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The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0486601137
ISBN-10: 0486601137
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A winner of the Nobel Prize, Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) was born in WUrzberg, Germany, and received his doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of Munich. He became famous for his groundbreaking Uncertainty (or Indeterminacy) Principle. After World War II he was named director of the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (June 1, 1949)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486601137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486601137
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Not really for beginners in spite of appearances, this book sketches Heisenberg's path in discovering the canonical commutation rules of quantum mechanics. After trying unsuccessfully for years to quantize the helium atom via the Bohr-Sommerfeld quantization rules (which attempt Einstein had already explained in 1917 to be hopeless, because the classical 3-body problem is nonintegrable), Heisenberg was finally motivated by the example of relativity (where absolute time had to be abandoned) to give up the assumption that the position and momentum of a point particle are simultaneously predictable. To follow Heisenberg's reasoning the reader must first understand action-angle variables in classical mechanics. With Einstein's 1917 paper in hindsight, the three body problem representing the helium atom energy spectrum was finally approximated semi-clasically around 1990 based on a path-integral approximation to a chaotic Hamiltonian system.
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Format: Paperback
This book is the standard introduction to - well, to the physical principles underlying the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics. While it is dated in terms of that mathematical formalism, it has never been superseded in its analyses. Every serious student of quantum physics will encounter it, sooner or later, in the original or in paraphrases in newer monographs on quantum theory.
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Format: Paperback
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It uses technical language (which can at times can become difficult), to express the physical context surrounding the development of Quantum mechanics, and deal with the matter at hand (pardon the pun). Quantum theory has a reputation as being difficult, confronting and unbelievable. However this book expresses logically and in detail, the physical principles of the Quantum theory, by the great Werner Heisenberg himself.

A great book if your thought needs provoking...
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Format: Paperback
Recently, I decided upon revisiting this book. My copy (obtained in 1980) was gathering dust---yet, I could not
recall exactly why I had given up on its perusal. Well, the answer to my query--Why did I give up so long ago
on this Heisenberg tome--was immediately answered.
This is:
(1) Not a Textbook for the uninitiated.
(Then again, this was not intended to be a textbook: lectures contributing "...somewhat to the Copenhagen Spirit").
(2) Not an introduction, or lifeline, for Students.
("h-bar" is not used, sigma for sums always used instead of assuming summation over repeated indices,
Dirac Delta properties will need to be worked out independently of the text.)
(3) Absolutely required reading for those with sufficient background.
(e.g., Matrix Methods, Fourier Analysis, Integral Equations)
There simply is no way, in 1980, that I could have assimilated the contents of this great book.
However, after sufficient preparation (that is, after two previous exposures to the subject at hand),
it becomes abundantly apparent how utterly brilliant Heisenberg was at this juncture.
Here I offer some perspective supportive of my view:
(1) Heisenberg: " I have attempted to make the distinction between waves in space-time and the Schrodinger
waves in Configuration Space as clear as possible." This is wonderful pedagogy !
(2) Probabilities already developed early in the text, here Page 17, along with preceding discussion of uncertainty relations
developed " without explicit use of the wave picture". Excellent pedagogy !
(3) "This result is stranger than it seems at first glance." Page 33 when discussing Born's Probability Rule.
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Format: Paperback
Werner Karl Heisenberg (1901-1976) was a German theoretical physicist and won a Nobel Prize for his development of quantum mechanics.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1930 book, “The lectures which I gave at the University of Chicago in the spring of 1929 afforded me the opportunity of reviewing the fundamental principles of quantum theory. Since the conclusive studies of Bohr in 1927 there have been no essential changes in these principles, and many new experiments have confirmed important consequences of the theory… But even today the physicist more often has a kind of faith in the correctness of the new principles than a clear understanding of them. For this reason the publication of these Chicago lectures in the form of a small book seems justified.”

He says, “Although the theory of relativity makes the greatest of demands on the ability for abstract thought, still it fulfills the traditional requirements of science in so far as it permits a division of the world into subject and object… and hence a clear formulation of the law of causality. This is the very point at which the difficulties of the quantum theory begin. In atomic physics, the concepts ‘clock’ and ‘measuring rod’ need no immediate consideration… The concepts ‘space-time coincidence’ and ‘observation,’ on the other hand, do require a thorough revision. Particularly characteristic … is the interaction between observer and object; in classical theories it has always been assumed … its effect can be eliminated from the result by calculations based on ‘control’ experiments.
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