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Work on ferromagnetism and the 'Bethe Ansatz'


Short range order vs long range order in the metal alloy
Hans Bethe Scientist
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And I found also that above the transition point, the Curie point, order was still persisting in a local way. There was no order... no long range order, that is, an atom of gold here doesn't know about an atom of aluminum there, but the neighbors know about it and so the neighbors still have good order. And so I introduced the concept of short range order versus long range order. Short range order doesn't change very much, well it changes some at the Curie point, and I could calculate that the transition would be a second order transition, that is the... there would not be a latent heat, but the specific heat would have a peak and then go down to a more normal level, but there would still be some specific heat which was connected with the destruction of local order when the temperature rises higher. So that fit the experiments very nicely and I think made Bragg very happy. And Peierls afterwards made my theory a lot better. Instead of counting configurations of atoms, he went back to good statistical mechanics and made the theory really respectable.

The late German-American physicist Hans Bethe once described himself as the H-bomb's midwife. He left Nazi Germany in 1933, after which he helped develop the first atomic bomb, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1967 for his contribution to the theory of nuclear reactions, advocated tighter controls over nuclear weapons and campaigned vigorously for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Listeners: Sam Schweber

Silvan Sam Schweber is the Koret Professor of the History of Ideas and Professor of Physics at Brandeis University, and a Faculty Associate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. He is the author of a history of the development of quantum electro mechanics, "QED and the men who made it", and has recently completed a biography of Hans Bethe and the history of nuclear weapons development, "In the Shadow of the Bomb: Oppenheimer, Bethe, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist" (Princeton University Press, 2000).

Tags: William Lawrence Bragg, Rudi Peierls

Duration: 2 minutes, 3 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008