Lesson 6: Relativity and Quantum Physics

1. Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity. The invariance of the laws of nature. The Michelson-Morley experiment. The Galilean and the Lorentz transformations. The new concepts of space and time. Four-vectors and light cones. Simultaneity. Relativistic velocity, momentum and mass.

2. Quantum Physics. Planck's discovery of the quantum. The old quantum theory, Quantum mechanics. Heisenberg and Schrodinger. The interpretations of quantum mechanics: the Copenhagen interpretation of Bohr and Heisenberg. The ensemble or statistical interpretation of Einstein. The pilot wave and many-worlds interpretations. The quantum paradoxes: causality, the single and double slit experiments, Schrodinger's cat. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Stochastic electrodynamics. Hidden variables. The wave-particle dualism. The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox. The Bell inequalities. The denial of reality. Chance and Providence.

Reading List

F.I. Belinfante, A Survey of Hidden Variable Theories. Pergamon, 1973.

I.S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics. Cambridge, 1987.

D. Bohm, Causality and Chance on Modern Physics. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957.

T.A. Brody, The Philosophy behind Physics. Springer, 1993.

L. De Broglie, The Revolution in Physics. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1954.

P. Davies, God and the New Physics, Dent, 1983.

P. Davies, The Mind of God. Simon and Schuster, 1992.

S. Diner (Ed), The Wave-Particle Dualism. Reidel, 1984.

A. Einstein, B. Podolsky, and N. Rosen, Physical Review. 47.777. 1935.

A.P. French, and P.J. Kennedy, Niels Bohr: A Centenary Volume. Harwood 1985.

R. Healy, The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics. Cambridge, 1989.

C.A. Hooker, Contemporary Research in the foundations and Philosophy of Quantum Theory. Reidel, 1973.

M. Jammer, The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics.

J.R. Lucas and P.B. Hodgson, Spacetime and Electromagnetism. Oxford, 1990.

A. Pais, Subtle is the Lord. The Science and Life of Albert Einstein. Oxford, 1982.

A. Pais, Niels Bohr's Times: In Physics, Philosophy and Polity. Oxford, 1991.

K.R. Popper, Quantum Theory and the Schism in Physics. Hutchinson, 1982.

P.A. Schlipp (Ed), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist. Library of Living Philosophers, Evanston, 1989.

P. Steble, Order, Chaos, Order. The Transformation from Classical to Quantum Physics. Oxford, 1991.

A. Sudbery, Quantum Mechanics and the Particles of Nature. Cambridge, 1986.

R. Swinburne (Ed), Space, Time and Causality. Reidel, 1983.

G. Tarozzi, and A. van der Merwe, Open Questions in Quantum Physics. Kluwer, 1985.

G. Tarozzi, and A. van der Merwe, The Nature of Quantum Paradoxes. Kluwer, 1988.

E. Wigner, Quantum Theory and Measurement. Princeton, 1983.


1. How would you convince someone of the truth of Einstein's theory of relativity?

2. What is the main achievement of Einstein's theory?

3. How has relativity altered our concepts of space and time?

4. How did Planck discover the quantum?

5. What were the main problems of classical mechanics, and how were they solved by the development of quantum mechanics?

6. Summarise the arguments used by Bohr and Einstein in their dispute about the interpretation of quantum mechanics.

7. Describe the statistical, pilot wave and many-worlds interpretations.

8. Has quantum mechanics disproved the principle of causality?

9. What is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and what are its philosophical implications?

10. Are hidden variables possible in principle?

11. What is the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiment, and what does it imply?

12. Describe the Bell inequalities and discuss their significance.


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