Re: Paper not accepted by a journal - still a pre-print?

From: Rob Kling <kling_at_INDIANA.EDU>
Date: Wed, 7 Aug 2002 14:40:52 -0500

At 06:25 PM 8/7/2002 +0200, Eberhard R. Hilf wrote:
>By the way, the 'preprint idea' was born by Enrico Fermi in 1932,
>a famous physicist, who boosted his career by deciding to send copies
>of his documents by mail to all relevant to his work laboratories in the
>world. That was very well received.


Thanks for your note ..............................

This is really fascinating, since Fermi wrote a paper about neutrinos
around 1933 that was rejected by a major journal (Nature).
He was most able to have these ideas published in Italian ....

"E. Fermi, "Tentativo di una teoria della emissione di raggi beta ,''
Ric. 4, 491 (1934). Reprinted in Enrico Fermi, Collected Papers: Note e
memorie, Vol 1. p. 538 (University of Chicago Press: Chicago) (1962-1965).
See also p. 559, 575. Fermi formulated the mathematical theory of neutrino
emission in beta-decay. His first paper on the subject was rejected as
"too speculative'' for publication."

(From a footnote at: )


"The existence of neutrinos was first proposed by Wolfgang Pauli in a 1930
letter to his physics colleagues as a "desperate way out" of the apparent
non-conservation of energy in certain radioactive decays
(called beta-decays) in which electrons were emitted. According to Pauli's
hypothesis, which he put forward very hesitantly, neutrinos are elusive
particles which escape with the missing energy in beta-decays. The
mathematical theory of beta-decay was formulated by Enrico Fermi in 1934 in
a paper which was rejected by the journal Nature because "it contained
speculations too remote from reality to be of interest to the reader.''
Neutrinos from a nuclear reactor were first detected by Clyde Cowan and
Fred Reines in 1956." ( from w/RK substtituting
"beta" for a beta gif)

I wonder how much Fermi was circulating his unpublished tech reports
informally because of his frustrations with some of the journals, such as
Sooner or later, much (all?) of his writing would be published (even if
only in Italian) .. so he could use the term pre-print with some confidence
his tech reports were generally "pre-prints." However, only a small
fraction of working scientists achieve his levels of distinction & in some
fields, there are many
manuscripts (tech reports or working papers) that will not be published in
any other venue or form .. they are what they are and they are
"pre-nothing else ":-)

The semantics of "Y is a pre-X" -----> implies that there will be
a successor X to Y. When there is no such X, claims of pre are .. hmm
..premature :-)

/Rob Kling
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Received on Wed Aug 07 2002 - 20:40:52 BST

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