Fundamental Theories of Physics

Epistemology and Probability

Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and the Nature of Quantum-Theoretical Thinking

Authors: Plotnitsky, Arkady

  • Offers a joint and mutually illuminating discussion of Bohr, Heisenberg, and Schrodinger as creators of quantum mechanics (including an interpretation as complementarity), which is unprecedented, at least at this level
  • Offers an exploration of the relationships between epistemology and probability and their relationships, especially in the Bayesian context
  • Gives a new treatment of the EPR experiment and the Bohr-Einstein exchange concerning it
  • Offers a new understanding of the role of mathematics in quantum theory
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eBook $149.00
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  • ISBN 978-0-387-85334-5
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  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $189.00
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  • ISBN 978-0-387-85333-8
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  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $189.00
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  • ISBN 978-1-4614-2483-3
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About this book

Quantum mechanics, discovered by Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger in 1925-1926, is famous for its radical implications for our conception of physics and for our view of human knowledge in general. While these implications have been seen as scientifically productive and intellectually liberating to some, Niels Bohr and Heisenberg, among them, they have been troublesome to many others, including Schrödinger and, most famously, Albert Einstein. The situation led to the intense debate that started in the wake of its discovery and has continued into our own time, with no end appearing to be in sight.

Epistemology and Probability aims to contribute to our understanding of quantum mechanics and of the reasons for its extraordinary impact by reconsidering, under the rubric of "nonclassical epistemology," the nature of epistemology and probability, and their relationships in quantum theory. The book brings together the thought of the three figures most responsible for the rise of quantum mechanics—Heisenberg and Schrödinger, on the physical side, and Bohr, on the philosophical side—in order to develop a deeper sense of the physical, mathematical, and philosophical workings of quantum-theoretical thinking. Reciprocally, giving a special emphasis on probability and specifically to the Bayesian concept of probability allows the book to gain new insights into the thought of these figures. The book reconsiders, from this perspective, the Bohr-Einstein debate on the epistemology of quantum physics and, in particular, offers a new treatment of the famous experiment of Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen (EPR), and of the Bohr-Einstein exchange concerning the subject. It also addresses the relevant aspects of quantum information theory and considers the implications of its epistemological argument for higher-level quantum theories, such as quantum field theory and string and brane theories. One of the main contributions of the book is its analysis of the role of mathematics in quantum theory and in the thinking of Bohr, Heisenberg, and Schrödinger, in particular an examination of the new (vis-à-vis classical physics and relativity) type of the relationships between mathematics and physics introduced by Heisenberg in the course of his discovery of quantum mechanics.

Although Epistemology and Probability is aimed at physicists, philosophers and historians of science, and graduate and advanced undergraduate students in these fields, it is also written with a broader audience in mind and is accessible to readers unfamiliar with the higher-level mathematics used in quantum theory.

Reviews

From the reviews:

“Plotnitsky (theory and cultural studies, Purdue Univ.) analyzes the discussions and disagreements among the principals (mentioned in the title), and offers his insightful comments on the questions. … The discussions on probability and epistemology remind readers of 18th-century debates on the topic in which d’Alembert participated. This book should interest anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the epistemology of quantum mechanics, especially the issues thrashed out in the early phases. … Summing Up: Highly recommended. Academic libraries serving graduate students, researchers, and faculty.” (V. V. Raman, Choice, Vol. 47 (10), June, 2010)

“This is an exposition of what the author calls ‘non-classical epistemology’ in close relationship with the emergence and development of quantum mechanics. … Plotnitsky unfolds a nuanced presentation of the so-called ‘Copenhagen spirit’ or, more precisely, of the ideas of his central hero, Niels Bohr, taken to their logical conclusion. … Plotnitsky’s narrative makes fascinating reading, and not only for those who are sympathetic to his views. … the book represents a challenge and motivation for the opponents of such views, particularly scientific realists.” (Vassilis Sakellariou, Metascience, Vol. 21, 2012)


Table of contents (11 chapters)

  • Introduction—Epistemology and Probability in Quantum Theory: Physics, Mathematics, and Philosophy

    Plotnitsky, Arkady

    Pages 1-44

  • Quantum Phenomena and the Double-Slit Experiment

    Plotnitsky, Arkady

    Pages 45-75

  • Heisenberg’s Revolutions: New Kinematics, New Mathematics, and New Philosophy

    Plotnitsky, Arkady

    Pages 77-113

  • From Geometry to Algebra in Physics, with Heisenberg

    Plotnitsky, Arkady

    Pages 115-136

  • Schrödinger’s Waves: Propagation and Probability

    Plotnitsky, Arkady

    Pages 137-177

Buy this book

eBook $149.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-0-387-85334-5
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $189.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-0-387-85333-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $189.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4614-2483-3
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Epistemology and Probability
Book Subtitle
Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and the Nature of Quantum-Theoretical Thinking
Authors
Series Title
Fundamental Theories of Physics
Series Volume
161
Copyright
2010
Publisher
Springer-Verlag New York
Copyright Holder
Springer-Verlag New York
eBook ISBN
978-0-387-85334-5
DOI
10.1007/978-0-387-85334-5
Hardcover ISBN
978-0-387-85333-8
Softcover ISBN
978-1-4614-2483-3
Series ISSN
0168-1222
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XXXIV, 402
Number of Illustrations and Tables
2 b/w illustrations
Topics