When I took freshman physics in 1983, my professor made an off-handed comment that Louis de Broglie's PhD thesis on the matter wave was only 3 pages long, and that it was the shortest PhD thesis ever in physics.

For some time now I've been trying to find a PhD of the thesis, which I presume is in German. I can't find it.

I have found the proper reference to his doctoral thesis, though. It appears to be:

L. de Broglie, “Recherches sur la théorie des quanta”, Thèse de doctorat soutenue à Paris, le 25 novembre 1924, Annales de Physique (10e série) III (1925) 22. Reproduced in: L. de Broglie, Recherches sur la théorie des quanta (Fondation Louis de Broglie, Paris, 1992).

I've searched online for that document, and I can't find it. I can find another publication with the same title, but it appears to be a book based on the PhD thesis, and not the thesis itself.

So what is the shortest PhD thesis in physics, and if it is de Broglie's, where can I find it?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about publication lengths rather than physics. $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 15:04
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It does not look like de Broglie's thesis was 3 page long. According to American Journal of Physics 44, 1047 (1976), "De Broglie's thesis was published in its entirety in Ann. Phys. (Paris) 3, 22 ( 1925)." This publication's reprint can be found at tel.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-00006807/document and it is about 80 page long. $\endgroup$
    – akhmeteli
    Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Qmechanic, this question is about the practice of physics. There is no physics without scientific publications. $\endgroup$
    – vy32
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 10:50

1 Answer 1


Not really answering your question but perhaps you'll find this amusing: In 1951, a two-sentence, three-line paper was published in Physical Review by Friedrich Lenz who simply noticed that the (present) proton-electron mass ratio of $1836.12\pm 0.05$ happened to coincide with $6\pi^5=1836.12.$ You can find the article here, or for those without access here is a screenshot.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for such an informative answer. It has given me so much hope that Physics and Maths aren't just for geniuses. I'm really grateful to you. $\endgroup$
    – user240696
    Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ The Lenz case shows that some physicists, and journal editors, find numerology irresistible. Lens had absolutely no reason for thinking this ratio ought to be that value, and it isn’t. $\endgroup$
    – G. Smith
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ That is totally cool. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – vy32
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 10:50
  • $\begingroup$ The Lenz article was fun, but the relationship no longer holds. Alas. $\endgroup$
    – vy32
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 9:40

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