The Scholar and the State: In Search of Van der Waerden

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Springer, 12 nov. 2014 - 471 páginas

Bartel Leendert van der Waerden made major contributions to algebraic geometry, abstract algebra, quantum mechanics, and other fields. He liberally published on the history of mathematics. His 2-volume work Modern Algebra is one of the most influential and popular mathematical books ever written. It is therefore surprising that no monograph has been dedicated to his life and work. Van der Waerden’s record is complex. In attempting to understand his life, the author assembled thousands of documents from numerous archives in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States which revealed fascinating and often surprising new information about van der Waerden. Soifer traces Van der Waerden’s early years in a family of great Dutch public servants, his life as professor in Leipzig during the entire Nazi period, and his personal and professional friendship with one of the great physicists Werner Heisenberg. We encounter heroes and villains and a much more numerous group in between these two extremes. One of them is the subject of this book.

Soifer’s journey through a long list of archives, combined with an intensive correspondence, had uncovered numerous details of Van der Waerden’s German intermezzo that raised serious questions and reproaches.

Dirk van Dalen (Philosophy, Utrecht University)

Professor Soifer’s book implicates the anthropologists’ and culture historians’ core interest in the evolution of culture and in the progress of human evolution itself on this small contested planet.

James W. Fernandez (Anthropology, University of Chicago)

The book is fascinating. Professor Soifer has done a great service to the discipline of history, as well as deepening our understanding of the 20th century.

Peter D. Johnson, Jr. (Mathematics, Auburn University)

This book is an important contribution to the history of the twentieth century, and reads like a novel with an ever-fascinating cast of characters.

Harold W. Kuhn (Mathematics, Princeton University)

This is a most impressive and important book. It is written in an engaging, very personal style and challenges the reader’s ability of moral and historical judgment. While it is not always written in the style of ‘objective’ professional historiography, it satisfies very high standards of scholarly documentation. Indeed the book contains a wealth of source material that allows the reader to form a highly detailed picture of the events and personalities discussed in the book. As an exemplar of historical writing in a broader sense it can compete with any other historical book.

Moritz Epple (History of Mathematics, Frankfurt University)

 

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Índice

Greetings to the Reader What Is History?
1
Why Van der Waerden and Why Me?
5
The Family
14
The Joys of Young Bartel
27
Van der Waerden at Hamburg
33
The Story of The Book
39
The Theorem on Arithmetic Progressions
47
From Göttingen to Groningen
51
The Defense
223
Van der Waerden and Van der Corput Dialog in Letters
233
One Heartfelt Letter to a Friend
255
A Rebellion in Brouwers Amsterdam
259
The Het Parool Affair
265
Job History 19451947
283
America America God Shed His Grace on Thee382
295
Van der Waerden Goudsmit and Heisenberg A Letteral Triangle
301

Transformations of The Book
55
The Algebraic Revolution That Produced Just One Book
59
On to Germany
67
The Dawn of the Nazi Era
81
The Princeton Job Offer
97
Eulogy for the Beloved Teacher
107
One Faculty Meeting at Leipzig
113
A Cloud of Suspicion
141
Mathematische Annalen
153
Germany Treacherously Invades Holland
159
Barraus Succession at Utrecht
171
A Dream of Göttingen
181
Furniture and Scientific Books
199
Breidablik
205
Home Bittersweet Home
207
The New World or Old?
213
On Active and Passive Opposition in the Third Reich
315
Van der Waerden in Defense of Heisenberg
333
Professorship at Amsterdam
347
Escape to Neutrality
359
The Theorem Becomes Classic
371
Whose Conjecture Did Van der Waerden Prove?
379
Zurück nach Zürich
403
Reunions of Old Friends Van der Waerden and Heisenberg
411
The Drama of Van der Waerden
425
The Scholar and the State
437
Farewell to the Reader I Hope and I Hope533
445
List of Illustrations
451
References
455
Index
467
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