Encounters with Einstein: And Other Essays on People, Places, and Particles

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Princeton University Press, 1983 - Science - 141 pages
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In nine essays and lectures composed in the last years of his life, Werner Heisenberg offers a bold appraisal of the scientific method in the twentieth century--and relates its philosophical impact on contemporary society and science to the particulars of molecular biology, astrophysics, and related disciplines. Are the problems we define and pursue freely chosen according to our conscious interests? Or does the historical process itself determine which phenomena merit examination at any one time? Heisenberg discusses these issues in the most far-ranging philosophical terms, while illustrating them with specific examples.


  

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Review: Encounters with Einstein and Other Essays on People, Places and Particles

User Review  - Jessica - Goodreads

Not light reading. Be prepared with pen in hand to mark up your margins. Read full review

Contents

Tradition in Science
1
the History of Quantum Mechanics
19
The Beginnings of Quantum Mechanics in Gottingen
37
Fundamental Problems in Physics
56
What Is an Elementary Particle?
71
Particle Physics in the Present Development of Science
89
Encounters and Conversations with Albert Einstein
107
The CorrectnessCriteria for Closed Theories in Physics
123
Thoughts on The Artists Journey into the Interior
130
by HansPeter Dtirr
136
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About the author (1983)

Werner Heisenberg, a German physicist, is regarded as the founder of quantum mechanics, which describes atomic structure in mathematical terms. During the 1920s quantum theory became a controversial topic, following Niels Bohr's model proposal for the hydrogen atom. Heisenberg, dissatisfied with the prevalent mechanical models of the atom, conceived an abstract approach using matrix algebra. In 1925, Heisenberg, Max Born, and Pascual Jordan developed this approach into a theory they termed matrix mechanics. Unfortunately, the theory was difficult to understand, since it provided no means of visualizing the phenomena it explained. Erwin Schrodinger's wave formulation, proposed the following year, proved more successful. In 1944 Heisenberg's and Schrodinger's formulations were shown to be mathematically equivalent by John Von Neumann. In 1927 Heisenberg stated the uncertainty principle, for which he is best known. According to this principle, it is impossible to specify simultaneously both the position and the momentum of a particle, such as an electron. This is caused by interference with those quantities by the radiation that is used to make the observation. The uncertainty principle was demonstrated by means of a thought experiment rather than by a physical observation. Heisenberg also explained ferromagnetism, tracing it to an atomic structure. In 1932 he was awarded the Nobel Prize. Heisenberg was one of the few outstanding German physicists to remain in Germany during World War II. During the war he supervised atomic research in Germany, with the goal of constructing an atomic bomb, although he claimed not to be a supporter of the Nazi regime. Whether by intent or by circumstance, this effort proved to be unsuccessful, and contradictory statements by Heisenberg have not satisfactorily explained the outcome of the project. After the war, Heisenberg publicly declared that he would no longer take part in the production or testing of atomic weapons.

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