Sommerfeld, the quantum, and the problem approach to physics

Metascience 20 (1):87-90 (2011)
Abstract
In the early phase of the new history of physics that emerged at about 1970 and was pioneered by John Heilbron, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Forman, and others, the quantum and atomic theories of the first three decades of the twentieth century played a central role. Since then, interest in the area has continued, but for the last few decades at a slower rate. While other areas of the new physics—such as the general theory of relativity—have attracted much attention, only relatively little has been written about the quantum revolution. Given this situation, Suman Seth’s comprehensive and innovative Crafting the Quantum is a welcome publication that provides the field with fresh blood and new perspectives. The title derives from a letter to Einstein of January 1922, in which Arnold Sommerfeld wrote that “I can only advance the craft of the quantum, you have to make its philosophy.” In spite of its title, Seth’s book is neither restricted to the new quantum theory nor to Sommerfeld’s role in the tr
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