5. Planck to Schrödinger

Berlin—Grunewald

4 June 1926

Dear Colleague,

I am extremely pleased that you could make up your mind to visit Berlin before the end of this semester, and I know for certain that the rest of the physicists here think the same way.

My colleague Grüneisen informs me that he has some doubts with regard to July 2nd and suggests July 16th instead. I should just like to join him in this. The semester here lasts until the beginning of August so that things are still in full swing in the middle of July and we need not be afraid that many will have already gone away. Grüneisen himself is an exception, to be sure, but he has to set out so early that he would unfortunately miss your visit all the same. But the 16th of July would suit the rest of us very well, and the only question is whether it is suitable for you yourself.

My wife and I would be especially happy if you would stay with us. We hope very much that we will be able to make you comfortable in our house. I shall take care above all that you remain master of your own actions to the greatest possible extent, and especially that, at those times over and above the “official” periods dedicated to the Physical Society, you have the opportunity to withdraw and to occupy yourself as you see fit. I know from experience how pleasant it often is to have a possibility of this kind. Moreover, my house stands at your disposal night and day for as long as you are inclined to stay.

You also talk about the level at which your lecture should best be given, or rather at which it should begin. I would like to propose, in agreement with my colleagues, that you imagine your audience to be students in the upper classes who, therefore, have already had mechanics and geometrical optics, but who have not yet advanced into the higher realms; to whom, therefore, the Hamilton-Jacobi differential equation, if they are acquainted with it at all, signifies a difficult result of profound research, deserving of reverence, and not by any means something to be taken for granted. Under no circumstances, however, should you be afraid that any one of us will consider one sentence of yours to be superfluous. For even if the sentence should not be necessary for an understanding of your train of thought, it would always offer the particular interest of seeing what special paths your thought takes and which particular forms your perception favors. For all of us the main point of your lecture will be what you yourself in your letter designated as a general survey of the fundamentals for the purpose of orientation without much calculation and without many individual problems. Perhaps it would be easier and more natural for you to carry this out, if on the other day, Saturday morning the 17th of July, you were to give a second lecture in our Colloquium, aimed at more special matters with supplements and continuations of the lines of thought you will have described at the more general meeting. I hope that this seems suitable to you, since you already indicated such a possibility yourself. That can very easily be arranged, and I ask you only to let me know so that we can take care of matters.

What a cross-fire of critical, enthusiastic, and questioning acclamations might now besiege you! But still, it is a thing with incredible prospects. I see that you have already energetically taken hold of the big question of whether and under what conditions a wave packet will remain intact. I have such a feeling that for closed systems it is the boundary conditions that take care of the conservation [of the wave packet], whereas a satisfactory solution for phenomena in an unbounded space seems to me to be possible only on the basis of new assumptions. That, however, is a cura posterior.

In the meantime my cordial greetings and the friendly request that you write me the day and hour that you arrive here.

Yours faithfully,

Planck

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