Paul Langevin and the French Scientists at the Solvay Conferences

  • Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent
Part of the Science Networks · Historical Studies book series (SNHS, volume 22)


Of all the French Scientists who attended the Solvay Councils between 1911 and 1939, it is Paul Langevin who played the most important role. Not only did he participate in all the physics Councils before World War Two, he was also Chairman of the Scientific Committee for physics from 1928 to 1939.


Nobel Prize Modern Physic Scientific Committee Atomic Physic Marie Curie 
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  1. 1.
    P. Langevin Archives:boxes 16–20, 22, 33–39, 45–47. Centre de ressources historiques, EPCI, 10 rue Vauquelin, 75005 Paris.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A. LANGEVIN, Paul Langevin et les Congrès de physique Solvay, La Pensée 129 (1966), pp. 3–32; 130 (1966), pp. 89–104.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    M. Brillouin wrote the preface and notes of a French translation of L. Boltzmann Théorie cinétique des gaz, Paris, 1902Google Scholar
  4. 4.
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  5. 5.
    M.-J. NYE, Sciences in the Provinces. Scientific Communities and Provincial Lead, California Press, Berkeley, 1986.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
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  7. 7.
    JPERRIN, La science et l’espérance,1948. Louis DE BROGLIE, Maurice’s brother would also write a lot of popularisation books: Matière et lumière,1937; La physique nouvelle et les quanta,1937; Recherches d’un demi-siècle,1976.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    A list of his publications is provided in B. BENSAUDE-VINCENT, Langevin, science et vigilance, Belin, Paris, 1987.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    For biographical data see B. BENSAUDE-VINCENT, op. cit.,pp. 19–40.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    P. LANGEVIN, La physique des électrons. Rapport au Congrès international des sciences et des arts, 22 février 1904, in La Physique depuis vingt ans, Doin, Paris, 1923, pp. 1–69.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    P. LANGEVIN, Magnétisme et théorie des électrons, Journal de physique 4 (1905), p. 165, in OEuvres scientifiques de Paul Langevin, Editions CNRS, Paris, 1950, pp. 331–368; see also P. QÉDEC, Weiss’s Magneton: the sin of pride or a venial mistake?, Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences 18 (1988) pp. 349–375; L. HODDESON, E. BRAUN, J. TEICHMANN, S. WEART, Out of the Crystal Maze. Chapters from the history of solid-state physics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1992, pp. 22–27.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    See B. BENSAUDE-VINCENT, op. cit. p. 36–39; S. QUINN, Marie Curie, A life, Simon Schuster, New York, 1995, pp. 295–330.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    P. Langevin Archives,box 8.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    A. LANGEVIN, op. cit.,pp. 13–14.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    M.-J. NYE, Chemical explanation and physical dynamics: Two research schools at the first Solvay Chemistry conferences, 1922–1928, Annals of Science 46 (1990), pp. 461–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    M. BRILLOUIN quoted by A. LANGEVIN, op. cit,p. 12.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Quoted by A. LANGEVIN, id.,p. 18.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    J. MEHRA, The Solvay Conferences on Physics. Aspects of the Development of Physics since 1911, Reidel, Holland, 1975, p. 113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    See B. BENSAUDE-VINCENT, op. cit.,pp. 161–180.Google Scholar
  20. P. LANGEVIN, L’orientation actuelle de la physique in L. Brunschvicg, J. Perrin, P. Langevin, G. Urbain, L. Lapicque, C. Perez, L. Plantefol, L’orientation actuelle des sciences. Conférences à l’ENS 1929–30,Paris, Alcan, 1930; La notion de corpuscule et d’atome,Paris, Herman, 1934; Les courants positiviste et réaliste de la philosophie de la physique, in Les nouvelles théories de la physique,Paris, 1939, pp. 231–254. See also B. BENSAUDE-VINCENT Présences scientifiques aux Semaines de Synthèse (1929–1939) in Henri Berr et la culture du XX e siècle,A. Biard, D. Bourel E. Brian (dir.), Albin Michel, 1997, pp. 219–230.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    See letters from Weiss to Langevin quoted by A. LANGEVIN, op. cit.,pp. 27–29.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Quoted by A. LANGEVIN, op. cit.,pp. 16–17.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Quoted by A. LANGEVIN, op. cit.,p. 96.Google Scholar

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© Springer Basel AG 1999

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  • Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent

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