Fans of Uncertainty

Physics History / go to: The American Institute of Physics website.

For a surprising discussion of Heisenberg’s “sad” dissertation


This is driving me nuts: there is a “social” or popular version of Quantum Theory that  insists on the implications being supernatural or magical or just plain idiotic. Like “quantum leap” or a vehicle named Quantum, or reality is imaginary and we’re all characters in a video game and the New Age cons that litter American pop culture.

But as an Asperger, one thing seems obvious (I know, I’m risking being a literal dunderhead) In order to measure (locate) an electron in the probability field, you have to effectively “freeze it” in one possible location which changes it from being in a state of probability into an observed location. It’s inherent in the experiment. You can’t locate the electron without interfering in the system.

In other words, locating the electron inevitably causes a conceptual problem because (I assume) these relationships are mathematical ideas that are simply not expressible in human language and thought processes.


I knew of [Heisenberg’s] theory, of course, but I felt discouraged, not to say repelled, by the methods of transcendental algebra, which appeared difficult to me, and by the lack of visualizability.  -Schrödinger in 1926


Thanks to for the following link!

Article from The Skeptical Adversaria

by Doug Bramwell

full article:

‘Quantum mystery’ and ‘quantum magic’ – both these expressions are used by many physicists when they are trying to explain quantum theory to the layman. Presumably they are trying to convey a sense of the strangeness of quantum theory but, sadly, the rather mystic overtones of the expressions have probably encouraged pseudoscientists and New Agers to find, in quantum theory, a justification for their particular brands of nonsense. There are unanswered questions about quantum theory, and there are unanswered questions about, say, channelling. Therefore quantum theory must explain channelling – easy isn’t it?




From the New York Times, September 2, 1927


By Waldemar Kaemppfert

Copyright 1927, by The New York Times Company. By Wireless to The New York Times.

LEEDS, England, Sept. 1. — Of thirty addresses delivered today before the various sections of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, one of the most important was that of a young German, Dr. W. Heisenberg. Fully 200 mathematical physicists listened to his brief exposition of a conception which will make it necessary to modify belief in what we are pleased to call “common sense” and “reality.”

The layman without knowledge of higher mathematics, listening to Dr. Heisenberg and those who discussed his conclusions, would have decided that this particular section of the British Association is composed of quiet and polite but determined lunatics, who have created a wholly illusory mathematical world of their own. …

To explain the quantum theory and its modification by Dr. Heisenberg and others is even more difficult than explaining relativity. It is much like trying to tell an Eskimo what the French language is like without talking French. In other words, the theory cannot be expressed pictorially and mere words mean nothing. One is dealing with something that can be expressed only mathematically.

The consequences, however, are startling. Electrons and atoms cease to have any reality as things that can be detected by the senses directly or indirectly. Yet we are convinced the world is composed of them.

In the new mathematical universe events are more important than substances, and energy more important than matter. All mental pictures we have formed of bodies moving through space are thrown into confusion. So simple a conception as a baseball flying from the pitcher to the batter turns out to be obscure, doubtful and even ridiculous.

Planck, the originator of the quantum theory, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and De Broglie have shown that the whole science of mechanics must be rewritten. And when it is rewritten, no one but a mathematician will be able to understand it. The sicentific world is faced with an upheaval as great as that brought about by Einstein.



2 thoughts on “Fans of Uncertainty

    • Thank-you! I’m going to add the link to my post! It says what I could not say since I have no physics ed. beyond Newton – but have always been irritated by the “juvenile” interpretation of Quantum Physics.

      Liked by 1 person

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