JINR founding fathers: Leopold Infeld

News, 20 August 2022

On 20 August 1898, Leopold Infeld (1898 – 1968), a famous theoretical physicist and one of the founding fathers of JINR, was born.

He was an academician of the Polish Academy of Sciences and some foreign academies, creator of the school of theoretical physics in Poland. He seemed to have made his own phrase as his motto, “Nothing in the world should remain hidden from humanity.”

Infeld’s main interests lay in the theory of relativity (in which he collaborated with Einstein), equations of motion, unitary field theory, and quantum mechanics.

Working in Poland, Great Britain, the USA, and then again in his homeland, he wrote more than a hundred scientific papers on theoretical physics, including on the general relativity theory, the classical, relativistic, and quantum field theory, the interpretation of the uncertainty relations, the electron wave equation in general relativity theory (jointly with a Dutch mathematician B. L. van der Waerden, 1953). Jointly with M. Born, he developed a phenomenological model of classical electrodynamics (Born-Infeld theory, 1934 – 1935). In 1938, together with A. Einstein and B. Hoffmann, within the general theory of relativity, he derived equations of motion for bodies from the field equations and constructed a working theory of gravitating bodies in a gravitational field. Einstein and Infeld also co-authored a popular-science book The Evolution of Physics, which was very successful and was reprinted in numerous editions.

He also wrote several fiction stories, including about Évariste Galois, the founder of modern higher algebra.

One of the educational programmes at JINR University Centre titled Bogoliubov – Infeld devoted to the development of cooperation between theoreticians from Poland and Dubna bore the name of Leopold Infeld. An award named after Infeld was established.

Leopold Infeld was a member of the JINR Scientific Council. He was one of the founders of the Pugwash Movement of Scientists for Peace.