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

By Shimon Malin | Go to book overview

6

An Irresistible Force
Meets an
Immovable Rock

Bohr and Einstein respected and loved each other while being in complete
disagreement about the way quantum mechanics should be interpreted.
Einstein's rejection of quantum mechanics as a complete, fundamental
theory went through two phases. In the first phase he proposed "thought
experiments" that were supposed to invalidate the uncertainty principle.
When this failed, he and his assistants Podolsky and Rosen proposed a
thought experiment which claimed to prove that quantum mechanics is
incomplete. The argument failed to convince Bohr.

Quantum mechanics demands serious attention. But an inner voice tells
me that this is not the true Jacob. The theory accomplishes a lot, but it does
not bring us closer to the secrets of the Old One.

—Albert Einstein


1. A Clash of Minds

The physicist and author Abraham Pais, who knew both Einstein and Bohr, wrote about the first time that he witnessed a conversation between them. The setting was the Princeton Bicentennial Meetings in 1946; this was also the occasion at which Pais met Einstein for the first time:

I missed the first opportunity to catch a glimpse of Einstein as he walked next to President Truman in the academic parade. However, shortly afterwards Bohr introduced me to Einstein, who greeted a rather awed young man in a very friendly way. The conversation on this occasion soon turned to the quantum theory. I listened as the two of them argued. I recall no detail but remember distinctly my first impressions: they liked and respected each other. With a fair amount of passion, they were talking past each other. 1

The Bohr-Einstein controversy is, perhaps, the greatest intellectual debate of the twentieth century. It spanned nearly thirty years, starting at the Fifth Solvay Conference in Brussels in October 1927 and ending, unresolved, with Einstein's death in 1955. In some sense it did not even end then: After Einstein's death Bohr continued to argue with him, in his mind, "as if Einstein were still alive." 2

Studying the Bohr-Einstein controversy, I am awed by the depth of the thoughts

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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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