Daring theories

De Broglie (PDF-Datei, 146 kB) published his dissertation with the "daring" combination of the two formulae – as described on the previous page – at the age of 28. This is one of many examples that demonstrate that the totally new ideas are often thought and practiced by younger people. Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli also made their greatest contributions to quantum physics in their early twenties while were awarded the Nobel Prize for later works. Decoration with the Nobel Prize for a dissertation as in the case of de Broglie is rather seldom.

Max Planck also pointed to another aspect, which plays a role in the acceptance of new theories and ideas:

"It is not usual that a new scientific truth prevails because the opponents get convinced or declare themselves as instructed but rather because the opponents gradually die out and the following generation is acquainted with the truth right from the beginning."

("Eine neue wissenschaftliche Wahrheit pflegt sich nicht in der Weise durchzusetzen, daß ihre Gegner überzeugt werden und sich als belehrt erklären, sondern vielmehr dadurch, daß die Gegner allmählich aussterben, und daß die heranwachsende Generation von vornherein mit der Wahrheit vertraut gemacht ist.")

But it is also important to recognize that existing points of view and theories are not wrong in total, but that new theories rather extend the old theories and thus include them as limiting cases. An example might be Einstein's Theory of Relativity, which creates a new idea of space but includes all the Newton's mechanics as a limiting case, which is valid only for small velocities but still describes our daily experience of motion in a totally sufficient way.

Particle Waves