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Quantum Theory at the Crossroads: Reconsidering the 1927 Solvay Conference


By: Guido Bacciagaluppi(Author), Antony Valentini(Author)

556 pages, 2 b/w illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Nov 2009 | #183146 | ISBN-13: 9780521814218
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £89.99 $117/€102 approx

About this book

The 1927 Solvay conference was perhaps the most important meeting in the history of quantum theory. Contrary to popular belief, the interpretation of quantum theory was not settled at this conference and no consensus was reached. Instead, a range of sharply conflicting views were presented and extensively discussed, including de Broglie's pilot-wave theory, Born and Heisenberg's quantum mechanics, and Schrodinger's wave mechanics.

Quantum Theory at the Crossroads contains a complete translation of the original proceedings, with background essays on the three main interpretations of quantum theory presented at the conference, and an extensive analysis of the lectures and discussions in the light of current research in the foundations of quantum theory.

"Considering the development of quantum mechanics, Quantum Theory at the Crossroads offers a very stimulating viewpoint as its authors take a rather polarizing stance. Overall, it provides an important and inspiring history of quantum mechanics, being most valuable for its translation of the conference proceedings and its account of de Broglie's often neglected pilot-wave theory."
- Martin Jähnert, Metascience

"[...] a most useful volume for historians and philosophers of physics alike. The excellent introduction and the important sources make [it] a most valuable contribution to the philosophy and history of quantum mechanics. It should be included in the reading list of every class on that subject, and it should be read by anyone who is concerned with the conceptual problems of quantum mechanics. I also recommend it to physicists who are looking for a good place to start reading about the historical emergence of interpretational problems of modern quantum theory."
- Isis

"[...] this book could play a role in guiding readers to the original works of de Broglie and Bohm, and [...] promote a more open-minded appreciation of their contributions than is customary even now."
- Contemporary Physics



Part I. Perspectives on the 1927 Solvay Conference:
1. Historical introduction
2. De Broglie's pilot-wave theory
3. From matrix mechanics to quantum mechanics
4. Schrödinger's wave mechanics

Part II. Quantum Foundations and the 1927 Solvay Conference:
5. Quantum theory and the measurement problem
6. Interference, superposition, and wave packet collapse
7. Locality and incompleteness
8. Time, determinism, and the spacetime framework
9. Guiding fields in 3-space
10. Scattering and measurement in de Broglie's pilot-wave theory
11. Pilot-wave theory in retrospect
12. Beyond the Bohr-Einstein debate

Part III. The Proceedings of the 1927 Solvay Conference:
The intensity of X-ray reflection
Disagreements between experiment and the electromagnetic theory of radiation
The new dynamics of quanta
Quantum mechanics
Wave mechanics
General discussion


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Guido Bacciagaluppi is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Time, University of Sydney. His research interests lie mainly in the philosophy of physics. He has contributed significantly to the development and critique of modal interpretations of quantum mechanics, and he has since worked widely in various approaches to the foundations of quantum theory, as well as in the philosophy of probability and time and in the history of quantum mechanics.

Antony Valentini is a Research Associate in the Theoretical Physics Group, Imperial College London. He proposed that the universe began with a non-quantum distribution of hidden variables, which later relaxed to the quantum equilibrium state we see today. He has pioneered the development of new physics of quantum nonequilibrium, de Broglie-Bohm theory, and hidden-variables theories generally, and has explored its possible role in cosmology, black holes, and information theory. He also works in the history and philosophy of modern physics.

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