Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective

By Shimon Malin | Go to book overview

I

Mach's Shadow

During the first conversation between Albert Einstein and Werner
Heisenberg, Einstein was critical of Heisenberg's "new quantum mechanics."
Heisenberg tried to defend the new theory: He pointed out that in its
formulation he followed the requirements of Ernst Mach, the same
requirements that guided Einstein in his discovery of Special Relativity.
Einstein, however, did not budge. His astonishing comment "It is the theory
which decides what we can observe" made a deep impression on young
Heisenberg. This conversation was a precursor of the celebrated Bohr‐
Einstein debate.

All physicists of the last century saw in classical physics a firm and final
foundation for all physics, yes, indeed, for all natural science.... It was
Ernst Mach who, in his History of Mechanics, shook this dogmatic faith; this
book exerted a profound influence upon me in this regard while I was a
student.

—Albert Einstein


1. The New Quantum Mechanics

On April 28,1926, a young lecturer from the University of Göttingen addressed the physics colloquium at the University of Berlin. The colloquium was a venerable institution, attended by the entire staff of the physics department, a department that was, at the time, the center of physics research in Germany and beyond.

The name of the speaker was Werner Heisenberg, and the audience he addressed was august indeed. It included Max Planck, who started the quantum revolution in 1900 with his discovery that light is emitted and absorbed in discrete packets of energy called "quanta," Max von Laue, who deciphered the nature of X‐ rays and revolutionized the study of crystals, Walter Nernst, who discovered the third law of thermodynamics, and Albert Einstein.

The subject of Heisenberg's lecture was "the new quantum mechanics," a theory that he developed in 1924 and 1925 in collaboration with Max Born and Pascal Jordan. The word new distinguishes the theory from what is now called "early quantum mechanics," a collection of theories formulated by Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and others during the first two decades of the twentieth century.

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Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Nature Loves to Hide *
  • Nature Loves to Hice - Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Introduction *
  • Part One - The Quandary *
  • I - Mach's Shadow *
  • 2 - Einstein's Dilemma *
  • 3 - The Call of Complementarity *
  • 4 - Waves of Nothingness *
  • 5 - Paul Dirac and the Spin of the Electron *
  • 6 - An Irresistible Force Meets an Immovable Rock *
  • 7 - "Nature Loves to Hide" *
  • Part Two - From a Universe of Objects to a Universe of Experiences *
  • 8 - The Elusive Obvious *
  • 9 - Objectivation *
  • 10 - In and Out of Space and Time *
  • II - "Nature Makes a Choice" *
  • 12 - Nature Alive *
  • 13 - Flashes of Existence *
  • 14 - The Expression of Knowledge *
  • 15 - A Universe of Experience *
  • 16 - The Potential and the Actual *
  • Part Three - Physics and the One *
  • 17 - Levels of Being *
  • 18 - Our Place in the Universe *
  • 19 - Physics and the One *
  • ∼ Epilogue *
  • Appendices *
  • Notes *
  • Bibliography *
  • Index *
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