Monday, January 28, 2008

Controversy Surrounding Debye Continues

I mentioned earlier of a report that appears to exonerate Dutch physicist and Nobel Laureate Peter Debye of being a sympathizer of the Nazi during World War II. Unfortunately, that did not satisfactorily end the controversy. In the 25 January 2008 issue of Science, two different universities in the Netherlands took opposite views to the report. Utrecht University restored Debye's name to the Debye Institute for NanoMaterials Science. However, Maastricht University in Debye's hometown rejected the conclusion of the report and removed Debye's name from a scientific award permanently.

The whole debacle here could probably summed up with this:

To Mark Walker, a historian at Union College in Schenectady, New York, who specializes in science in the Nazi era, that is an unsatisfactory ending. "I think the whole affair is unfair to Debye's memory," he says. "He acted according to his standards. They weren't the standards of a hero, but they weren't that bad."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It should be added that the Hustinx Foundation, sponsor of the Peter Debye Award and located in Maastricht, has announced that it will continue to give out the award even if the University of Maastricht declines to participate. The City of Maastricht has declared that it sees no reason to change the names of Debye Street and Debye Square. The irony is that the University of Maastricht will continue to have an address on Debye Street.The Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences has made known that it will retain Debye as an honorary member. It appears that the University of Maastricht has become quite isolated with its stand. It is noteworthy to mention that, contrary to the situation at the University of Utrecht, the University of Maastricht still has at its head the same Rector who had made the original decision to dissociate the university from the Peter Debye Prize.