Steve Lamoreaux (Yale University), “The Historical and Physical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics: A Brief Tour with Comments on the History of the Atomic Theory” (Wright Lab)

Event time: 
Monday, May 15, 2023 - 3:30pm
Wright Lab WL-216 (272 Whitney Avenue) See map
Event description: 

 Given that a search on for books on ‘quantum theory’ returns over 10,000 hits while searching for ‘quantum physics’ returns over 20,000, one might wonder if the world needs yet another book on the subject. These numbers correspond to one book a day for 30 years, ranging from advanced mathematical treatises to books without a single equation, from deep philosophical debates between authors with different understandings of the subject, to textbooks teaching the methodology and various applications. In addition, there are vast numbers of papers in historical and philosophical journals concerned with the development and philosophical implications of the theory. In addition, there are many volumes of collected correspondence and many online archives of oral and written material.

While there is little dispute over the mathematical apparatus of the theory and its application to physical problems, there is a wide spectrum of divergent opinions about what the theory is trying to tell us concerning the nature of reality.

The idea behind our book is that to gain a real understanding of the subject, some acquaintance with the historical development is essential; after all that history is the narrative of how humanity learned quantum mechanics. We also provide accompanying discussions for the various interpretations that have been espoused, providing sufficient mathematical illustrations that highlight the respective features and differences.

Our book is unique in that we interweave primary historical source materials, including letters, diaries, and journals, together with published papers, to show the path how quantum mechanics became a fully established theory. In the second part of the book, we demonstrate how this theory is currently applied to modern problems. We culminate with a review of quantum information and quantum computing.