bookeeping check. on the theoretical front,
> significant was Bohr's work on the nuclear drop model of the uranium
> nucleus, which gave scientists a *mechanism* for understanding how
> fission process proceeds from bombardment to energy release. Meitner
> used this drop model for her book-keeping check.
If we are going to say that relativity had a role in the development of
nuclear weaponry, then we can't ignore quantum mechanics either.
And unlike relativity, quantum mechanics was the work of many
people: Planck, Einstein, de Brogile, Schroedinger, Heisenberg,
Bohr, Dirac, Pauli, Fermi, Feynman, and many, many other scientists.
Some of these people did go on to work on nuclear weaponry
during WW II.
> if there is any place to start giving up on "great person" science,
> maybe we should start here with the atomic bomb.
> les schaffer
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