Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stop arguing about words

Quotation from

Silent Quantum Genius
by Freeman Dyson
The New York Review of Books, February 25, 2010, p. 23.

About Paul Dirac, who lead the second revolution in physics in the 20 th century, quantum mechanics.

He [=Paul Dirac] said, as Galileo said three hundred years earlier,that mathematics is the language that nature speaks. When expressed in mathematical equations,the laws of quantum mechanics are clear and unambiguous. Confusion arises from misguided attempts to translate the laws from mathematics to human language.

Human language describes the world of everyday life,and lacks the concepts that could describe quantum processes accurately. Dirac said we should stop arguing about words,stay with mathematics, and allow the philosophical fog to blow away. I consider Dirac's disengagement from verbal disputes about the meaning of quantum mechanics to be an essential part of his legacy. But I am,as usual,in the minority.


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