A Quantum Perspective
This website is guided by three principles: 1) a duty of inquiry, 2) the weight of authority and 3) the limits of inference. If you have simply arrived at this page based on a search for information about quantum theory, it would not be unreasonable, or unwise, to question the weight of authority surrounding the following discussion of quantum theory, as in truth it claims none. In one of his lectures, in 1965, Richard Feynman is quoted as saying:
“I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”
Therefore, in the context of this quote, it is probably safe to say that this website cannot, and does not, pretend to carry any weight of authority regarding this subject; although it does try to carry out an honest duty of inquiry, as far as such matters can be understood by somebody in general. The scope of the following discussion is broken down into two sections:
While this divided might be said to align to the transitional development of quantum mechanics into quantum field theory, it could also be said to represent two distinct ‘worldviews’ of science, which existed prior to, and after, the 2nd World War. However, this idea of a change in the collective worldview encompasses, not only science, but the culture of society in which science is carried out. The start of pre-war development of quantum theory might be precisely timed as beginning at 5pm on Friday 14 December 1900 and continuing for the next 30+ years. It will be a period of profound change in science, as the determinism of Newtonian physics is challenged and seemingly overturned, first by relativity within the macroscopic universe, and then quantum mechanics with the microscopic universe. What emerges from this period is a scientific worldview that many scientists could not initially accept, and possibly, some still reject.
|Note: These pre-war years might also be said to reflect a change in scientific methodology, which had previously been founded on the principle of empirical verification, but which was now becoming increasingly dependent on mathematical consistency, as the ability of science to empirically verify its assumption disappeared into quantum uncertainty.|
We might also accurately time the start of the post-war era of science to the testing of the first atomic bomb, which occurred at 05:29:45, local time, on July 16, 1945, in the desert about 35 miles from Socorro, New Mexico. While often described in terms of the atomic age, it will also represent the start of another phase of developments within quantum theory.