Humbling experience

The following is a Review by Henning Dekant (Real Name) at Amazon.com (June 29, 2011).

Richard Feynman famously stated “I think it is safe to say that no one understands Quantum Mechanics.”

This book is changing that. Although so far I have only read up to chapter 5, it looks like this unexpected treatise lives up to its preposterous subtitle.

The way Ulrich Mohrhoff introduces QM everything flows from the basic rules of calculating with probabilities and the uncertainty relation. The latter in turn is a logical requirement for stable matter and quite a misnomer in English (surprisingly the original German term “Unschaerferelation” captures its meaning significantly better).

Reading chapter 5 has been a most humbling experience. I studied physics and have always been captivated by the particle wave dualism that the classical two slit experiment embodies so beautifully. Feynman observed that this “experiment has in it the heart of quantum mechanics”. Well, I feel like eating my heart out.

The way this book covers the two slit experiment everything falls into place and makes perfect sense. There is no wave particle dualism, just the naked necessity of a probabilistic regime. It is so simple. Painfully obvious. Easy to grasp with just a minimum of mathematical rigor. It boggles the mind that QM has not been understood this way from the get go. This feels like 20/20 hindsight writ large.

To add insult to injury, this is written as a text book that’ll be easily accessible for an enterprising high school student, because it briefly introduces all necessary mathematical tools along the way. I.e. a physicist can easily skip these parts as they are cleanly separated from the chapters in which the author executes his QM program.

If you’ve been trying to make sense of QM you will hate this book. It’ll make you feel stupid for not having been able to see this all along. Time to eat some humble pie.

I’ll report back once I read the rest.