The Quantum World

Monday, November 30, 2015

Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr ~ Social Reality in the hands of an Absolute Truth

I am quite sure that most who are keen on quantum physics know about Werner Heisenberg; especially in that he is usually associated with 'his' theory of quantum mechanics, published in 1925. This new theory was based only on what Heisenberg said can be observed, that is to say, on the radiation emitted by the atom. However, he said, we cannot assign to an electron a position in space at a given time, nor follow it in its orbit, so that we cannot assume that the planetary orbits within atoms postulated by Niels Bohr actually exist. 

There is a problem with that which I will put forward in a minute. For now, we must be reminded that Heisenberg postulated that mechanical quantities, such as position, velocity, etc. should be represented, not by ordinary numbers but by abstract mathematical structures called "matrices" and he formulated his new theory in terms of matrix equations. 

Later, Heisenberg stated his famous Principle of Uncertainty, which suggests that the determination of the position and momentum of a mobile particle depends on the observation of it being caught in the moment it is encountered... which necessarily contains errors. The product of which cannot be less than the quantum constant h and although these errors are negligible on the human scale, they cannot be ignored in studies of the atom.

Niels Bohr also contributed to the clarification of the problems encountered in quantum physics, in particular by developing the Concept of Complementarity. Whereby he could show how deeply the changes in the field of physics have affected fundamental features of our scientific outlook and how the consequences of this change of attitude reach far beyond the scope of atomic physics and touch upon all domains of human knowledge. Heisenberg and Bohr had a long time relationship. It began in fact in Bohr’s classroom in which Heisenberg was a student. Though there was an age difference, they became friends and colleagues to a certain extent. 

The problem in their relationship was social and intellectual and stressed by the events of WWII. Heisenberg criticized Bohr for his position on the need to address whether or not an absolute mathematical truth was necessary to govern atomic structure. 

Bohr, maybe because of his world view he seemed to be led him to consider that having an absolute continuity in atomic structure was necessary for reality. He seemed to understand the need of an absolute in physics; because without it, no one could make any kind of an observation about anything. 

Mankind is not at the center of the universe. This was an idea that postulated observations as having direct correlation with that which we observe and thus enables us to determine what we observe. That was Heisenberg’s theory. He illustrated this by using a flash of light in the darkness... when it collides with an object there is observation and determination or identification. The nature and measure of it depends on the observer 'man', which begs the question who is man and is he the creator of that which he observes, and does his observation determine the object to 'exist' and create the very nature of it.

Such an assumption that man is the center of the universe assumes that man is omnipotent; otherwise, how could man observe and determine anything or any new thing if he never encountered it before. We would have to say then that man can only observe and determine what something is due to his prior knowledge of it. Thus, the question then is how does man acquire such knowledge or who puts such information into man’s mind that he might be able to observe and determine anything. That is the question that Bohr was after.  

The problem is a socio-philosophical more than a mathematical one of ordinary numbers and perhaps, why Heisenberg chose not to use such numbers. Yet, it is difficult to understand what is real and not real ...not using numbers. I am not sure if Heisenberg thought that matrices would be more probable or not; after all, matrices are just maps of observations that can become fixed. Bohr was not sure that such matrices included the observer in the equation of this plotting of reality since the background of its running are  essentially are in the hands of the observer which brings about a socio-philosphical problem.

Discussions of social reality have always been about 'reality'... what is and who is and who is not through observation. How can one person have a different view of the 'same' thing? Rather, how can one have the same or similar view of an object as in the 'same' thing? Therefore, isn't reality dependent upon social interaction or what we could call social entanglement; after all, man is in the universe and thus a particle composition.

Charles H. Cooley observed that man was a social composition (an entanglement of interaction) and that the real locus of society existed in his mind. Cooley like Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr faced the same problem. If man recognizes himself in terms of what he is and is not, let alone what a social situation is, then what is the actual man and what is the potential man? Can there be both and must there be both in the same moment? 

We can then understand the problem which occurs when one looks only at the actual or when one looks only at the potential. Heisenberg looked at potential and Bohr at actual. Both are necessary for anything to be. And that is why man cannot be at the center of it. If man is holding the light and flashing the beam out, who then is holding the man? 

Something bigger and greater than 'man' has to be the 'holder' of the universe in an absolute state of being. In this way, an absolute truth can of its basic composition can be observed and known even if it is arrived at through observation. This alone is enough to hold man in place in the universe so that he can observe it. Adam like the atom is necessarily both actual and potential. We cannot be anything actual or potential without this absolute truth. In fact, social reality cannot exist without it.

* source ~  http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1932/heisenberg-bio.html

No comments:

Post a Comment