The Uncertainty Principle

Summary— The Uncertainty Principle contrasts Einstein with Heisenberg, relativity with quantum theory, behavioralism with existentialism, certainty with uncertainty and philosophy with science—finally arriving at the inescapable Platonic conclusion that the true philosopher is always striving after Being and will not rest with those multitudinous phenomena whose existence are appearance only.

Quote:- The history of physics teaches us that the abandonment of earlier concepts is much more difficult than the adaptation of new ones. 

On 6 June 1944 the American Fifth Army rolled into Rome and liberated the first major European capital from Nazi occupation.  Soon after former Boston Red Sox catcher and current American spy Moe Berg arrived to interrogate Italian scientists about the German atomic bomb project.  Berg discovered that the top German physicist Heisenberg was planning to present a lecture in Switzerland.  He arranged to attend the lecture and managed to get invited to a private dinner for Heisenberg a week later.  At the dinner Berg sat next to Heisenberg and accompanied him afterwards on the walk back to his hotel armed with a 45-caliber pistol.  Berg decided that Heisenberg was not a threat and chose to spare his life.

Strange Salvation.  The physicist Michio Kaku wrote in his 1995 book Beyond Einstein that the destinies of Einstein and Heisenberg were strangely interwoven in many ways even though the theories they created, relativity and quantum theory, are universes apart.  Both were revolutionary iconoclasts who challenged established wisdom and so thoroughly dominated modern physics that their discoveries determined the course of physics for over half-a-century.  Einstein was twenty-six when he discovered relativity in 1905 while Heisenberg was twenty-four when he laid down the fundamentals of quantum theory in 1925.  Based on lightspeed, relativity encapsulates Newtonian physics into Maxwellian wave mechanics thereby accounting for the dilation and warping of spacetime.  Based on Planck’s constant, quantum theory is the foundation of the periodic table, electronics, chemistry, biology and medical science.  In The Universe and Dr Einstein from 1948 in which Einstein wrote the forward, Lincoln Barnett wrote that while quantum theory deals with fundamental units of matter and energy, relativity deals with space, time and the structure of the universe as a whole.  Both are accepted pillars of modern scientific thought.  Einstein’s friend Banesh Hoffman wrote in his 1947 book The Strange Story of the Quantum that the salvation of the planet depends on uniting relativity and quantum theory.

Strange Algebra.  As a youth Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) excelled in mathematics and Greek philosophy and was an excellent pianist and even played chess in his head with his brother while hiking and skiing.  At seventeen he was the leader of a state-sponsored youth organization and took part in street fights against communist groups.  By the age of twenty he was considered a leading theoretical physicist in Germany and was awarded the Nobel Prize at thirty.  His initial contribution to quantum theory came about as the result of the realization of a strange algebra in which arrays of numbers multiplied in one direction are not equal to the same arrays multiplied in the opposite direction—ie. AxB BxA—the difference being a multiple of Planck’s constant.  Max Born soon recognized this as matrix algebra with the A-matrix representing an atom and the B-matrix representing the electrons of the atom.  Also in 1925 Erwin Schrödinger constructed an atomic model based on waves—and then Paul Dirac nailed down quantum theory by proving that Heisenberg’s and Schrödinger’s models are equivalent.  Based on the difference between the two matrix multiplications, Heisenberg formulated his famous uncertainty principle in 1927 which proves it impossible to simultaneously and accurately know both the position and velocity of an electron.  The last line of the paper reads—As a matter of principle, we cannot know the present in all detail.

Strange Uncertainty.  The notion of the indivisible atom was shattered in 1897 when Sir JJ Thomson discovered the electron.  Three years later Max Planck discovered that energy exists in discrete packets or quanta defined by Planck’s constant.  Ernest Rutherford proposed a solar system atomic model in 1911 based on the revelation that both the solar system and atom have nuclei containing about 99.9 percent of the mass and occupying one-billionth of the spherical space.  Niels Bohr then realized that the electron orbits are a function of Planck’s constant.  Heisenberg argued that there was no evidence the electrons are actually orbiting the nuclei—although he knew the solar-system atomic model was biting in the right direction.  In 1926 Max Born argued that Schrödinger’s wave equation be interpreted probabilistically with the wave crests representing the highest probabilities coinciding with the discrete electron orbits of the solar-system model.  If one imagines dropping a pebble onto a four-dimensional quantum soap bubble, then the attendant waves represent the probability of finding an electron at any given point in spacetime—thus also revealing that the certainty of temporal ordering or causality fails within the atom.  And since Planck’s constant is a universal fixedpoint or boundary, we can say that causality ceases at Planck’s constant.  John Gribbin wrote in his 1998 encyclopedia of modern physics Q is for Quantum that nobody has ever formulated a formal definition accurately characterizing the essence of the uncertainty principle.  Therefore, the formal definition of the uncertainty principle is that causality breaks down at the boundary of Planck’s constant.

Strange Behavior.  So disgusted was Schrödinger with the probabilistic interpretation of his wave equation that he formulated his classic cat-in-a-box thought problem in 1935 with the intention of demonstrating the absurdity of the probabilistic interpretation once and for all—A quantum-cat is placed in a box such that no one can know what is happening inside.  A device releases either food or poison with equal probability, and the cat meets its fate—or does it?  Schrödinger argued that for the probabilistic interpretation to be true the cat must be both alive and dead until the observer opens the box.  The thought problem ironically leads to the counterintuitive conclusion that the observer’s consciousness is what actually determines the fate of the cat.  BF Skinner was a psychologist who argued for behaviorism which asserts that all human activity can be known through externally visible behavior based on the underlying belief that consciousness does not exist.  Skinner was at the intellectually-prime age of 31 in 1935 when Schrödinger produced his thought problem proving that consciousness is real.  The existential psychological model stands in direct opposition to behaviorism by making consciousness and thus the soul primordially important.

Strange Judgment.  It comes down to the Freudian cognitive model where the ego or consciousness has to choose between the external authority of the superego and the internal authority of the self or soul or id or unconscious.  The ego or consciousness is the lighthouse of the mind that is constantly choosing between the superego and the self.  A sustained effort on the part of the mature ego is able to realize the self and thus higher consciousness.  Saint Augustine’s assertion that by knowing the self we are knowing God follows naturally—as does Sir James Jean’s assertion that God is a mathematician in that mathematics is the science of drawing conclusions.  So by knowing the self and thus God we are able to achieve vastly superior judgment and can make much better decisions without external validation.  By enforcing behaviorism, psychiatrists deny consciousness thereby denying the self or unconscious—with the result being that the ego must constantly rationalize to the status quo opinion of external authority.  So rather than following the argument wherever it leads as Socrates asserted, individuals are only able to make judgments that validate superficial appearances—thus making our civilization both soulless and Godless.

Strange Principles.  During the war Heisenberg remained in Germany and became leader of the German atomic bomb project.  At the end of the war the United States arrested Heisenberg for his role in the German weapons program.  Following his return to Germany he became professor of physics and director of the Max Planck Institute for Physics.  Heisenberg claimed he stayed behind in order to deter development of the atomic bomb—though there are many that contest his claim.  It is of course impossible to know for sure, although we here in Canada who have absolutely everything and stand for absolutely nothing are in no position to judge.  One can be absolutely certain that if the Calgary Police were transported back to 1939 Germany they would be running around shooting Jews in the back of the head with a big smile on their face.  Behaviorism makes us a nation entirely determined by circumstances.

Conclusion.  After the war Heisenberg continued to lecture worldwide, although the content became more philosophical than scientific.  In the forward to Heisenberg’s 1958 book Physics and Philosophy the Sterling Professor of Law and Philosophy at Yale University, FS Northrop, wrote that there is a general awareness that modern physics has brought about an important revision in man’s conception of the universe and his place in it.  Yet here we are a hundred years after relativity and eighty years after quantum theory and the university professors still cling to the same superficial, staid interpretations of relativity and quantum theory—and refuse to acknowledge my theory of one which unites relativity and quantum theory.