Chapter

The Path Not Taken

Michael Munowitz

in Knowing

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195167375
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199787104 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195167375.003.0008
The Path Not Taken

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The quantum mechanical superposition state — the wave function — takes shape, and the rules for its deterministic evolution and probabilistic interpretation are developed. A clockwork macrocosm in which the Moon never wavers from its course gives way to a guesswork microcosm in which an electron follows no predetermined path at all. This leads to a quantum mechanical world in which the sharp values of position, velocity, momentum, energy, and all the other quantities of classical mechanics blur into the probability distributions of quantum mechanics.

Keywords: determinism; probability; quantum mechanics; superposition; wave function

Chapter.  7022 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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