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TitleWalter Kohn: Personal Stories and Anecdotes Told by Friends and Collaborators
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Page 1

Walter Kohn Š Personal Stories and Anecdotes

Told by Friends and Collaborators

Page 2

Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg GmbH

Page 163

Cecam’s Visitor!

Michel Mareschal

CECAM, Lyon, France

Cecam’s connection with Walter Kohn goes back to the seventies. Cecam had
just started (it was founded in 69 by Carl Moser) and that was the time when
Carl would welcome visitors from the US in order to make computational
methods more popular across Europe. Cecam was located inside an important
computing center in Orsay and visitors would stay for aff few weeks to aff feff w
WaWW lter was one of them, visiting Cecam at several occasions during the

early seventies and working, as his research reports testify, on the construction
of Wannier functions for metallic hydrogen, together with Charles Sommers
and Wanda Andreoni. He also participated in discussion meetings and work-
shops, where discussions were mainly devoted to the comparison of the various
local potential based methods, among them the local density approximation
to DFT within the Kohn-Sham formalism. People, both chemists and physi-ff
cists, were starting to realize that those techniques were much more than just
an alternative to semi-empirical methods and those most popular among the
quantum chemists.
It is sometimes said that Walter took advantage of his stayaa s at Cecam as

an experience when he was in charge of starting the ITP. I asked him whether
this was true when he visited Cecam, now located in Lyon, for a workshop.ff
He smiled and kindly answered that he had always been very appreciative foff r
Cecam’s model and had it present. Probably the influence was minimal!
A true and genuine compliment to Walter’s skills came very spontaneously

from Cecam’s secretarff y, Emmanuelle Crespeau. She told me after his last visit
to Cecam, how nice talking with Walter could be : he can spend an hour having
a lively and truly interesting conversation, not only in French but also with
no reference to physics whatsoever! �Un grand monsieur !�.

About the Author: Michel Mareschal is director of CECAM, European Center
for Atomic and Molecular Computations, and also a professor at Université Libre´


M. Scheffler et al. (eds.), Walter Kohn
© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Page 164

Cecam’s Visitor!

de Bruxelles. His research has mainly been in the field of statistical mechanics, at
equilibrium and out of equilibrium. His current interests are in the development of
numerical methods to describe complex fluid behavior, in particular hydrodynamics
at the atomic scale. Contact: CECAM, ENS-Lyon, 46, allée d’Italie, F-69364 Lyon´
cedex 07, FrFF ance; [email protected] ; www.cecam.frff


Page 325

Appendix II – A Musical CV

When I was a lad I thought a lot
About the heavaa y and symmetric top.
I thought so hard they published me
In the ’Merican Math’matical Society.
(The American Math’matical Society.)
But Mathematics weren’t for me
So I went to get a Harvard Physics Ph.D.
(No Mathematics wasn’t for he
So instead he went to get a Physics Ph.D.)

In Cambridge Town I made my way
To wheTT re the Schwinger students laugh and playaa
And found it recreational
To investiTT gate some methods variational.
(He began to ponder methods variational.)
My trial functions soon tauff ght me
All the facts about collisions off f light nucle-ee.
(Those trial functions soon taughtff he
Everything about colliding little nucle-ee.)

Those Schwinger students I had seen
Preoccupied themselves with functionsff Green,
But functionsff Green were grey to me
So I said Goodbye to quantum field theory.
(Yes, he said Farewell to quantum field theory.)YY
Oh no more nucleons foff r me:
I prefer to think about cohesive energy.
(For nucleons do not bring glee
When a lad can think about cohesive energy!)

So Pittsburgh next became my home
And soon my intellect began to roam
To èlectronic properties`
Like donor levels near impurities.
(And acceptor levels near impurities.)
Amongst the phonons I could see
The image of the surface of the Fermi sea!
(Amongst the phonons who but he
Would think to seek the image of the Fermi sea?)


Page 326

Appendix II – A Musical CV

But when La Jolla called to me
I left the Institute of Carnegie.
And there I came to understand
That one need not calculate each energy band.
(No, one doesn’t have to figure out each energy band.)
For èlectronic properties`
Are universal fuff nctions of their densities.
(Yes every single property
Is a functional of electronic density!)

Inhomogeneous `` electrons`
Are at surfaces and lie along the valence bonds.
Whatever question you may ask
I’ve a functional designed to do that very task.
(Yes his functional works brilliantly at every task.YY )
It works so well they appointed me
To be the first Director of the ITP.
(From èlectronic density`
He went on to be Director of the ITP.)

Todayaa I live in Santa Barbara
As the reigning physics theory Czar.
The Journey there was hard and long:
My Curriculum Vitae makes a seven verse song!
(His Curriculum Vitae needs a very long song.)
FrFF om a lad with a top I have grown taa o be
The one and only Leader of the ITP.
(From a heavFF y top with symmetry
He has risen to Director of the ITP.)


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