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Klein received his higher education in physics at Columbia University and MIT and was appointed to the faculty of the Case Institute of Technology in 1949. He spent a year as an NRC Fellow at the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies in 1952-1953, received a Guggenheim Fellowship to study at the Lorentz Institute of Theoretical Physics of the University of Leiden in 1958-1959, and served as Acting Chairman of the Department of Physics at Case during 1966-1967. His research was principally on the theory of thin ferromagnetic films and on various theoretical problems in statistical mechanics.
Klein’s research began to turn to the history of physics during his year in Leiden, when he published a two-part paper on Ehrenfest’s contributions to the development of quantum statistics and edited Ehrenfest’s Collected Scientific Papers. In 1962-1963 he published further papers on Ehrenfest’s work and his penetrating studies of Planck and the beginnings of quantum theory and of Einstein’s first paper on quanta. During the following four years, he published several more papers on Planck’s and Einstein’s contributions to quantum theory, and Einstein’s, Schrödinger’s, Planck’s, and Lorentz’s letters on wave mechanics, which he translated into English. This distinguished body of historical work led to the award of a second Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967-1968 and to his appointment as Professor of the History of Physics at Yale University in the fall of 1967. Since then he has held a number of visiting appointments at other universities, lectured widely, and published a large number of further historical papers, as well as his outstanding biography of Ehrenfest and biographies of Ehrenfest, Einstein, and Gibbs for the Dictionary of Scientific Biography. In addition, he served as senior editor of four volumes of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, further enhancing his reputation as one of the most profound analysts of Einstein’s life and work.
Klein is a Fellow of the AAAS and of the APS and has been elected to the Académie Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
This report prepared by Roger H. Stuewer, who chaired the first Pais Prize Selection Committee.