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By Claude Itzykson, Hubert Saleur, Jean Bernard Zuber

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It was this aspect of the quantum theory, and not the dice-throwing, that profoundly bothered Einstein. There seemed to be a loss of objective reality. Pais recalls discussing these matters with Einstein on walks in Princeton. ’’ 42 QUANTUM ENGINEER The next confrontation between Einstein and Bohr took place at the Solvay Congress of 1930, also held in Brussels. Einstein had prepared a little surprise for Bohr. This was an imaginary device that Einstein thought violated the uncertainty principle involving energy and time.

Light shining on the electron will be reflected from it and will pass through the lenses of the microscope. To increase the accuracy, one must decrease the wavelength of the light. But the shorter the wavelength, the more energy and momenta the light quanta carry. When these energetic light quanta hit the electron, they knock it for a loop. The future position of the electron, along with its momentum, becomes more indeterminate the more accurately we insist on measuring the electron’s present position.

It is a little like asking which of Beethoven’s symphonies is the most beautiful. My favorite, after years of studying them, is Einstein’s paper on the blackbody radiation. ’’ It begins with a brief discussion of the difference between gases and what Einstein calls ‘‘other ponderable bodies,’’ and light. The former appear to be made out of particulate elements—Einstein mentions atoms and electrons—while light is represented as a continuous medium. Mincing no words, Einstein states that the radiation in a blackbody cavity, and elsewhere, pace the wave theory, may in fact have a particulate character.

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