Page 3 -- QM.HTM -- On this page are materials on quantum mechanics developed for a class in Theology & Science at the Iliff School of Theology in 2001. The instructor was Dr. William Dean. Last updated 9-3-2003.
The expression "quantum mechanics" was first used in scientific literature by Max Born in a 1924 article in which he discussed "the formal passage from classical mechanics to a quantum mechanics." This page contains references & source materials on the subject.
"Quantum mechanics is very impressive. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings us closer to the secret of the Old One. I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice." -- Albert Einstein. Quoted in SEDUCED BY SCIENCE, HOW AMERICAM RELIGION HAS LOST ITS WAY, by Steven Goldberg, 1999. Page 124.
The so-called "Copenhagan Interpretation," which claims that, in essence, things are not "real" until observed, was developed by Neils Bohr (a citizen of Denmark) in the late 1920s and was given fame by Erwin Schroedinger in 1935 with his "cat" gedanken experiment.. It is still a valid model today (2001) although other models are in contention. A recent (1986) book, THE GHOST IN THE ATOM, by Paul Davies, allows eight different physicists, each with a different model, to argue their cases. The book by Gribbin (see below) tells the long story very completely.

The Copenhagan interpretation has endured so long, argues Gribbin, because of these factors:

  1. It was the first "out of the chute."
  2. It works.
  3. It was championed by a strong personality, Neils Bohr.
  4. The renowned mathematician, von Neumann, published a paper in 1932 which undermined the only current rival theory at the time (de Broglie's "hidden variables).
However, Gribbin continues, von Neuman's paper contained an error, overlooked until John Bell pointed it out in 1966. The error, of course, does not disprove Bohr's theory, but it does allow room for competing theories.

But you'll have to read the book. I have put eight pages of it on this web site (the link is a number of lines below following a poem in honor of Schrodinger's cat).

Some (external) web references:
Single Photon Interference
Genesis, Quantum Physics & Reality
Book References:

Eight physicists argue eight different QM models
THE GHOST IN THE ATOM, Paul Davies, 1986.

Classical book explaining physics to non-physicists
THINKING PHYSICS, Lewis Carroll Epstein, 1989

The book I recommend; for physicists & non-physicists
SCHROEDINGER'S KITTENS, John Gribbin, 1995 (see below)
Click here for a book review

A much more difficult book on the nature of time & QM
TIME'S ARROW, Huw Price, 1996

The Multiple Universes model (for physicists & non-physicists)
THE FABRIC OF REALITY, David Deutsch, 1995.
(Click here for a book review)

Schroedinger's cat died yesterday.
He died in a tragic accident,
quietly and alone,
when a tree silently fell on him in the middle of a forest.
Exactly in the middle of the forest, as it happens,
we know this, for when we left the accident scene,
we were all walking *out* of the forest.
There were no witnesses, but those who knew the cat well
say he went into the forest of his own free will.

Because I think Gribbin's book is a "must read," here are the cover page, preface and pages 117-120 which describe the Aspect experiment clearly as well as an even more exciting follow on experiment by Mizobuchi & Ohtake in Japan. In this last experiment, a single particle is shown clearly to have both a particle and a wave characteristic, starting as a particle, changing to a wave, then back to a particle as it makes its way through the apparatus:
click here for the eight pages. They take a little time, perhaps a minute or two to download.
Here is a copy of the class outline prepared by fellow student Kevin Moore:
Class Outline
From page 158 of Gribbin:

"If the Bell inequality is violated (which it is) then local reality must be abandoned even if quantum mechanics is completely wrong. The result of the Aspect experiment shows that the Universe is not 'local and real', whatever kind of scientific description you might dream up to describe how it works." (Italics in original).

Notes on QM (primarily from Gribbin's book):

"Philosophy attains its chief importance by fusing ... religion and science into one rational scheme of thought."
-- Whitehead, PROCESS AND REALITY, 1929, pg 15.

"The universe is not only queerer than we can imagine, it is queerer than we CAN imagine."
-- J. Haldane, British biologist, about 1960

The central mystery of QM is encapsulated in the two hole experiment. This easy to demonstrate physics experiment is not possible to explain using Newtonian physics. In it is the heart of QM. Feynman once wrote, in THE CHARACTER OF PHYSICAL LAW, "Any other situation in quantum mechanics, it turns out, can always be explained by saying, 'You remember the experiment with the two holes? It's the same thing.'"

The Aspect experiment, in France, in the early 1980s, showed clearly that single photons demonstrated both wave and particle properties. But photons, after all, are massless, and travel at light speed.

Japanese experiments in 1987 did the same thing with particles known to be particles -- electrons -- at Gakushuin University.

But electrons, after all, cannot be photographed. So the skeptic could still argue against QM. Few did, or do, for QM is so good at PREDICTION, even if it is not good at EXPLANATION.

Now atoms are particles, and atoms CAN be photographed. And it was at the beginning of the 1990s that researchers at the University of Konstanz, Germany, did the experiment using helium atoms. Too small yet? A year later, at MIT, the experiment was done with sodium atoms. All of these results are the same. A single atom going through two holes goes both ways at once and interferes with itself. In other words, a single atom is in both places (both holes) at the same time.

A little later on the experiment was done with even larger particles, iodine molecules. The results were the same, wave/particle duality.

By the way, there is a simple experiment you can do yourself to demonstrate the wave nature of light. Look at a distant light source through the spaces between your fingers, palm toward your face. Most people can see one, two, even three or more dark lines in the space, the result of the light waves interference as they go through the narrow slit.

In 1993 the USNIST in Boulder went a step further. Gribbin's book describes this experiment. At this point, by the way, we are at page 9 of a 250 page book. There is more -- much more --. Including the EPR "two kittens" gedanken experiment. In this one, we have two kittens, each neither alive nor dead, but in an undefined state, separated from one another by a great distance. As soon as someone looks at one, if he sees a live kitten, the other one is dead. And vice versa. But until someone looks ... . Crazy? Sure. But the experiment HAS been done (not with cats) and the results were exactly as I've described them.

Other links to papers exploring science/religion boundaries from a philosophical viewpoint (not necessarily QM):
Paradigms Lost
Search for Certainty
N-Rays; Pathological Science
The Origin of Consciousness
Reasons of the Heart
The Faith Factor
The End of Science
The Brain in the Trolley
A personal story of God's involvement with my world in a time-independent manner.
Burgy's home page
More links of interest on QM:

Mano Singham's Opinion piece in Physics Today, June 2000 Click here
Letters on Singham's opinion piece in Physics Today: Click here
Singham replies: Click here

Questions for the year 2100 Click here

On Wolfgang Pauli Click here

Added 4/21/2001 -- these links

The EPR Paper
Deepening the Quantum Mysteries
Electrons and Magicians
The Alain Aspect Ph D Thesis

Added 4/25/2001 -- the original 4 page article in Physics Review by Einstein, Podolsky & Rosen.
The EPR paper

Added 4/26/2001 -- a review of Ian Barbour's book
When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers or Partners?

Have fun.