Leopold Infeld

Leopold Infeld

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Leopold Infeld was a Polish
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

 who worked mainly in Poland and Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 (1938–1950). He was a Rockefeller fellow at Cambridge University
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 (1933–1934) and a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Polish Academy of Sciences
The Polish Academy of Sciences, headquartered in Warsaw, is one of two Polish institutions having the nature of an academy of sciences.-History:...


He was born in a family of Polish Jews, in Kraków which at that time was located in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to become part of independent Poland in 1918. He studied physics at the Jagiellonian University
Jagiellonian University
The Jagiellonian University was established in 1364 by Casimir III the Great in Kazimierz . It is the oldest university in Poland, the second oldest university in Central Europe and one of the oldest universities in the world....

 and obtained his doctorate there in 1921.

He was interested in the theory of relativity
Theory of relativity
The theory of relativity, or simply relativity, encompasses two theories of Albert Einstein: special relativity and general relativity. However, the word relativity is sometimes used in reference to Galilean invariance....

. He worked together with Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 (1936–1938). The two scientists co-formulated the equation describing star movements. He was awarded a doctorate at the Jagiellonian University
Jagiellonian University
The Jagiellonian University was established in 1364 by Casimir III the Great in Kazimierz . It is the oldest university in Poland, the second oldest university in Central Europe and one of the oldest universities in the world....

 (1921), worked as an assistant and a docent at the University of Lwów (1930–1933) and then as a professor at the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

 between 1939 and 1950.

After the first use of nuclear weapons in 1945 Infeld, like Einstein, became a peace activist. Because of his activities, he was unjustly accused of having communist sympathies. In 1950 he left Canada and returned to communist Poland. He felt he had an obligation to help the science in Poland recover from the ravages of the Second World War. In the strongly anti-communist climate of the time many in the Canadian government and media feared that, working in a communist country, he would betray nuclear weapons secrets. He was stripped of his Canadian citizenship and was widely denounced as a traitor. In actuality, Infeld's field was the theory of relativity—not directly linked to nuclear weapons research.

After his return to Poland, Infeld requested a leave of absence from the University of Toronto. His request was denied and Infeld resigned his post. In 1995 University of Toronto made amends and granted Infeld the posthumous title of professor emeritus.

Upon his return to Poland, Infeld became a professor at the University of Warsaw
University of Warsaw
The University of Warsaw is the largest university in Poland and one of the most prestigious, ranked as best Polish university in 2010 and 2011...

, a post he held until his death.

Infeld was one of the 11 signatories to the Russell–Einstein Manifesto in 1955, and is the only signatory never to receive a Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

. Infeld also wrote with Einstein "The Evolution of Physics
The Evolution of Physics
The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concept to Relativity and Quanta is a textbook about quantum physics by Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld. It was originally published in 1938 by Cambridge University Press...

", a widely read history of physical theory from the 17th century to the 20th.

Infeld is the author of "Quest: An Autobiography" and the biography "Whom the Gods Love: The Story of Evariste Galois
Évariste Galois
Évariste Galois was a French mathematician born in Bourg-la-Reine. While still in his teens, he was able to determine a necessary and sufficient condition for a polynomial to be solvable by radicals, thereby solving a long-standing problem...



(originally published 1965)