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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Werner Heisenberg and the nature of physics


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons


Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) was a German physicist best known for his contributions to quantum mechanics. Heisenberg's official biography on the Nobel Prize website says,


"Heisenberg's name will always be associated with his theory of quantum mechanics published in 1925 when he was only 23 years old... Mechanical quantities, such as position, velocity, etc. should be represented, not by ordinary numbers, but by abstract mathematical structures called 'matrices' and he formulated his new theory in terms of matrix equations."


The rest of this post is some quotes from Heisenberg.




"It is not surprising that out language should be incapable of describing the processes occurring within the atoms, for, as has been remarked, it was invented to describe the experiences of daily life, and these consist only of processes involving exceedingly large number of atoms." (The Physical Principles of Quantum Theory, 1930)


"Even for the physicist, the description in plain language will be the criterion of the degree of understanding that has been reached." (Physics and Philosophy, 1958)


"The existing scientific concepts cover always only a very limited part of reality, and the other part that has not yet been understood is infinite." (Physics and Philosophy, 1958)




"If nature leads us to mathematical forms of great simplicity and beauty - by forms I am referring to coherent systems not one has previously encounter, we cannot help thinking that they are 'true', that they reveal a genuine feature of nature." (Quoted in Bittersweet Destiny by Del Thiessen)