The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics

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pages: 282 words: 89,436

Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics by Paul Halpern

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, cosmological constant, dark matter, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, lone genius, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Solar eclipse in 1919, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics

“How Schrödinger has proceeded we are not told,” it reported.2 For a fleeting moment it seemed that a Viennese physicist whose name was then little known to the general public had beaten the great Einstein to a theory that explained everything in the universe. Perhaps it was time, puzzled readers may have thought, to get to know Schrödinger better. 2 Introduction: Allies and Adversaries A Gruesome Conundrum Today, what comes to mind for most people who have heard of Schrödinger are a cat, a box, and a paradox. His famous thought experiment, published as part of a 1935 paper, “The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics,” is one of the most gruesome devised in the history of science. Hearing about it for the first time is bound to trigger gasps of horror, followed by relief that it is just a hypothetical experiment that presumably has never been attempted on an actual feline subject. Schrödinger proposed the thought experiment in 1935 as part of a paper that investigated the ramifications of entanglement in quantum physics.

In no way, shape, or form would Bohr consider Einstein’s (and later Schrödinger’s) quest for a unified field theory credible, as the models Einstein advanced weren’t based on atomic data and didn’t even reckon with nuclear forces. Nevertheless, Bohr was always polite and patient, even with his detractors. Schrödinger’s kitty conundrum was published in November 1935 as part of a paper, “On the Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics”— the same article in which he had coined the term “entanglement.” As we discussed in the introduction, the thought experiment was scarcely known by the public until many decades later. At that point, only the physics community had the opportunity to laugh, shriek, or grumble at Schrödinger’s bizarre hypothetical scenario. One of the motifs of the cat paradox is the clash between what goes on at the microscopic and macroscopic levels.

See also Strong nuclear forces; Weak nuclear forces Nuclear theory, 136 Pais, Abraham, 96, 107 Parallel postulate, 19, 20, 21 Parity conservation, 216 Particle accelerators, 227 Particle physics, 71 Paschen series, 48 Pathfinder (journal), 197 Patriotic Front (Austria), 144 Pauli, Wolfgang, 11, 83, 84–85, 86, 105, 130, 148, 149 criticism of distant parallelism, 116 criticism of Einstein’s unified theory, 187–188 exclusion principle, 95, 209 feud with Heisenberg, 216–217 as information source for physicists, 101, 112 as mediator between Einstein and Schrödinger, 197 proof of Schrödinger equation, 98 tribute to Einstein, 213 work with Einstein on fivedimensional unification model, 170–171 Pauli matrices, 146 Pernet, Jean, 30 “A Philosopher Looks at Quantum Mechanics” (Putnam), 4 Photoelectric effect, 33, 34–35, 90 Photons, 35, 47, 93 Old quantum theory, 48 Olympia Academy, 34 “On the Perceptible Content of Quantum Theoretical Kinematics and Mechanics” (Heisenberg), 105 O’Nolan, Brian, 9, 163–165, 198 “On the Conduction of Electricity on the Surface of Insulators in Moist Air” (Schrödinger), 25–26 “On the Method of Theoretical Physics” (lecture), 69 “On the Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics” (Schrödinger), 142 OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus), 234–235 Operational Epsilon, 179–180 Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 169, 196, 200, 206 O’Rahilly, F., 163–164 265 Index Princeton University Press, 203–205, 220 Princip, Gavrilo, 51 Probability waves, 100 Protons, 146–147, 227 Prussian Academy of Sciences Einstein and, 56, 58, 104, 125, 128 Schrödinger and, 7, 92, 119, 128 Psi function, 97.


pages: 287 words: 87,204

Erwin Schrodinger and the Quantum Revolution by John Gribbin

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Arthur Eddington, British Empire, Brownian motion, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, lateral thinking, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Solar eclipse in 1919, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, trade route, upwardly mobile

Through no art of interpretation can this ψ-function be turned into an adequate description of a real state of affairs . . . in reality there is just no intermediary between exploded and not-exploded. Stimulated by the EPR paper and his correspondence with Einstein, Schrödinger wrote a long paper, published in three parts in the journal Die Naturwissenschaften later in 1935, summing up his understanding of the theory he had helped to invent. It was titled “The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics,” and it introduced to the world both the term “entanglement” and the cat “paradox,” which (like the EPR “paradox”) is not really a paradox at all. An excellent English translation of the paper, by John Trimmer, appeared in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society in 1980, and can also be found in the volume edited by Wheeler and Zurek, Quantum Theory and Measurement.

Bitbol); letter to Synge on quantum mechanics; Meine Weltansicht (My View of the World); Mind and Matter; “On the Conduction of Electricity on the Surface of Insulators in Moist Air”; “On Determinism and Free Will”; “On the Reversal of Natural Laws” paper (1931); papers (1914–15); papers (1917); papers (1920); papers (1922); papers (1922–6); papers (1926); papers (1930, 1931); paper (1939); poetry; “The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics”; Space–Time Structure; Statistical Thermodynamics; “An Undulatory Theory of the Mechanics of Atoms and Molecules”; “The Visual Sensations”; What Is Life?; “What Is Real?” Schrödinger, Georgine (Georgie, née Bauer, mother): birth; death; family background; funeral; health; holiday in England; home in Vienna; marriage Schrödinger, Josef (grandfather) Schrödinger, Maria (grandmother) Schrödinger, Marie (aunt) Schrödinger, Rudolf (father): birth; career; death; family background; finances; health; influence on son; life in Vienna; marriage Schrödinger’s Kittens (Gribbin) Schrödinger’s Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics (Bitbol) Schulhof, Alfred Schuschnigg, Kurt Science Scientific American Soddy, Frederick Solvay, Ernest Solvay Congress: (1924); (1927); (1933); (1948) Sommerfeld, Arnold Space–Time–Matter (Weyl) spectroscopy spin “spooky action at a distance,” see action at a distance Stalin, Joseph Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) statistical approach: Bell’s work; Boltzmann’s work; Born’s work; Bose–Einstein statistics; Copenhagen Interpretation; Einstein’s work; Fermi–Dirac statistics; Heisenberg’s work; Maxwell’s work; Planck’s work; quantum statistics; Schrödinger’s work statistical mechanics Stefan, Josef Stefan–Boltzmann Law Stuttgart “substitution” superposition Synge, John Tarner Lectures teleportation thermodynamics: Boltzmann’s work; Loschmidt’s work; Maxwell’s work; Planck’s work; Rudolph’s work; Schrödinger’s work; second law; statistical; Stefan’s work Thirring, Hans Thomson, J.


pages: 208 words: 70,860

Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics by Jim Al-Khalili

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, butterfly effect, clockwork universe, complexity theory, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, Henri Poincaré, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Laplace demon, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Olbers’ paradox, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, Wilhelm Olbers

(New York: Dover, 1951), p. 4. 9 THE PARADOX OF SCHRÖDINGERS CAT The cat in the box is both dead and alive—until we look. In 1935 one of the founders of quantum mechanics, the Austrian genius Erwin Schrödinger, had had enough of the weird interpretations of its mathematics. Following lengthy discussions with, among others, Albert Einstein himself, he proposed one of the most famous thought experiments in the history of science. He wrote a lengthy paper entitled “The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics,” which was published in a leading German scientific journal. It has since become known simply as the “Schrödingers cat paper,” and it is incredible how many people, quantum physicists included, have since tied themselves up in knots trying to emphasize or explain away the supposed paradox Schrödinger described in it. Over the years, many fantastically exotic resolutions of the problem have been proposed, from messages sent backward in time to the power of the conscious mind to alter reality.


pages: 298 words: 43,745

Understanding Sponsored Search: Core Elements of Keyword Advertising by Jim Jansen

AltaVista, barriers to entry, Black Swan, bounce rate, business intelligence, butterfly effect, call centre, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, correlation does not imply causation, en.wikipedia.org, first-price auction, information asymmetry, information retrieval, intangible asset, inventory management, life extension, linear programming, longitudinal study, megacity, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, PageRank, place-making, price mechanism, psychological pricing, random walk, Schrödinger's Cat, sealed-bid auction, search engine result page, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, sentiment analysis, social web, software as a service, stochastic process, telemarketer, the market place, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, yield management

However, it appears that nothing remains the same on the Web. So, we can expect sponsored search to evolve in the future. In the next chapter, we look at possible changes to sponsored search and the drivers of these changes. References ╇ [1] Popper, K. 1972. Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ╇ [2] ErwinSchrödinger (Translated by John D. Trimmer). 1980. “The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics: A Translation of Schrödinger ‘Cat Paradox Paper’.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 124(1), pp. 323–338. ╇ [3] vonBertalanffy, L. 1976 [1956]. General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications. New York: Braziller. ╇ [4] Hart, M. H. 1992. The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. New York: Citadel Press. ╇ [5] Wilson, T.


Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg, Lauren McCann

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-pattern, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, business process, butterfly effect, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Attenborough, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, fear of failure, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, housing crisis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, lateral thinking, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, mail merge, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, p-value, Parkinson's law, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, Potemkin village, prediction markets, premature optimization, price anchoring, principal–agent problem, publication bias, recommendation engine, remote working, replication crisis, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, Shai Danziger, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, survivorship bias, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, uber lyft, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wikimedia commons

Another technique for thinking more broadly about possible future scenarios is the thought experiment, literally an experiment that occurs just in your thoughts, i.e., not in the physical world. The most famous thought experiment is probably “Schrödinger’s cat,” named after Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, who thought it up in 1935 to explore the implications of different interpretations of the physics of quantum mechanics. From his 1935 paper “The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics”: A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid.