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Über dieses Buch

This volume, written by a highly cited author, presents the history of quantum theory together with open questions and remaining problems in terms of the plausibility of quantum chemistry and physics. It also provides insights into the theory of matter-wave mechanics. The content is aimed at students and lecturers in chemistry, physics and the philosophy of science.



Chapter 1. The Mysterious Quantum

Twentieth-century physics was dominated by two theories which came into existence at the turn of the century. The two theories, known as quantum mechanics and relativistic mechanics respectively, developed as refinements of Newtonian mechanics, the reigning paradigm for three centuries, to take into account the electric and magnetic phenomena discovered during the previous century and succinctly explained as a single electromagnetic field.

Jan C. A. Boeyens

Chapter 2. The Cosmological Debate

The newly-born sentient being is confronted with a strange new world that interacts with all of its senses from all directions. For some individuals the effort to interpret the sensations of observation never comes to an end. We all learn from our elders and most people are content with the answers provided by authority and never give it a second thought of their own. They are the salt of the earth—the many-headed that silently flow with the stream.

Jan C. A. Boeyens

Chapter 3. What Happened …

It has been common knowledge for decades that the authentic interpretation of quantum theory, after being threshed out in detail at the 1927 Solvay Conference, was finalized and documented in Copenhagen in a form supported by all competent physicists. The ultimate generalized version which developed in the USA after the second world war is widely considered as the most successful scientific theory ever formulated, but summarized by Dirac in one word: “ugly”. Despite the euphoria of quantum physicists all efforts to export the theory as a basis for theoretical chemistry and cosmology have failed dismally. It could well be that in the race to produce the perfect theory something was overlooked. Could it be in Brussels, in Copenhagen or the USA? The only way to tell is by an unbiased scrutiny of all steps in the process.

Jan C. A. Boeyens

Chapter 4. The Classical Basis

The first centuries after Newton saw spectacular progress in the application and refinement of mechanics as a fundamental science. It survived the introduction of modifications to deal with special cases, but, in the form of classical mechanics that deals with common situations it remained intact. This is not the case with quantum mechanics that, hundred years on, still struggles to find a generally accepted formulation.

Jan C. A. Boeyens

Chapter 5. Delicious Mysteries

In order to get on with the job a new generation of postwar physical scientists had no choice but to accept the Copenhagen version of quantum mechanics, with all its warts and blemishes, as a working model. Not only was it necessary to convince themselves of the validity of their theory, but also to convince a sceptical world. They could claim the successes of wartime science to bolster their confidence and drive a public-relations campaign. They had a head start in the preposterous claim of Heisenberg and Born at the 1927 Solvay Conference and the apocryphal defeat of Einstein in debate with Bohr.

Jan C. A. Boeyens

Chapter 6. Non-classical Phenomena

Since the time of Newton the theories of physics have traditionally been defined in terms of higher mathematics. Paging through most treatises on modern physics the reader is confronted with page after page of mathematical symbolism that makes it virtually inaccessible to the uninitiated. It is left to a small number of dedicated theoreticians to scrutinize the validity of such mathematical material, after which it becomes widely, and usually non-critically, accepted and incorporated, in less rigorous form, into the textbooks of science.

Jan C. A. Boeyens

Chapter 7. Non-linear Phenomena

Searching for a theory of everything John Barrow [


] faces the age-old choice between atomism and holism. He opts for the former, but to avoid singularities and infinities he invokes

string theory

to define an atom as a one-dimensional object that wiggles in a void of many dimensions. He describes the continuous holistic alternative as:

Nature operating holistically to produce a harmonious equilibrium in which every ingredient interacts with its fellow to produce a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

The holistic view assumes nature to be intrinsically non-linear so that non-local influences predominate and interact with one another to form a complicated whole.

Jan C. A. Boeyens

Chapter 8. Space, Time and Matter

The realization that unification of quantum and relativity theories can only be achieved under four-dimensional formulation resolves most of the vexing quantum aberrations, without explaining the assumed nonlinearity of quantum effects. The remarkable effectiveness of wave mechanics in the elucidation of all quantum phenomena argues convincingly for a linear theory. However, the collapse or reduction of a wave function, and even quantum jumps, are nonlinear events, not governed by the wave equation; an inference carefully avoided by quantum philosophers.

Jan C. A. Boeyens

Chapter 9. Matter-Wave Mechanics

The easy part of this investigation has now come to an end with the simple conclusion that traditional quantum theory, as a descriptor of reality, is incomplete. The more onerous responsibility that flows from this is to indicate the direction in which an alternative approach should develop in order to produce a theory of matter, consistent with the empirical observations of chemistry and atomic physics.

Jan C. A. Boeyens

Chapter 10. Epilogue

In conclusion it is necessary to point out that the purpose of this essay has not been to belittle the efforts of the quantum pioneers, but to caution against the construction of scientific theories by acclaim. By constant probing it is possible to expose possible flaws, even in the most reputable theory. That is the easy part.

Jan C. A. Boeyens


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