February 9, 1931
Professor John C. Slater,
Department of Physics,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Your invitation to come to M.I.T. has attracted me especially because of the opportunity
it would provide to work with you; for I have come to realize that there is no theoretical
physicist whose work interests me more than yours. During the last two weeks I have
tried to decide whether or not the chance of my ultimately coming to M.I.T. is great
enough to justify extensive discussion and perhaps a trip East; and now I am afraid
that it is not, for the following reasons.
My position here at the Institute and the Institute itself have been improving rapidly.
The Institute is a very pleasant place to work, and Pasadena a pleasant place to live.
Last summer I was surprised with a significant increase in salary, and my full professorship
is effective next year. I teach only a graduate course in some phase of theoretical
chemistry in which I am interested. My research is well supported - I have two full-time
assistants, one for routing X-ray work; the other, Dr. Sturdivant, is now constructing
a very sensitive and accurate ionization spectrometer. In addition Dr. Podolsky
is working with me on molecular structure. I could hardly ask for better support
of my researches.
If I were to come to M.I.T., I should desire an appointment in physics or in physics
and chemistry. And yet I am really not very much interested in physics, but rather
in what may be called structural chemistry, and so I prefer being in a chemistry department.
Here there are several men in our chemistry department whose interests touch on mine
- Tolman, Badger, Dickinson, and Yost especially. Then I enjoy my annual trip to
Berkeley very much too. It is true, however, that at M.I.T. sould [sic] probably benefit
more from contact with the physicists, especially you, than I do here.
If I were at all dissatisfied here, your tempting invitation would bring me East.
But with conditions as they are here now I feel that, with deep personal regret at
missing the opportunity of working with you on the structural problems which interests
both, I must decide to remain in Pasadena.
My wife, who also regrets not being able to come to Cambridge and at the same time
stay in Pasadena, joins me in sending best wishes to you and Mrs. Slater.
Very sincerely yours,