Lot #4006
Max Planck (June 12, 1896)

Early handwritten letter by Prof. Dr. Planck to his former pupil: "I have a great deal to do with student papers right at this time"
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Estimate: $1000+

Description

Early handwritten letter by Prof. Dr. Planck to his former pupil: "I have a great deal to do with student papers right at this time"

ALS in German, signed “M. Planck,” one page, 5.5 x 8.75, June 12, 1896. Handwritten letter to Dr. Ludwik Silberstein, in full (translated): "I have received your friendly letter of the 3rd of this month. However, I ask your forgiveness if it is not possible for me to fulfill your wish and suggest several topics for your friend to work on. The main reason is that I do not know the gentleman in question at all and therefore also do not know what preparation he brings to the task in question. It is surely not just a matter here of the wording of the topic, but rather of more detailed explanation, indication of the best methods, and ongoing interest in the course of the execution. I am unable to take all this on in this case, however, and still less so as I have a great deal to do with student papers right at this time. I hope that you will understand my reasons." In fine condition, with a few tiny stains.

Silberstein earned his doctorate at Berlin’s Friedrich Wilhelm University in July 1894, where Max Planck was a professor and his PhD examiner in physics. Of Silberstein's dissertation, a paper on 'mechanical conception of electromagnetic phenomena in insulators and semiconductors,' Hermann von Helmholtz wrote: 'Mr. Silberstein’s work shows clear understanding of difficult and abstract problems and aptness for mathematical treatment. I propose its assessment as: 'sollertiae et ingenii specimen laudabile.'' Planck supported this judgment, noting: 'I agree in all points.'

In this instance, it seems that Silberstein reached out to his old professor to ask for suggestions for a friend's research. Planck, not knowing the person's depth of knowledge and besieged by enough student papers, declines to comply.

Click here to read the full translation.

From the collection of physicist Ludwik Siberstein.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: The Einstein Archives of Ludwik Silberstein
  • Dates: #609 - Ended May 20, 2021