Montag, 26. März 2007

The impossibility to understand quantum physics deterministically

A very nice review has appeared in "Nature" about a very nice book (Uncertainty - Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science - by D. Lindley) concerning the first discussions of quantum mechanics. An excerpt:

In Uncertainty, David Lindley tells the intriguing tale of how Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr (among others) struggled to create and understand the new quantum physics. Lindley organizes his tale around the issue of indeterminism, which Max Born raised in 1926 in the paper that introduced probability as fundamental to interpreting the quantum world. Within a year, at the end of his paper on the uncertainty principle, Heisenberg declared determinism (or causality) dead, a pronouncement that brought probability, chance and uncertainty into the quantum domain in a fundamental way.

Lindley tracks the rise of chance from its roots in statistical reasoning (brownian motion and entropy) through to Bohr's 'jumping planetary model' of the atom and beyond. He selects important episodes from this 'old' quantum theory and then retells them in a lively and insightful manner. This provides the background for Heisenberg's theory of matrix mechanics and Erwin Schrödinger's wave mechanics. The author tells how Bohr encouraged, derided, cajoled, inspired and browbeat all sides to orchestrate the Copenhagen synthesis to meet his own physical intuitions and philosophical likings. Lindley captures the passion of the struggle, showing both the public controversies and the sometimes harsh private judgements (for example, writing to third parties, Heisenberg and Schrödinger each described the other's work as repulsive, and worse). ...

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