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spectroscopy, into strange paths

Again, what is known now as “group theory” was an abstract and inapplicable mathematical theory. It was developed by men who were curious and whose curiosity and puttering led them into strange paths; but “group theory” is to-day the basis of the quantum theory of spectroscopy, which is in daily use by people who have no idea as to how it came about.

ex Abraham Flexner, “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge,” in Harper’s Magazine (October 1939): 544-552 (547) : link (pdf)
discussed by Maria Popova at The Marginalian (27 July 2012) : link

had been looking for puttering Hortense’s (Flexner, in my mind : link)... nothing... Flexner, though, this... and another Hortense (Calisher) shortly.

Abraham Flexner (1866-1959)
wikipedia : link

13 November 2023