Copenhagen 1941 ruined everything. It was like the collapse of the wave function. The friendship between Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg would never be the same. Their bond began many years previously when the young Heisenberg challenged Bohr during a meeting and Bohr, although taken aback, realized Heisenberg was a promising young mind. They grew together through research and became like family, but in September 1941 Bohr met with Heisenberg in Copenhagen and their bond was broken. There is no complete record of what was said during the meetings, but Bohr was shaken. The history of the Bohr-Heisenberg meeting is now that of legends. Roughly we can see this story as a personal example of the moral implications of science. There was an entire generation of physicists who grew up believing that science would only do good things for the world, but during the war science represented the destruction of people and there was the realization: scientists do not work in a vacuum. I cannot describe the history in its full glory and detail so I defer to this documentary which is worth a watch.
History has a way of gilding itself and so the romanticized Copenhagen meeting has gone on to inspire the play Copenhagen and it continues to resonate with the geek pop culture. My friend has made these awesome shirts. Can you spot the error on them?
Carl Djerassi (1923-2015): Chemist, writer, polymath, cultural icon
7 hours ago in The Curious Wavefunction