May 16, 1949
Professor A. Sommerfeld:
Dear Professor Sommerfeld:
I was very pleased to receive your letter of March 6, and to know that you are getting along well. My wife has received two
or three letters from Frau Selmayr during the last two years.
It was a great pleasure to me to learn that the American Association of Physics Teachers had decided to award the Oersted
Medal to you, and I am now very pleased to know that in your article for the American Journal of Physics you have mentioned
the fact that I was a student of yours at the time when you gave your first lectures on wave mechanics. I often think of the
fine period of work and study that I had in Munich, and my wife, too, often speaks about those days. I shall look forward
to seeing your article when it comes out. Someone sent to us a few months ago a clipping from a Munich paper in which a summary
of your radio talk was given, in which you mentioned me, as well as Heisenberg, as having been among your students. This,
too, gave me pleasure.
I have been ill this spring, and have been in bed for several weeks - a continuation of the kidney trouble that has bothered
me for eight years now. I am hoping, however, that I will be in better shape before long. All of our children are well,
and my wife, too. Our son Linus is married, and is now a student at Harvard Medical School.
While I have been in bed I have been continuing to work along the lines described in my paper in your Festschrift last December,
and I have developed a method of deciding what the dissociation energy of carbon monoxide is, and what the sublimation of
carbon is. I think that the heat of sublimation is 14-0 kcal/mole, and that the much higher value 170 kcal/mole that has
been in favor recently is for some reason in error.
Do you remember that in 1927, when you had been chosen as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, you sent my manuscript to
the Royal Society as the first manuscript that you submitted? Perhaps you have noticed that I was chosen a Foreign Member
of the Royal Society last year, and that I have published a paper on the theory of metals in the Proceedings of the Royal
Society recently. My theory of metals, based on the idea of the resonating valence bonds, is rather a complex one, and it
is difficult to subject it to precise mathematical treatment; but it seems to me to
Professor Sommerfeld 5/26/49
be valuable, nevertheless, and I have succeeded In explaining many of the properties of a metallic system on this basis.
With my best regards to Frau Sommerfeld, I am
Dictated by Dr. Pauling
Signed in his absence