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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Max Born and belief


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons


Max Born (1882-1970) was a German physicist best known for his contributions to quantum mechanics and wave functions. The Encyclopedia Britannica says,


"In 1925, [Werner] Heisenberg gave Born a copy of the manuscript of his first paper on quantum mechanics, and Born immediately recognized that the mathematical entities with which Heisenberg had represented the observable quantities of a particle - such as its position, momentum, and energy - were matrices. Joined by Heisenberg and [Pascual] Jordan, Born formulated all the essential aspects of quantum mechanics in its matrix version."


The rest of this post is some quotes from Born.




"...reason distinguishes between the sensible and the senseless." (The Voyage into the Dark, 1961)


"There are two objectionable types of believers: those who believe the incredible and those who believe that 'belief' must be discarded and replaced by 'the scientific method'." (Natural Philosophy of Cause and Chance, 1964)


"I believe there is no philosophical high-road in science, with epistemological signposts. No, we are in a jungle and find our way by trial and error, building our road behind us as we proceed." (Experiment and Theory in Physics, 1943)


"There are metaphysical problems, which cannot be disposed of by declaring them meaningless. For, as I have repeatedly said, they are 'beyond physics' indeed and demand an act of faith." (Natural Philosophy of Cause and Chance, 1964)


Physics and philosophy


"I am now convinced that theoretical physics is actually philosophy. It has revolutionized fundamental concepts, e.g. about space and time (relativity), about causality (quantum theory), and about substance and matter (atomists)." (Quoted in Schrodinger: Life and Thought by Walter Moore, 1992)