7-2-76. Felix Klein to H. Poincaré, English translation

Göttingen, 14 January 1902

Dear friend and colleague,

Today I have a request to make on behalf of myself along with numerous colleagues. As you know, this year the (international) astronomical society has its general meeting in Göttingen, probably from 5 to 8 August. Would it be possible for you to attend this meeting? We in Göttingen really want to attract especially theoretical astronomers from as many places as we can. We hope that this will not only give the meeting a special meaning, but will also have an invigorating effect on the work of astronomy, which has become somewhat one-sided in our country, and on its relationship to mathematics (I also hope, in particular, that the astronomical part of our mathematical Encyclopedia, which is still at the stage of initial preparation, will realize substantial advancement).11endnote: 1 Klein deplores the relative absence of theoretical astronomers in Germany. The leading figure was Hugo von Seeliger (1829–1924), director of the Munich Observatory, and the former thesis director of the theorists Julius Bauschinger (1860–1934) and Karl Schwarzschild. Schwarzschild was charged with editing the astronomical part of the the volume on geodesy, geophysics, and astronomy in Klein’s six-volume Encyklopädie; see Schwarzschild et al. (1905). Here in Göttingen you will now find the terrain specially prepared for this, since, next to Brendel, whom you know, stands Schwarzschild as the newly appointed director of the Observatory; we are thus engaging young people.22endnote: 2 Klein was instrumental to Schwarzschild’s recruitment at the University of Göttingen, where he became director of the Observatory shortly before Klein wrote to Poincaré, in December 1901 (Jahresbericht der deutschen Mathematiker-Vereinigung 11, 1902, 83). In addition, we hope to present Gauss’s astronomical Nachlass in an orderly fashion. These general remarks may suffice; I do not need to explain what special value we would attach to your presence in these circumstances.

I would like to ask you, if possible, to use your influence to ensure that one or another of the numerous younger French theoretical astronomers makes the trip! I will write to Callandreau directly.

As for me, there is not much to say other than that my family and I are fine. I have been largely concerned with organizational issues over the past few years and I hope that when you are here you will notice some progress in our institutes as well as their equipment. What is more, Hilbert continued his theoretical work in a remarkable fashion. You will have recently received the commemorative publications for the 150th anniversary of our academy, in which Hilbert gives new standing to Dirichlet’s principle, while I am publishing Gauss’s original scientific diary.33endnote: 3 Hilbert’s article appeared in Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (1901b), and was reedited in Hilbert (1904), while Klein’s work appeared in Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (1901a), and was reedited in Klein (1903).

Please convey my greetings to those you hold dear, your very devoted,

F. Klein

PTrL. Translated from the original German (§ 4-47-39) by S.A. Walter.

Time-stamp: "11.09.2021 08:42"

Notes

  • 1 Klein deplores the relative absence of theoretical astronomers in Germany. The leading figure was Hugo von Seeliger (1829–1924), director of the Munich Observatory, and the former thesis director of the theorists Julius Bauschinger (1860–1934) and Karl Schwarzschild. Schwarzschild was charged with editing the astronomical part of the the volume on geodesy, geophysics, and astronomy in Klein’s six-volume Encyklopädie; see Schwarzschild et al. (1905).
  • 2 Klein was instrumental to Schwarzschild’s recruitment at the University of Göttingen, where he became director of the Observatory shortly before Klein wrote to Poincaré, in December 1901 (Jahresbericht der deutschen Mathematiker-Vereinigung 11, 1902, 83).
  • 3 Hilbert’s article appeared in Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (1901b), and was reedited in Hilbert (1904), while Klein’s work appeared in Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (1901a), and was reedited in Klein (1903).

References

  • D. Hilbert (1904) Über das Dirichlet’sche Prinzip. Mathematische Annalen 59, pp. 161–186. Link Cited by: endnote 3.
  • F. Klein (1903) Gauß’ wissenschaftliches Tagebuch 1796–1814. Mathematische Annalen 57, pp. 1–34. Link Cited by: endnote 3.
  • Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (Ed.) (1901a) Festschrift zur Feier des hundertfünfzigjährigen Bestehens der Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Beiträge zur Gelehrtengeschichte Göttingens. Weidmann, Berlin. Link Cited by: endnote 3.
  • Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (Ed.) (1901b) Festschrift zur Feier des hundertfünfzigjährigen Bestehens der Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen. Weidmann, Berlin. Link Cited by: endnote 3.
  • K. Schwarzschild, S. Oppenheim, and W. von Dyck (Eds.) (1905) Encyklopädie der mathematischen Wissenschaften mit Einschluss ihrer Anwendungen, Bd. 6, Geodäsie, Geophysik, und Astronomie, Teil 2, Hälfte 1. Teubner, Leipzig. Link Cited by: endnote 1.