At the close of the nineteenth century, we stood on the threshold of one of the greatest periods of science, in which the entire world and understanding of science would be shaken to the core and greatly modified. This explosion of knowledge led ultimately to that same information revolution that we live in today. Planck and Einstein showed that light was not continuous but made of small corpuscles that today we call photons. Einstein changed the understanding of mechanics with his theory of relativity: airplanes became conceivable; radio and television blossomed; and the microelectronics industry, which drives most of modern technology, came into being. New areas of science were greatly expanded and developed, and one of these was quantum mechanics, which is the story to be told here. Yet, the development of quantum mechanics and the leadership of Niels Bohr have distorted the understanding of quantum mechanics in a strange way. There are some who would say that Bohr set back the real understanding of quantum mechanics by half a century. I believe they underestimate his role, and it may be something more like a full century. Whether we call it the Copenhagen interpretation, or the Copenhagen orthodoxy, it is the how for the continuing mysticism provided by Mach that is still remaining in quantum mechanics. It is not the why. Why it perseveres and why it was forced on the field in the first place is an important perception to be studied. In this book, I want to trace the development of quantum mechanics and try to uncover the why.
About the Author
David K. Ferry is a regents’ professor in the School of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering in the Arizona State University (ASU), USA. He joined ASU as director of the Center for Solid State Electronics Research in 1983 and chaired its Department of Electrical Engineering from 1989 to 1992. He was also interim associate dean of Engineering for Research of ASU from 1993 to 1995. Prof. Ferry received his PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Texas in Austin, USA, and completed his National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship in physics from the University of Vienna, Austria. He has authored or coauthored more than 800 articles in refereed journals and for conferences. While he is an expert especially of quantum transport, he is also a renowned leader in the fabrication and measurements of nanostructured electron devices and has received the IEEE Brunetti Award for this work in 1999.
“This book is largely a history of quantum mechanics that concentrates on various physical and philosophical interpretations of the theory. The various controversies that have arisen over the last century are well covered, as is the centrality of the Einstein–Bohr debate, which permeates much of the discussion. Ferry (Arizona State Univ.) concludes the text by arguing that ‘what Neils Bohr did, with his positivist conspiracy . . . set back the understanding of the foundations of quantum mechanics, now by more than a century.’ Ferry is also clear that the quantum debate really does not matter if all one wants to do is calculations or find solutions to particular problems. However, it makes a difference if one wishes to fundamentally understand quantum mechanics’ meaning. Ferry writes engagingly; chapter notes provide the reader with connections to primary and secondary sources. This book would complement academic collections in the history, philosophy, and interpretation of quantum mechanics.”
~A. M. Strauss, Vanderbilt University
“Einstein had noticed immediately that Bohr’s interpretation of quantum mechanics may be in conflict with the theory of relativity. How could separate measurements of particles that are correlated by a conservation-law have random outcomes without violating that law? Prof. Ferry takes us on a ‘realistic’ and interesting tour through the Copenhagen wonderland of quantum interpretations. A must-read for every engineer or scientist who deals with nanostructures and quantum physics, this is a book I enjoyed and that I highly recommend.”
~Prof. Karl Hess, Author of "Einstein Was Right!"
“Adopting the role of Marcellus in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, David Ferry challenges the pervasive acceptance of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics that has cast doubt on physical realism. An entertaining, pragmatic and forthright journey through the history of quantum mechanics exposing the almost religious sectarianism of those professing to understand what it means. Thoroughly recommended!”
~Prof. John R. Barker, University of Glasgow, UK