Hans Bethe 1906-2005

Hans Bethe died at home in Ithaca, New York on Sunday. There’s an extensive obituary in the New York Times.

I believe Bethe was the last remaining figure still alive from the generation of physicists who came of age with the new quantum mechanics during the mid-to-late 1920s. Some popular lectures on the topic of “Quantum Physics Made Relatively Simple” that he gave for his neighbors in 1999 are available on-line.

Update: There’s more about Bethe and Cornell at Matthew Nobes’s weblog.

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8 Responses to Hans Bethe 1906-2005

  1. Hans A. Bethe, matured in 1928 in Zurich,
    was a disciple of Arnold Somerfeld
    who was a disciple of Von Linderman
    who was a disciple of C. Felix Klein
    who was a disciple of Julius Plücker
    who was a disciple of Christian Gerling
    who was a disciple of Carl Gauß
    who was a disciple of Johann Pfaff
    who was a disciple of Abraham Kaestner
    who was a disciple of Christian Hausen
    who was a disciple of Johann Wichmannshausen
    who was a disciple of Otto Mencke

    From Renardy: ” Otto Mencke, founded the first academic journal in Germany, titled Acta Eruditorum, jointly with Leibniz (the journal existed 1682-1782). Otto Mencke should not be confused with his grandson Friedrich Otto Mencke.”

    Bethe is survived by, among others, Roman Jackiw and John Irwin. If you know of more disciples, please feel free to add them to my wiki page.

  2. D R Lunsford says:

    RE his work:

    A nucleosynthesis “Dreimaennerarbeit” – “Alpher, Bethe, and Gamow” 🙂

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4505414

  3. Eleggua says:

    Hi Lunsford,

    Well he was recognised!

    Unlike Feymann he won the Nobel by HIMSELF!

  4. D R Lunsford says:

    That reminds me of a comment by the chessmaster Ludwig Mieses – he was being feted on his 80th birthday and said “Life expectancy is around 75 years. Now that I’m out of danger, I may as well go on living forever!”

    Bethe was 98 or 99! That’s a good life. I think he should get more credit for his role in the development of QED than he seems to, in the various tomen. His calculation of the Lamb shift was really the turning point in the development of field theory.

    -drl

  5. raj says:

    A sad passing, but a reminder that people don’t last forever.

    I wonder. Was the title “Quantum Physics Made Relatively Simple” meant to be something of a pun on the tension between quantum mechanics and relativity?

  6. Steve says:

    A sad loss but he lived to a very good age indeed.
    I read that when they were to detonate the first H bomb some people were worried it would set of a chain rection in the atmosphere and blow up the world. Bethe did the calculation that proved it would’nt. Such were his abilities that they trusted him with the fate of the world!

  7. Matthew says:

    I believe Bethe was the last remaining figure still alive from the generation of physicists who came of age with the new quantum mechanics during the mid-to-late 1920s.

    John Wheeler is still alive, though he was slightly behind Bethe’s generation, I’d still put him in that class.

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