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Research and Pedagogy: A History of Quantum Physics through Its Textbooks

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Research and Pedagogy: A History of Quantum Physics
through Its Textbooks
Max Planck Research Library
for the History and Development
of Knowledge
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Jürgen Renn, Robert Schlögl, Bernard F. Schutz.
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Wise, Gerhard Wolf, Rüdiger Wolfrum, Gereon Wolters, Zhang Baichun.
Studies 2
Edition Open Access
2013
Research and Pedagogy:
A History of Quantum
Physics through Its
Textbooks
Massimiliano Badino, Jaume Navarro (eds.)
Edition Open Access
2013
Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge
Studies 2
Communicated by:
Kostas Gavroglu
Edited by:
Massimiliano Badino, Jaume Navarro
Editorial Coordination:
Nina Ruge
Copyedited by:
Jeremiah James with Irene Colantoni, Oksana Kuruts, Jonathan Ludwig, Marius Schneider,
Chandhan Srinivasamurthy
Cover image:
Van Vleck between two fans at 1300 Sterling Hall, University of Wisconsin–Madison, ca.
1930 (picture courtesy of John Comstock).
ISBN 978-3-8442-5871-4
First published 2013 by Edition Open Access
http://www.edition-open-access.de
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The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie;
detailed bibliographic data are available in the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de.
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Contents
Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
1 Pedagogy and Research. Notes for a Historical Epistemology of Science
Education
Massimiliano Badino and Jaume Navarro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1.1 Transmitting Scientific Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1.2 Creating Knowers, Creating Facts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
1.3 Towards an Epistemological Role for the Pedagogical Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
1.4 Rethinking the History of Quantum Physics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
1.5 About This Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
2 Sorting Things Out: Drude and the Foundations of Classical Optics
Marta Jordi Taltavull . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
2.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
2.2 Göttingen 1887–1894: From the Optics of Ether to the Electromagnetic
Equations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
2.3 Leipzig 1894–1900: From Physik des Aethers to Lehrbuch der Optik . . . . . . . . 39
2.4 The Lehrbuch der Optik . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
2.5 Giessen 1900–Berlin 1906: Development of Lehrbuch der Optiks Program
up to the Second Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
2.6 Epilogue: Following the Traces of Lehrbuch der Optik . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Abbreviations and Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
3 Max Planck as Textbook Author
Dieter Hoffmann . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
3.1 Planck and Thermodynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
3.2 Heat Radiation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
3.3 The Introduction to Theoretical Physics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
3.4 Eight Lectures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
3.5 Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
Abbreviations and Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
2 Contents
4 Dissolving the Boundaries between Research and Pedagogy:
Otto Sackur’s Lehrbuch der Thermochemie und Thermodynamik
Massimiliano Badino . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
4.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
4.2 The Structure of the Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
4.3 The Reorganization of Knowledge: The Case of Specific Heats . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
4.4 The Quantum in Quarantine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
4.5 Research in the Classroom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
4.6 A Pedagogy for Quantum Physics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
4.7 Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
Abbreviations and Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
5 Fritz Reiche’s 1921 Quantum Theory Textbook
Clayton A. Gearhart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
5.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
5.2 Fritz Reiche and Die Naturwissenschaften. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
5.3 Interlude: The Quantum Underground . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
5.4 Reiche’s Textbook and the State of Quantum Theory in 1921 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
5.5 Reviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
5.6 Who Read Reiche’s Book? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
Abbreviations and Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
6 Sommerfeld’s Atombau und Spektrallinien
Michael Eckert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
6.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
6.2 Popular Lectures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
6.3 First Reactions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
6.4 The Second and Third Editions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
6.5 Atombau und Spektrallinien in the United States (1922/23) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
6.6 The Fourth Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
6.7 Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
Abbreviations and Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
7 Kuhn Losses Regained: Van Vleck from Spectra to
Susceptibilities
Charles Midwinter and Michel Janssen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
7.1 Van Vleck’s Two Books and the Quantum Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
7.2 Van Vleck’s Early Life and Career. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151
7.3 The NRC Bulletin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153
7.4 New Research and the Move to Wisconsin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165
7.5 The Theory of Electric and Magnetic Susceptibilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
7.6 Kuhn Losses Revisited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197
Abbreviations and Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
Contents 3
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
8 Max Born’s Vorlesungen über Atommechanik, Erster Band
Domenico Giulini. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207
8.1 Outline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207
8.2 Structure of the Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 208
8.3 Born’s Pedagogy and the Heuristic Role of the Deductive/Axiomatic Method . 212
8.4 On Technical Issues: What Is Quantization? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
8.5 Einstein’s View. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224
8.6 Final Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228
9 Teaching Quantum Physics in Cambridge: George Birtwistle and His
Two Textbooks
Jaume Navarro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231
9.1 James Jeans and His Report on Radiation and the Quantum-Theory. . . . . . . . . . 233
9.2 Teaching Quantum Theory in the 1920s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
9.3 The Quantum Theory of the Atom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
9.4 The New Quantum Mechanics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243
9.5 Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245
Abbreviations and Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246
10 Paul Dirac and The Principles of Quantum Mechanics
Helge Kragh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
10.1 Paul Dirac and Early Quantum Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
10.2 Origin and Dissemination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250
10.3 Translations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251
10.4 Reviews of Principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253
10.5 Structure and Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 256
10.6 Dirac’s Style of Physics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259
10.7 Concluding Remarks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261
Abbreviations and Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262
11 Quantum Mechanics in Context:
Pascual Jordan’s 1936 Anschauliche Quantentheorie
Don Howard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267
11.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267
11.2 Pascual Jordan in 1936 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269
11.3 The Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 273
11.4 Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 281
Abbreviations and Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 281
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 281
4 Contents
12 Epilogue: Textbooks and the Emergence of a Conceptual Trajectory
David Kaiser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 287
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
Contributors
Massimiliano Badino: Centre d’Història de la Ciència, Facultat de Ciències, Universitat
Autònoma de Barcelona, Cerdanyola del Valles, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain
massimiliano.badino@uab.cat
Michael Eckert: Forschungsinstitut Deutsches Museum, Museumsinsel 1, 80538 München,
Germany
m.eckert@deutsches-museum.de
Clayton Gearhart: St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN 56321, USA
cgearhart@csbsju.edu
Domenico Giulini: Institut für Theoretische Physik, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Appel-
straße 2, 30167 Hannover, Germany
giulini@itp.uni-hannover.de
Dieter Hoffmann: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22,
14195 Berlin, Germany
dh@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de
Don Howard: Department of Philosophy, 100 Malloy Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre
Dame, Indiana 46556, USA
dhoward1@nd.edu
Michel Janssen: Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, University
of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
janss011@umn.edu
Marta Jordi Taltavull: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22,
14195 Berlin, Germany
mjordi@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de
David Kaiser: Program in Science, Technology, & Society and Department of Physics,
Room E51–179, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cam-
bridge, MA 02139, USA
dikaiser@MIT.EDU
Helge Kragh: Centre for Science Studies, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus
University, Building 1520, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark
helge.kragh@ivs.au.dk
Charles Midwinter: Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, Univer-
sity of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
charles.midwinter@gmail.com
6 Contributors
Jaume Navarro: University of the Basque Country and Ikerbasque (Basque Research Foun-
dation), D10, Plaza Elhuyar 2, 20018, San Sebastian, Spain
jaume.navarro@ehu.es
Chapter 1
Pedagogy and Research. Notes for a Historical Epistemology of Science
Education
Massimiliano Badino and Jaume Navarro
1.1 Transmitting Scientific Knowledge
“Those who can’t do teach, and those who can’t teach, teach gym.” Woody Allen’s scornful
comment on the role of teaching in Annie Hall summarizes fairly well one very popular view.
For many, there is a clear-cut distinction between the creative intellectual activity of research
and the mere repetition of what someone else has produced to a classroom of students. To
be sure, this view affects not only teaching and learning. Rather, it is more or less implicit in
any occurrence of the exposition, communication, or transmission of scientific knowledge
from the community of experts to the external world.
More importantly, this view is sustained by a certain model of science and its relations
with society. The basic tenet of this modelsometimes attributed to Robert K. Merton
and therefore called Mertonian (Cloitre and Shinn 1985), sometimes more simply called
the “classical image of science” (Renn and Hyman 2012b)is that knowledge produced
within the scientific culture is radically different from any of its disseminations to the broader
society. More precisely, the classical image of science pictures the scientific community
as a highly structured and organized elite of experts, who produce a carefully defined and
thoroughly validatedand therefore truebody of knowledge, which is in turn transmitted
to an audience (students, informed public, laymen). Finally, this heterogeneous audience is,
to various extents, incapable of fully appreciating the products of scientific inquiry without
an adequate re-elaboration, and consequently, it is totally unable to feed anything back to
the scientific elite.
1
Although completely discredited by the scholarly work of the last thirty years, this
model has maintained its grip on public representations of science. The main reason is that,
even though successful in criticizing each of the tenets of the classical image, philosophers,
historians, and sociologists of science have not been able to provide an alternative account
that is as intuitive and all-embracing. This failure should not be exclusively ascribed to the
contemporary tendency of scholars in science studies to insist on the disunity and locality
of scientific culture (Galison and Stump 1996). It is also due to the fact that the several
branches of specialized work on the transmission of scientific knowledge have grown at
different paces. Thus, for example, popularization both aimed at the general public and at
fellow scientists belonging to other disciplines received attention as early as the mid-1980s.
2
About the same time, the works of Harry Collins and Bruno Latour, among others, covered
1
See for example (Whitley 1985; Hilgartener 1990; Olesko 2006).
2
See the 1985 Yearbook of Sociology of the Sciences edited by Terry Shinn and Richard Whitley and especially
(Bunders and Whitley 1985).
8 1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro)
the analysis of the circulation of knowledge among experts and the transmission of scientific
applications to social actors interested in their economic exploitation (Collins 1985; Latour
1987; 1988). By contrast, a systematic investigation of scientific pedagogy has taken off only
in the last fifteen years. Instrumental to this general revamping of the image of scientific
training has been a re-evalutation of the role of textbooks. Projects such as the volume edited
by Anders Lundgren and Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent on the circulation of textbooks on
chemistry from the French Revolution to the eve of World War II (Brooke 2000), the 2006
special issue of Science and Education on textbooks at the scientific periphery (Bensaude-
Vincent 2006; Bertomeu-Sánchez et al. 2006), David Kaisers edited collection of studies
on pedagogy in science (Kaiser 2006), and the focus section in Isis in 2012 (Vicedo 2012),
are just a few of the major steps taken in recent times towards a modernization of analyses
of pedagogy and textbooks in science studies.
1.2 Creating Knowers, Creating Facts
However, one should notice that the attitude of scholars towards traditional views of sci-
entific pedagogy has been complex and occasionally ambivalent. It is thus important to
reconstruct some lines of development of this attitude.
3
One important line of inquiry many
scholars have followed concerns the role of pedagogy and textbooks in producing knowers,
that is a professionally organized group of people explicitly trained to perpetuate a certain
kind of knowledge. It was Thomas Kuhn’s deep criticism of the logical positivistic view
of science as a purely theoretical activity that first highlighted, for many scholars, the role
of training in determining the working style, the self image, and even the ontology of sci-
entists, thus restoring dignity to the learning process (Kuhn 1962). As David Kaiser points
out, “scientists are not born, they are made” (Kaiser 2006, 1), and the process of making a
scientist has a profound influence on the way in which he or she will conduct future research.
What is a good question, what is a satisfactory answer, what counts as a legitimate scientific
procedure or a correctly conducted experiment, even what is viewed as a possible object
of research is determined, according to the Kuhnian model, during the inculcation of the
reigning paradigm, occurring at the training stage (Kuhn 1962, 359; 1963). Pedagogy is not
solely a social phase in the formation of the “type” scientist, but is also crucially significant
for the broader definition of disciplines and fields of knowledge.
Ironically, as he was giving new philosophical dignity to pedagogy, Kuhn was also
playing a key role in keeping textbooks far from the inquisitive examinations of historians.
Famously, Kuhn claimed that textbook writing is an activity almost exclusively performed
during the peaceful periods he dubbed normal science. In his words, textbooks “are produced
only in the aftermath of a scientific revolution […] [t]hey are the bases for a new tradition
of normal science” (Kuhn 1962, 144). They “address themselves to an already articulated
body of problems, data, and theory, most often to the particular set of paradigms to which
the scientific community is committed at the time they are written” (Kuhn 1962, 136). From
this point of view, textbooks are only written once a revolutionary process is coming to
an end, and their role is basically to transmit the newly-accepted paradigm, never to pose
problems for it. Although scientific training does have a critical bearing on scientific culture
3
Some useful accounts of the role of pedagogy and especially textbooks in science studies are (Myers 1992; Brooke
2000; Olesko 2006; Kaiser and Warwick 2006).
1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro) 9
as a whole, for Kuhn it still differs from research in a fundamental manner. This position is
clearly stated in his paper “The Function of Dogma in Scientific Research,” written only a
year after Structure:
Perhaps the most striking feature of scientific education is that, to an extent
quite unknown in other creative fields, it is conducted through textbooks, works
written especially for students. Until he is ready, or very nearly ready, to begin
his own dissertation, the student of chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, or
biology is seldom either asked to attempt trial research projects or exposed to
the immediate products of research done by othersto, that is, the professional
communications that scientists write for their peers. (Kuhn 1963, 350)
Moreover, textbooks also have a hidden agenda: to erase any trace of crisis, of insta-
bility, of change, of historical contingency, and to present the ruling paradigm as an estab-
lished, consistent wholeas the truth revealed. This trait not only transforms textbooks into
repositories of dead doctrines, but it also disqualifies them totally as historiographical tools.
Historians should keep away from the image of science conveyed by pedagogical texts. In
his later paper “The Essential Tension,” Kuhn insists on this view of the roles of textbooks:
[T]he various textbooks that the student does encounter display different subject
matters, rather than, as in many of the social sciences, exemplifying different
approaches to a single problem field. Even books that compete for adoption in a
single course differ mainly in level and in pedagogic detail, not in substance or
conceptual structure. Last, but most important of all, is the characteristic tech-
nique of textbook presentation, except in their occasional introductions, science
textbooks do not describe the sorts of problems that the professional may be
asked to solve and the variety of techniques available for their solution. (Kuhn
1977, 229)
Kuhn seems to extend contemporary Western university education to all times and
places when he says that “[t]ypically, undergraduate and graduate students of chemistry,
physics, astronomy, geology, or biology acquire the substance of their fields from books
written especially for students” (Kuhn 1977, 228). Almost certainly Kuhn’s view of text-
books is autobiographically motivated, rooted in his own training. Educated in theoretical
physics, Kuhn came to see textbooks as a collection of formulas, theorems, and formal tech-
niques; i.e., a set of rules. But rules, Wittgenstein taught us, do not contain the conditions
of their own application (Wittgenstein 1953). These conditions are eminently social, partly
conventional, and surely cannot be formalized. Textbooks, by extension, would not have
a history separate from the practices of their use and, more importantly, they would not be
vehicles for history.
Apart from his harsh judgement on the epistemological and historiographical role of
textbooks, Kuhn’s conception of pedagogy, as functional to the formation of knowers, has
been highly influential in several directions of research within science studies. For instance,
the Kuhnian emphasis on disciplinary identity as the minimal unity around which knowers
organize themselves has led to extensive historical investigations of the effect that pedagog-
ical practices and texts have on the construction of disciplines. Pioneered by Owen Hann-
away in the 1970s (Hannaway 1975), this line of research has been developed by, among
10 1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro)
others, Josep Simon (2011), and explicitly defended by Kostas Gavroglu and Ana Simoes,
who argued that “textbooks from an early period in a discipline’s history can also be viewed
as a genre whose aim was to consolidate a consensus as to the language and practices to be
adopted” (Gavroglu and Simoes 2000, 415–416).
Furthermore, Kuhn insisted that pedagogical practices, and therefore knowers, are tem-
porally, spatially, and socially situated. The local aspects of scientific knowledge have en-
couraged many scholars to look more carefully into the mechanisms for producing national
styles in the sciences and into the dynamics of incorporating novel knowledge into the ped-
agogical routine. Started as demographical studies at the end of the 1970s (Pyenson and
Skopp 1977; Pyenson 1979; Jungnickel 1979), these investigations have originated impor-
tant contributions on the microstructure of the day-to-day exchange between mentors and
pupils, both in classes and in special seminars. Major examples are Andrew Warwick’s deep
study on the meaning of the Cambridge system of Mathematical Tripos for British mathe-
matical physics (Warwick 2003), Karl Hall’s account of the role of Landau’s and Lifshitz’s
Course of Theoretical Physics in determining the style of physical research in the Soviet
Union (Hall 2006), and the discussion of the influence of James J. Sylvester and Felix Klein
on the developing American mathematical community pursued by Karen Hunger Parshall
and David Rowe (1994).
Pedagogical practices can even lead to the establishment of “research schools” able to
imprint a characteristic mark on subsequent research. The pioneering work of Jack Morell,
who applied the notion of “research school” to the laboratories of Justus Liebig and Thomas
Thomson was the starting point of a tradition that has provided new insights into the rela-
tionship between research and pedagogy in the sciences (Morell 1972; Brock 1972; Holmes
1989). Morell showed that Liebig’s chemical laboratory owed its success largely to the
regime of learning and production that he established in Giessen. From there, the tradi-
tion of hands-on training extended to university laboratories throughout modern Europe,
encountering sometimes more, sometimes less resistance from those who thought of lib-
eral education as a purely intellectual activity. Kathryn Olesko and, more recently, Suman
Seth have extended this tradition to the research schools created around Franz Neumann in
Königsberg and Arnold Sommerfeld in Munich, respectively, highlighting the importance of
face-to-face interaction between professors and students in close, problem-oriented seminars
(Olesko 1991; Seth 2010).
Finally, and more significantly for the purpose of this volume, even the teaching of
theoretical physics, which does not need, in principle, the work of laboratories, can be un-
derstood to fit within this historiography of hands-on practices, of the transmission of a
particular type of craftsmanship, and of specific social values, as shown in the work of his-
torians such as Sharon Traweek, David Kaiser, and Ursula Klein, to cite only a few examples
(Traweek 1988; Klein 2003; Kaiser 2005).
4
Prominent as it was, Kuhn’s view was not the only attempt to understand pedagogy
in science. Along with the process of producing knowers, historians, philosophers, and
sociologists of science have inquired into the effect of training in producing scientific facts.
Ludwik Fleck wrote some of the most illuminating pages about this social phenomenon. In
his 1935 book, which would inspire Kuhn himself many years later, Fleck distinguishes three
4
This list of topics covered by the study of scientific pedagogy and textbooks does not aim to be exhaustive.
Further interesting themes of research, together with a bibliography that includes studies in psychology and other
human sciences, can be found in (Vicedo 2012, 85).
1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro) 11
elements in scientific education: experience, cognition, and sensation. Through following
a pedagogical path, young scientists-to-be are educated to see, feel, and conceptualize the
world in a certain manner in order to become part of the established thought collective or
thought style. Partially reshaping the scientific self, this process also reshapes the world
around the subject: “a fact always occurs in the context of the history of thought and is
always the result of a definite thought style” (Fleck 1979, 95). Fleck also separates sharply
popularization from professional training: “in contrast with popular science, whose aim
is vividness, professional science in its vademecum (or handbook) form requires a critical
synopsis in an organized system (Fleck 1979, 117–118). The vademecum is the medium of
scientific pedagogy, the organized synthesis of what is relevant and worthy in the field. Like
Kuhn, Fleck also insists on the difference between researcha creative activity that can even
produce contradictory resultsand pedagogy, which he represents through the metaphor of
a carefully prearranged mosaic:
The vademecum is therefore not simply the result of either a compilation or a
collection of various journal contributions. The former is impossible because
such papers often contradict each other. The latter does not yield a closed sys-
tem, which is the goal of vademecum science. A vademecum is built up from
individual contributions through selection and orderly arrangement like a mo-
saic from many colored stones. The plan according to which selection and ar-
rangement are made will then provide the guidelines for future research. It
governs the decisions on what counts as a basic concept, what methods should
be accepted, which research decisions appear most promising, which scientists
should be selected for prominent positions and which should simply be con-
signed to oblivion. (Fleck 1979, 119–120)
So far-reaching are the consequences of scientific training. Through the medium of
the pedagogical text, both the self, and the world undergo a complete reconfiguration. This
crucial insight has suggested to practitioners in science studies to look more carefully into
the internal structures of these texts, the economy of their contents, and the communication
techniques they deploy.
5
Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar have provided an impressive
analysis of the textual construction of scientific facts through a fivefold categorization of
scientific propositions, ranging from type 1 statements, which qualify the belief as belonging
to a certain actor and certain conditions, to type 5 statements, which black-box the belief as
a generally accepted part of common knowledge. Textbooks, Latour and Woolgar conclude,
usually do not hedge their claims, but deliver them as the bare truth about nature:
Scientific textbooks were found to contain a large number of sentences of the
stylistic form: “A has a certain relationship with B.” […] Expressions of this
sort could be said to be type 4 statements. Although the relationship presented in
this statements appears uncontroversial, it is, by contrast with type 5 statements,
made explicit. This type of statement is often taken as the prototype of scientific
assertion. (Latour and Woolgar 1986, 77)
Accordingly, textbooks play an important role in sedimenting concepts, methods, ex-
perimental procedures, and orthodox interpretations. This aspect has been investigated by a
5
An interesting development in this line of thought is the analysis of the rhetoric of science and its bearing on the
creation of scientific facts; see for example (Fahnestock 1986; Prelli 1989; Gross 1990).
12 1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro)
number of scholars, for example Mary Smyth in her reconstruction of the function of text-
books in creating consensus in psychology (Smyth 2001) or Antonio García-Belmar, Josè
Ramon Bertomeu-Sánchez, and Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, who, in their comprehensive
account of French chemistry textbooks, trace the way in which the atomistic hypothesis was
received and sustained in the scientific community (García-Belmar, Bertomeu-Sánchez, and
Bensaude-Vincent 2006).
1.3 Towards an Epistemological Role for the Pedagogical Text
Reflection on scientific pedagogy and textbooks has hitherto generated an impressive
amount of scholarly work, remarkable both in depth and in scope. A prime feature of this
work has been the careful reconstruction of the pedagogical practices, the teaching pro-
cedures, the social negotiations, and the institutional settings involved in the transmission
of knowledge from the scientific elite to those who are supposed to replace it in the near
future. However, the fragmentation of this analysis into contingent and situated practices,
does not restrict the ambition towards an encompassing model of knowledge transmission
able to capture the rich material analyzed in a consistent view, and possibly to enlarge upon
it. Quite the contrary, special interest has arisen in recent times in a more epistemological
perspective able to illuminate persistent, long-term elements in scientific pedagogy, which
tend to remain concealed in more detailed accounts. For this task, besides Kuhn, an obvious
source to call upon is Michel Foucault.
In Discipline and Punish Foucault showed that, from the eighteenth century onwards,
discipline steadily increased its efficiency by means of carefully partitioned spaces, cali-
brated times, and constrained behaviors (Foucault 1977). Control over the body of the in-
dividual is at work in prisons, in hospitals, in military institutions, as well as in schools.
To be sure, it is precisely to schools that Foucault dedicates his most stimulating analysis.
For Foucault, the pedagogical activity displays itself in three phases: hierarchical observa-
tion, normalizing judgement, and examination. The first phase requires the organization of
space-time relations between the teacher and the students: the architecture of the classroom,
the disposition of the seats, as well as the partition of time for lecturing, exercising, and
resting. But it also requires a perpetual gaze from the teacher, which provides the control
over posture, gestures, and behaviors. This control is always accompanied by a judgement,
whose aim is to normalize the individuals to some preconceived orthodoxy. For this judge-
ment one needs comparison and, more generally, examination, carried out according to rules,
procedures, and routines, and evaluated according to normalizing systems.
While Foucault casts these disciplinary settings in terms of social alignments and the
power relations established between the controller and the controlled, the master and the
pupils, one cannot help but think about the similarities with Kuhn’s pages on training. For
one thing, the examinations can be really effective and normalizing only if the students have
been suitably drilled in the “rules of the game,” which is precisely what a paradigm is sup-
posed to do. Docility and the cherishing of tradition are thus the essential ingredients of this
approach. An approach whose implicit social alignment had been perceptively anticipated
by John Dewey:
Since the subject-matter as well as standards of proper conduct are handed down
from the past, the attitude of pupils must, upon the whole, be one of docility,
1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro) 13
receptivity, and obedience. Books, especially textbooks are the chief represen-
tatives of the lore and wisdom of the past, while teachers are the organs through
which pupils are brought into effective connection with the material. Teachers
are the agents through which knowledge and skills are communicated and rules
of conduct enforced. (Dewey 1938, 18)
It is with these similarities in mind that Andrew Warwick and David Kaiser have ar-
gued in favor of a “Foukuhnian” position as a possible general framework for the study of
scientific pedagogy. In essence, this position boils down to an attempt to further historicize
Kuhn’s intuition that theoretical knowledge requires routinizing practices through Foucault’s
view of power as a productive force, acting by means of microscopic forms of social control,
and it is developed in two points:
[F]irst by noting the compatibility of Kuhn’s emphasis on skill acquisition with
Foucault’s insight that power is the form of social relations does not inhibit or
conceal knowledge, but is necessary to its production; and, second, by building
on Foucault’s claim that the minutiae of everyday practices have the power to
generate new capabilities in human beings, thereby bringing about significant
historical change. (Kaiser and Warwick 2006, 406)
This attempt at putting together the best of two worlds points us toward very interesting
perspectives, but it still contains some fundamental difficulties. To begin with, the second
point, referring to the production of historical change through everyday practices, seems to
beg the question raised by the first. Kaiser and Warwick are certainly right in highlighting
the similarity between Kuhn’s notion of normal science based on paradigms and Foucault’s
normalizing regimes relying on disciplinary techniques. However, how these regimes can
produce new knowledge, possibly knowledge that challenges the paradigm itself, is a par-
ticular sticking point in Kuhn’s model and remains so in Foucault’s. Occurring during peri-
ods of accepted paradigms and developing through normalizing procedures, the Foukuhnian
pedagogy seems to leave little room for individual creativity. The strong emphasis that both
Kuhn and Foucault put on the one-sidedness of the pedagogical relation between master
and student makes it difficult to explain how training can turn a docile and obedient pupil
into an independent researcher able, at some point, to metaphorically kill his/her master,
that is, to challenge the paradigm itself. Suman Seth puts his finger on this problem when
he writes: “disciplining, most specifically, cannot produce people who themselves produce
new knowledge and it is the production of novel knowledge that distinguishes the researcher
from the student” (Seth 2010, 69).
Furthermore, the daring combination of Kuhnian and Foucaultian insights seems at
times to stretch too broadly and thinly the positions of both authors. On the one hand, as
we noticed above, Kuhn’s discourse on paradigm and scientific pedagogy appears to stem
entirely from, and to be applicable especially to, physical sciences such as chemistry or
theoretical physics. Foucault, however, famously eschewed entering into the genealogy of
the physical sciences:
[F]or me it was a matter of saying this: if, concerning a science like theoretical
physics or organic chemistry, one poses the problem of its relations with the
political and economic structures of society, isn’t one posing an excessively
14 1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro)
complicated question? Doesn’t this set the threshold of possible explanations
impossibly high? (Foucault 1980, 109)
On the other hand, and more to the point of this volume, while Kuhn has much to say about
textbooks and their relation with the whole body of knowledgewe provided ample textual
evidence aboveFoucault is almost silent about this topic; he prefers to focus upon the
power relations displayed in specific patterns of social control and hands-on acquisition of
knowledge.
Finally, their other similarities notwithstanding, it should not be forgotten that Kuhn
and Foucault differ in at least one important respect, perceptively remarked upon by Hubert
Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (1983, 199–202). Foucault aims to characterize an interpretative
dimension of the microscopic and macroscopic mechanism of society that is totally missing
in Kuhn. Reflection on the intersections between power and knowledge inevitably entails
an evaluation of the direction these processes take together with an evaluation of our society
as a whole. This worry, absent in Kuhn, suggests that we should not underestimate the
differences in aims and methods between the two writers.
These considerations lead us to the conclusion that the Foukuhnian approach needs
to be complemented by further insights. This complementation should, we believe, derive
from an insistence on the “knowledge” horn of the Foucaultian power/knowledge duality.
Only in this way can the practice-oriented approach hitherto developed lead to an analysis
of scientific pedagogy able to encompass two crucial, and interrelated, requirements. First,
textbooks should become legitimate historiographical tools, used to illuminate not only the
history of pedagogical practices, but, occasionally, the history of science as a whole. This
perspective challenges head-on Kuhn’s contention that textbooks provide historically and
conceptually misleading perspectives on science making. Moreover, this requirement goes
hand in hand with the second one: while both Kuhn and Foucault have insisted on the cen-
trality of pedagogical practices in periods of stability and normal science, it is important to
extend our gaze to what happens in times of scientific breakthrough. Theories can be in flux
on the written page too, if science is in a period of crises. Thus, if we move our spotlight
from the quiet days of normal science to the turmoil of an epoch-making crisis, we realize
that textbooks cease to be the neutral repository of truth and enter a dialogue with active re-
search. Through this dialogue pedagogy can offer us an original window on the production
and dissemination of scientific knowledge.
Key to this twofold extension are the conceptual resources of historical epistemology
and the insights they can provide us on the dynamics of scientific knowledge.
6
To begin
with, by focusing upon the exploration of “the dynamics of scientific developments, as they
can be extracted from an analysis of scientific texts and practices” (Feest and Sturm 2009, 3),
historical epistemology has led to the conclusion that one should ease the Kuhnian distinction
between normal science and revolutionary periods. Specifically, the historian of science
should be entitled to look at textbooks not only as products of scientific change, useful only
as tools in training regimes, but also as active agents in the creative process of scientific
development. A new paradigm is not established overnight, and textbooks appear not only
at the end-stages of scientific change.
6
On the multiple forms that historical epistemology can take in different research contexts, see (Daston 1994;
Renn 2006; Feest and Sturm 2009; 2011; Rheinberger 2010).
1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro) 15
These thoughts nicely complement Foucault’s power/ knowledge duality. “Political
power always implied the possession of a certain type of knowledge” (Foucault 2000, 31)
and especially true knowledge: “[w]e are subjected to the production of truth through power
and we cannot exercise power except through the production of truth” (Foucault 1980, 93).
Textbooks, Kuhn points out, are repositories of truths, but to reach that status a process
of selection, re-evaluation, and redefinition must be put in place. Textbooks contain pre-
viously shared knowledge, which undergoes a process of elaboration and reconfiguration.
Truth, historically taken, emerges against the background of inadequate knowledge and the
investigation of the struggle for truth is precisely what power/knowledge is about:
[T]o extend the claims to attention of local, discontinuous, disqualified, illegit-
imate knowledges against the claims of a unitary body of theory which would
filter, hierarchize and order them in the name of some true knowledge and some
arbitrary idea of what constitutes a science and its objects. (Foucault 1980, 83)
The studies in this volume aim exactly at de-black-boxing the process of construction of
truth in textbooks during a period of crisis.
Second, and more generally, an important tradition of cognitive and epistemological
studies on learning has led us to realize that research and pedagogy share the same episte-
mological fabric. Jean Piaget and, more recently, Peter Damerow highlighted the role of
reflection on the resources and the tools of knowledge as a crucial step in learning,
7
but
the same epistemological process also guides research, even those leading to revolutionary
breakthroughs. Nancy Nersessian went as far as stressing a structural similarity between the
learning process and conceptual changes:
Students learning a scientific representation must also actively construct: they
must form new concepts and new relations among existing concepts and inte-
grate the new representation to such an extent that they can make use of it. […]
[B]oth the nature of the changes that need to be made in conceptual restructuring
and the kinds of reasoning involved in the process of constructing a scientific
representation are the same for scientists and students of science. That is, the
cognitive dimension of the two processes is fundamentally the same. (Nerses-
sian 1989, 165)
Historical epistemology has internalized the piece-by-piece view of knowledge devel-
opment that this tradition entails. New revolutionary ideas usually emerge at the boundary
between different areas of knowledge as the result of internal tensions present in these ar-
eas. But a new idea, however radical, is not yet a scientific revolution or a new paradigm.
Precisely because it stems from collisions at the boundaries between different theories, it
belongs to none of them. At the beginning, innovative ideas are in ‘epistemic isolation.’
8
The transition to a new science can be completed only through the long, intricate, and often
tedious process of comparing the novel idea with the established body of knowledge (Renn
2006). This attempt at epistemic integration of novelty and tradition progressively unfolds
the revolutionary potential of the new idea and generates the consensus about a new ap-
proach that characterizes a paradigm. Paraphrasing Kaisers catchy sentence quoted above:
7
See for example (Davis 1990; Damerow 1996).
8
On the concept of epistemic isolation see (Büttner, Renn, and Schemmel 2003).
16 1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro)
“revolutions are not born, they are made.” Interestingly, and at this point unsurprisingly, the
same epistemological drive can be found in scientific pedagogy during a time of crisis, as
the articles in this volume show extensively.
Since textbooks, by necessity, bring into contact tradition and novel approaches, they
relentlessly explore the potentialities of older tools and their connection with newer ones.
This process, which Kuhn interpreted as concealing the tracks of a revolution, recapitulates
in reality the essence of the research process. We can see this dynamic instantiated in the
books of Planck, Sackur, Sommerfeld or Reiche discussed in this volume.
Again, this insight adds another dimension to Foucault’s and Kuhn’s positions. Organi-
zation of knowledge occurs at different levels and involves different disciplinary matrixes,
leading to heterogeneity and blurring of the boundaries sharply drawn in periods of normal
science. This is also a Foucaultian theme, best put by Joseph Rouse:
Knowledge is established not only in relation to a field of statements, but also to
objects, instruments, practices, research programs, skills, social networks, and
institutions. Some elements of such an epistemic field reinforce and strengthen
one another and are taken up, extended, and reproduced in other contexts; oth-
ers remain isolated from, or conflict with, these emergent “strategies” and even-
tually become forgotten curiosities. The configuration of knowledge requires
that these heterogeneous elements be adequately adapted to one another and
that their mutual alignment be sustained over time. (Rouse 2005, 113)
It is on this complex process of combination of heterogeneous elements, of exclusion/inclu-
sion, and of reconfigurationa process typical of scientific researchthat an investigation
of “textbooks in flux” can provide illuminating insights.
1.4 Rethinking the History of Quantum Physics
This volume wants to contribute to the study of textbooks as agents of research by focusing
attention on one specific episode in the history of scientific change: the so-called quantum
revolution.
9
The emergence of quantum theory, in particular, represents an ideal setting
because it is a multidisciplinary, delocalized, and multi-actor phenomenon. The canonical
account of this chapter in the history of science starts with the crisis of black-body radia-
tion and the solution put forth by Max Planck at the turn of the century. After this, Albert
Einstein’s 1907 theory of specific heats, Niels Bohrs 1913 model of the hydrogen atom,
and the advent of Werner Heisenberg’s and Erwin Schrödingers quantum mechanics in the
mid-1920s form the conceptual backbone of a story that, together with the development of
relativity, has taken pre-eminence in the history of twentieth-century science. Historians
of physics have, for decades, struggled to write a coherent account of a process that eludes
simplistic explanations. There are too many, too diverse elements that contribute to the
complexity of this particular story: the range of the conceptual changes that took place; the
number and diversity of the actors involved; the institutional settings; the networks of power
and complicities between scientists, popularizers, and science policy makers; the social and
9
There are some studies concerning the transmission of knowledge during scientific change, such as the paper by
Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent on the emergence of the chemical revolution (Bensaude-Vincent 1990). However,
no application of this analysis to the quantum revolution has so far been attempted.
1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro) 17
cultural ethos of the times around the two World Wars, not to mention the Manhattan Project,
the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Cold War. Furthermore, no other chapter in
the history of recent physics, let alone in the history of science, has the same wealth of ma-
terial available to the historian, including the gigantic project that produced the Archive for
History of Quantum Physics.
The essays collected in this volume bring new light to this massive scholarship by
concentrating upon early textbooks on quantum theory. This is one outcome of the large-
scale, international project coordinated by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
and the Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin, on the History and Foundations of Quantum Physics,
that has worked to emphasize the importance of tradition and the conceptual reservoirs of
classical physics in the establishment of the quantum revolution, thereby highlighting the
continuous aspects within such a dramatic epistemological shift. The rationale behind this
volume is that, since textbooks have seldom been treated either as relevant sources or as
actors in the development of the new physics, it was worthwhile exploring the possibilities
of treating some of these books as subjects around which to write new stories of the quantum.
A specific emphasis on the epistemological aspects of scientific pedagogy during the
emergence of quantum physics can turn textbooks into useful research tools in two different
senses. First, the study of how textbooks were conceived, projected, and written can eluci-
date many of the historical circumstances of the coming of age of the quantum revolution,
aspects that remained hidden in the study of research papers. To begin with, it gives us ac-
cess to the revolution on a different time scale because textbooks have a different life cycle
from research articles. Furthermore, contrary to research works, pedagogical texts address
a broader scope of topics, ranging from atomic theory to physical chemistry, and a wider
audience, thus providing us with a wide-angle snapshot of the community involved in the
quantum business.
Secondly, there is a particular character to the way textbooks are understood and com-
posed that makes them especially useful for revealing some elements of the intrinsic dy-
namics of scientific knowledge. Textbooks, particularly in a moment of scientific turmoil,
re-organize the inherited body of knowledge and try to integrate it with the emerging theo-
ries. This reflective process, which can involve new hypotheses, concepts, and assumptions,
but also new formal techniques, procedures, and methods, is essential in igniting productive
thinking. In other words, textbooks offer a privileged example of the systemic quality of
knowledge, which seems to be a general feature of the transmission of knowledge in its
globalizing dimension (Renn and Hyman 2012a).
10
As the chapters in this book show, there are many different ways in which a textbook can
become the subject in a history of early quantum physics, since the very process of writing
a textbook, (i.e., of trying to organize a new doctrine in an accessible way for newcomers),
together with its life as an object that is issued, used, changed, and abandoned, embodies
the tensions between research and pedagogy developed in the first part of this introduction.
Furthermore, the life of these textbooks can also help us better situate other actors in the
history of quantum physics, by bringing into the picture the reasons, the context, the research
10
By the same token, a re-evaluation of the epistemological role of textbooks is also necessary in terms of uni-
versity policy making. A deep reorganization of the university curricula, essential to meet the challenges of the
globalized society, requires a broader approach to how scientific knowledge is accumulated and how novelties have
to be included in the pedagogical routine. On this topic see the project Vom lokalen Universalismus zum globalen
Kontextualismus led by Yehuda Elkana and Jürgen Renn and its theoretical foundation in (Elkana 2012).
18 1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro)
agenda, and other aspects that cannot be seen in the publication of research papers or in the
abundant correspondence between the main actors involved in the story.
Obviously, the first question to address was how to qualify a book as an early textbook
on quantum matters. Contrary to the case of chemistry, where there is a longer tradition of
textbook writing, going back to the nineteenth century, some of the instances studied in this
volume qualify as textbooks, not because they were formally and explicitly written as such,
but mainly because they were used as tools to teach quantum physics in higher education.
As David Kaiser has recently pointed out, textbooks possess a peculiar plasticity with re-
spect to their collocation, their genre, and their boundaries (Kaiser 2012). During scientific
re-alignments this feature becomes even more prominent. Furthermore, the complexities
and technicalities of the discussions involved narrow the public to which these books were
addressed: only professional physicists and advanced students of physics could have a real
interest in and ability to follow the nuances present in these books. We, therefore, exclude
popular books. The ten case studies presented here include books from well-known actors
in the development of quantum physics, like Max Planck, Arnold Sommerfeld, Max Born
or Paul Dirac, as well as names that never appear in extant histories of quantum physics, like
Otto Sackur or George Birtwistle, but whose books played an active role in the evolution of
the pedagogy of quantum physics.
The elaboration of an exhaustive list of textbooks is not easy, since, especially in the
very early years, many books deal with established disciplines and include quantum mat-
ters only as solutions to specific problems. This introduces the disciplinary problem that
some of the case studies in this volume illustrate. Where should quantum theory be pic-
tured in the disciplinary division of the physical sciences at the beginning of the twentieth
century? As is well known, Planck developed his hypothesis in the context of a very ab-
stract theory of black-body radiation. This hypothesis, however, did not take root in an
incipient community until the quantum hypothesis was compared with the established sta-
tistical mechanics and radiation theory. For this process to happen, it was very important
to reconfigure the presentation of traditional disciplines so as to indicate the limitations in
the classical approaches, but also its hidden potentialities, and its forgotten riches. Marta
Jordi and Massimiliano Badino show us, in their studies of Paul Drude and Otto Sackur,
respectively, that the pointing out of such limitations and potentialities was not always a
pedagogical tool done a posteriori, with the aim of justifying the need for the new theory,
but was, at times, prior to the actual development of the theory. Thus, Drude’s Lehrbuch der
Optik fully reconfigured the presentation of optics, moving away from a purely geometrical
optics. Bringing the traditions of optics and electromagnetism together, the student was led
into the boundaries at the interface between both fields as central topics for research, and
not as marginal issues that one might easily overlook. With it in hand, when the quantum
solution eventually appeared, the student of Drude’s book was ready to understand the new
theory in the context of the shortcomings of the reigning models of the interactions between
the ether and matter.
Also, Sackurs 1913 book on thermodynamics and thermochemistry shaped the re-
search agenda of a whole new discipline with a crucial change in emphasis in dealing with
the long-standing conundrum of specific heats. Whereas traditional discussions started with
the specific heats of gases and then extended the analysis to the specific heats of solids, seen
as a still unexplained anomaly, Sackurs book presented the issue in the opposite direction,
as a means to consolidate his own particular research agenda in his potential students. After
1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro) 19
Einstein’s 1907 work that solved the problem of the specific heats of solids using the quan-
tum hypothesis, Sackurs was the first book to take the solid not only as an anomaly, but
also as the starting point for a reconfiguration of the field. Thus, the old marginal problem
became the first building block for ulterior research.
The examples mentioned above take us to the disciplinary boundaries of the emerging
quantum physics. Another boundary seldom explored in the accounts of the quantum rev-
olution is that of its publics. Contrary to the development of relativity, which was largely
a one-man work, quantum physics evolved due to the creative interactions of a large num-
ber of actors. Even so, traditional historical accounts pay attention only to the community
of scientists taking an active role in such developments, forgetting its ‘popularization’ for
those professional physicists interested in the new science, but working in other areas of
the discipline. In his interesting study on the popularization of the relativity revolution in
France, Michel Biezunski argued that scientists from other disciplines wanted to catch up
with the most revolutionary developments in order to maintain the socio-epistemic gap that
separated them from the general public (Biezunski 1985). In their analysis of the cases of
Fritz Reiche and George Birtwistle, Clayton Gearhart and Jaume Navarro show, in different
ways, that, in the 1920s, there was already a market composed of physicists and students of
physics interested in developing an introductory but sound, technical, and thoroughly mathe-
matical understanding of quantum theory. In both examples, the pedagogy involved is more
conservative, in that it struggles to introduce the new physics within old frameworks. The
student is, thus, not led to new research problems but to questions that are, up to that point,
broadly accepted. In the specific case of Birtwistle, he was no expert in quantum theory;
he was not doing active research; but he had a general understanding that moved him to
communicate his knowledge of it to other scientists looking for some introduction to the
new physics. By contrast, Fritz Reiche, a PhD student of Planck’s, was a first-rank physicist
with a direct and profound knowledge of quantum physics. As Clayton Gearhart shows in
his article, Reiche’s lucid book, The Quantum Theory, grew out of a specific demand from
other portions of the scientific community to get to know more about the new, exotic, but
potentially useful quantum theory.
Better known actors, such as Sommerfeld, Born, Van Vleck, Planck or Dirac present
us with other aspects of the various traditions of physics pedagogy. Writing a textbook, or
a collection of lectures, has a bearing on the dissemination of a certain kind of knowledge
and the prestige deriving from it. Dieter Hoffmann’s account of Planck as textbooks author
illustrates this point by highlighting the labor Planck devoted to bringing to perfection his
books and to propagating, in this manner, his take on the emerging quantum theory. The
issue of the research agendas implicit in pedagogical works is an important one. It substan-
tiates a point we made in the first part of this introduction: knowledge is generally a struggle
and, in times of crisis, it easily becomes a struggle for the establishment of orthodoxy and
the simultaneous exclusion of heterodoxy. As Michael Eckert thoroughly documents, Som-
merfeld’s Atombau und Spektrallinien was not only a prominent advertisement of quantum
theory but also a prominent display of his quantum theory, which was largely a theory of
atomic physics and atomic modeling. By turning his lectures and seminars into a book,
Sommerfeld was spreading his research agenda to a public eager to have a first big synthesis
of quantum physics. Furthermore, by employing the mathematical techniques of celestial
mechanics in his modeling of the atom, Sommerfeld was exposing a large community of
astronomers and physicists to his own research agenda. It is not by chance that Sommer-
20 1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro)
feld toured the United States as well. But the American scientific community was not to
remain a passive receiver forever. John Van Vleck was a protagonist in the process of criti-
cally recasting the new quantum theory in terms of what was gained and what was lost with
respect to earlier traditions. His approach, which Michel Janssen and Charles Midwinter
analyze using the concept of Kuhn losses, was beneficial for putting the American physical
community on the map of the emerging quantum physics.
The dissemination of a particular perspective on quantum theory opens up the issue
of the de-localization of scientific knowledge, that is its supposed universal character as
opposed to national differences. Sommerfeld's extensive influence as a teacher both in time
(on generations of students) and in space (through his extended trip in the United States)
was crucial to the establishment of atomic theory and spectroscopy as the main problem
of quantum theory in Germany and the world over. Van Vleck was implicitly highlighting
this process of de-localization when he complained about the superabundance of attention
given to spectroscopy at the expenses of other interesting problems, possibly closer to the
American tradition. At the same time, though, some national figures stubbornly resisted
the globalization of quantum theory. For instance, Cambridge scholars such as Birtwistle
and Dirac insisted on viewing quantum theory from the angle of the British problem-solving
approach relying on a substantial use of analytical mechanics.
From a different perspective, Born’s, Dirac’s, and also Pascual Jordan’s efforts to ax-
iomatize and systematize quantum theory as theoretical physics, offer us good examples of
how the task of writing a book suitable as a textbook involves more than just the transmis-
sion of already published research. In these three examples, unfolded in different fashions
by Domenico Giulini, Don Howard, and Helge Kragh, we are introduced to the philosophi-
cal background that leads these authors to look for the foundations of the new theory and the
logical developments that stem from such foundations. These articles also show another cru-
cial difference between textbooks and research papers. Only the former are suitable sites to
muse about the foundations of the field. From this perspective, textbooks provide a seldom-
recognized service to the active scientist, and to the historian as well. However unsuccessful
one particular axiomatization might have been, as in the case of Born, whose Vorlesungen
über Atommechanik was published at the same time as Heisenberg was introducing the new
quantum mechanics, these efforts can be seen as a way to prioritize the need for immediate
research into certain open questions above that into other, less-pressing ones.
Finally, many of the case studies discussed in this volume deal with books that were
re-issued in subsequent editions. The evolution we find in these different editions shows the
tensions embodied in the task of writing on quantum physics in a time of great change, to
the extent that, as Eckert says, the book itself ceases to be one static entity but becomes a
process.
1.5 About This Book
This book has a curious story. The idea to start a project on the role of textbooks in quan-
tum theory came to the editors’ minds in early 2009, when they were both working in the
History of Quantum Physics Project of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
(MPIWG) in Berlin. They thought that a good way to begin collecting ideas was to organize
a four-speaker panel at the upcoming History of Science Society Conference. So they sent
around a call for papers. The enthusiastic reaction of their colleagues surprised and almost
1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro) 21
overwhelmed the editors, who ended up submitting two special sessions of five speakers
each.
The project gained momentum rapidly. To prepare the HSS conference, a workshop was
organized between some of the presenters, members of the Quantum Project, colleagues, and
visitors at the MPIWG. The workshop took place on 7 October 2009 and produced many
exciting discussions. We would like to thank Arianna Borrelli, Jed Buchwald, Diana Kormos
Buchwald, Ed Jurkowitz, Shaul Katzir, Christoph Lehner, Jürgen Renn, Arne Schirrmacher,
Daniela Schlote and Dieter Suisky for their contributions to that meeting.
The two special sessions on textbooks in quantum physics eventually took place at the
HSS Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ in late November 2009. On that occasions, talks were
delivered by Massimiliano Badino, Michael Eckert, Clayton Gearhart, Don Howard, David
Kaiser, Michel Janssen, Marta Jordi, Daniela Monaldi, and Jaume Navarro. Domenico
Giulini could not make it for personal reasons. The sessions were a big success and we
benefited tremendously from the discussion with the audience. Cathryn Carson and Richard
Staley were especially generous in providing productive comments and encouragement to
go ahead with our idea.
Back in Europe, we realized that it was time for the next step, that is the organization
of our results into the form of an edited book. However, since we wanted more than just a
bunch of papers tied together by a loose topic, but rather a new historiographical perspec-
tive on quantum physics, we took our time. The History of Quantum Physics Conference in
Berlin was coming up and we decided that it was the ideal opportunity to define better our
approach and to confront once again the community of historians which was our main in-
tended audience. At the conference, in July 2010, the two editors of this book presented the
definitive set-up of the project and discussed more thoroughly the structure of the volume
with the authors, all of them in attendance at the conference.
From that moment the book project officially started. And, as any good editor or author
knows all too well, it was just the beginning of another journey. Some of the original partic-
ipants stepped down, some new joined in. In July 2011, we further discussed the structure
of the book in a very interesting session devoted to scientific textbooks at the 11th Confer-
ence of the International History and Philosophy of Science Teaching Group in Thessaloniki.
That experience was important for both of us. The ensuing process of writing, re-writing, re-
discussing and negotiating the contributions and this introduction went on for many months.
Of course, a series of technical problems cropped up, which were solved with commendable
dedication by the editorial team (Irene Colantoni, Oksana Kuruts, Jonathan Ludwig, Marius
Schneider, and Chandhan Srinivasamurthy) headed by Nina Ruge. Kai Surendorf took pa-
tient care of our requests concerning the fine-tuning of the L
A
T
E
X infrastructure and Jeremiah
James did wonderful editing work at various stages of the production process.
The History of Quantum Physics Project at the MPIWG has been a stimulating common
effort to look at the complex developments of quantum physics from new and sometimes
unorthodox angles. For several years we have been discussing and exchanging ideas on a
daily basis and it would be futile to isolate individual contributions to the overall setting of
this volume. Therefore, we feel that we have to thank all colleagues whose various sugges-
tions permeate this book: Alexander Blum, Arianna Borrelli, Shaul Katzir, Martin Jähnert,
Jeremiah James, Christian Joas, Ed Jurkowitz, Christoph Lehner, and Arne Schirrmacher.
Jürgen Renn represented an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Many readers will imme-
22 1. Introduction (M. Badino/J. Navarro)
diately perceive his presence lingering in this introduction. All the rest must be ascribed to
(better: blamed on) the editors.
References
Bensaude-Vincent, Bernadette (1990). A View of the Chemical Revolution through Con-
temporary Textbooks: Lavoisier, Fourcroy and Chaptal. British Journal for the History
of Science 23: 435–460.