måndag 7 april 2014

The Strange Story of The Quantum: Physics as Mysticism

The Strange Story of The Quantum by Banesh Hoffman bears witness to the general public about modern physics as mysticism:  
  • This book is designed to serve as a guide to those who would explore the theories by which the scientist seeks to comprehend the mysterious world of the atom.
  • The story of the quantum is the story of a confused and groping search for knowledge…enlivened by coincidences such as one would expect to find only in fiction.
  • It is a story about turbulent revolution…and of the tempesteous emergence of a much chastened regime - Quantum Mechanics.
  • The magnificent rise of the quantum to a dominant position in modern science and philosophy is a story of drama and high adventure often well-nigh incredible. It is a chaotic tale…apparent chaos…nonsensical…intricate jagsaw…major discovery of the human mind.
  • Planck called his bundle or quota a QUANTUM of energy…This business of bundles of energy was unpardonable heresy, frightening to even the bravest physicist. Prandtl was by no means happy... But all was to no avail….to Max Planck had fallen the immortal honor of discovering them.
  • Einstein insisted...that each quantum of energy  somehow must behave like a particle: a particle of light; what we call a photon…But how could a particle theory possibly hope to duplicate the indisputable triumphs of the wave theory? To go back to anything like the particle theory would be tantamount to admitting that the elaborately confirmed theory of electromagnetic phenomena was fundamentally false. Yet Einstein...was actually proposing such a step.
  • It is difficult to decide where science ends and mysticism begins….In talking of the meaning of quantum mechanics, physicists indulge in more or less mysticism according to their individual tastes.
  • Perhaps it is this which makes it seem so paradoxical.
  • Perhaps there is after all some innate logic in quantum theory.
  • The message of the quantum suddenly becomes clear: space and time are not fundamental.
  • Out of it someday will spring a new and far more potent theory…what will then survive of our present ideas no one can say…
  • Already we have seen waves an particles and causality and space and time all undermined.
  • Let us hasten to bring the curtain down in a rush lest something really serious should happen...
Hoffman's book was first published in 1947. Since then the mysticism of modern physics has only become deeper...

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