25 May, 2010

How would you know?

Here is a quote from the popular article of Nissan Zeldes "Giulio Racah and theoretical physics in Jerusalem":

"Tensor algebra is the natural mathematical tool for treating angular correlations of successive nuclear radiations, as shown first in [Racah, Rhys. Rev. 84, 910 (1951)] and independently in [Lloyd, Phys. Rev. 85, 904 (1952)]".

Well, that sounds fine. Two scientists were involved in the same kind of business and came up with similar theories about the same time - we see that everywhere in science.

The only problem is that in 1951-52 both Giulio Racah and Stuart Lloyd were working at the same place, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Can one really be sure that the theories were developed independently in such a case?

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