Werner Heisenberg was a pivotal figure in the development of quantum mechanics in the 1920s, and also one of its most insightful interpreters. Together with Bohr, Heisenberg forged what is commonly known as the 'Copenhagen interpretation'. Yet Heisenberg's philosophical viewpoint did not remain fixed over time, and his interpretation of quantum mechanics differed in several crucial respects from Bohr's. This book traces the development of Heisenberg's philosophy of quantum mechanics, beginning with his positivism of the mid-1920s, through his neo-Kantian reading of Bohr in the 1930s, and culminating with his 'linguistic turn' in the 1940s and 1950s. It focuses on the nature of this transformation in Heisenberg's thought and its wider philosophical context, which have up until now not received the attention they deserve. This new perspective on Heisenberg's interpretation of quantum mechanics will interest researchers and graduate students in the history and philosophy of twentieth-century physics.
Nobel Prize winner Werner Heisenberg's classic account explains the central ideas of the quantum revolution, and his celebrated Uncertainty Principle. The theme of Heisenberg's exposition is that words and concepts familiar in daily life can lose their meaning in the world of relativity and quantum physics. This in turn has profound philosophical implications for the nature of reality and for our total world view. 'It carries the reader, with remarkable clarity, from the esoteric world of atomic physics to the world of people, language and the conception of our shared reality' Paul Davies.
Nobel Laureate discusses quantum theory, uncertainty, wave mechanics, work of Dirac, Schroedinger, Compton, Einstein, others. "An authoritative statement of Heisenberg's views on this aspect of the quantum theory." — Nature.
The gripping, entertaining, and vividly-told narrative of a radical discovery that sent shockwaves through the scientific community and forever changed the way we understand the world. Werner Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle” challenged centuries of scientific understanding, placed him in direct opposition to Albert Einstein, and put Niels Bohr in the middle of one of the most heated debates in scientific history. Heisenberg’s theorem stated that there were physical limits to what we could know about sub-atomic particles; this “uncertainty” would have shocking implications. In a riveting and lively account, David Lindley captures this critical episode and explains one of the most important scientific discoveries in history, which has since transcended the boundaries of science and influenced everything from literary theory to television.
This book is a critical introduction to the long-standing debate concerning the conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics and the problems it has posed for physicists and philosophers from Einstein to the present. Quantum theory has been a major infulence on postmodernism, and presents significant problems for realists. Keeping his own realist position in check, Christopher Norris subjects a wide range of key opponents and supporters of realism to a high and equal level of scrutiny. With a characteristic combination of rigour and intellectual generosity, he draws out the merits and weaknesses from opposing arguments. In a sequence of closely argued chapters, Norris examines the premises of orthodox quantum theory, as developed most influentially by Bohr and Heisenberg, and its impact on varous philosophical developments. These include the ideas developed by W.V Quine, Thomas Kuhn, Michael Dummett, Bas van Fraassen, and Hilary Puttnam. In each case, Norris argues, these thinkers have been influenced by the orthodox construal of quantum mechanics as requiring drastic revision of principles which had hitherto defined the very nature of scientific method, causal explanati and rational enquiry. Putting the case for a realist approach which adheres to well-tried scientific principles of causal reasoning and inference to the best explanation, Christopher Norris clarifies these debates to a non-specialist readership and scholars of philosophy, science studies and the philosophy of science alike. Quantum Theory and the Flight From Realism suggests that philosophical reflection can contribute to a better understanding of these crucial, current issues.
This book is the final outcome of two projects. My first project was to publish a set of texts written by Schrodinger at the beginning of the 1950's for his seminars and lectures at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. These almost completely forgotten texts contained important insights into the interpretation of quantum mechanics, and they provided several ideas which were missing or elusively expressed in SchrOdinger's published papers and books of the same period. However, they were likely to be misinterpreted out of their context. The problem was that current scholarship could not help very much the reader of these writings to figure out their significance. The few available studies about SchrOdinger's interpretation of quantum mechanics are generally excellent, but almost entirely restricted to the initial period 1925-1927. Very little work has been done on Schrodinger's late views on the theory he contributed to create and develop. The generally accepted view is that he never really recovered from his interpretative failure of 1926-1927, and that his late reflections (during the 1950's) are little more than an expression of his rising nostalgia for the lost ideal of picturing the world, not to say for some favourite traditional picture. But the content and style of Schrodinger's texts of the 1950's do not agree at all with this melancholic appraisal; they rather set the stage for a thorough renewal of accepted representations. In order to elucidate this paradox, I adopted several strategies.
The 1927 Solvay conference was perhaps the most important in the history of quantum theory. Contrary to popular belief, questions of interpretation were not settled at this conference. Instead, a range of sharply conflicting views were extensively discussed, including de Broglie's pilot-wave theory (which de Broglie presented for a many-body system), Born and Heisenberg's 'quantum mechanics' (which apparently lacked wave function collapse or fundamental time evolution), and Schrödinger's wave mechanics. Today, there is no longer a dominant interpretation of quantum theory, so it is important to re-evaluate the historical sources and keep the debate open. This book contains a complete translation of the original proceedings, with essays on the three main interpretations presented, and a detailed analysis of the lectures and discussions in the light of current research. This book will be of interest to graduate students and researchers in physics and in the history and philosophy of quantum theory.
The interpretation of quantum mechanics in this book is distinguished from other existing interpretations in that it is systematically derived from empirical facts by means of logical considerations as well as methods in the spirit of analytical philosophy, in particular operational semantics. The new interpretation, using a two-model approach overcomes the well-known conceptional problems and paradoxes of ?orthodox? quantum theory. This interdisciplinary book should be of interest to scholars, teachers, and students in the fields of physics and philosophy of science.
It has often been claimed that without drastic conceptual innovations a genuine explanation of quantum interference effects and quantum randomness is impossible. This book concerns Bohmian mechanics, a simple particle theory that is a counterexample to such claims. The gentle introduction and other contributions collected here show how the phenomena of non-relativistic quantum mechanics, from Heisenberg's uncertainty principle to non-commuting observables, emerge from the Bohmian motion of particles, the natural particle motion associated with Schrödinger's equation. This book will be of value to all students and researchers in physics with an interest in the meaning of quantum theory as well as to philosophers of science.
"Science is rooted in conversations," wrote Werner Heisenberg, one of the twentieth century's great physicists. In Quantum Dialogue, Mara Beller shows that science is rooted not just in conversation but in disagreement, doubt, and uncertainty. She argues that it is precisely this culture of dialogue and controversy within the scientific community that fuels creativity. Beller draws her argument from her radical new reading of the history of the quantum revolution, especially the development of the Copenhagen interpretation. One of several competing approaches, this version succeeded largely due to the rhetorical skills of Niels Bohr and his colleagues. Using extensive archival research, Beller shows how Bohr and others marketed their views, misrepresenting and dismissing their opponents as "unreasonable" and championing their own not always coherent or well-supported position as "inevitable." Quantum Dialogue, winner of the 1999 Morris D. Forkosch Prize of the Journal of the History of Ideas, will fascinate everyone interested in how stories of "scientific revolutions" are constructed and "scientific consensus" achieved. "[A]n intellectually stimulating piece of work, energised by a distinct point of view."—Dipankar Home, Times Higher Education Supplement "[R]emarkable and original. . . . [Beller's] arguments are thoroughly supported and her conclusions are meticulously argued. . . . This is an important book that all who are interested in the emergence of quantum mechanics will want to read."—William Evenson, History of Physics Newsletter
There is no sharp dividing line between the foundations of physics and philosophy of physics. This is especially true for quantum mechanics. The debate on the interpretation of quantum mechanics has raged in both the scientific and philosophical communities since the 1920s and continues to this day. (We shall understand the unqualified term ‘quantum mechanics’ to mean the mathematical formalism, i. e. laws and rules by which empirical predictions and theoretical advances are made. ) There is a popular rendering of quantum mechanics which has been publicly endorsed by some well known physicists which says that quantum mechanics is not only 1 more weird than we imagine but is weirder than we can imagine. Although it is readily granted that quantum mechanics has produced some strange and counter-intuitive results, the case will be presented in this book that quantum mechanics is not as weird as we might have been led to believe! The prevailing theory of quantum mechanics is called Orthodox Quantum Theory (also known as the Copenhagen Interpretation). Orthodox Quantum Theory endows a special status on measurement processes by requiring an intervention of an observer or an observer’s proxy (e. g. a measuring apparatus). The placement of the observer (or proxy) is somewhat arbitrary which introduces a degree of subjectivity. Orthodox Quantum Theory only predicts probabilities for measured values of physical quantities. It is essentially an instrumental theory, i. e.
Piercing incisively and deeply into the nature of the overlapping of the material andmental realms. Aage Petersen uncovers the reciprocal relations between quantum physics and theconcepts of metaphysics and epistemology, assessing the extent to which each has influenced theother. The author is eminently qualified to undertake this important work, which grew out of hisclose contact with Neils Bohr and his Copenhagen school during the years 1952-1962.Although themathematical formalism of quantum physics has long since been established, the question of itsphysical interpretation is not yet closed, and the question of its philosophical interpretationremains in a formative state. The most widely accepted physical interpretation of the quantalformalism emerged from discussions between Bohr and Heisenberg in the winter of 1926-1927. ThisCopenhagen Interpretation centers around the relations of indeterminacy around the relations ofindeterminacy and the concept of complementarity, and was refined but not radically altered in theyears following, especially during the famous debate with Einstein on the completeness possible inthe description of events. The philosophical interpretation has proceeded along two principal lines:Bohr's emphasis on complementarity as a unifying concept, and Heisenberg's exploration of therelationship of quantum physics to the traditional categories of philosophy.To Bohr's mind, thecentral feature of human knowledge is the distinction between subject and object. The indeterminacyof the placing of the partition between instrument and system, which played so large a part inquantal description was, Bohr believed, an expression of the general relation between the knower andthe knowable. He thus sought to find relationships of complementarity in areas beyond quantumphysics.Quantum physics and traditional philosophy certainly relate enough to interact--even thoughthe effects of interaction may produce uncertain results. Heisenberg's view also emphasizes thatscience describes, not nature itself, but the interplay between nature and man, nature as affectedby man's method of questioning, thus denying the school of philosophical thought that began withDescartes' sharp separation of the World and the I.The author's investigation leads him as well tobelieve that complementarity is deeply linked to the basis of philosophy, but that the details ofthe relationship are so obscure that some other feature of quantum physics that makes amore directconnection with philosophy should be sought. He is led to choose the idea of correspondence as suchfeature. This idea played a key role in the development of the matrix version of the formalism andof the Copenhagen interpretation.Mathematically, the idea of correspondence was seen to imply thatquantal formalisms should emerge as generalizations of classical entities, that matrix mechanics wasa generalization of classical Hamiltonian mechanics. It is in this possibility of treating thetraditional categories of philosophy as limits of a more general scheme, or as analogies of a deeperorder, that the fruitfulness of the correspondence idea lies.
In recent years, many philosophers of modern physics came to the conclusion that the problem of how objectivity is constituted (rather than merely given) can no longer be avoided, and therefore that a transcendental approach in the spirit of Kant is now philosophically relevant. The usual excuse for skipping this task is that the historical form given by Kant to transcendental epistemology has been challenged by Relativity and Quantum Physics. However, the true challenge is not to force modern physics into a rigidly construed static version of Kant’s philosophy, but to provide Kant’s method with flexibility and generality. In this book, the top specialists of the field pin down the methodological core of transcendental epistemology that must be used in order to throw light on the foundations of modern physics. First, the basic tools Kant used for his transcendental reading of Newtonian Mechanics are examined, and then early transcendental approaches of Relativistic and Quantum Physics are revisited. Transcendental procedures are also applied to contemporary physics, and this renewed transcendental interpretation is finally compared with structural realism and constructive empiricism. The book will be of interest to scientists, historians and philosophers who are involved in the foundational problems of modern physics.
Here Roland Omn�s offers a clear, up-to-date guide to the conceptual framework of quantum mechanics. In an area that has provoked much philosophical debate, Omn�s has achieved high recognition for his Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (Princeton 1994), a book for specialists. Now the author has transformed his own theory into a short and readable text that enables beginning students and experienced physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers to form a comprehensive picture of the field while learning about the most recent advances. This new book presents a more streamlined version of the Copenhagen interpretation, showing its logical consistency and completeness. The problem of measurement is a major area of inquiry, with the author surveying its history from Planck to Heisenberg before describing the consistent-histories interpretation. He draws upon the most recent research on the decoherence effect (related to the modern resolution of the famous Schr�dinger's cat problem) and an exact formulation of the correspondence between quantum and particle physics (implying a derivation of classical determinism from quantum probabilism). Interpretation is organized with the help of a universal and sound language using so-called consistent histories. As a language and a method, it can now be shown to be free of ambiguity and it makes interpretation much clearer and closer to common sense.
The classical mechanistic idea of nature that prevailed in science during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was an essentially mindless conception: the physically described aspects of nature were asserted to be completely determined by prior physically described aspects alone, with our conscious experiences entering only passively. During the twentieth century the classical concepts were found to be inadequate. In the new theory, quantum mechanics, our conscious experiences enter into the dynamics in specified ways not fixed by the physically described aspects alone. Consequences of this radical change in our understanding of the connection between mind and brain are described. This second edition contains two new chapters investigating the role of quantum phenomena in the problem of free will and in the placebo effect.
Essays discuss the philosophy of science, quantum mechanics, cosmic radiation, elementary particles, and closed theories
'Michael Frayn's tremendous play is a piece of history, an intellectual thriller, a psychological investigation and a moral tribunal in full session' Sunday Times 'A profound and haunting meditation on the mysteries of human motivation' Independent 'Frayn has seized on a ral-life historical and scientific mystery. In 1941 the physicist Werner Heisenberg, who formulated the famous Uncertainty Principle about the movement of particles, and was at that time leading the Nazi's nuclear programme, went to visit his old boss and mentor, Niels Bohr, in Copenhagen. What was the purpose of his visit to Nazi-occupied Denmark? What did the two old friends say to each other, particularly bearing in mind that Bohr was both half-Jewish and a Danish patriot?... Frayn argues that just as it is impossible to be certain of the precise location of an electron, so it is impossible to be certain about the workings of the human mind... What is certain is that Frayn makes ideas zing and sing in this play' Daily Telegraph
A fascinating account of the development of quantum theory and emergence of quantum information theory.