Richard Feynman said, about hisexperience at the 1948 Pocono conference: "... My way of lookingat things was completely new..."(1).
In fact, that was not true. Feynman's way of looking at things hadbeen done earlier, by
Ernst Carl Gerlach Stueckelberg,
who "... acquired his Ph.D. in Munich ... under .... Sommerfeld... he taught ... at Princeton University ... until the Depressionforced the school to let him go ...."(2)and
who made 3 advances in theoretical physics, for which 3 NobelPrizes were given, but not to him, since thephysics establishment ignored his work. Stueckelberg ...
- "... [ with ] his student, Andre Petermann, invented ... 1951 ... the renormalization group, which is now essential to the construction of grand unified theories ... [ and for which Kenneth Wilson later won a physics Nobel Prize ]..."(2).
- "... predicted the first of the hundreds of subatomic particles discovered shortly before and after the war [ World War II - the pion ] , but did not publish the idea after Pauli told him it was ridiculous. ( Later, the Japanese physicist Hideki Yukawa received a Nobel Prize for this idea. ). ..."(2)
- "... pointed out in 1941 that pair production could be described classically by considering positrons as electrons running backwards in time ...
- ... illustrated these concepts with graphs of space-time trajectories similar to the diagrams Feynman began drawing in the summer of 1947 ..."(3);
- "... apparently wrote up a lengthy paper - in English, for once - that outlined a complete and correct description of the renormalization procedure for quantum electrodynamics. Sometime in 1942 or 1943, he apparently mailed it to the Physical Review. It was rejected. "They said it was not a paper, it was a program, an outline, a proposal," Stueckelberg remembered.
- ... struggled to carry out the program rejected by the Physical Review. By the end of the war, in 1945, he seems to have done it. ... he wrote up bits and pieces of his ideas. Eventually they were presented in a complete form in a chapter of the thesis of one of his students, Dominique Rivier. But by then Schwinger [ and Feynman ] had come out with ... [ their programs ] ... and Stueckelberg, who had the ideas first, published afterward ..."(2).
" [ Richard Feynman won ] ... the Nobel Prize in phyiscsfor 1965, jointly with Julian Schwinger of Harvard and Sin-ItiroTomonoga of Japan ... After the Nobel award ceremonies ... Feynmanwent to ... CERN ... to give a lecture. ... Feynman's lecture at CERNwas attended by Ernst C. G. Stueckelberg ... After the lecture,Stueckelberg was making his way out alone ... from the CERNampitheatre, when Feynman - surrounded by admirers - made theremark:"He [ Stueckelberg ] did the work and walks alonetoward the sunset; and, here I [ Feynman ] am, covered in allthe glory, which rightfully should be his!" ..."(4)
Feynman's remark raises two questions in my mind:
- 1 - When and how did Feynman find out about Stueckelberg's QED work? Certainly it was before the CERN talk in 1965, and it could have been any time after 1942 or 1943 when Stueckelberg sent his paper to the Physical Review in New York.
- 2 - Why did Feynman not insist to the Nobel Prize committee that Stueckelberg should share the Nobel Prize for QED, or at least publicly acknowledge Stueckelberg's work in his Nobel acceptance speech, or at the very least personally and publicly acknowledge Stueckelberg's work in the CERN lecture with Stueckelberg in the audience ( instead of only making an informal remark after the lecture to some members of the audience, but not to Stueckelberg personally )?
In 1984, nearly 20 years later, "... Stueckelberg ... said,"I [ Stueckelberg ] look forward every day to myeventual journey to Heaven ...We live too long,"
... Seven months later, on September 4, 1984, Ernst Stueckelbergwas buried..."(4).
The above quotations are from:
- 1 - The Beat of a Different Drum: The Life and Sciece of Richard Feynman, by Jagdish Mehra (Oxford 1994) (pp. 245-248);
- 2 - The Second Creation, by Robert P. Crease and Charles C. Mann (revised edition, Rutgers 1996) (pp. 141-144) - However, historian Laurie Brown (Northwestern University Emeritus Professor of Physics and Astronomy) told me in 2002 that he had read Stueckelberg's original papers and did not see any prior discovery of Yukawa's pion;
- 3 - QED and the Men who Made It, by Silvan S. Schweber (Princeton 1994) (pp. 576-577);
- 4 - The Beat of a Different Drum: The Life and Sciece of Richard Feynman, by Jagdish Mehra (Oxford 1994) (pp. 573-577).
Frank D. (Tony) Smith, Jr., 8 May 2001.
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