Almagest: Vol. VII, Issue 2

Table of Contents and Abstracts, Almagest 7-2, November 2016

Rita Meyer-Spasche and Rolf Tomas Nossu
Persecution and Patronage: Oscar Buneman’s years in Britain
DOI: 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.112684

The German student Oscar Bünemann, in trouble with the Nazi authorities in the mid-1930s, chose to emigrate to Britain and pursue a PhD there. After emigration, his surname appears as Buneman. On the verge of completing his degree in 1940, he was detained as an enemy alien and spent almost a year in internment. Upon release, he found work as an atomic scientist in England, and went on to lead a post-war career as a pioneering plasma physicist in the USA.
We study forced migration of European scientists before and during the Second World War, and scientific patronage in the host countries. Buneman’s case is interesting from several points of view. Being a non-Jewish, non-communist, anti-Nazi activist, he belongs to a group not much investigated by historians. His emigration from Germany was facilitated by his family’s business contacts in Britain. Being caught up in the wave of detainments of enemy aliens in 1940, he was assisted in pleading for release by the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning, the archives of which abound with information about refugee scientists from Nazi Germany. We have also had access to material not available to previous investigators, kindly provided by Buneman’s family.

Alexander A. Pechenkin
The story of a book: the Physico-chemical periodical processes by Schemjakin and Mikhalev, 1938
DOI: 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.112685

This is the story of a book about the physic-chemical periodical processes that was published in Russian in 1938. This book was not famous and successful at the time, but became rather popular on a wave of recent interest in Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction as a classic example of periodical chemical and physiochemical processes. The authors developed the themes of earlier studies that were published in Germany, England, France including rhythmic structures in chemistry, mineralogy, histology and metallurgy. Some new approaches are also present in the book such as: the general theory of oscillations (Schwingungslehre), de Broglie waves. The book contains a comprehensive review of literature in the field.
This volume is based on publications in national and international journals and reflects informal discussion and collaboration. A small informal group arose in the course of the collaboration. The methods, content and interpretation are characteristic of the early Soviet science that hinges on attempt to formulate global problems, yet often suffers from the lack of sufficient theoretical backgrounds.

Ravil R. Mukhin
The development of dynamics in the XXth century: Kolmogorov – Arnold – Moser (KAM) theory
DOI: 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.112686

This article discusses the highlights of the creation of one of the greatest scientific achievements of the twentieth century - the theory of the Kolmogorov-Arnold-Moser (KAM) and completes the picture with some previously unnoticed strokes. The focus is on A. N. Kolmogorov, who played a key role in the creation of the theory. А. Poincare has shown that in the vast majority of cases dynamical systems are non-integrable. The perturbation theory is among key methods for solving problems of dynamics and Poincaré put forward the impact of an integrable Hamiltonian system disturbance as a "fundamental problem" of dynamics. Kolmogorov’s main result in this task can be formulated as follows: for the majority of the initial conditions and the non-degeneracy of the unperturbed motion for a sufficiently small perturbation the most non-resonant tori are only being deformed, keeping to itself the trajectory of conditionally periodic motions with constant frequencies. Resonant tori are being destroyed under the influence of the disturbance, the trajectories become stochastic. Kolmogorov limited himself to the establishment of all the principal parties in solving of this problem and did not complete the proof of the results. This was done a few years after the appearance of Kolmogorov’s works by V. I. Arnold and J. Moser.

Jérôme Bonnin, Jean-Marie Michel, and Jean-Yves Thiant
Le pelecinum de Doumet sur la commune de Châteauvert (Var)
DOI: 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.112687

At a place called “Doumet” at the community of Châteauvert, a sundial was discovered by chance in 1993. The analysis of the instrument shows that it is a special specimen of ancient gnomonic, a vertical dihedral sundial. This particular typology of the pelecinum type constitutes this object extremely rare for ancient Gaulle. The state of preservation of all its components is also unique for the corpus of sundials of this type known for the entire ancient world. Finally, the quality of construction and the place of discovery, remote from all known centers or sundial making places, pose the problem of the object’s purpose. The function of a sundial is alone surprising for a so isolated site. An hypothesis has been proposed, stating that it comes from a funerary stele serving as a topographic landmark on a hill adjacent to a Roman road at a critical position on the borders of the ancient cities of Aix and Fréjus.

Sur le lieu-dit « Doumet » de la commune de Châteauvert, un cadran solaire a été mis au jour de façon fortuite en 1993. L’analyse de l’instrument indique qu’il s’agit d’un élément bien particulier de la gnomonique antique, un cadran plan vertical dièdre. Cette typologie même, de type pelecinum, en fait un objet particulièrement rare pour la Gaule antique. L’état de conservation de l’ensemble des éléments constitutifs du cadran est par ailleurs unique dans le corpus des cadrans solaires de ce type connus pour l’ensemble du monde antique. Enfin, la qualité de l’exécution ainsi que le lieu même de la découverte, à l’écart de tout centre connu ou de construction antiques interrogent sur la destination de cet objet. Une simple fonction de cadran solaire étonne en effet sur un site aussi isolé. L’hypothèse qu’il provienne d’une pile funéraire servant de marqueur topographique sur une hauteur proche d’une voie publique romaine, sur un point critique aux confins des cités antiques d’Aix et de Fréjus est proposée.

Svetlana Gapochenko and Halina Khlyap
Aesthetic principles in history of physics
DOI: 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.112688

The crucial role of aesthetic principles ‒ beauty, harmony (as the unity of everything in existence) and symmetry (as a mathematical method for the description of harmony) ‒ in the development of physical models of the universe from Ancient Greece until recently is discussed hereunder. Moreover, a heuristic role of aesthetic principles, especially regarding symmetry, in the discovery of new laws of nature is revealed. Since the beginning of the 20th century a new methodology of science has been formed: to discover new laws of nature, assuming that they possess the certain invariance. The history of physics very much allows for revealing an interdependence of epistemological and aesthetical aspects of physics and could be regarded as one of the ways to instill an holistic view of nature among students of high technical schools.