Facullty Members Praise Einstein, But Say Unified Theory Unfinished
Faculty members last night united in praise of Albert Einstein, developer of the relativity, quantum, and unified field theories, who died Monday.
Four University professors agreed last night that his theory of relativity is a landmark in scientific progress but felt that the unified theory is incomplete and valuable mostly as a starting point for others.
Donald H. Menzel '42, professor of Astrophysics, remarked that the unified field theory is "an extremely esoteric theory that has not yet been developed to the extent that the theory of relativity was." He believed that it is far too early to tell what effect the unified field will have in physics or astronomy.
"The theory is only a guide for the future," stated Phillipp Frank, lecturer emeritus and the Physics professor who succeeded Einstein at the University of Prague in Czechoslovakia. "The unified field theory might serve as an alternative to the quantum theory," he said.
"There is no question that Einstein is in the ranks with the very greatest, like Archimedes and Newton," I. Bernard Cohon '37, associate professor in the History of Science, said. He regretted that the complexity of one equation had obscured the public mind to the fact that Einstein's greatest achievement was to elucidate the elation between time and space, matter and energy.
Gerald Holton, associate professor of Physics, pointed out the importance of the theory of relativity and its applications. "Like Kepler, Galilee, and Newton, he felt that some of the important problems of physics could be linked to the problems of philosophy and that both must be solved together," he said.