Heisenberg’s Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics
Edited By Babette Babich
A contribution to continental philosophy of science, the phenomenological and hermeneutic resources applied in this book to the physical and ontological paradoxes of quantum physics, especially in connection with laboratory science and measurement, theory and model making, will enrich students of the history of science as well as those interested in different approaches to the historiography of science. University courses in the philosophy of physics will find this book indispensable as a resource and invaluable for courses in the history of science.
Chapter Three: Quantum Mechanics 1925: Revolution
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Quantum Mechanics 1925: Revolution
The master insight that Heisenberg obtained in May-June 1925 and that gave him the key to the new atomic physics came out of his meditations on the scientific revolution that Einstein effected by the introduction of “relativistic” space-time.1 Puzzled by the fact that the orbital frequencies of the electron in an atom were unconnected with the frequencies of the electromagnetic radiation absorbed or emitted by the atom, Heisenberg argued that if the orbital paths and supposed frequencies had no experimental consequences, then, like the “classical” space-time that preceded “relativistic” space-time, the descriptive framework of which they were a part lacked the kind of warrant necessary to qualify as a correct description of the real quantum object. He believed that experiments in atomic physics showed that the orbital trajectories and orbital frequencies had no measurable consequences.2 ← 29 | 30 →
These considerations led him to propose what he called a “quantum theoretical re-interpretation [Umdeutung] of kinematical and mechanical relations.”3 He proposed to replace the kinematical framework LN of classical mechanics by a new quantum theoretic framework, let us call it LQ, which would fulfill the five conditions of the relativistic model. Condition Hi is satisfied by that part of ordinary and scientific language LP which is neutral to the transposition from LN to LQ and includes, therefore, the language of electromagnetic theory as well as the language of the manifest image of the world. Conditions...
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