Cover image for Einstein, physics and reality
Einstein, physics and reality
Mehra, Jagdish.
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Publication Information:
Singapore ; River Edge, NJ : World Scientific, [1999]

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x, 156 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
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QC16.E5 M43 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Albert Einstein was one of the principal founders of the quantum and relativity theories. Until 1925, when the Bose-Einstein statistics was discovered, he made great contributions to the foundations of quantum theory. However, after the discovery of quantum mechanics by Heisenberg and wave mechanics by Schrödinger, with the consequent development of the principles of uncertainty and complementarity, it would seem that Einstein's views completely changed. In his theory of the Brownian motion, Einstein had invoked the theory of probability to establish the reality of atoms and molecules; but, in 1916-17, when he wished to predict the exact instant when an atom would radiate -- and developed his theory of the A and B coefficients -- he wondered whether the "quantum absorption and emission of light could ever be understood in the sense of the complete causality requirement, or would a statistical residue remain? I must admit that there I lack the courage of my convictions. But I would be very unhappy to renounce complete causality", as he wrote to his friend Max Born. However, he wrote later to Born that quantum mechanics "is certainly imposing", but "an inner voice tells me that it is not the real thing … It does not bring us closer to the secret of the 'Old One'. I, at any rate, am convinced that He is not playing at dice". At the 1927 and 1930 Solvay Conferences on Physics in Brussels, Einstein engaged in profound discussions with Niels Bohr and others about his conviction regarding classical determinism versus the statistical causality of quantum mechanics. To the end of his life he retained his belief in a deterministic philosophy. This highly interesting book explores Einstein's views on the nature and structure of physics and reality.

Author Notes

Trained as a theoretical physicist in the schools of Heisenberg and Pauli, Jagdish Mehra is a distinguished historian of modern physics. He lives in Houston, Texas, USA, where he is associated with the University of Houston

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
1. The 'Non-Einsteinian Quantum Theory'p. 3
1.1. The Bohr--Sommerfeld Atomp. 4
1.2. Physics and the Correspondence Principlep. 7
1.3. Quantum Mechanicsp. 10
1.4. Wave Mechanicsp. 14
1.5. The Interpretation of Microphysicsp. 16
1.5.1. The Probability Interpretation of the Wave Functionp. 17
1.5.2. The Uncertainty Relationsp. 20
2. 'The Crisis in Theoretical Physics'p. 25
2.1. Einstein's Early Readingsp. 26
2.2. The Basic Principles in Einstein's Early Workp. 29
2.3. The Discussion of the Light-Quantum with Niels Bohrp. 32
2.4. Does Field Theory Present Possibilities for the Solution of the Quantum Problem?p. 37
2.4.1. A New Heuristic Viewpointp. 39
2.4.2. Foundations of the Theory of Gravitationp. 42
2.4.3. Towards the United Field Theoryp. 45
3. Letters on Wave Mechanicsp. 51
3.1. The Real Schrodinger Equationp. 52
3.2. On the Uncertainty Relationp. 54
3.3. Are There Quantum Jumps?p. 55
4. Epistemological Discussion with Einstein: Does Quantum Mechanics Describe Reality Correctly?p. 59
4.1. The Fifth Solvay Conference (1927)p. 60
4.2. The Discussions on Epistemological Problemsp. 67
4.3. Bohr's Principle of Complementarity and the Copenhagen Schoolp. 71
5. Is the Quantum-Theoretical Description of Nature Complete?p. 77
5.1. 'Knowledge of Past and Future in Quantum Mechanics'p. 78
5.2. The Completeness Problemp. 79
5.3. Physics and Realityp. 84
5.4. Quantum Mechanics and Realityp. 89
6. Does God Play Dice?p. 93
6.1. The 'Statistical Einstein'p. 96
6.2. Einstein's Last Discussion About Statistical Causality and Determinismp. 99
7. Mach contra Kant: Aspects of the Development of Einstein's Natural Philosophyp. 109
7.1. The Heuristic Points of Viewp. 110
7.2. The Economy of Thoughtp. 114
7.3. 'Theories Are Free Inventions of the Mind'p. 116
7.4. Between Scylla and Charybdisp. 120
7.5. Presuppositions and Anticipationsp. 122
7.6. Intuition and Experiencep. 126
7.7. What Is Reality?p. 128
7.8. Description and Realityp. 130
7.9. Science and Hypothesisp. 133
Notes and Referencesp. 137