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Talks by Dr Arne Schirrmacher (Humboldt Universität Berlin)

24 and 25 October 2013
cehic 11/10/2013

24 d'octubre de 2013, 19.00h
Happy birthday Bohr atom!?

From the imaginary model of Bohr's theory to the imagery of material atomic models on display
Dr. Arne Schirrmacher
IEC c/Carme, 47, Barcelona

No other theory of quantum physics is so widely known (and taught) than the Bohr model of the atom, which emerged 100 years ago. Strictly speaking, all of its "explanations" in terms of orbits, jumps and quantum properties etc. have been proven wrong and many would dispute whether it was a "theory" at all, and hence it is rather questionable what to celebrate today. In order to explain its paramount importance in the history of physics my talk will consider aspects of Bohr's atom often neglected: its quality as (material) model, analogy and metaphor. I will argue, that it were the highly suggestive visual pictures linked to Bohr's axioms that both explain its ongoing importance after it was replaced by quantum mechanics – in particular in exhibitions and popularization - and why its core icon had emerged already much before 1913, so Bohr just had to pick it up rather to invent it.

25 d'octubre de 2013, 12.00
Public science in Cold War America
Or: Why Frank Oppenheimer had to invent the science center


Why is it that we find Frank Oppenheimer, who was developing a proton accelerator with Luis Alvarez in in the years after World War II, observing school children crash his self-build science exhibits some 20 years later? How come that Robert Karplus, whose incredible calculations convinced physicists in 1949 of the validity and applicability of QED, wondering with elementary school children how to relate objects in space two decades later? - My work in progress will discuss a decisive impact of Sputnik shock accelerated spending on educational reform on the reinvention of the science museum. In the San Francisco Bay Area one can find both the derailed grand plans for the Lawrence Hall of Science at Berkeley and the improbably successful alternative project of the San Francisco Exploratorium. In a twisted story centering around J. Robert Oppenheimer's little brother Frank I will show that the very person, who aimed at an educational project had to resort to reinvent the science museum, while those with plans for a momentous museum never succeeded.

Arne Schirrmacher, Dr. rer. nat.
Gastprofessor des Programms "Vielfalt der Wissensformen" (bologna.lab)
Helmholtz-Zentrum f¸r Kulturtechniken
Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Unter den Linden 6 | 10099 Berlin
Office: Mohrenstraße 40/41, Raum 340
Tel. -49-30-2093-70528 oder -49-30-850121-09