Niels Bohr and Soren Kierkegaard
|Niels Bohr at the Univ. of Copenhagen (above), and Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen.|
|Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)|
Evolution of the Hydrogen Atom. |
What can you say about this hadron?
Niels Bohr devoted much of his time to the hydrogen atom. In so doing
he witnessed the transition from classical to quantum mechanics. Indeed,
the present form of quantum mechanics makes sense to us thanks to Bohr's
ideology known to us as the Copenhagen interpretation. We all are grateful
- Bohr did not introduce new dynamical variables to physics, but he
introduced an important variable to physicists. His variable was "faith."
He had his faith in physics and in his interpretation of quantum mechanics.
How did he then develop the concept of faith?
It is known that Bohr was influenced by a Danish philosopher named Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Since Bohr was born in 1985, he did not have personal influence from Kierkegaard. Yet, Kierkegaard was an important figure to all Danish young students at Bohr's time. He is still influential throughout the world as one of the originators of Existentialism. I do not know too much about this branch of philosophy, but I like Jean Paul Sartre who was the ultimate existentialist. Whenever I go to Paris, the Cafe Deux Magots is my favorite place, where Sartre used to preach young men and women. I go there to meet existentialists.
- Kierkegaard was a theologian and devoted much of his efforts to define
the word "faith," and concluded that the faith always invites "doubts."
This could be an influence from Immanuel Kant (people have different ways to
look at the thing). Naturally, Kiekegaard's definition of faith did not
sit well with that of the Danish Church, and he was a controversial figure
while he was alive.
It is very safe to say that Bohr had his faith in the Copenhagen interpretation. He knew that his faith would invite doubts. This seems to the reason why he enjoyed receiving doubts from Einstein, and kept his respect for him.
While Bohr used the hydrogen atom as a tool for making the transition from classical to quantum mechanics, he never considered the possibility of the proton in other than the absolute frame. At his time, it was not possible to conceive the hydrogen atom moving with a relativistic speed. But things are different these days. The hydrogen atom became the proton with the quarks as constituent particles. These new hydrogen atom can move with a velocity very close to that of light.
- We all respect Niels Bohr. The best way to respect him is therefore
to augment Einstein's Lorentz covariance to his hydrogen atom and to
his Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics.
Niels Bohr was not the only one with faith in physics. Albert Abraham Michelson had his faith in the absolute frame, and his faith invited doubts resulting in Einstein's relativity. Joseph Weber had his faith in gravitational waves, but he invited doubts from all directions. Yet, thanks to his faith, many bright people are working on detection of the gravitational waves these days. I always brag about my photo with this man of fath.
- Geoffrey Chew had a faith in his bootstrap dynamics. His faith was
echoed by Freeman Dyson in 1965. I raised my doubt on Dyson's interpretation
of bootrapism in 1966. Chew also raised his doubt on his own faith.
Yet, the Chew-Frautchi plot became the starting point for internal
space-time structure of hadrons in two ways.
Click here for details.
- It became the starting point for string theory, whose ultimate goal is to
understand internal space-time structure of particles.
- In 1971, Feynman and his students converted the Chew-Frautchi plot into harmonic oscillator degeneracy. This aspect is too easy to understand, but this has been my faith since 1973. Good physics should be based on simple mathematics. This is the only way to make contacts with the real world. With this faith, how far did I go?
Geoffrey Chew's faith had an impact in the history of physics. Physics is a difficult and highly competitive subject. One cannot survive without faith. If there are doubts about your faith, they are important components of your faith. This is Kierkegaard's ideology transmitted to us by Niels Bohr.
- It became the starting point for string theory, whose ultimate goal is to understand internal space-time structure of particles.
- Click here for photos from Copenhagen.
- Bohr and Einstein.
- Click here for 100 years after Bohr's hydrogen atom.
- Evolution of the hydrogen atom.
- Bohr's grandson talks about his grandfather.
Like all of us, Bohr had a great respect for Einstein. Whenever he mentions the word "space," he says "space and time" in his writings. He was very sincere to the questions raised by Einstein. Einstein's objection to the Copenhagen interpretation is well known, and is still being debated in the literature as the "EPR" problem. I have nothing to add to this debate on this webpage.
|How did he talk to Einstein?|