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Kaluza–Klein and Felix Klein: The stringy relationship with the portrait of the artist as a young man

Kaluza–Klein and Felix Klein: The stringy relationship with the portrait of the artist as a young man

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Published by Hosten1
paper by M.S. El Naschie
Chaos, Solitons and Fractals 25 (2005) 911–913
paper by M.S. El Naschie
Chaos, Solitons and Fractals 25 (2005) 911–913

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Published by: Hosten1 on Aug 24, 2010
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Kaluza–Klein and Felix Klein: The stringy relationshipwith the portrait of the artist as a young man
M.S. El Naschie
Frankfurt Institute of Advanced Studies, Frankfurt, GermanyDepartment of Physics, University of Alexandria, Egypt
This short note was motivated initially by a frequent and harmless confusion between the names of two scientists,Felix Klein and Oskar Klein. However as I started to make a few personal notes, I felt that the story is interesting in itsown right and I must admit because I was also involved on more than one count.To begin at the beginning as Dylan Thomas says in Under Milkwood, I was once upon a time an engineering studentin the Technische Hochschule Hannover, West Germany. This is a kind of University where you study only applied andengineering subjects, an idea imported to Germany from Napoleonic France. In such a technical ‘‘University’’ whenyou become a Doctor, you receive a Dr. Ing., i.e. a Doctor of Engineering rather than the usual Doctor of Philosophy.When a great many decades later, following a higher education reform, these polytechnics changed their name formallyto Technical University and admitted theoretical and humanistic subjects, many of the old guard were aghast at theundesirable winds of change. However they succeeded in keeping the highly thought of Dip.-Ing. and Dr.-Ing. Itwas around 1960 when a professor from Go¨ttingen came to teach us mathematics in Hannover. Go¨ttingen is not atall like Hannover but is more or less like Tu¨bingen where Holderlin is enshrined and where Hegel gave his lectures.It is more of a German answer to Britain
s Cambridge. Go¨ttingen was the lofty tower of mathematical science in Ger-many where the great German mathematician and founder of the Erlangen program, Felix Klein moved to, taking hisprogram with him and leaving Erlangen behind. The name of the mathematics professor who came from Go¨ttingen toHannover was Kaluza.At that time I had never heard of any Kaluza–Klein theory and much less of string theory which was not yet in-vented, not even in the strong interaction. There was no Veniziano formula nor Regge slope and though they may havebeen on the horizon, I would not have recognised them even if I had seen them there. Though I may have been a simpleminded engineer, I was deeply absorbed by art and poetry as well as contemporary politics. Philosophy was a centralpart of my interest, in particular the Frankfurt School which through H. Marcuse had a profound effect on Californiaand particularly Berkely in later years and during the Vietnam war. Nonetheless, I was also scientifically inclined and sothe scientific philosophy of Hans Reichenbach and the Vienna circles also appealed to me. By a family coincidence I gotinto indirect, then more direct, contact with the greatest philosophical, scientific and also somewhat political figure atthe time, Carl Friedrich von Weizsa¨cker, Werner Heisenberg
s student, disciple and friend. Consequently I was readinga great deal of heady stuff and convinced myself that I understood it all and would one day use it to at least change mynative country, Egypt if not to salvage the world as a whole. With such bigger than life dreams and an over averagesocial life, there was very little time left indeed to study engineering or even engineering mathematics. This appearedless tragic, for when did an engineer or mathematician really change the world to a truly better place? So that wasthe situation until I was to face the ‘‘mu¨ndlich’’, that is to say, oral examination by Prof. Kaluza in mathematics. I kneweverything in Heisenberg
s latest book ‘‘Der Teil und das Ganze’’, I could recite Baudelaire
s Fleurs du Mal in two lan-guages and had Das Kapital, the history of the French revolution and the October uprising in my head, but I could not
0960-0779/$ - see front matter
2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.chaos.2004.12.002
Correspondence address: P.O. Box 272, Cobham, Surrey KT11 2FQ, UK.Chaos, Solitons and Fractals 25 (2005) 911–913www.elsevier.com/locate/chaos
prove the ‘‘mittelwertsatz’’ nor knew where L
s rule came from, so I was extremely worried. As the time of meeting Prof. Kaluza drew nearer I became even more worried. It did not help that I had heard in students
meetingclubs that this Prof. Kaluza is quite famous and in fact, a genius. I entered the examination room of Herr ProfessorKaluza hiding my anxiety. There are many anecdotes about meetings of students and professor in Germany. Germanprofessors at that time had an extremely high prestige. In a department there was only one professor and he was allmighty. Now the situation is far more democratic and much less formal. There are even different degrees of being aprofessor, more or less like in the United States. In the 1960s, this was different in Germany, France and particularlyAustria where the word professor still counts as a social prestige even today. I was ‘‘angenehm entta¨uscht’’. This is atypical German expression that means I was positively disappointed. There was an extremely pleasant man of mediumstature sitting there smiling. I am now an old professor in semi-retirement but what followed, I remember to this day.Professor Kaluza would ask me a question which I would promptly answer ‘‘I do not know Herr Professor’’. Equallypromptly he responded with ‘‘Yes, you do - just think about it’’. I would think for less than two seconds and would thenanswer correctly. The disaster was averted by the encouragement and kindness of this professor who had nothing whatso ever about him from what is mythically known as the pompous German professor, professor Unrat of the Blue Anglenot within standing. As I was going out, he said ‘‘try to reduce your Mediterranean temperament by seeing a bloodpressure doctor’’. I laughed and thanked him.Years have passed and I became a practising engineer and then a full professor of engineering working on the sta-bility of thin walled structures. I then moved to applied math, working on bifurcation and Thom
s topological theoryand moved from there to deterministic chaos, then theoretical physics and in particular, high energy particle physics.Kaluza–Klein theory became for me a household name, my daily bread if you want, but Theodore Kaluza is a physicistand my Kaluza was a math professor. With the exception of the surname, no relation, right? Wrong. Theodore Kaluzawas no physicist, he was a professor of math. When I started suspecting and was not able to remember the first name, Isearched for a picture. I was exalted. Theodore Kaluza
s picture says he was my maths professor. I am after all a studentof the great man—this is great. I started philosophising about destiny and providence. The amazing fact that he spokeand wrote Arabic, my native tongue, was after all no coincidence. He was meant to be my professor. Deterministicchaos truly exists and it is all arranged somewhere up there. A picture cannot lie, right? No, wrong again. A slight dis-appointment followed. My maths professor was the son of Theodore Kaluza who had died a few years before I enrolledin the University of Hannover. I am to this day no less grateful to my maths teacher, Prof. Kaluza, the son and I wish hewas still with us and knew that.Theodore Kaluza was born in 1885 and died in 1954. He is best known for his work on the Kaluza–Klein theory.Oskar Klein was a Swedish physicist. His German name could have indicated already much about the ‘‘suffering route’’which many great scientists of Jewish–Semitic descent have gone through, but Klein was spared, having spent all thewar years in happy Stockholm. He is also known by the famous Nishina–Klein formula in nuclear physics. Incidentally,Yoshio Nishina was the man who could have played in Japan the same role played in the USA by Fermi and Oppen-heimer in developing a nuclear bomb.I got carried away telling my own student story and forgot Felix Klein. Not completely although to speak of Felix, Ifirst have to mention Olivia Newton-John. I saw Olivia for the first time on black and white television in London sing-ing ‘‘Tell me why’’. Despite being only black and white, I thought she possessed incredible sweetness, beauty and inno-cence. The song was composed by the Beatles McCartney. Olivia did not become famous at once, pretty much like herGrandfather. He too did not earn his Nobel Prize at once. He had to wait a long time although his students all gotNobel prizes at a tender age, thanks to him. W. Heisenberg was the first of them. The Grandfather of Olivia is MaxBorn. His Nobel Prize was given because of a footnote he wrote giving us what an English–Canadian physicist and closefriend, G. Ord calls
Born Guidance
. Without Born Guidance there is no connection between quantum mechanicsequations (for instance Schro¨dinger equation) and quantum mechanics theory which describes the outcome of exper-iments. Born said that if you want to determine the probability of a quantum mechanical event, you take the modulusof the wave function, that is all. Garnet Ord and many others, including myself, have worked very hard to show whythat is so. The reason is connected to the geometry of space–time in a sense not very far from the point of view of thegreat Albert Einstein and also our Felix Klein.As a student Born was not as lucky as I was to work as it pleases me. There was there in Go¨ttingen a true Kingmaker, a man who attempted to unify all kinds of geometry and is accredited with the Erlangen unification program.This man is our Prof. Felix Klein.Born
s wish was to write a dissertation on modern physics. Luckily for me and unfortunately for everyone else, Kleindisagreed. He instructed Born to work on the Euler elastica. As a structural engineer, I must always ensure that a build-ing is safe and does not collapse. One of the most important load carrying elements in a building are the columns. Thesecolumns may be very long so that their slenderness ratio permits them to buckle. Such a loss of stability is disastrous.The first to solve this problem completely and correctly was no one less than the great German–Swiss mathematician
M.S. El Naschie / Chaos, Solitons and Fractals 25 (2005) 911–913

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