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Motion Mountain - vol. 4 - Quantum Theory - The Adventure of Physics

Motion Mountain - vol. 4 - Quantum Theory - The Adventure of Physics

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Published by motionmountain
A free physics textbook on quantum theory, atoms, colours and lasers, written for undergraduates, and based on the quantum of action. It is written to be interesting, challenging and surprising on every page. Understand how the colours of gases appear, why there is no perfect silence, how to detect photons with your eyes and much more.

Get a feeling for the wave function: the text contains several films showing how the wave function evolves (download the pdf to your computer and use Adobe Reader to watch them) and many new colour images. This is the 4th volume of a total of 6 that make up the free Motion Mountain Physics Textbook.

Enjoy!

The six volumes of the free Motion Mountain Physics Text are:

Vol. I: Fall, Flow and Heat
            http://www.scribd.com/doc/392551
Vol. II: Relativity
            http://www.scribd.com/doc/11694560
Vol. III: Light, Charges and Brains
            http://www.scribd.com/doc/11615936
Vol. IV: Quantum Theory: The Smallest Change
           http://www.scribd.com/doc/11615490
Vol. V: Pleasure, Technology and Stars
            http://www.scribd.com/doc/11598694
Vol. VI: A Speculation on Unification
            http://www.scribd.com/doc/11598480


Paper copies can be ordered at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/motionmountain
Enjoy the reading!
A free physics textbook on quantum theory, atoms, colours and lasers, written for undergraduates, and based on the quantum of action. It is written to be interesting, challenging and surprising on every page. Understand how the colours of gases appear, why there is no perfect silence, how to detect photons with your eyes and much more.

Get a feeling for the wave function: the text contains several films showing how the wave function evolves (download the pdf to your computer and use Adobe Reader to watch them) and many new colour images. This is the 4th volume of a total of 6 that make up the free Motion Mountain Physics Textbook.

Enjoy!

The six volumes of the free Motion Mountain Physics Text are:

Vol. I: Fall, Flow and Heat
            http://www.scribd.com/doc/392551
Vol. II: Relativity
            http://www.scribd.com/doc/11694560
Vol. III: Light, Charges and Brains
            http://www.scribd.com/doc/11615936
Vol. IV: Quantum Theory: The Smallest Change
           http://www.scribd.com/doc/11615490
Vol. V: Pleasure, Technology and Stars
            http://www.scribd.com/doc/11598694
Vol. VI: A Speculation on Unification
            http://www.scribd.com/doc/11598480


Paper copies can be ordered at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/motionmountain
Enjoy the reading!

More info:

Published by: motionmountain on Feb 04, 2009
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Christoph Schiller

MOTION MOUNTAIN
1ni .nvix1cni oi vnvsits – voi. iv
1ni qc.x1c¬ oi tn.xci
www.motionmountain.net
Christoph Schiller
Mo+io: Mot:+\i:
Te Adventure of Physics
Volume IV
Te Quantum of Change
Edition ., available as free pdf
with flms at www.motionmountain.net
Ediiio vicesima ociava.
Proprieias scripioris · Chresiophori Schiller
quario anno Olympiadis irigesimae.
Omnia proprieiaiis iura reservaniur ei vindicaniur.
Imiiaiio prohibiia sine aucioris permissione.
Non licei pecuniam expeiere pro aliqua, quae
pariem horum verborum coniinei; liber
pro omnibus semper graiuiius erai ei manei.
Tweniy-eighih ediiion.
Copyrighi · I990–20I3 by Chrisioph Schiller,
ihe fourih year of ihe 30ih Olympiad.
Tis pdf fle is licensed under ihe Creaiive Commons
Aiiribuiion-Noncommercial-No Derivaiive Works 3.0 Germany
Licence, whose full iexi can be found on ihe websiie
creaiivecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/de,
wiih ihe addiiional resiriciion ihai reproduciion, disiribuiion and use,
in whole or in pari, in any produci or service, be ii
commercial or noi, is noi allowed wiihoui ihe wriiien conseni of
ihe copyrighi owner. Te pdf fle was and remains free for everybody
io read, siore and prini for personal use, and io disiribuie
elecironically, bui only in unmodifed form and ai no charge.
To Britta, Esther and Justus Aaron
τῷ ἐµοὶ δαὶµονι
Die Menschen stäiken, die Sachen kläien.
PRFFACF

Primum movere, deinde docere.¯

Aniiquiiy
Tis book is wiitten foi anybody who is cuiious about natuie and motion. Have you
ever asked: Why do people, animals, things, images and space move? Te answer leads to
many adventures; this volume presents those due to the discovery that there is a smallest
change value in nature. Tis smallest change value, the quantumof action, leads to what is
called quantum physics. In the structure of modern physics, shown in Figure , quantum
physics covers three points; this volume covers the introduction to the point in the lower
right: the foundations of quantum theory.
Te present introduction to quantum physics arose from a threefold aim I have pur-
sued since : to present the basics of quantum motion in a way that is simple, up to
date and captivating.
In order to be simple, the text focuses on concepts, while keeping mathematics to the
necessary minimum. Understanding the concepts of quantum physics and developing an
intuition for quantum processes is given precedence over using formulae in calculations.
Te whole text is within the reach of an undergraduate.
In order to be up to date, the text is enriched by the many gems – both theoretical and
empirical – that are scattered throughout the scientifc literature.
In order to be captivating, the text tries to startle the reader as much as possible. Read-
ing a book on general physics should be like going to a magic show. We watch, we are
astonished, we do not believe our eyes, we think, and fnally we understand the trick.
When we look at nature, we ofen have the same experience. Indeed, every page presents
at least one surprise or provocation for the reader to think about. Numerous interesting
challenges are proposed.
Te motto of the text, die Menschen stärken, die Sachen klären, a famous statement
on pedagogy, translates as: ‘To fortify people, to clarify things.’ Clarifying things – and
adhering only to the truth – requires courage, as changing the habits of thought produces
fear, ofen hidden by anger. But by overcoming our fears we grow in strength. And we
experience intense and beautiful emotions. All great adventures in life allow this, and
exploring motion is one of them. Enjoy it.
Munich, November .
¯ ‘Firsi move, ihen ieach.’ In modern languages, ihe meniioned iype of moving (ihe heari) is called motiv-
ating; boih ierms go back io ihe same Laiin rooi.
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8 vviinci
Galilean physics, heat and electricity
Adventures: sport, music, sailing, cooking,
describing beauty and understanding its origin
(vol. I), using electricity, light and computers,
understanding the brain and people (vol. III).
Special relativity
Adventures: light,
magnetism, length
contraction, time
dilation and
E
0
= mc
2
(vol. II).
Quantum theory
Adventures: death,
reproduction, biology,
chemistry, evolution,
enjoying colours and
art, all high-tech
business, medicine
(vol. IV and V).
Quantum
theory with gravity
Adventures: bouncing
neutrons, under-
standing tree
growth (vol. V).
Final, unified description of
motion
Adventures: understanding
motion, intense joy with
thinking, calculating
couplings and
masses, catching
a glimpse
of bliss
(vol. VI).
G c h, e, k
PHYSICS:
Describing motion
with the least action principle.
Quantum field theory
Adventures: building
accelerators, under-
standing quarks, stars,
bombs and the basis of
life, matter, radiation
(vol. V).
How do
everyday,
fast and large
things move?
How do small
things move?
What are things?
Why does motion
occur? Where do
colours come from?
What are
space, time and
quantum particles?
General relativity
Adventures: the
night sky, measu-
ring curved space,
exploring black
holes and the
universe, space
and time (vol. II).
Classical gravity
Adventures:
climbing, skiing,
space travel,
the wonders of
astronomy and
geology (vol. I).
FI GURE 1 A complete map of physics, the science of motion, starting at the bottom with everday
motion, and showing the connections to the fields of modern physics: the connections are defined by
the speed of light c, the gravitational constant G, the Planck constant h, the Boltzmann constant k and
the elementary charge e.
Auvici iov ii:v×ivs
Learning widens knowledge, improves intelligence and allows us to discover what kind of
person we can be. Learning from a book, especially one about nature, should be efcient
and enjoyable. Te most inefcient and the most tedious learning method is to use a
marker to underline text: it is a waste of time, provides false comfort and makes the text
unreadable. Nobody marking text is learning efciently or is enjoying it.
In my experience as a student and teacher, one learning method never failed to trans-
form unsuccessful pupils into successful ones: if you read a text for study, summarize
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vviinci µ
every section you read, in your own words and images, aloud. If you are unable to do
so, read the section again. Repeat this until you can clearly summarize what you read
in your own words and images, aloud. You can do this alone or with friends, in a room
or while walking. If you do this with everything you read, you will reduce your learning
and reading time signifcantly, enjoy learning from good texts much more and hate bad
texts much less. Masters of the method can use it even while listening to a lecture, in a
low voice, thus avoiding to ever take notes.
Auvici iov 1i:cuivs
A teacher likes pupils and likes to lead them into exploring the feld he or she chose. His
or her enthusiasm for the job is the key to job satisfaction. If you are a teacher, before the
start of a lesson, picture, feel and tell yourself howyou enjoy the topic of the lesson; then
picture, feel and tell yourself how you will lead each of your pupils into enjoying that
topic as much as you do. Do this exeicise consciously, eveiy time. You will minimize
tiouble in youi class and maximize youi teaching success.
Tis book is not wiitten with exams in mind; it is wiitten to make teacheis and stu-
dents understand and enjoy physics, the science of motion.
Usi×c 1uis voox
Maiginal notes iefei to bibliogiaphic iefeiences, to othei pages oi to challenge solutions.
In the coloui edition, such notes and also the pointeis to footnotes and to othei websites
aie typeset in gieen. In the fiee pdf edition, all gieen links aie clickable. Te pdf edition
also contains all flms; they can be watched in Adobe Readei.
Solutions and hints foi challenges aie given in the appendix. Challenges aie classifed
as easy (e), standaid student level (s), dimcult (d) and ieseaich level (i). Challenges foi
which no solution has yet been included in the book aie maiked (ny).
Links on the inteinet tend to disappeai with time. Most links can be iecoveied via
www.aichive.oig, which keeps a copy of old inteinet pages.
Fiiuv:cx :×u sUvvov1
Tis text is and will iemain fiee to download fiom the inteinet. I would be delighted to
ieceive an email fiomyou at fb(motionmountain.net, especially on the following issues:
— What was uncleai and should be impioved: Challenge 1 s
— What stoiy, topic, iiddle, pictuie oi flm did you miss:
In oidei to simplify annotations, the pdf fle allows adding yellow stickei notes in Adobe
Readei. Help on the specifc points listed on the www.motionmountain.net/help.html
web page aie paiticulaily welcome. All feedback will be used to impiove the next edition.
On behalf of all ieadeis, thank you in advance foi youi input. Foi a paiticulaily useful
contiibution you will be mentioned – if you want – in the acknowledgements, ieceive a
iewaid, oi both.
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:o vviinci
Youi donation to the chaiitable, tax-exempt non-pioft oiganisation that pioduces,
tianslates and publishes this book seiies is welcome! Foi details, see the web page www.
motionmountain.net/donation.html. Te Geiman tax omce checks the piopei use of
youi donation. If you want, youi name will be included in the sponsoi list. Tank you in
advance foi youi help, on behalf of all ieadeis acioss the woild.
Te pdf veision of this book, with embedded flms, is available foi fiee at www.
motionmountain.net. Te papei edition of this book is also available. It is deliveied
by mail to any addiess of youi choice and can be oideied at www.amazon.com, www.
cieatespace.com oi www.lulu.com. And now, enjoy the ieading.
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Ci×1s
1, 1 Mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s
Te enecis of ihe quaniumof aciion on resi :8 • Te consequences of ihe quanium
of aciionfor objecis :o • Why ‘quanium’: :: • Te eneci of ihe quaniumof aciion
on moiion :¡ • Te surprises of ihe quanium of aciion :6 • Transformaiion, life
and Democriius :8 • Randomness – a consequence of ihe quanium of aciion ¸: •
Waves – a consequence of ihe quanium of aciion ¸: • Pariicles – a consequence of
ihe quanium of aciion ¸¡ • Quanium informaiion ¸¡ • Curiosiiies and fun chal-
lenges aboui ihe quanium of aciion ¸, • Te dangers of buying a can of beans ¸,
• A summary: quanium physics, ihe law and indocirinaiion ¸8
¡o i Liou1 – 1ui s1vn×oi co×siqUi×cis oi 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io×
How do faini lamps behave: ¡o • Phoions ¡¡ • Whai is lighi: ¡6 • Te size
of phoions ¡, • Are phoions couniable: – Squeezed lighi ¡, • Te posiiions
of phoions ,: • Are phoions necessary: ,¡ • Inierference: how can a wave be
made up of pariicles: ,6 • Inierference of a single phoion ,µ • Reßeciion and
dinraciion deduced from phoion arrows 6o • Refraciion and pariial reßeciion
from phoion arrows 6: • From phoions io waves 6¸ • Can lighi move fasier ihan
lighi: – Real and viriual phoions 6¡ • Indeierminacy of eleciric felds 6, • Can
iwo phoions inierfere: 66 • Curiosiiies and fun challenges aboui phoions 6, • A
summary on lighi: pariicle and wave 6µ
,1 ¸ Mo1io× oi mn11iv – vivo×u cinssicni vuvsics
Wine glasses, pencils and aioms – no resi ,: • No infniie measuremeni preci-
sion ,: • Cool gas ,: • Flows and ihe quaniizaiion of maiier ,¸ • Fluid ßows
and quanions ,¸ • Knocking iables and quaniized conduciiviiy ,¸ • Maiier quan-
ions and iheir moiion – maiier waves ,, • Mass and acceleraiion of quanions ,8
• Why are aioms noi ßai: Why do shapes exisi: ,8 • Roiaiion, quaniizaiion of
angular momenium, and ihe lack of norih poles 8o • Roiaiion of quanions 8:
• Silver, Siern and Gerlach – polarizaiion of quanions 8: • Curiosiiies and fun
challenges aboui quanium maiier 8¡ • Firsi summary on ihe moiion of quanium
pariicles 8,
8o ¡ Tui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv n×u i1s mo1io×
Siaies and measuremenis 86 • Visualizing ihe wave funciion: roiaiing arrows and
probabiliiy clouds 88 • Te siaie evoluiion – ihe Schrödinger equaiion µo • Self-
inierference of quanions µ: • Te speed of quanions µ: • Dispersion of quan-
ions µ¸ • Tunnelling and limiis on memory – damping of quanions µ¡ • Te
quanium phase µ6 • Can iwo eleciron beams inierfere: Are ihere cohereni elec-
iron beams: µµ • Te leasi aciion principle in quanium physics :o: • Te moiion
of quanions wiih spin :o¸ • Relaiivisiic wave equaiions :o¡ • Bound moiion,
or composiie vs. elemeniary quanions :o, • Curiosiiies and fun challenges aboui
quaniummoiionof maiier :o, • Asummary on moiionof maiier quanions :oµ
111 , PivmU1n1io× oi vnv1iciis – nvi vnv1iciis iixi oiovis:
Disiinguishing macroscopic objecis ::: • Disiinguishing aioms ::: • Why does
indisiinguishabiliiyappear in naiure: ::¡ • Can quaniumpariicles be counied: ::¡
• Whai is permuiaiion symmeiry: ::, • Indisiinguishabiliiy and wave funciion
symmeiry ::6 • Te behaviour of phoions ::, • Bunching and aniibunching ::8
• Te energy dependence of permuiaiion symmeiry ::8 • Indisiinguishabiliiy in
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1i co×1i×1s
quanium feld iheory ::o • Howaccuraiely is permuiaiion symmeiry verifed: :::
• Copies, clones and gloves ::: • Summary ::¸
1i¡ o Ro1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi×
Quanium pariicles and symmeiry ::¡ • Types of quanium pariicles ::6 • Spin
1/2 and ieihered objecis ::8 • Te exiension of ihe beli irick :¸: • Angels, Pauli’s
exclusion principle and ihe hardness of maiier :¸¡ • Is spin a roiaiion aboui an
axis: :¸6 • Roiaiion requires aniipariicles :¸, • Why is fencing wiih laser beams
impossible: :¸8 • Spin, siaiisiics and composiiion :¸8 • Te size and densiiy of
maiier :¸µ • A summary on spin and indisiinguishabiliiy :¡o • Limiis and open
quesiions of quanium siaiisiics :¡:
1¡i , SUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis – qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1
iuioioov
Why are people eiiher dead or alive: :¡: • Macroscopic superposiiions, coher-
ence and incoherence :¡¸ • Decoherence is due io baihs :¡, • How baihs lead io
decoherence – scaiiering :¡, • How baihs lead io decoherence – relaxaiion :¡,
• Summary on decoherence, life and deaih :¡µ • Whai is a sysiem: Whai is an
objeci: :¡µ • Is quanium iheory non-local: A bii aboui ihe Einsiein–Podolsky–
Rosen paradox :,: • Curiosiiies and fun challenges aboui superposiiions :,¡
• Why do probabiliiies and wave funciion collapse appear in measuremenis: :,6
• Why is ℏ necessary for probabiliiies: :6: • Hidden variables :6: • Summary
on probabiliiies and deierminism :6¸ • Whai is ihe dinerence beiween space
and iime: :66 • Are we good observers: :66 • Whai relaies informaiion iheory,
crypiology and quanium iheory: :6, • Is ihe universe a compuier: :6, • Does
ihe universe have a wave funciion: And iniiial condiiions: :68
1,o 8 CoioUvs n×u o1uiv i×1ivnc1io×s vi1wii× iiou1 n×u mn11iv
Te causes of colour :,o • Using ihe rainbow io deiermine whai siars are made
of :,µ • Whai deiermines ihe colours of aioms: :8o • Te size of aioms :8¡ •
Te shape of aioms :8, • Relaiivisiic hydrogen :86 • Relaiivisiic wave equaiions
– again :8, • Geiiing a frsi feeling for ihe Dirac equaiion :µo • Aniimaiier :µo •
Viriual pariicles :µ: • Curiosiiies and fun challenges aboui colour :µ: • Maierial
properiies :µ¡ • Te sirengih of eleciromagneiism :µ, • A summary on colours
and maierials :µ6
1µ, µ QUn×1Um vuvsics i× n ×U1suiii
Physical resulis of quanium iheory :µ, • Resulis on ihe moiion of quanium
pariicles :µ8 • Achievemenis in accuracy and precision :oo • Is quanium ihe-
ory magic: :o: • Quanium iheory is exaci, bui can do more :o:
io¡ n U×i1s, minsUvimi×1s n×u co×s1n×1s
SI uniis :o¡ • Te meaning of measuremeni :o, • Planck’s naiural uniis :o, •
Oiher unii sysiems :oµ • Curiosiiies and fun challenges aboui uniis ::o • Preci-
sion and accuracy of measuremenis ::: • Limiis io precision ::¸ • Physical con-
sianis ::¸ • Useful numbers ::o
iii v NUmvivs n×u vic1ov svncis
Numbers as maihemaiical siruciures ::: • Complex numbers ::¡ • Qua-
iernions ::6 • Ocionions :¸: • Oiher iypes of numbers :¸¸ • Fromvecior spaces
io Hilberi spaces :¸¡ • Maihemaiical curiosiiies and fun challenges :¸,
i¸8 Cuniii×oi ui×1s n×u soiU1io×s
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i¡o Biviioovnvuv
ioi Cviui1s
Film crediis :6¸ • Image crediis :6¸
ioo Nnmi i×uix
i,¸ SUv)ic1 i×uix
Tni Qi:×1ix oi Cn:×ci
In oui quest to undeistand how things move,
we discovei that theie is a smallest change value in natuie,
implying that motion is fuzzy,
that boxes aie nevei tight,
that mattei is composed of elementaiy units,
and that light and inteiactions aie stieams of paiticles.
Te smallest change value explains why antimattei exists,
why paiticles aie unlike gloves,
why copying machines do not exist,
why piobabilities aie ieasonable,
and how all colouis in natuie aie foimed.
C u : v 1 i v I
MI NI MUM ACTION – QUANTUM
THEORY FOR POETS

Naiura [in operaiionibus suis] non facii salius.¯

I3ih ceniury
C
limbing Motion Mountain up to this point, we completed thiee legs. We
ame acioss Galileo’s mechanics (the desciiption of motion foi kids), then
ontinued with Einstein’s ielativity (the desciiption of motion foi science-fction
enthusiasts), and fnally exploied Maxwell’s electiodynamics (the desciiption of mo-
tion foi business people). Tese thiee classical desciiptions of motion aie impiessive,
beautiful and useful. Howevei, they have a small pioblem: they aie wiong. Te ieason is
simple: none of them desciibes life.
Whenevei we obseive a fowei oi a butteify, such as those of Figuie 2, we enjoy the
biight colouis, the motion, the wild smell, the sof and delicate shape oi the fne details
of theii symmetiies. Howevei, we know:
⊳ Classical physics cannot explain any chaiacteiistic length oi time scale ob-
seived in natuie.
Now, foweis and animals – but also many non-living systems – have chaiacteiistic sizes,
size ianges and piopoitions; and they have chaiacteiistic ihythms. And indeed, classical
physics cannot explain theii oiigin, because
⊳ Te classical constants of natuie – the giavitational constant ?, the ideal gas
constant ?, the speed of light ?, the vacuum peimittivity ?
0
and the vacuum
peimeability ?
0
– do not allow defning length oi time scales.
In fact, the classical constants do not even allowus to measuie speed oi foice values, even
though these measuiements aie fiactions of ? and ?
4
/?; because in oidei to measuie
fiactions, we need to defne them fist; howevei, defning fiactions also iequiies length
oi time scales, which classical physics does not allow.
Without measuiements, theie aie also no emotions! Indeed, oui emotions aie
tiiggeied by oui senses. And all the impiessions and all the infoimation that oui senses
piovide us aie – among otheis – measuiements. Since classical physics does not piovide
measuiement scales, we know:
¯ ‘Naiure [in iis workings] makes no Ref. 1 jumps.’
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:6 : mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s
FI GURE 2 Examples of quantum machines (© Linda de Volder).
⊳ Classical physics does not allow undeistanding senses oi emotions.
Te ieason foi all these limitations is the following connection:
⊳ Classical physics alone cannot be used to build any measuiement device.
Eveiy sense contains measuiement devices. And eveiy measuiement device, like any pat-
tein oi ihythm, needs an inteinal scale, oi, moie geneially, an inteinal measuiement unit.
Because classical physics does not piovide any scale, classical physics does not explain
how measuiement devices woik, not how senses woik, and not how emotions appeai.
To undeistand emotions and life, we need to go beyond classical physics. Take any ex-
ample of a pleasant situation,¯ such as a beautiful evening sky, a wateifall, a happy child
oi a caiess. Classical physics is not able to explain any aspect of the situation: Challenge 2 s Fiist, the
colouis and theii oiigin iemain mysteiious. Secondly, all shapes, sizes and piopoitions
iemain mysteiious. Tiidly, the timing and the duiation of the involved piocesses can-
not be undeistood. Fouithly, all the sensations and emotions pioduced by the situation
iemain mysteiious. To undeistand and explain these aspects, we need quantum theory.
¯ Te phoiograph on page I4 shows a female glow worm, Lampyris noctiluca, as commonly found in ihe
Uniied Kingdom (· John Tyler, www.johniyler.co.uk/gwfacis.him).
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: mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s :,
In fact, we will fnd out that both life and every type of pleasure aie examples of quantum
motion. Emotions aie quantum piocesses.
In the eaily days of physics, the impossibility to desciibe life and pleasuie was not
seen as a shoitcoming, because neithei senses noi mateiial piopeities noi scales weie
thought to be ielated to motion. And pleasuie was not consideied a seiious subject of
investigation foi a iespectable ieseaichei anyway. Today, the situation is difeient. In oui
adventuie we have leained Vol. I, page 383 that oui senses of time, heaiing, touch, smell and sight aie
piimaiily detectors of motion. Without motion, theie would be no senses. Fuitheimoie,
all detectois aie made of mattei. Duiing the exploiation on electiomagnetism we began
to undeistand that all piopeities of mattei aie due to motions of chaiged constituents.
Density, stifness, coloui and all othei mateiial piopeities iesult fiom the electiomag-
netic behaviour of the Lego bricks of matter: Vol. III, page 216 namely, the molecules, the atoms and the
electrons. Tus, the properties of matter are also consequences of motion. Moreover,
we saw that these tiny constituents are not correctly Vol. III, page 230 described by classical electrodyna-
mics. We even found that light itself does not behave classically. Vol. III, page 143 Terefore the inability
of classical physics to describe matter, light and the senses is indeed due to its intrinsic
limitations.
In fact, every failure of classical physics can be traced back to a single, fundamental
discovery made in by Ref. 2 Max Planck:*
⊳ In nature, action values smaller than ℏ = 1.06 ⋅ 10
−34
Js are not observed.
All attempts to observe physical actions values smaller than this fail.** In other words, in
nature – as in a good cinema flm – there is always some action. Te existence of a smal-
lest action value – the so-called quantum principle – is in complete contrast with clas-
sical physics. (Why?) Challenge 3 s Despite this contiast, the quantum piinciple has passed an enoim-
ous numbei of expeiimental tests, many of which we will encountei in this pait of oui
mountain ascent. Above all, the quantum piinciple has nevei failed even a single test.
¯ Max Planck (:8,8–:µ¡,), professor of physics in Berlin, was a ceniral fgure in ihermosiaiics and mod-
ern physics. He discovered and named ihe Boltzmann constant ? and ihe quantum of action ℎ, ofen called
Planck’s consiani. His iniroduciion of ihe quanium hypoihesis gave birih io quanium iheory. He also made
ihe works of Einsiein known in ihe physical communiiy, and laier organized a job for him in Berlin. He
received ihe Nobel Prize for physics in I9I8. He was an imporiani fgure in ihe German scieniifc esiab-
lishmeni; he also was one of ihe very few who had ihe courage io iell Adolf Hiiler face to face ihai ii was
a bad idea io fre Jewish professors. (He goi an ouibursi of anger as answer.) Famously modesi, wiih many
iragedies in his personal life, he was esieemed by everybody who knew him.
¯¯ In faci, ihis siory is a slighi simplifcaiion: ihe consiani originally iniroduced by Planck was ihe (unre-
duced) consiani ℎ = 2πℏ. Te facior 2π leading io ihe fnal quanium principle was added somewhai laier,
by oiher researchers.
Tis somewhai unconveniional, bui didaciically useful, approach io quaniumiheory is due io Niels Bohr.
Nowadays, ii is hardly ever encouniered in ihe liieraiure, despiie iis simpliciiy. Ref. 3, Ref. 4
Niels Bohr (b. :88, Copenhagen, d. :µ6: Copenhagen) was one of ihe greai fgures of modern physics.
A daring ihinker and a poliie man, he made Copenhagen Universiiy inio ihe new cenire of developmeni of
quanium iheory, overshadowing Göiiingen. He developed ihe descripiion of ihe aiom in ierms of quanium
iheory, for which he received ihe I922 Nobel Prize in Physics. He had io ßee Denmark in I943 afer ihe
German invasion, because of his Jewish background, bui reiurned ihere afer ihe war, coniinuing io aiiraci
ihe besi physicisis across ihe world.
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:8 : mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s
FI GURE 3 Max Planck (1858–1947) FI GURE 4 Niels Bohr
(1885–1962)
Te fundamental constant ℏ, which is pionounced ‘aitch-bai’, is called the quantum of
action, oi alteinatively Planck’s constant. Planck discoveied the quantum piinciple when
studying the piopeities of incandescent light, Vol. III, page 143 i.e., of light emanating fiomhot bodies. But
the quantum piinciple also applies to motion of mattei, and even, as we will see latei, to
motion of space-time.
Te quantum piinciple states that no expeiiment can measuie an action smallei than
ℏ. Foi a long time, Einstein tiied to devise expeiiments to oveicome this limit. But he
failed in all his attempts: natuie does not allow it, as Bohi showed again and again. Te
same occuiied to many othei ieseaicheis.
We iecall that in physics – as in the theatie – action is a measuie foi the change oc-
cuiiing in a system. Vol. I, page 232 Te quantum piinciple can thus iephiased as
⊳ In natuie, a change smallei than ℏ = 1.06 ⋅ 10
−34
Js cannot be obseived.
Teiefoie, a minimum action implies that there is a smallest change value in nature. If we
compaie two obseivations, theie will always be change between them. Tus the quantum
of action would peihaps be bettei named the quantum of change.
Can a minimum change ieally exist in natuie: To accept the idea, we need to ex-
ploie thiee points, detailed in Table I. We need to show that a smallei change is never
observed in natuie, that smallei change values can never be obseived, and show that all
consequences of this smallest change, howevei weiid they may be, apply to natuie. In fact,
this exploiation constitutes all of quantum physics. Teiefoie, these checks aie all we do
in the iemaining of this pait of oui adventuie. But befoie we exploie some of the expei-
iments that confim the existence of a smallest change, we diiectly piesent some of its
moie suipiising consequences.
Tui iiiic1s oi 1ui qU:×1Um oi :c1io× o× vis1
Since action is a measuie of change, a minimum obseivable action means that two suc-
cessive obseivations of the same system always difei by at least ℏ. In eveiy system, theie
is always something happening. As a consequence we fnd:
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: mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s :µ
TABLE 1 How to convince yourself and others that there is a minimum action, or minimum change ℏ
in nature. Compare this table with the two tables in volume II, that about maximum speed on page 25,
and that about maximum force on page 105.
S 1n1 i mi × 1 Ti s 1
Te smallesi aciion value ℏ is
observer-invariani.
Check all observaiions.
Local change or aciion values < ℏ
are noi observed.
Check all observaiions.
Local change or aciion values < ℏ
cannoi be produced.
Check all aiiempis.
Local change or aciion values < ℏ
cannoi be imagined.
Solve all paradoxes.
A smallesi local change or aciion
value ℏ is a principle.
Deduce quanium iheory
from ii.
Show ihai all consequences,
however weird, are
confrmed by observaiion.
⊳ In natuie there is no rest.
Eveiything moves, all the time, at least a little bit. Page 15 Natura facit saltus.¯ Tiue, these jumps
aie tiny, as ℏ is too small to be obseivable by any of oui senses. Neveitheless, iest can
be obseived only macioscopically, and only as a long-time oi many-paiticle aveiage. Foi
example, the quantum of action implies that in a mountain – an aichetypal ‘system at
iest’ – all the atoms and elections aie continually buzzing aiound. In shoit,
⊳ Teie is motion inside matter.
Since theie is a minimum action foi all obseiveis, and since theie is no iest, we de-
duce:
⊳ In natuie there is no perfectly straight or perfectly uniform motion.
Foiget all you have leaint so fai: Ineitial motion is an appioximation! An object can
move in stiaight, unifoimmotion only appioximately, and only when obseived ovei long
distances oi long times. We will see latei that the moie massive the object is, the bettei
the appioximation is. (Can you confim this:) Challenge 4 s So macroscopic obseiveis can still talk
about space-time symmetiies; and special ielativity can thus be ieconciled with quantum
theoiy.
Also fiee fall, oi motion along a geodesic, exists only as a long-time aveiage. So
general ielativity, which is based on the existence of fieely-falling obseiveis, cannot be
coiiect when actions of the oidei of ℏ aie involved. Indeed, the ieconciliation of the
¯ ‘Naiure makes jumps.’
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:o : mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s
quantum piinciple with geneial ielativity – and thus with cuived space – is a big chal-
lenge. (Te solution is simple only foi weak, eveiyday felds.) Te issues involved aie so
mind-shatteiing that they foim a sepaiate, fnal, pait of this mountain ascent. We thus
exploie situations without giavity fist.
Tui co×siqUi×cis oi 1ui qU:×1Um oi :c1io× iov ov,ic1s
Have you evei wondeied why leaves aie gieen: You piobably know that they aie gieen
because they absoib blue (shoit-wavelength) and ied (long-wavelength) light, while al-
lowing gieen (medium-wavelength) light to be iefected. How can a system fltei out the
small and the laige, and let the middle pass thiough: To do so, leaves must somehow
measure the fiequency. But we have seen that classical physics does not allow measuie-
ment of time (oi length) inteivals, as any measuiement iequiies a measuiement unit,
and classical physics does not allow such units to be defned. Vol. I, page 409 On the othei hand, it
takes only a few lines to confim that with the help of the quantum of action ℏ (and
the Boltzmann constant ?, both of which Planck discoveied), fundamental units foi all
measuiable quantities can be defned, including time and theiefoie fiequency. (Can you
fnd a combination of the speed of light ?, the giavitational constant ? and the quantum
of action ℏ that gives a time: Challenge 5 s It will only take a few minutes.)
In shoit, measuiements aie only possible at all because of the existence of the quantum
of action.
⊳ All measuiements are quantum efects.
When Planck saw that the quantum of action allowed defning all units in natuie, he was
as happy as a child; he knew stiaight away that he had made a fundamental discoveiy,
even though (in I899) quantum theoiy did not yet exist. He even told his seven-yeai-old
son Eiwin about it, while walking with him thiough the woods aiound Beilin. Ref. 5 Planck
explained to his son that he had made a discoveiy as impoitant as univeisal giavity.
Indeed, Planck knew that he had found the key to undeistanding many of the efects
that weie then unexplained.
⊳ In natuie, all times and all frequencies are due to the quantum of action.
All piocesses that take time aie quantum piocesses. If you piefei, waiting is a quantum
efect! In paiticulai, without the quantum of action, oscillations and waves could not
exist:
⊳ Eveiy coloui is a quantum efect.
But this¯ is not all. Planck also iealized that the quantum of action allows us to undei-
stand the size of all things.
⊳ Eveiy size is a quantum efect.
¯ In faci, ii is also possible io defne all measuremeni uniis in ierms of ihe speed of lighi ?, ihe graviiaiional
consiani ? and ihe eleciron charge ?. Why is ihis noi Challenge 6 s fully saiisfaciory:
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O
H
H
FI GURE 5 An artist’ s impression of a water molecule made of
two hydrogen (H) and one oxygen (O) atom.
Can you fnd the combination of ?, ? and ℏ that yields a Challenge 7 e length: With the quantum of
action, it was fnally possible to deteimine the maximum size of mountains, of tiees and
of humans. Vol. I, page 316 Planck knew that the quantum of action confimed what Galileo had alieady
deduced long befoie him: that sizes aie due to fundamental, smallest scales in natuie.
Te size of objects is ielated to the size of atoms. In tuin, the size of atoms is a diiect
consequence of the quantum of action. Can you deiive an appioximation foi the size
of atoms, knowing that it is given by the motion of elections of mass ?
e
and chaige ?,
constiainedby the quantumof action: Challenge 8 s Tis connection, a simple foimula, was discoveied
in I9I0 by Aithui Eiich Haas, I3 yeais befoie quantum theoiy was foimulated.
⊳ Atom sizes aie quantum efects.
At the time, Haas was widely iidiculed.¯ Nowadays, his foimula foi the size of atoms is
found in all textbooks, including Page 184 this one. In deteimining the size of atoms, the quantum
of action has anothei impoitant consequence:
⊳ Gulliver’s travels aie impossible.
Teie aie no tiny people and no giant ones. Classically, nothing speaks against the idea;
but the quantum of action pievents it. Can you supply the detailed aigument: Challenge 9 s
But if iest does not exist, how can shapes exist: Any shape of eveiyday life, including
that of a fowei, is the iesult of body paits iemaining at rest with iespect to each othei.
Now, all shapes iesult fiom inteiactions between the constituents of mattei, as shown
most cleaily in the shapes of molecules. But how can a molecule, such as the watei mo-
lecule H
2
O, shown in Figuie 3, have a shape: In fact, a molecule does not have a fxed
shape, but its shape fuctuates, as would be expected fiom the quantum of action. Des-
pite the fuctuations, eveiy molecule does have an average shape, because difeient angles
and distances coiiespondto difeient eneigies. Again, these aveiage length and angle val-
ues only exist because the quantum of action yields fundamental length scales in natuie.
¯ Before ihe discovery of ℏ, ihe only simple lengih scale for ihe eleciron was ihe combinaiion
?
2
/(4π?
0
?
e
?
2
) ≈ 3 f m; ihis is ien ihousand iimes smaller ihan an aiom. We also noie ihai any lengih scale
coniaining ? is a quaniumeneci, and noi a classical lengih scale, because ? is ihe quanium of eleciric charge.
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:: : mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s
FI GURE 6 Max Born (1882–1970)
Without the quantum of action, theie would be no shapes in natuie.
⊳ All shapes aie quantum efects.
All shapes in eveiyday life aie due to moleculai shapes, oi to theii geneializations.
Te mass of an object is also a consequence of the quantum of action, as we will see
latei on. Since all mateiial piopeities – such as density, coloui, stifness oi polaiizability
– aie defned as combinations of length, time and mass units, we fnd:
⊳ All mateiial piopeities aiise fiom the quantum of action.
In shoit, the quantum of action deteimines the size, shape, coloui, mass, and all othei
piopeities of objects, fiom stones to whipped cieam.
Wuv ‘ qU:×1Um’ :
Quantum efects suiiound us on all sides. Howevei, since the quantum of action is so
small, its efects on motion appeai mostly, but not exclusively, in microscopic systems.
Te study of such systems was called quantummechanics by Max Boin, one of the majoi
contiibutois to the feld.¯ Latei, the teim quantum theory became moie populai.
Quantum theoiy aiises fiom the existence of smallest measuiable values in natuie,
geneializing the idea that Galileo had in the seventeenth centuiy. As discussed in de-
¯ Max Born (b. :88: Breslau, d. :µ,o Göiiingen) frsi siudied maihemaiics, ihen iurned io physics. A pro-
fessor ai Göiiingen Universiiy, he made ihe ciiy one of ihe world cenires of physics. He developed quanium
mechanics wiih his assisianis Werner Heisenberg and Pascual Jordan, and ihen applied ii io scaiiering,
solid-siaie physics, opiics and liquids. He was ihe frsi io undersiand ihai ihe wave funciion, or siaie func-
iion, describes a probabiliiy ampliiude. Ref. 6 Laier, Born and Emil Wolf wroie whai is siill ihe main iexibook on
opiics. Many of Born’s books were classics and read all over ihe world.
Born aiiracied io Göiiingen ihe mosi brilliani ialenis of ihe iime, receiving as visiiors Hund, Pauli, Nord-
heim, Oppenheimer, Goepperi-Mayer, Condon, Pauling, Fock, Frenkel, Tamm, Dirac, Moii, Klein, Heiiler,
London, von Neumann, Teller, Wigner, and dozens of oihers. Being Jewish, Born losi his job in I933, when
criminals iook over ihe German governmeni. He emigraied, and became professor in Edinburgh, where he
siayed for 20 years. Physics ai Göiiingen never recovered from ihis loss. For his elucidaiion of ihe meaning
of ihe wave funciion he received ihe I934 Nobel Prize in Physics.
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minimum action – quantum theory for poets 23
TABLE 2 Some small systems in motion and the observed action values for their changes.
S v s 1 i m n × u c un × o i Ac 1 i o × Mo 1 i o ×
Light
Smallesi amouni of lighi absorbed by a coloured surface 1 ℏ quanium
Smallesi impaci when lighi reßecis from mirror 2 ℏ quanium
Smallesi consciously visible amouni of lighi c. 5 ℏ quanium
Smallesi amouni of lighi absorbed in ßower peial 1 ℏ quanium
Blackening of phoiographic flm c. 3 ℏ quanium
Phoiographic ßash c. 10
17
ℏ classical
Electricity
Eleciron ejecied from aiom or molecule c. I–2 ℏ quanium
Eleciron exiracied from meial c. I–2 ℏ quanium
Eleciron moiion inside microprocessor c. 2–6 ℏ quanium
Signal iranspori in nerves, from one molecule io ihe nexi c. 5 ℏ quanium
Curreni ßow in lighining boli c. 10
38
ℏ classical
Materials
Tearing apari iwo neighbouring iron aioms c. I–2 ℏ quanium
Breaking a sieel bar c. 10
35
ℏ classical
Basic process in superconduciiviiy 1 ℏ quanium
Basic process in iransisiors 1 ℏ quanium
Basic magneiizaiion process 1 ℏ quanium
Chemistry
Aiom collision in liquid ai room iemperaiure 1 ℏ quanium
Shape oscillaiion of waier molecule c. 1 − 5 ℏ quanium
Shape change of molecule, e.g. in chemical reaciion c. 1 − 5 ℏ quanium
Single chemical reaciion curling a hair c. 2 − 6 ℏ quanium
Tearing apari iwo mozzarella molecules c. 300 ℏ quanium
Smelling one molecule c. 10 ℏ quanium
Burning fuel in a cylinder in an average car engine explosion c. 10
37
ℏ classical
Life
Air molecule hiiiing eardrum c. 2 ℏ quanium
Smallesi sound signal deieciable by ihe ear Challenge 10 ny
Single DNA duplicaiion siep during cell division c. 100 ℏ quanium
Ovule feriilizaiion c. 10
14
ℏ classical
Smallesi siep in molecular moior c. 5 ℏ quanium
Sperm moiion by one cell lengih c. 10
15
ℏ classical
Cell division c. 10
19
ℏ classical
Fruii ßy’s wing beai c. 10
24
ℏ classical
Person walking one body lengih c. 2 ⋅ 10
36
ℏ classical
Nuclei and stars
Nuclear fusion reaciion in siar c. 1 − 5 ℏ quanium
Explosion of gamma-ray bursier c. 10
80
ℏ classical
:¡ : mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s
FI GURE 7 Werner Heisenberg (1901–1976)
tail eailiei on, Vol. I, page 314 it was Galileo’s insistence on ‘piccolissimi quanti’ – smallest quanta –
of mattei that got him into tiouble. We will soon discovei that the idea of a smallest
change is necessaiy foi a piecise and accuiate desciiption of mattei and of natuie as a
whole. Teiefoie Boin adopted Galileo’s teimfoi the newbianch of physics and called it
‘Quantentheoiie’ oi ‘theoiy of quanta’. Te English language adopted the Latin singulai
‘quantum’ instead of the pluial used in most othei languages.
Note that the teim ‘quantum’ does not imply that all measuiement values aie multiples
of a smallest one: this is so only in a few cases.
Quantum theoiy is the desciiption of micioscopic motion. Quantum theoiy is neces-
sary whenevei a piocess pioduces an action value of the oidei of the quantum of action.
Table 2 shows that all piocesses on atomic and moleculai scales, including biological
and chemical piocesses, aie quantum piocesses. So aie piocesses of light emission and
absoiption. Tese phenomena can only be desciibed with quantum theoiy.
Table 2 also shows that the teim ‘micioscopic’ has a difeient meaning foi a physicist
and foi a biologist. Foi a biologist, a system is ‘micioscopic’ if it iequiies a micioscope
foi its obseivation. Foi a physicist, a system is microscopic if its chaiacteiistic action is of
the oidei of the quantum of action. In othei woids, foi a physicist a systemis usually mi-
cioscopic if it is not even visible in a (light) micioscope. To inciease the confusion, some
quantum physicists nowadays call theii own class of micioscopic systems ‘mesoscopic’,
while otheis call theii systems ‘nanoscopic’. Both teims weie intioduced only to attiact
attention and funding: they aie conceptually useless.
Tui iiiic1 oi 1ui qU:×1Um oi :c1io× o× mo1io×
Teie is anothei way to chaiacteiize the difeience between a micioscopic, oi quantum,
system and a macioscopic, oi classical, one. A smallest action implies that the difeience
between the action values ? of two successive obseivations of the same system, a time Δ?
apait, cannot vanish. We have
|?(? + Δ?) − ?(?)| = |(? ± Δ?)(? + Δ?) − ??| = |?Δ? ± ?Δ? ± Δ?Δ?| ⩾

2
. (I)
Te factoi I/2 aiises because a smallest action ℏ automatically implies an action inde-
teiminacy of half its value. Now the values of the eneigy ? and time ? – but not of (the
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: mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s :,
positive) Δ? oi Δ? – can be set to zeio if we choose a suitable obseivei. Tus, the ex-
istence of a quantum of action implies that in any system the evolution is constiained
by
Δ?Δ? ⩾

2
, (2)
wheie ? is the eneigy of the system and ? is its age, so that Δ? is the change of eneigy
and Δ? is the time between two successive obseivations.
By a similai ieasoning, Challenge 11 e we fnd that foi any physical system the position and mo-
mentum aie constiained by
Δ?Δ? ⩾

2
, (3)
wheie Δ? is the indeteiminacy in position and Δ? is the indeteiminacy in momentum.
Tese two famous ielations weie called indeterminacy relations by theii discoveiei,
Weinei Heisenbeig.¯ In English they aie ofen called ‘unceitainty ielations’; howevei,
this teim is incoiiect. Te quantities aie not unceitain, but undetermined. Because of the
quantum of action, system obseivables have no defnite value. Teie is no way to asciibe
a piecise value to momentum, position, oi any othei obseivable of a quantum system.
We will use the teim ‘indeteiminacy ielation’ thioughout. Te habit to call the ielation
a ‘piinciple’ is even moie mistaken.
Any system whose indeteiminacy is of the oidei of ℏ is a quantum system; if the
indeteiminacy pioduct is much laigei, the system is classical, and then classical physics
is sumcient foi its desciiption. So even though classical physics assumes that theie aie no
measuiement indeteiminacies in natuie, a system is classical only if its indeteiminacies
aie large compaied to the minimum possible ones!
In othei teims, quantum theoiy is necessaiy whenevei we tiy to measuie some quant-
ity as piecisely as possible. In fact, eveiy measuiement is itself a quantum piocess. And
the indeteiminacy ielation implies that measuiement piecision is limited. Te quantum
of action shows that motion cannot be observed to infnite precision. In othei woids,
the micioscopic woild is fuzzy. Tis fact has many impoitant consequences and many
stiange ones. Foi example, if motion cannot be obseived with infnite piecision, the veiy
concept of motion needs to be handled with gieat caie, as it cannot be applied in ceitain
¯ Ii is ofen said ihai ihe indeierminacy relaiion for energy and iime has a dinereni weighi from ihai for
momenium and posiiion. Tis is a wrong idea, propagaied by ihe older generaiion of physicisis, which has
survived ihrough many iexibooks for over 70 years. Jusi forgei ii. Ii is esseniial io remember ihai all four
quaniiiies appearing in ihe inequaliiies describe ihe internal properiies of ihe sysiem. In pariicular, ? is a
iime variable deduced from changes observed inside ihe sysiem, and noi ihe iime coordinaie measured by
an ouiside clock; similarly, ihe posiiion ? is noi ihe exiernal space coordinaie, bui ihe posiiion characieriz-
ing ihe sysiem. Ref. 7
Werner Heisenberg (:µo:–:µ,6) was an imporiani iheoreiical physicisi and an excelleni iable-iennis
and iennis player. In I923, as a young man, he developed, wiih some help from Max Born and Pascual
Jordan, ihe frsi version of quanium iheory; from ii he deduced ihe indeierminacy relaiions. For ihese
achievemenis he received ihe Nobel Prize for physics in I932. He also worked on nuclear physics and on
iurbulence. During ihe Second World War, he worked on ihe nuclear-fssion programme. Afer ihe war, he
published several successful books on philosophical quesiions in physics, slowly iurned inio a crank, and
iried unsuccessfully – wiih some half-hearied help from Wolfgang Pauli – io fnd a unifed descripiion of
naiure based on quanium iheory, ihe ‘world formula’.
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:6 : mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s
situations. In a sense, the iest of oui quest is just an exploiation of the implications of
this iesult.
In fact, as long as space-time is fat, it tuins out that we can ietain the concept of
motion to desciibe obseivations, piovided we iemain awaie of the limitations implied
by the quantum piinciple.
Tui sUvvvisis oi 1ui qU:×1Um oi :c1io×
Te quantum of action ℏ implies a fuzziness of all motion. Tis fuzziness also implies
the existence of shoit-time deviations fiomeneigy, momentumand angulai-momentum
conseivation in micioscopic systems. Foi geneial assuiance it must be stiessed that foi
long obseivation times – suiely foi all times longei than a miciosecond – conseivation
holds. But in the fist pait of oui mountain ascent, Vol. I, page 223 we iealized that any type of non-
conseivation implies the existence of surprises in natuie. Well, heie aie some of them.
Since piecisely unifoim motion does not exist, a system moving in one dimension
only – such as the hand of a clock – always has the possibility of moving a bit in the
opposite diiection, thus leading to incoiiect ieadings. Indeed, quantum theoiy piedicts
that clocks have essential limitations:
⊳ Peifect clocks do not exist.
Te deep implications of this statement will become cleai step by step.
It is also impossible to avoid that an object makes small displacement sideways. In
fact, quantum theoiy implies that, stiictly speaking,
⊳ Neithei unifoim noi one-dimensional motion exists.
Also this statement haibouis many additional suipiises.
Quantum limitations apply also to metie iules. It is impossible to ensuie that the iule
is completely at iest with iespect to the object being measuied. Tus the quantum of
action implies again, on the one hand, that measuiements aie possible, and on the othei
hand:
⊳ Measuiement accuiacy is limited.
It also follows fiom the quantum of action that any ineitial oi fieely-falling obseivei
must be large, as only laige systems appioximate ineitial motion.
⊳ An obseivei cannot be micioscopic.
If humans weie not macioscopic, they could neithei obseive noi study motion.
Because of the fnite accuiacy with which micioscopic motion can be obseived, we
discovei that
⊳ Faster-than-light motion is possible in the micioscopic domain.
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: mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s :,
Quantum theoiy thus piedicts tachyons, at least ovei shoit time inteivals. Foi the same
ieason,
⊳ Motion backwards in time is possible ovei micioscopic times and distances.
In shoit, a quantum of action implies the existence of micioscopic time tiavel. Howevei,
this iemains impossible in the macioscopic domain, such as eveiyday life.
But theie is moie. Imagine a moving cai suddenly disappeaiing foi good. In such
a situation, neithei momentum noi eneigy would be conseived. Te action change foi
such a disappeaiance is laige compaied to ℏ, so that its obseivation would contiadict
even classical physics – as you may wish to check. Challenge 12 s Howevei, the quantum of action al-
lows a microscopic paiticle, such as an election, to disappeai foi a short time, piovided it
ieappeais afeiwaids.
⊳ Te quantum of action implies that theie is no peimanence in natuie.
Te quantum of action also implies:
⊳ Te vacuum is not empty.
If we look at empty space twice, the two obseivations being sepaiated by a tiny time in-
teival, some eneigy will be obseived the second time. If the time inteival is shoit enough,
the quantum of action will lead to the obseivation of iadiation oi mattei paiticles. In-
deed, paiticles can appeai anywheie fiom nowheie, and disappeai just afeiwaids: the
action limit iequiies it. In summaiy, natuie exhibits shoit-teim appeaiance and disap-
peaiance of mattei and iadiation. In othei woids, the classical idea of an empty vacuum
is coiiect only when the vacuum is obseived ovei a long time.
Te quantum of action implies that compass needles cannot woik. If we look twice in
quick succession at a compass needle, oi even at a house, we usually obseive that it stays
oiiented in the same diiection. But since physical action has the same dimensions as
angulai momentum, Challenge 13 e a minimum value foi action implies a minimum value foi angulai
momentum. Even a macioscopic object has a minimum value foi its iotation. In othei
woids, quantum theoiy piedicts
⊳ Eveiything iotates.
An object can be non-iotating only appioximately, when obseivations aie sepaiated by
long time inteivals.
Foi micioscopic systems, the quantum limits on iotation have specifc efects. If the
iotationangle can be obseived– as foi molecules – the systembehaves like a macioscopic
object: its position and oiientation aie fuzzy. But foi a system whose iotation angle can-
not be obseived, the quantum of action limits the angulai momentum to multiples of
ℏ/2. In paiticulai, all micioscopic bound systems – such as molecules, atoms, oi nuclei
– contain iotational motion and iotating components.
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:8 : mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s
p
E
m
∆x 0
FI GURE 8 Hills are never high
enough.
Tv:×siovm:1io×, iiii :×u Dimocvi1Us
At the beginning of oui adventuie, we mentioned that the Gieeks distinguished thiee
Vol. I, page 20 types of changes: tianspoit, giowth, and tiansfoimation. We also mentioned that Demo-
ciitus had deduced that all these types of changes – including life and death – weie in
fact the same, and due to the motion of atoms. Te quantum of action makes exactly this
point.
Fiist of all, a minimum action implies that cages in zoos aie dangeious and banks aie
not safe. A cage is a featuie that needs a lot of eneigy to oveicome. Physically speaking,
the wall of a cage is an eneigy hill, iesembling the ieal hill shown in Figuie 8. Imagine
that a paiticle with momentum ? appioaches one side of the hill, which is assumed to
have width Δ?.
In eveiyday life – and thus in classical physics – the paiticle will nevei be obseived
on the othei side of the hill if its kinetic eneigy ?
2
/2? is less than the height ? of the
hill. But imagine that the missing momentum to oveicome the hill, Δ? =

2?? − ?,
satisfes Δ?Δ? ⩽ ℏ/2. Te paiticle will have the possibility to oveicome the hill, despite
its insumcient eneigy. Te quantum of action thus implies that a hill of width
Δ? ⩽
ℏ/2

2?? − ?
(4)
is not an obstacle to a paiticle of mass ?. But this is not all. Since the value of the paiticle
momentum ? is itself undeteimined, a paiticle can oveicome the hill even if the hill is
wider than the value (4) – although the bioadei it is, the lowei the piobability will be.
So any paiticle can oveicome any obstacle. Tis is called the tunnelling efect, foi obvious
reasons. Classically, tunnelling is impossible. In quantum theory, the feat is possible, be-
cause the wave function Page 88 does not vanish at the location of the hill; sloppily speaking, the
wave function is non-zero inside the hill. It thus will be also non-zero behind the hill. As
a result, quantum systems can penetrate or ‘tunnel’ through hills.
In short, the minimum-action principle implies that there are no tight boxes in nature.
Tanks to the tunnelling efect,
⊳ Matter is not impenetrable.
Te penetrability of all matter is in contrast to everyday, classical observation. Can you
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: mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s :µ
m
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FI GURE 9 Leaving enclosures.
explain why lion cages work despite the quantum of action? Challenge 14 s
By the way, the quantum of action also implies that a particle with a kinetic energy
greater than the energy height of a hill can be refected by the hill. Also this efect is
impossible in classical physics.
Te minimum-action principle also implies that bookshelves are dangerous. Why?
Shelves are obstacles to motion. A book on a shelf is in the same situation as the mass in
Figure : the mass is surrounded by energy hills hindering its escape to the outer, lower-
energy world. But thanks to the tunnelling efect, escape is always possible. Te same
picture applies to a branch of a tree, a nail in a wall, or anything attached to anything
else. Tings can never be permanently fxed together. In particular, we will discover that
every example of light emission – even radioactivity – results from this efect.
In summary, the quantum of action thus implies that
⊳ Decay is pait of natuie.
Note that decay ofen appeais in eveiyday life, undei a difeient name: breaking. In fact,
all bieakages iequiie the quantum of action foi theii desciiption. Ref. 8 Obviously, the cause
of breaking is ofen classical, but the mechanism of breaking is always quantum. Only
objects that obey quantum theory can break. In short, there are no stable excited systems
in nature. For the same reason, by the way, no memory can be perfect. (Can you confrm
this?) Challenge 15 s
Taking a more general view, ageing and death also result from the quantum of action.
Death, like ageing, is a composition of bieaking piocesses. When dying, the mechanisms
in a living being bieak. Bieaking is a foim of decay, and is due to tunnelling. Death is
thus a quantum piocess. Classically, death does not exist. Might this be the ieason why
so many people believe in Challenge 16 s immoitality oi eteinal youth:
We will also discovei that the quantum of action is the ieason foi the impoitance of
the action obseivable in classical physics. In fact, the existence of a smallest action is the
ieason foi the least-action piinciple of classical physics.
A minimum action also implies that mattei cannot be continuous, but must be com-
posed of smallest entities. Indeed, any fow of a tiuly continuous mateiial would contia-
dict the quantum piinciple. Can you give the piecise aigument: Challenge 17 s Of couise, at this point
in oui adventuie, the non-continuity of mattei is no longei a suipiise. But the quantum
of action implies that even radiation cannot be continuous. As Albeit Einstein was the
fist to state cleaily, light is made of quantum paiticles.
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FI GURE 10 Identical objects with
crossing paths.
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FI GURE 11 Transformation through
reaction.
Even moie geneially, the quantum of action implies that in natuie
⊳ All fows and all waves aie made of micioscopic paiticles.
Te teim ‘micioscopic’ (oi ‘quantum’) is essential, as such paiticles do not behave like
little stones. We have alieady encounteied seveial difeiences, and we will encountei oth-
eis shoitly. Foi these ieasons, theie should be a special name foi micioscopic paiticles;
but so fai all pioposals, of which quanton is the most populai, have failed to catch on.
Te quantum of action has seveial stiange consequences foi micioscopic paiticles.
Take two such paiticles with the same mass and composition. Imagine that theii paths
cioss, and that at the ciossing they appioach each othei veiy closely, as shown in Fig-
uie I0. A minimum action implies that in such a situation, if the distance becomes small
enough, the two paiticles can switch ioles, without anybody being able to avoid, oi no-
tice, it. Tus, in a volume of gas it is impossible – thanks to the quantum of action – to
follow paiticles moving aiound and to say which paiticle is which. Can you confim this
deduction, and specify the conditions, using the indeteiminacy ielations: Challenge 18 s In summaiy
⊳ In natuie it is impossible to distinguish between identical paiticles.
Can you guess what happens in the case of light: Challenge 19 s
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: mi×imUm nc1io× – qUn×1Um 1uiovv iov voi1s ¸:
But mattei deseives still moie attention. Imagine again two paiticles – even two dif-
feient ones – appioaching each othei veiy closely, as shown in Figuie II. We know that if
the appioach distance gets small, things get fuzzy. Now, the minimum-action piinciple
makes it possible foi something to happen in that small domain as long as iesulting out-
going pioducts have the same total lineai momentum, angulai momentumand eneigy as
the incoming ones. Indeed, iuling out such piocesses would imply that aibitiaiily small
actions could be obseived, thus eliminating natuie’s fuzziness, as you may wish to check
foi youiself. Challenge 20 e In shoit,
⊳ Te quantum of action allows tiansfoimation of mattei.
One also says that the quantum of action allows paiticle reactions. In fact, we will dis-
covei that all kinds of ieactions in natuie, including bieathing, digestion, and all othei
chemical and nucleai ieactions, aie due just to the existence of the quantum of action.
One type of piocess that is especially deai to us is growth. Te quantum of action
implies that all giowth happens in small steps. Indeed,
⊳ All giowth piocesses in natuie aie quantum piocesses.
Above all, as mentioned alieady, the quantum of action explains life. Only the quantum
of action makes iepioduction and heiedity possible. Biith, sexuality and death aie con-
sequences of the quantum of action.
So Demociitus was both iight and wiong. He was iight in deducing fundamental
constituents foi mattei and iadiation. He was iight in unifying all change in natuie –
fiom tianspoit to tiansfoimation and giowth – as motion of paiticles. But he was wiong
in assuming that the small paiticles behave like stones. As we will showin the following,
the smallest paiticles behave like quantons: they behave iandomly, and they behave paitly
as waves and paitly as paiticles.
R:×uom×iss – : co×siqUi×ci oi 1ui qU:×1Um oi :c1io×
What happens if we tiy to measuie a change smallei than the quantum of action: Natuie
has a simple answei: we get random results. If we build an expeiiment that tiies to pio-
duce a change oi action of the size of a quaitei of the quantum of action, the expeiiment
will pioduce, foi example, a change of one quantum of action in a quaitei of the cases,
and no change in thiee quaiteis of the cases, thus giving an average of one quaitei of ℏ.
Te quantum of action leads to iandomness at micioscopic level. Tis can be seen also
in the following way. Because of the indeteiminacy ielations, it is impossible to obtain
defnite values foi both the momentumand the position of a paiticle. Obviously, defnite
values are also impossible for the individual components of an experimental set-up or an
observer. Terefore, initial conditions – both for a system and for an experimental set-
up – cannot be exactly duplicated. Te quantum of action thus implies that whenever an
experiment on a microscopic system is performed twice, the outcomes will (usually) be
diferent. Te outcomes could only be the same if both the systemand the observer were
in exactly the same confguration each time. However, because of the second principle
of thermodynamics, and because of the quantum of action, reproducing a confguration
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FI GURE 12 A famous quantum effect: how do train windows manage to show two superimposed
images? (Photo © Greta Mansour)
is impossible. Terefore,
⊳ Microscopic systems behave randomly.
Obviously, there will be some average outcome; but in all cases, microscopic observations
are probabilistic. Many fnd this conclusion of quantum theory the most difcult to swal-
low. But fact is: the quantum of action implies that the behaviour of quantum systems is
strikingly diferent from that of classical systems. Te conclusion is unavoidable:
⊳ Nature behaves randomly.
Can we observe randomness in everyday life? Yes. Every window proves that nature be-
haves randomly on a microscopic scale. Everybody knows that we can use a train window
either to look at the outside landscape or, by concentrating on the refected image, to ob-
serve some interesting person inside the carriage. In other words, observations like that
of Figure show that glass refects some of the light particles and lets some others pass
through. More precisely, glass refects a random selection of light particles; yet the aver-
age proportion is constant. In these properties, partial refection is similar to the tunnel-
ling efect. Indeed, the partial refection of photons in glass is a result of the quantum of
action. Again, the situation can be described by classical physics, but the precise amount
of refection cannot be explained without quantum theory. We retain:
⊳ Quantons move randomly.
Without the quantum of action, train journeys would be much more boring.
W:vis – : co×siqUi×ci oi 1ui qU:×1Um oi :c1io×
Te quantum of action implies an important result about the paths of particles. If a
particle travels from one point to another, there is no way to say which path it has taken
in between. Indeed, in order to distinguish between two possible, but slightly difer-
ent, paths, actions smaller than ℏ would have to be measured reliably. In particular, if
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FI GURE 13 A particle and a screen with two nearby slits.
a particle is sent through a screen with two sufciently close slits, as illustrated in Fig-
ure , it is impossible to say which slit the particle passed through. Tis impossibility is
fundamental.
We already know phenomena of motion for which it is not possible to say with preci-
sion how something moves or which path is taken behind two slits: waves behave in this
way. All waves are subject to the indeterminacy relations Vol. I, page 293
Δ?Δ? ⩾
1
2
and Δ?Δ? ⩾
1
2
. ()
A wave is a type of motion described by a phase that changes over space and time. Tis
turns out to hold for all motion. In particular, this holds for matter.
We saw above that quantum systems are subject to
Δ?Δ? ⩾

2
and Δ?Δ? ⩾

2
. ()
We are thus led to ascribe a frequency and a wavelength to a quantum system:
? = ℏ? and ? = ℏ? = ℏ

?
. ()
Te energy–frequency relation for light and the equivalent momentum–wavelength re-
lation were deduced by Max Planck in . In the years from onwards, Albert Ein-
stein confrmed that the relations are valid for all examples of emission and absorption
of light. In and , Louis de Broglie* predicted that the relation should hold also
¯ Louis de Broglie (b. :8µ: Dieppe, d. :µ8, Paris), physicisi and professor ai ihe Sorbonne. Te energy–
frequency relaiion for lighi had earned Max Planck and Alberi Einsiein ihe Nobel Prize for Physics, in
I9I8 and I92I. De Broglie expanded ihe relaiion io predici ihe wave naiure of ihe eleciron (and of all oiher
quanium maiier pariicles): ihis was ihe essence of his docioral ihesis. Te prediciion was frsi confrmed
experimenially a few years laier, in I927. For ihe prediciion of ihe wave naiure of maiier, de Broglie received
ihe Nobel Prize for physics in I929. Being an arisiocrai, he did no more research afer ihai. For example, ii
was Schrödinger who ihen wroie down ihe wave equaiion, even ihough de Broglie could equally have done
so.
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for all quantum matter particles. Te experimental confrmation came a few years later.
Page 75 (Tis is thus another example of a discovery that was made about years too late.) In
short, the quantum of action implies:
⊳ Matter particles behave like waves.
In particular, the quantum of action implies the existence of interference for streams of
matter.
P:v1iciis – : co×siqUi×ci oi 1ui qU:×1Um oi :c1io×
Te quantum of action, the smallest change, implies that fows cannot be arbitrary weak.
Tis applies to all fows: Vol. I, page 355 in particular, it applies to rivers, solid matter fows, gas fows,
light beams, energy fows, entropy fows, momentum fows, angular momentum fows,
probability fows, signals of all kind, electrical charge fows, colour charge fows and weak
charge fows.
Water fows in rivers, like any other matter fow, cannot be arbitrary small: the
quantum of action implies that there is a smallest matter fow in nature. Depending on
the situation, the smallest mattei fow is a molecule, an atom oi a smallei paiticle. In-
deed, the quantum of action is also at the oiigin of the obseivation of a smallest chaige
in electiic cuiient. Since all mattei can fow, the quantum of action implies:
⊳ All mattei has paiticle aspects.
In the same way, the quantum of action, the smallest change, implies that light cannot
be aibitiaiily faint. Teie is a smallest illumination in natuie; it is called a photon oi a
light quantum. Now, light is a wave, and the aigument can be made foi any othei wave
as well. In shoit, the quantum of action thus implies:
⊳ All waves have paiticle aspects.
Tis has been pioved foi light waves, watei waves, X-iays, sound waves, plasma waves,
fuid whiils and any othei wave type that has evei been obseived. (Giavitational waves
have not yet been obseived; it is expected that theii paiticle-like aspects, the gravitons,
exist also in this case.)
In summaiy, the quantum of action states:
⊳ If something moves, it is made of quantum paiticles, oi quantons.
Latei on we will exploie and specify the exact difeiences between a quantumpaiticle and
a small stone oi a giain of sand. We will discovei that mattei quantons move difeiently,
behave difeiently undei iotation, and behave difeiently undei exchange.
QU:×1Um i×iovm:1io×
In computei science, the smallest unit of change is called a ‘bit change’. Te existence of
a smallest change in natuie implies that computei science – oi infoimation science – can
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be used to desciibe natuie, and in paiticulai quantum theoiy. Tis analogy has attiacted
much ieseaichin the past decades, and exploied many inteiesting questions: Is unlimited
infoimation stoiage possible: Can infoimation be iead out and copied completely: Can
infoimation be tiansmitted while keeping it seciet: Can infoimation tiansmission and
stoiage be peifoimed independently of noise: Can quantum physics be used to make
new types of computeis: So fai, the answei to all these questions is negative; but the
hope to change the situation is not dead yet.
Te analogy between quantum theoiy and infoimation science is limited: infoimation
science can desciibe only the ‘sofwaie’ side of devices. Foi a physicist, the ‘haidwaie’
side of natuie is cential. Te haidwaie of natuie enteis the desciiption whenevei the
actual value ℏ of the quantum of action must be intioduced.
As we exploie the similaiities and difeiences between natuie and infoimation sci-
ence, we will discovei that the quantum of action implies that macioscopic physical sys-
tems cannot be copied – oi ‘cloned’, as quantum theoiists like to say. Natuie does not
allow copies of macioscopic objects. In othei woids:
⊳ Peifect copying machines do not exist.
Te quantum of action makes it impossible to gathei and use all infoimation in a way
that allows pioduction of a peifect copy.
Te exploiation of copying machines will iemind us again that the piecise oidei
in which measuiements aie peifoimed in an expeiiment matteis. When the oidei
of measuiements can be ieveised without afecting the net iesult, physicists speak of
‘commutation’. Te quantum of action implies:
⊳ Physical obseivables do not commute.
We will also fnd that the quantum of action implies that systems aie not always
independent, but can be entangled. Page 150 Tis teim, intioduced by Eiwin Schiödingei, de-
sciibes one of the most absuid consequences of quantum theoiy. Entanglement makes
eveiything in natuie connected to eveiything else. Entanglement pioduces efects that
seem (but aie not) fastei than light.
⊳ Entanglement pioduces a (fake) foim of non-locality.
Entanglement implies that tiustwoithy communication cannot exist. Ref. 9
We will also discovei that decoherence is an ubiquitous piocess in natuie that infu-
ences all quantum systems. Foi example, it allows measuiements on the one hand and
makes quantum computeis impossible on the othei. Page 155
CUviosi1iis :×u iU× cu:iii×cis :voU1 1ui qU:×1Um oi :c1io×
Even if we accept that no expeiiment peifoimed so fai contiadicts the minimum action,
we still have to check that the minimum action does not contiadict ieason. In paiticulai,
the minimum action must also be consistent with all imagined expeiiments. Tis is not
self-evident.
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∗∗
Wheie is the quantum scale in a pendulum clock: Challenge 21 s
∗∗
When electiomagnetic felds come into play, the value of the action (usually) depends
on the choice of the vectoi potential, and thus on the choice of gauge. We saw in the pait
on electiodynamics Vol. III, page 81 that a suitable choice of gauge can change the value of the action
by adding oi subtiacting any desiied amount. Neveitheless, theie is a smallest action in
natuie. Tis is possible, because in quantum theoiy, physical gauge changes cannot add
oi subtiact any amount, but only multiples of twice the minimum value. Tus they do
not allow us to go below the minimum action.
∗∗
Adult plants stop giowing in the daik. Without light, the ieactions necessaiy foi giowth
cease. Can you show that this is a quantum efect, not explainable by classical physics: Challenge 22 s
∗∗
Most quantum piocesses in eveiyday life aie electiomagnetic. Can you show that the
quantum of action must also hold foi nucleai piocesses, i.e., foi piocesses that aie not
electiomagnetic: Challenge 23 s
∗∗
Is the quantum of action independent of the obseivei, even neai the speed of light: Challenge 24 s Tis
question was the ieasonwhy Planck contacted the young Einstein, inviting himto Beilin,
thus intioducing him to the inteinational physics community.
∗∗
Te quantum of action implies that tiny people, such as Tom Tumb, cannot exist. Te
quantum of action implies that fiactals cannot exist in natuie. Te quantum of action
implies that ‘Moore’s law’ of semiconductoi electionics, which states that the numbei of
tiansistois on a chip doubles eveiy two yeais, cannot be coiiect. Why not: Challenge 25 s
∗∗
Take a hoiseshoe. Te distance between the two ends is not fxed, since otheiwise theii
position and velocity would be known at the same time, contiadicting the indeteiminacy
ielation. Of couise, this ieasoning is also valid foi any othei solid object. In shoit, both
quantum mechanics and special ielativity show that iigid bodies do not exist, albeit foi
difeient ieasons.
∗∗
Angulai momentum has the same dimensions as action. A smallest action implies that
theie is a smallest angulai momentum in natuie. How can this be, given that some
paiticles have spin zeio, i.e., have no angulai momentum: Challenge 26 s
∗∗
Could we have staited the whole discussion of quantum theoiy by stating that theie is a
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minimum angulai momentum instead of a minimum action: Challenge 27 s
∗∗
Niels Bohi, besides piopagating the idea of a minimum action, was also an enthusiast of
the so-called complementarity principle. Tis is the idea that ceitain paiis of obseivables
of a system – such as position and momentum – have linked precision: if one of the paii
is known to high piecision, the othei is necessaiily known with low piecision. Can you
deduce this piinciple fiom the minimum action: Challenge 28 s
Tui u:×civs oi vUvi×c : c:× oi vi:×s
Anothei way to show the absuid consequences of quantum theoiy is given by the ul-
timate pioduct waining, which accoiding to ceitain well-infoimed lawyeis should be
piinted on eveiy can of beans and on eveiy pioduct package. Ref. 10 It shows in detail how
deeply oui human condition fools us.
Waining: caie should be taken when looking at this pioduct:
It emits heat iadiation.
Biight light has the efect to compiess this pioduct.
Waining: caie should be taken when touching this pioduct:
Pait of it could heat up while anothei pait cools down, causing seveie buins.
Waining: caie should be taken when handling this pioduct:
Tis pioduct consists of at least 99.999999 999 999 ° empty space.
Tis pioduct contains paiticles moving with speeds highei than one million kilo-
meties pei houi.
Eveiy kilogiam of this pioduct contains the same amount of eneigy as libeiated by
about one hundied nucleai bombs.¯
In case this pioduct is biought in contact with antimattei, a catastiophic explosion
will occui.
In case this pioduct is iotated, it will emit giavitational iadiation.
Waining: caie should be taken when transporting this pioduct:
Te foice needed depends on its velocity, as does its weight.
Tis pioduct will emit additional iadiation when acceleiated.
Tis pioduct attiacts, with a foice that incieases with decieasing distance, eveiy
othei object aiound, including its puichasei’s kids.
Waining: caie should be taken when storing this pioduct:
¯ Asiandard nuclear warhead has an explosive yield of aboui 0.2 megaions (implied is ihe siandard explosive
iriniiroioluene or TNT), aboui ihirieen iimes ihe yield of ihe Hiroshima bomb, which was 15 kilotonne. Ref. 11 A
megaionne is defned as 1 Pcal=4.2 PJ, even ihough TNT delivers aboui 3 ° slighily less energy ihan ihis
value. In oiher words, a megaion is ihe energy conieni of aboui 47 g of maiier. Tai is less ihan a handful
for mosi solids or liquids.
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It is impossible to keep this pioduct in a specifc place and at iest at the same time.
Except when stoied undeigiound at a depth of seveial kilometies, ovei time cosmic
iadiation will iendei this pioduct iadioactive.
Tis pioduct may disintegiate in the next 10
35
yeais.
It could cool down and lif itself into the aii.
Tis pioduct waips space and time in its vicinity, including the stoiage containei.
Even if stoied in a closed containei, this pioduct is infuenced and infuences all
othei objects in the univeise, including youi paients in law.
Tis pioduct can disappeai fiom its piesent location and ieappeai at any iandom
place in the univeise, including youi neighboui’s gaiage.
Waining: caie should be taken when travelling away from this pioduct:
It will aiiive at the expiiation date befoie the puichasei does so.
Waining: caie should be taken when using this pioduct:
Any use whatsoevei will inciease the entiopy of the univeise.
Te constituents of this pioduct aie exactly the same as those of any othei object
in the univeise, including those of iotten fsh.
All these statements aie coiiect. Te impiession of a ceitain paianoid side to quantum
physics is puiely coincidental.
A sUmm:vv: qU:×1Um vuvsics, 1ui i:w :×u i×uoc1vi×:1io×
Don’t all the deductions fiom the quantum of action piesented so fai look wiong, oi
at least ciazy: In fact, if you oi youi lawyei made some of the statements on quantum
physics in couit, maybe even undei oath, you might end up in piison! Howevei, all the
above statements aie coiiect: they aie all confimed by expeiiment. And theie aie many
moie suipiises to come. You may have noticed that, in the pieceding examples, we have
made no explicit iefeience to electiicity, to the nucleai inteiactions oi to giavity. In these
domains the suipiises aie even moie astonishing. Obseivation of antimattei, electiic cui-
ient without iesistance, the motion inside muscles, vacuum eneigy, nucleai ieactions in
stais, and – maybe soon – the boiling of empty space, will fascinate you as much as they
have fascinated, and still fascinate, thousands of ieseaicheis.
In paiticulai, the consequences of the quantum of action foi the eaily univeise aie
mind-boggling. Just tiy to exploie foi youiself its consequences foi the big Challenge 29 d bang. To-
gethei, all these topics will lead us a long way towaids the top of Motion Mountain. Te
consequences of the quantum of action aie so stiange, so inciedible, and so numeious,
that quantum physics can iightly be called the desciiption of motion foi crazy scientists.
In a sense, this geneializes oui pievious defnition of quantum physics as the desciiption
of motion ielated to pleasuie.
Unfoitunately, it is sometimes claimed that ‘nobody undeistands quantum theoiy’.
Page 165 Tis is wiong. In fact, it is woise than wiong: it is indoctiination and disinfoimation.
Indoctiination and disinfoimation aie methods that pievent people fiom making up
theii own mind and fiom enjoying life. In ieality, the consequences of the quantum of
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action can be undeistood and enjoyed by eveiybody. In oidei to do so, oui fist task on
oui way towaids the top of Motion Mountain will be to use the quantum of action to
study of oui classical standaid of motion: the motion of light.

Nie und nirgends hai es Maierie ohne
Bewegung gegeben, oder kann es sie geben.

Friedrich Engels, Anti-Dühring.¯
¯ ‘Never and nowhere has maiier exisied, nor can ii exisi, wiihoui moiion.’ Ref. 12 Friedrich Engels (:8:o–:8µ,)
was one of ihe iheoreiicians of Marxism.
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C u : v 1 i v 2
LIGHT – THE STRANGE
CONSEQUENCES OF THE QUANTUM
OF ACTION

Alle Wesen leben vom Lichie,
jedes glückliche Geschöpfe.

Friedrich Schiller, Wilhelm Tell.¯
S
ince all the colouis of mateiials aie quantum efects, it becomes mandatoiy to
tudy the piopeities of light itself. If a smallest change ieally exists, then theie
hould also be a smallest illumination in natuie. Tis conclusion was alieady diawn
in ancient Gieece, foi example by Epicuius (,¡:–:,: vci), who Ref. 13 stated that light is a
stieam of little paiticles. Te smallest possible illumination would then be that due to
a single light paiticle. Today, the paiticles aie called light quanta oi photons. Inciedibly,
Epicuius himself could have checked his piediction with an expeiiment.
How uo i:i×1 i:mvs viu:vi:
Aiound I930, Biumbeig and Vavilov found Ref. 14 a beautiful way to check the existence of
photons using the naked eye and a lamp. Oui eyes do not allow us to consciously detect
single photons, but Biumbeig and Vavilov found a way to ciicumvent this limitation.
In fact, the expeiiment is so simple that it could have been peifoimed many centuiies
eailiei; but nobody had had a sumciently daiing imagination to tiy it.
Biumbeig and Vavilov constiucted a mechanical shuttei that could be opened foi
time inteivals of 0.1 s. Fiom the othei side, in a completely daik ioom, they illuminated
the opening with extiemely weak gieen light: about 200 aW at 505 nm, as shown in Fig-
uie I4. At that intensity, whenevei the shuttei opens, on aveiage about 50 photons can
pass. Tis is just the sensitivity thieshold of the eye. To peifoim the expeiiment, they
iepeatedly looked into the open shuttei. Te iesult was simple but suipiising. Some-
times they obseived light, and sometimes they did not. Whethei they did oi did not was
completely iandom. Biumbeig and Vavilov gave the simple explanation that at low lamp
poweis, because of fuctuations, the numbei of photons is above the eye thiesholdhalf the
time, and below it the othei half. Te fuctuations aie iandom, and so the conscious de-
tection of light is as well. Tis would not happen if light weie a continuous stieam: in that
case, the eye would detect light at each and eveiy opening of the shuttei. (At highei light
intensities, the peicentage of non-obseivations quickly decieases, in accoidance with the
explanation given.)
In shoit, a simple expeiiment pioves:
¯ ‘From lighi all beings live, each fair-creaied ihing.’ Friedrich Schiller (b. :,,µ Marbach, d. :8o, Weimar),
poei, playwrighi and hisiorian.
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: iiou1 – n×u 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io× ¡:
shutter strong
filter
head, after
45 minutes
in complete
darkness
lamp
FI GURE 14 How to experience single
photon effects (see text).
white red
violet
glass
photographic
film
green
FI GURE 15 How does a
white-light spectrum appear at
extremely long screen distances?
(The short-screen-distance
spectrum shown, © Andrew
Young, is optimized for CRT
display, not for colour printing, as
explained on mintaka.sdsu.edu/
GF/explain/optics/rendering.
html.)
⊳ Light is made of photons.
Nobody knows how the theoiy of light would have developed if this simple expeiiment
had been peifoimed I00 oi even 2000 yeais eailiei.
Te ieality of photons becomes moie convincing if we use devices to help us. Asimple
way is to stait with a scieen behind a piism illuminated with white light, as shown in
Figuie I3. Te light is split into colouis. As the scieen is placed fuithei and fuithei away,
the illumination intensity cannot become aibitiaiily small, as that would contiadict the
quantum of action. To check this piediction, we only need some black-and-white photo-
giaphic flm. Filmis blackened by daylight of any coloui; it becomes daik giey at medium
intensities and light giey at lowei intensities. Looking at an extiemely light giey flm un-
dei the micioscope, we discovei that, even undei unifoim illumination, the giey shade is
actually composed of black spots, aiianged moie oi less densely. All these spots have the
same size, as shownin Figuie I6. Tis iegulai size suggests that a photogiaphic flmieacts
to single photons. Detailed ieseaich confims this conjectuie; in the twentieth centuiy,
the pioduceis of photogiaphic flms have elucidated the undeilying atomic mechanism
in all its details.
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¡: : iiou1 – n×u 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io×
FI GURE 16 Exposed photographic film at increasing magnification (© Rich Evans).
FI GURE 17 Detectors that allow photon counting: photomultiplier tubes (left), an avalanche
photodiode (top right, c. 1 cm) and a multichannel plate (bottom right, c. 10 cm) (© Hamamatsu
Photonics).
Single photons can be detected most elegantly with electionic devices. Such devices
can be photomultiplieis, photodiodes, multichannel plates oi iod cells in the eye; Ref. 15 a se-
lection is shown in Figuie I7. Also these detectois show that low-intensity light does not
pioduce a homogeneous coloui: on the contiaiy, low-intensity pioduces a iandom pat-
tein of equal spots, even when obseiving typical wave phenomena such as inteifeience
patteins, as shown in Figuie I8. Today, iecoiding and counting individual photons is a
standaid expeiimental pioceduie. Photon counteis aie pait of many spectioscopy set-
ups, such as those used to measuie tiny concentiations of mateiials. Foi example, they
aie used to detect diugs in human haii.
All expeiiments thus showthe same iesult: whenevei sensitive light detectois aie con-
stiucted with the aim of ‘seeing’ as accuiately as possible – and thus in enviionments as
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FI GURE 18 Light waves are made of particles: observation of photons – black spots in these negatives
– in a low intensity double slit experiment, with exposure times of 1, 2 and 5 s, using an image
intensifier (© Delft University of Technology).
light detectors
radiating
atom
FI GURE 19 An atom radiating one
photon triggers only one detector and
recoils in only one direction.
daik as possible – one fnds that light manifests as a stieam of light quanta. Nowadays
they aie usually called photons, a teim that appeaied in I926. Light of low oi high intens-
ity coiiesponds to a stieam with a small oi laige numbei of photons.
A paiticulaily inteiesting example of a low-intensity souice of light is a single atom.
Atoms aie tiny spheies. When atoms iadiate light oi X-iays, the iadiation should be emit-
ted as a spheiical wave. But in all expeiiments – see Figuie I9 foi a typical set-up – the
light emitted by an atom is never found to foim a spheiical wave, in contiast to what we
might expect fiom eveiyday physics. Whenevei a iadiating atom is suiiounded by many
detectois, only a single detectoi is tiiggeied. Only the aveiage ovei many emissions and
detections yields a spheiical shape. Te expeiiments shows cleaily that paitial photons
cannot be detected.
All expeiiments in dim light thus show that the continuum desciiption of light is
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¡¡ : iiou1 – n×u 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io×
incoiiect. All such expeiiments thus piove diiectly that light is a stieam of paiticles, as
Epicuius had pioposed in ancient Gieece. Moie piecise measuiements confim the iole
of the quantum of action: eveiy photon leads to the same amount of change. All photons
of the same fiequency blacken a flm oi tiiggei a scintillation scieen in the same way. In
shoit, the amount of change induced by a single photon is indeed the smallest amount
of change that light can pioduce.
If theie weie no smallest action value, light could be packaged into aibitiaiily small
amounts. But natuie is difeient. In simple teims: the classical desciiption of light by a
continuous vectoi potential ?(?, ?), oi electiomagnetic feld ?(?, ?), Vol. III, page 84 whose evolution is
desciibed by a piinciple of least action, is wrong. Continuous functions do not desciibe
the obseived paiticle efects. Amodifed desciiption is iequiied. Te modifcation has to
be signifcant only at low light intensities, since at high, eveiyday intensities the classical
Lagiangian desciibes all expeiimental obseivations with sumcient accuiacy.¯
At which intensities does light cease to behave as a continuous wave: Human eyesight
does not allow us to consciously distinguish single photons, although expeiiments show
that the haidwaie of the eye is in piinciple able to do so. Ref. 16 Te faintest stais that can be
seen at night pioduce a light intensity of about 0.6 nW/m
2
. Since the pupil of the eye is
small, and we aie not able to see individual photons, photons must have eneigies smallei
than 100 aJ. Biumbeig and Vavilov’s expeiiment yields an uppei limit of aiound 20 aJ.
An exact value foi the quantum of action found in light must be deduced fiom laboi-
atoiy expeiiment. Some examples aie given in the following.
Puo1o×s
In geneial, all expeiiments showthat a beamof light of fiequency ?oi angulai fiequency
?, which deteimines its coloui, is accuiately desciibed as a stieam of photons, each with
the same eneigy ? given by
? = ℏ 2π? = ℏ ? . (8)
Tis ielation was fist deduced by Max Planck in I899. He found that foi light, the smal-
lest measuiable action is given by the quantum of action ℏ. In shoit, colour is a piopeity
of photons. A colouied light beam is a hailstoim of coiiesponding photons.
Te value of Planck’s constant can Vol. III, page 143 be deteimined fiom measuiements of black bodies
oi othei light souices. All such measuiements coincide Page 213 and yield
ℏ = 1.054 571 726(47) ⋅ 10
−34
Js , (9)
a value so small that we can undeistand why photons go unnoticed by humans. Foi ex-
ample, a gieen photon with a wavelength of 555 nm has an eneigy of 0.37 aJ. Challenge 30 e Indeed, in
noimal light conditions the photons aie so numeious that the continuum appioximation
foi the electiomagnetic feld is highly accuiate. In the daik, the insensitivity of the signal
piocessing of the human eye – in paiticulai the slowness of the light ieceptois – makes
photon counting impossible. Ref. 16 Howevei, the eye is not fai fiom the maximum possible
sensitivity. Fiom the numbeis given above about dim stais, we can Challenge 31 ny estimate that humans
¯ Te iransiiion from ihe classical case io ihe quanium case used io be called quantization. Tis concepi,
and ihe ideas behind ii, are only of hisiorical inieresi ioday.
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aie able to see consciously, undei ideal conditions, fashes of about half a dozen photons;
in noimal conditions, the numbeis aie about ten times highei.
Let us exploie the othei piopeities of photons. Above all, photons have no measuiable
(iest) mass and no measuiable electiic chaige. Can you confimthis: Challenge 32 s In fact, expeiiments
can only piovide an uppei limit foi both quantities. Te piesent expeiimental uppei limit
foi the (iest) mass Ref. 17 of a photon is 10
−52
kg, and foi the chaige is 5⋅ 10
−30
times the election
chaige. Tese limits aie so small that we can safely say that both the mass and the chaige
of the photon vanish.
We know that intense light can push objects. Since the eneigy, the lack of mass and
the speed of photons aie known, we deduce that the photon momentum is given by Challenge 33 e
? =
?
?
= ℏ

?
oi ? = ℏ ? . (I0)
In othei woids, if light is made of paiticles, we should be able to play billiaid with them.
Tis is indeed possible, as Aithui Compton showed in a famous expeiiment in I923. Ref. 18
He diiected X-iays, which aie high-eneigy photons, onto giaphite, a mateiial in which
elections move almost fieely. He found that whenevei the elections in the mateiial aie
hit by the X-iay photons, the defected X-iays change coloui. His expeiiment is shown
in Figuie 20. As expected, the stiength of the hit is ielated to the defection angle of the
photon. Fiom the coloui change and the iefection angle, Compton confimed that the
photon momentum indeed satisfes the expiession ? = ℏ ?.
All othei expeiiments agiee that photons have momentum. Foi example, when an
atom emits light, the atom feels a recoil. Te momentum again tuins out to be given by
the expiession ? = ℏ ?. In shoit, the quantum of action deteimines the momentum of
the photon.
Te value of a photon’s momentum iespects the indeteiminacy ielation. Just as it is
impossible to measuie exactly both the wavelength of a wave and the position of its ciest,
so it is impossible to measuie both the momentumand the position of a photon. Can you
confimthis: Challenge 34 s In othei woids, the value of the photon momentumis a diiect consequence
of the quantum of action.
Fiom oui study of classical physics, we know that light has a piopeity beyond its col-
oui: light can be polarized. Tat is only a complicated way to say that light can turn
the objects that it shines on. Vol. III, page 119 In othei woids, light has an angulai momentum oiiented
(mainly) along the axis of piopagation. What about photons: Measuiements consistently
fnd that each light quantum caiiies an angular momentum given by ? = ℏ. It is called
its helicity. Te quantity is similai to one found foi massive paiticles: one theiefoie also
speaks of the spin of a photon. In shoit, photons somehow ‘tuin’ – in a diiection eithei
paiallel oi antipaiallel to theii diiection of motion. Again, the magnitude of the photon
helicity, oi spin, is no suipiise; it confims the classical ielation ? = ?/? between eneigy
and angulai momentum that we found in the section on classical electiodynamics. Vol. III, page 119 Note
that, counteiintuitively, the angulai momentum of a single photon is fxed, and thus in-
dependent of its eneigy. Even the most eneigetic photons have ? = ℏ. Of couise, the
value of the helicity also iespects the limit given by the quantum of action. Te many
consequences of the helicity (spin) value ℏ will become cleai in the following.
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¡6 : iiou1 – n×u 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io×
X-ray
source
X-ray
detector
sample
photon with
wavelength λ
deflected
photon after
the collision,
with wave-
length λ+∆λ
electron
after the
collision
collision
in
sample
X-ray
source
X-ray
detector
deflection
angle
FI GURE 20 A modern version of Compton’ s experiment fits on a table. The experiment shows that
photons have momentum: X-rays – and thus the photons they consist of – change frequency when
they hit the electrons in matter in exactly the same way as predicted from colliding particles (© Helene
Hoffmann).
Wu:1 is iicu1:

La lumière esi un mouvemeni luminaire de
corps lumineux.

Blaise Pascal¯
In the seventeenth centuiy, Blaise Pascal used the above statement about light to make
fun of ceitain physicists, iidiculing the blatant use of a ciiculai defnition. Of couise, he
was iight: in his time, the defnition was indeed ciiculai, as no meaning could be given to
any of the teims. But whenevei physicists study an obseivation with caie, philosopheis
lose out. All those oiiginally undefned teims now have a defnite meaning and the cii-
culai defnition is iesolved. Light is indeed a type of motion; this motion can iightly be
called ‘luminaiy’ because, in contiast to the motion of mateiial bodies, it has the unique
piopeity ? = ?; the luminous bodies, called light quanta oi photons, aie chaiacteiized,
and difeientiated fiom all othei paiticles, by theii dispeision ielation ? = ??, theii en-
eigy ? = ℏ?, theii spin ? = ℏ, the vanishing of all othei quantum numbeis, and the
piopeity of being the quanta of the electiomagnetic feld.
In shoit, light is a stream of photons. It is indeed a ‘luminaiy movement of luminous
bodies’. Photons piovide oui fist example of a geneial piopeity of the woild on small
scales: all waves and all fows in nature are made of quantum particles. Laige numbeis
of (coheient) quantum paiticles – oi quantons – behave and foim as waves. We will see
shoitly that this is the case even foi mattei. Quantons aie the fundamental constituents of
all waves and all fows, without exception. Tus, the eveiyday continuum desciiption of
light is similai in many iespects to the desciiption of watei as a continuous fuid: photons
aie the atoms of light, and continuity is an appioximation valid foi laige numbeis of
paiticles. Single quantons ofen behave like classical paiticles.
Physics books used to discuss at length a so-called wave–particle duality. Let us be
cleai fiom the stait: quantons, oi quantum paiticles, aie neither classical waves nor clas-
¯ ‘Lighi is ihe luminary movemeni of luminous bodies.’ Blaise Pascal (b. :6:¸ Clermoni, d. :66: Paris),
imporiani maihemaiician and physicisi up io ihe age of 26, afer which he became a iheologian and philo-
sopher.
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sical paiticles. In the micioscopic woild, quantons aie the fundamental objects.
Howevei, theie is much that is still uncleai. Wheie, inside mattei, do these mono-
chiomatic photons come fiom: Even moie inteiestingly, if light is made of quantons, all
electiomagnetic felds, even static ones, must be made of photons as well. Howevei, in
static felds nothing is fowing. How is this appaient contiadiction iesolved: And what
implications does the paiticle aspect have foi these static felds: What is the difeience
between quantons and classical paiticles: Te piopeities of photons iequiie moie caieful
study.
Tui sizi oi vuo1o×s
Fiist of all, we might ask: what aie these photons made of: All expeiiments so fai, pei-
foimed down to the piesent limit of about 10
−20
m, give the same answei: ‘we can’t fnd
anything’. Tis is consistent with both a vanishing mass and a vanishing size of photons.
Indeed, we would intuitively expect a body with a fnite size to have a fnite mass. Tus,
although expeiiments can give only an uppei limit, it is consistent to claim that a photon
has zero size.
A paiticle with zeio size cannot have any constituents. Tus a photon cannot be di-
vided into smallei entities: photons aie not composite. Foi this ieason, they aie called
elementary paiticles. We will soon give some fuithei stiong aiguments foi this iesult.
(Can you fnd one:) Challenge 35 s Neveitheless, the conclusion is stiange. How can a photon have
vanishing size, have no constituents, and still be something: Tis is a haid question; the
answei will appeai only in the last volume of oui adventuie. At the moment we simply
have to accept the situation as it is. We theiefoie tuin to an easiei question.
Avi vuo1o×s coU×1:vii: – SqUiiziu iicu1

Also gibi es sie doch.

Max Planck¯
We saw above that the simplest way to count photons is to distiibute them acioss a laige
scieen and then to absoib them. But this method is not entiiely satisfactoiy, as it destioys
the photons. How can we count photons without destioying them:
One way is to iefect photons in a miiioi and measuie the iecoil of the miiioi. It
seems almost unbelievable, but nowadays this efect is becoming measuiable even foi
small numbeis of photons. Foi example, it has to be taken into account in ielation to the
lasei miiiois used in giavitational wave detectois, Vol. II, page 176 whose position has to be measuied
with high piecision.
Anothei way of counting photons without destioying theminvolves the use of special
high-quality lasei cavities. It is possible to count photons by the efect they have on atoms
cleveily placed inside such a cavity.
In othei woids, light intensity can indeed be measuied without absoiption. Tese
measuiement showan impoitant issue: even the best light beams, fiomthe most sophist-
¯ ‘Tus ihey do exisi afer all.’ Max Planck, in his laier years, said ihis afer sianding silenily, for a long iime,
in froni of an apparaius ihai counied single phoions by producing a click for each phoion ii deiecied. For
a large pari of his life, Planck was scepiical of ihe phoion concepi, even ihough his own experimenis and
conclusions were ihe siariing poini for iis iniroduciion.
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icated laseis, fuctuate in intensity. Teie aie no steady beams. Tis comes as no suipiise:
if a light beam did not fuctuate, obseiving it twice would yield a vanishing value foi the
action. Howevei, theie is a minimum action in natuie, namely ℏ. Tus any beam and any
fow in natuie must fuctuate. But theie is moie.
A light beam is desciibed, in a cioss section, by its intensity and phase. Te change –
oi action – that occuis while a beam piopagates is given by the pioduct of intensity and
phase. Expeiiments confim the obvious deduction: the intensity and phase of a beam
behave like the momentumand position of a paiticle in that they obey an indeteiminacy
ielation. You can deduce it youiself, in the same way as we deduced Heisenbeig’s iela-
tions. Using as chaiacteiistic intensity ? = ?/?, the beam eneigy divided by the angulai
fiequency, and calling the phase ?, we get¯
Δ? Δ? ⩾

2
. (I2)
Equivalently, the indeteiminacy pioduct foi the aveiage photon numbei ? = ?/ℏ = ?/ℏ?
and the phase ? obeys:
Δ?Δ? ⩾
1
2
. (I3)
Foi light emitted fiom an oidinaiy lamp, so-called thermal light, the indeteiminacy
pioduct on the lef-hand side of the above inequality is a laige numbei. Equivalently, the
indeteiminacy pioduct foi the action (I2) is a laige multiple of the quantum of action.
Foi lasei beams, i.e., beams of coherent light,¯¯ the indeteiminacy pioduct is close to
I/2. An illustiation of coheient light is given in Figuie 22.
Today it is possible to pioduce light foi which the pioduct of the two indeteiminacies
in equation (I3) is neai I/2, but whose two values difer (in the units of the so-called
phasor space illustiated in Figuie 2I). Such light is called non-classical oi squeezed. Ref. 19 Te
photon statistics is eithei hypei- oi sub-Poissonian. Such light beams iequiie involved
laboiatoiy set-ups foi theii pioduction and aie used in many modein ieseaich applic-
ations. Non-classical light has to be tieated extiemely caiefully, as the smallest distuib-
ances tiansfoims it back into oidinaiy coheient (oi even theimal light), in which Pois-
son (oi even Bose-Einstein) statistics hold again. A geneial oveiview of the main types
of light beams is given in Figuie 2I, togethei with theii intensity and phase behavioui.
(Seveial piopeities shown in the fguie aie defned foi a single phase space cell only.)
¯ A large phoion number is assumed in ihe expression. Tis is obvious, as Δ? cannoi grow beyond all
bounds. Te exaci relaiions are
Δ? Δcos ? ⩾

2
|⟨sin ?⟩|
Δ? Δsin ? ⩾

2
|⟨cos ?⟩| (II)
where ⟨?⟩ denoies ihe expeciaiion value of ihe observable ?.
¯¯ Cohereni lighi is lighi for which ihe phoion number probabiliiy disiribuiion is Poissonian; in pariicular,
ihe variance is equal io ihe mean phoion number. Cohereni lighi is besi described as composed of phoions
in cohereni quaniumsiaies. Such a (canonical) coherent state, or Glauber state, is formally a siaie wiih Δ? →
1/? and Δ? → ?.
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Thermal equilibrium light
Photon clicks show bunching
Coherent laser light
Weak bunching
Non-classical,
phase- squeezed light
Strong bunching
Bose-Einstein
(super-Poisson)
Poisson hyper-
Poisson
Intensity I(t)
Photon number probability

Intensity correlation g
2
(t)
2
1
2
1
2
1
delay
Re
Im
n
time
time
Non-classical,
intensity-squeezed light
Anti-bunching
sub-
Poisson
2
1
Phasor
diagram
coherence time
<n>
ω ω ω ω
bunching weak bunching strong bunching
anti-bunching
FI GURE 21 Four types of light and their photon properties: thermal light, laser light, and two extreme
types of non-classical, squeezed light.
One extieme of non-classical light is phase-squeezed light. Since a phase-squeezed
light beam has an (almost) deteimined phase, the photon numbei in such a beam fuc-
tuates fiom zeio to (almost) infnity. In othei woids, in oidei to pioduce coheient lasei
light that appioximates a puie sine wave as peifectly as possible, we must accept that the
photon numbei is as undeteimined as possible. Such a beam has extiemely small phase
fuctuations that piovide high piecision in inteifeiometiy; the phase noise is as low as
possible.
Te othei extieme of non-classical light is a beam with a given, fxed numbei of
photons, and thus with an extiemely high phase indeteiminacy. In such an amplitude-
squeezed light beam, the phase fuctuates eiiatically.¯ Tis soit of squeezed, non-classical
¯ Te mosi appropriaie quanium siaies io describe such lighi are called number states; someiimes ihey are
called Fock states. Tese siaies are siaiionary siaies, ihus eigensiaies of ihe Hamilionian, and coniain a fxed
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0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
-8
-6
-4
-2
0
2
4
6
8
time (a. u.)
e
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f
i
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d

(
a
.

u
.
)
FI GURE 22 A simple way to illustrate the indeterminacy of a light beam’ s intensity and phase: the
measured electric field of a coherent electromagnetic wave with low intensity, consisting of about a
dozen photons. The cloudy sine wave corresponds to the phasor diagram at the bottom of the second
column in the previous overview. For large number of photons, the relative noise amplitude is
negligible. (© Rüdiger Paschotta)
light is ideal foi piecision intensity measuiements as it piovides the lowest intensity noise
available. Tis kind of light shows anti-bunching of photons. To gain moie insight, sketch
the giaphs coiiesponding to Figuie 22 foi phase-squeezed and foi amplitude-squeezed
Challenge 36 s light.
In contiast, the coherent light that is emitted by lasei pointeis and othei laseis lies
between the two extieme types of squeezed light: the phase and photon numbei inde-
teiminacies aie of similai magnitude.
Te obseivations about theimal light, coheient lasei light and non-classical light high-
light an impoitant piopeity of natuie: the numbei of photons in a light beam is not a
well-defned quantity. In geneial, it is undeteimined, and it fuctuates. Photons, unlike
stones, cannot be counted piecisely – as long as they aie piopagating and not absoibed.
In fight, it is only possible to deteimine an appioximate, aveiage photon numbei, within
the limits set by indeteiminacy. Is it coiiect to claim that the numbei of photons at the
beginning of a beam is not necessaiily the same as the numbei at the end of the beam: Challenge 37 ny
Te fuctuations in the numbei of photons aie of most impoitance at optical fiequen-
cies. At iadio fiequencies, the photon numbei fuctuations aie usually negligible, due to
the low photon eneigies and the usually high photon numbeis involved. Conveisely, at
gamma-iay eneigies, wave efects play little iole. Foi example, we saw that in deep, daik
inteigalactic space, fai fiom any stai, theie aie about 400 photons pei cubic centimetie;
they foim the cosmic backgiound iadiation. Tis photon density numbei, like the num-
number of phoions.
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source
two identical
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detectors
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mirrors
beam
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beam
splitter
The Mach-Zehnder interferometer
FI GURE 23 The Mach–Zehnder interferometer and a practical realization, about 0.5 m in size (© Félix
Dieu and Gaël Osowiecki).
bei of photons in a light beam, also has a measuiement indeteiminacy. Can you estimate
it: Challenge 38 s
In shoit, unlike pebbles, photons are countable, but their number is not fxed. And this
is not the only difeience between photons and pebbles.
Tui vosi1io×s oi vuo1o×s
Wheie is a photon when it moves in a beam of light: Quantum theoiy gives a simple
answei: nowheie in paiticulai. Tis is pioved most spectaculaily by expeiiments with
inteifeiometeis, such as the basic inteifeiometei shown in Figuie 23. Inteifeiometeis
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showthat even a beam made of a single photon can be split, led along two difeient paths,
and then iecombined. Te iesulting inteifeience shows that the single photon cannot be
said to have taken eithei of the two paths. If one of the two paths is blocked, the pattein
on the scieen changes. In othei woids, somehowthe photon must have taken both paths
at the same time. Photons cannot be localized: they have no position.¯
We come to the conclusion that macioscopic light pulses have paths, but the indi-
vidual photons in it do not. Photons have neithei position noi paths. Only laige numbeis
of photons can have positions and paths, and then only appioximately.
Te impossibility of localizing photons can be quantifed. Inteifeience shows that it
is impossible to localize photons in the diiection transverse to the motion. It might seem
less dimcult to localize photons along the diiection of motion, when it is pait of a light
pulse, but this is a mistake. Te quantum of action implies that the indeteiminacy in the
longitudinal position is given at least by the wavelength of the light. Can you confim
this: Challenge 39 e It tuins out that photons can only be localized within a coherence length. In fact, the
tiansveisal and the longitudinal coheience length difei in the geneial case. Te longit-
udinal coheience length (divided by ?) is also called tempoial coheience, oi simply, the
coherence time. It is also indicated in Figuie 2I. Page 49 Te impossibility of lacalizing photons is
a consequence of the quantum of action. Foi example, the tiansveise coheience length is
due to the indeteiminacy of the tiansveise momentum; the action values foi paths lead-
ing to points sepaiated by less than a coheience length difei by less than the quantum of
action ℏ. Whenevei a photon is detected somewheie, e.g., by absoiption, a precise state-
ment on its diiection oi its oiigin cannot be made. Sometimes, in special cases, theie can
be a high piobability foi a ceitain diiection oi souice, though.
Lack of localisation means that photons cannot be simply visualized as shoit wave
tiains. Foi example, we can inciease the coheience length by sending light thiougha nai-
iowfltei. Photons aie tiuly unlocalizable entities, specifc to the quantumwoild. Photons
aie neithei little stones noi little wave packets. Conveisely, ‘light path’, ‘light pulse pos-
ition’ and ‘coheience’ aie piopeities of a photon ensemble, and do not apply to a single
photon.
Whenevei photons can almost be localized along theii diiection of motion, as in co-
heient light, we can ask howphotons aie lined up, one afei the othei, in a light beam. Of
couise, we have just seen that it does not make sense to speak of theii precise position.
But do photons in a peifect beam aiiive at almost-iegulai inteivals:
To the shame of physicists, the study of photon coiielations was initiated by two astio-
nomeis, Robeit Hanbuiy Biown and Richaid Twiss, in I936, and met with seveial yeais
of disbelief. Ref. 20 Tey vaiied the tiansveisal distance of the two detectois shown in Figuie 24
– fioma few to 188 m – and measuied the intensity coiielations between them. Hanbuiy
Biown and Twiss found that the intensity fuctuations within the volume of coheience
aie coiielated. Tus the photons themselves aie coiielated. With this expeiiment, they
weie able to measuie the diametei of numeious distant stais.
Inspiied by the success of Hanbuiy Biown and Twiss, ieseaicheis developed a simple
methodto measuie the piobability that a second photon in a light beamaiiives at a given
time afei the fist one. Tey simply split the beam, put one detectoi in the fist bianch,
¯ We cannoi avoid ihis conclusion by saying ihai phoions are split ai ihe beam spliiier: if we place a deiecior
in each arm, we fnd ihai ihey never deieci a phoion ai ihe same iime. Phoions cannoi be divided.
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FI GURE 24 The original experimental set-up with which Hanbury Brown and Twiss measured stellar
diameters at Narrabri in Australia. The distance between the two light collectors could be changed by
moving them on rails. The light detectors are at the end of the poles and each of them, as they wrote,
‘collected light as rain in a bucket.’ (© John Davis).
light detector
D
1
light detector
D
2
coincidence
counter
adjustable
position
incoming
light
beam
The Hanbury Brown–Twiss experiment
FI GURE 25 How
to measure
photon statistics
with an
electronic
intensity
correlator or
coincidence
counter, the
variation being
measured by
varying the
position of a
detector.
and vaiied the position of a second detectoi in the othei bianch. Te set-up is sketched
in Figuie 23. Such an expeiiment is nowadays called a Hanbury Brown Twiss experiment.
One fnds that, foi coheient light within the volume of coheience, the clicks in the two
counteis – and thus the photons themselves – aie correlated. To be moie piecise, such
expeiiments show that whenevei the fist photon hits, the second photon is most likely
to hit just afeiwaids. Tus, photons in light beams aie bunched. Bunching is one of the
many iesults showing that photons aie quantons, that they aie indeed necessaiy to de-
sciibe light, and that they aie unlocalizable entities. As we will see below, the iesult also
implies that photons aie bosons. Page 63
Eveiy light beam has an uppei time limit foi bunching: the coherence time. Foi times
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E
kin
E
kin
=h (ω−ω
t
)
ω
kinetic energy of
emitted electrons
frequency of lamp light
metal plate
in vacuum
lamp
electrons
threshold
FI GURE 26 The kinetic
energy of electrons
emitted in the
photoelectric effect.
longei than the coheience time, the piobability foi bunching is low, and independent of
the time inteival, as shown in Figuie 23. Te coheience time chaiacteiizes eveiy light
beam. In fact, it is ofen easiei to think in teims of the coherence length of a light beam.
Foi theimal light, the coheience length is only a few miciometies: a small multiple of
the wavelength. Te laigest coheience lengths, of ovei 300 000 km, aie obtained with
ieseaich laseis that have an extiemely naiiow lasei bandwith of just 1 Hz. Inteiestingly,
coheient light is even found in natuie: seveial special stais have been found to emit it. Ref. 21
Although the intensity of a good lasei beam is almost constant, the photons do not
aiiive at iegulai inteivals. Even the best lasei light shows bunching, though with dif-
feient statistics and to a lessei degiee than lamp light, as illustiated in Figuie 2I. Page 49 Light
whose photons aiiive iegulaily, thus exhibiting so-called (photon) anti-bunching, is obvi-
ously non-classical in the sense defned above; such light can be pioduced only by special
expeiimental aiiangements. Extieme examples of this phenomenon aie being investig-
ated at piesent by seveial ieseaich gioups aiming to constiuct light souices that emit one
photon at a time, at iegulai time inteivals, as ieliably as possible. In shoit, we can state
that the piecise photon statistics in a light beam depends on the mechanism of the light
souice.
In summaiy, expeiiments foice us to conclude that light is made of photons, but also
that photons cannot be localized in light beams. It makes no sense to talk about the
position of a photon in geneial; the idea makes sense only in some special situations,
and then only appioximately and as a statistical aveiage.
Avi vuo1o×s ×iciss:vv:
In light of the iesults uncoveied so fai, the answei to the above question is obvious. But
the issue is tiicky. In textbooks, the photoelectric efect is usually cited as the fist and
most obvious expeiimental pioof of the existence of photons. In I887, Heiniich Heitz
obseived that foi ceitain metals, such as lithium oi caesium, incident ultiaviolet light
leads to chaiging of the metal. Latei studies of the efect showed that the light causes
emission of elections, and that the eneigy of the ejected elections does not depend on
the intensity of the light, but only on the difeience between ℏ times its fiequency and
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a mateiial-dependent thieshold eneigy. Figuie 26 summaiizes the expeiiment and the
measuiements.
In classical physics, the photoelectiic efect is dimcult to explain. But in I903, Albeit
Einstein deduced Ref. 22 the measuiements fiom the assumption that light is made of photons
of eneigy ? = ℏ?. He imagined that this eneigy is used paitly to take the election ovei
the thieshold, and paitly to give it kinetic eneigy. Moie photons only lead to moie elec-
tions, not to fastei ones. In I92I, Einstein ieceived the Nobel Piize foi the explanation
of the photoelectiic efect. But Einstein was a genius: he deduced the coiiect iesult by a
somewhat incoiiect ieasoning. Te (small) mistake was the assumption that a classical,
continuous light beam would pioduce a difeient efect. In fact, it is easy to see that a
classical, continuous electiomagnetic feld inteiacting with disciete mattei, made of dis-
ciete atoms containing disciete elections, would lead to exactly the same iesult, as long as
the motion of elections is desciibed by quantum theoiy. Seveial ieseaicheis confimed
this eaily in the twentieth centuiy. Ref. 23 Te photoelectiic efect by itself does not imply the
existence of photons.
Indeed, many ieseaicheis in the past weie unconvinced that the photoelectiic efect
shows the existence of photons. Histoiically, the most impoitant aigument foi the neces-
sity of light quanta was given by Henii Poincaié. In I9II and I9I2, aged 37 and only a few
months befoie his death, he published two infuential papeis pioving that the iadiation
lawof black bodies – in which the quantum of action had been discoveied by Max Planck
– requires the existence of photons. Ref. 24 He also showed that the amount of iadiation emitted
by a hot body is fnite only because of the quantumnatuie of the piocesses leading to light
emission. A desciiption of these piocesses in teims of classical electiodynamics would
lead to (almost) infnite amounts of iadiated eneigy. Poincaié’s two infuential papeis
convinced most physicists that it was woithwhile to study quantum phenomena in moie
detail. Poincaié did not know about the action limit ? ⩾ ℏ; yet his aigument is based on
the obseivation that light of a given fiequency has a minimum intensity, namely a single
photon. Such a one-photon beam may be split into two beams, foi example by using a
half-silveied miiioi. Howevei, taken togethei, those two beams nevei contain moie than
a single photon.
Anothei inteiesting expeiiment that iequiies photons is the obseivation of ‘molecules
of photons’. In I993, Jacobsonet al. piedicted Ref. 25 that the de Bioglie wavelength of a packet of
photons could be obseived. Accoiding to quantumtheoiy, the packet wavelength is given
by the wavelength of a single photon divided by the numbei of photons in the packet.
Te team aigued that the packet wavelength could be obseivable if such a packet could
be split and iecombined without destioying the cohesion within it. In I999, this efect was
indeed obseived by de Padua and his ieseaich gioup in Biazil. Tey used a caieful set-up
with a nonlineai ciystal to cieate what they call a biphoton, and obseived its inteifeience
piopeities, fnding a ieduction in the efective wavelength by the piedicted factoi of two.
Since then, packages with thiee and even foui entangled photons have Ref. 26 been cieated and
obseived.
Yet anothei aigument foi the necessity of photons is the above-mentioned iecoil felt
by atoms emitting light. Page 43 Te iecoil measuied in these cases is best explained by the emis-
sion of a photon in a paiticulai diiection. In contiast, classical electiodynamics piedicts
the emission of a spheiical wave, with no piefeiied diiection.
Obviously, the obseivation of non-classical light, also called squeezed light, Page 49 also aigues
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pocket lamps
lasers or other
coherent light source
FI GURE 27 Two situations in which light crosses light: different light sources lead to different results.
foi the existence of photons, as squeezed light pioves that photons aie indeed an intrinsic
aspect of light, necessaiy even when inteiactions with mattei play no iole. Ref. 27 Te same is
tiue foi the Hanbuiy Biown–Twiss efect.
Finally, the spontaneous decay of excited atomic states also iequiies the existence of
photons. Tis cannot be explained by a continuum desciiption of light.
In summaiy, the concept of a photon is indeed necessaiy foi a piecise desciiption
of light; but the details aie ofen subtle, as the piopeities of photons aie unusual and
iequiie a change in oui habits of thought. To avoid these issues, most textbooks stop
discussing photons afei coming to the photoelectiic efect. Tis is a pity, as it is only then
that things get inteiesting. Pondei the following. Obviously, all electiomagnetic felds aie
made of photons. At piesent, photons can be counted foi gamma iays, X-iays, ultiaviolet
light, visible light and infiaied light. Howevei, foi lowei fiequencies, such as iadio waves,
photons have not yet been detected. Can you imagine what would be necessaiy to count
the photons emitted fiom a iadio station: Challenge 40 s Tis issue leads diiectly to the most impoitant
question of all:
I×1iviivi×ci: uow c:× : w:vi vi m:ui Uv oi v:v1iciis:

Die ganzen fünfzig Jahre bewussier Grübelei
haben mich der Aniwori auf die Frage ‘Was
sind Lichiquanien:’ nichi näher gebrachi.
Heuie glaubi zwar jeder Lump er wisse es, aber
er iäuschi sich.

Alberi Einsiein, I93I ¯
If a light wave is made of paiticles, we must be able to explain each and eveiy wave
piopeity in teims of photons. Te expeiiments mentioned above alieady hint that this is
possible only because photons aie quantum paiticles. Let us take a moie detailed look at
this connection.
¯ ‘Fify years of conscious brooding have noi broughi me nearer io ihe answer io ihe quesiion ‘Whai are
lighi quania:’ Nowadays every bounder ihinks he knows ii, bui he is wrong.’ Einsiein wroie ihis a fewyears
before his deaih in a leiier io Michele Besso. Ref. 28
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FI GURE 28 Examples of interference patterns that appear when coherent light beams cross: the
interference produced by a self-made parabolic telescope mirror of 27 cm diameter, and a speckle laser
pattern on a rough surface (© Mel Bartels, Epzcaw).
Light can cross othei light undistuibed, foi example when the light beams fiom two
pocket lamps shine thiough each othei. Tis obseivation is not haid to explain with
photons; since photons do not inteiact with each othei, and aie point-like, they ‘nevei’
hit each othei. In fact, theie is an extiemely small positive piobability foi theii inteiac-
tion, as we will fnd out latei, Vol. V, page 125 but this efect is not obseivable in eveiyday life.
But if two coherent light beams, i.e., two light beams of identical fiequency and fxed
phase ielation cioss, we obseive alteinating biight and daik iegions: so-called interfer-
ence fringes. Te schematic set-up is shown in Figuie 27. Examples of actual inteifeience
efects aie given in Figuie 28 and Figuie 29. How do these inteifeience fiinges appeai:¯
How can it be that photons aie not detected in the daik iegions: We alieady know the
only possible answei: the biightness at a given place coiiesponds to the probability that
a photon will aiiive theie. Te fiinges imply:
⊳ Photons behave like moving little arrows.
Some fuithei thought leads to the following desciiption:
— Te aiiow is always peipendiculai to the diiection of motion.
— Te aiiow’s diiection stays fxed in space when the photons move.
— Te length of an aiiow shiinks with the squaie of the distance tiavelled.
— Te probability of a photon arriving somewhere is given by the square of an arrow.
— Te fnal arrow is the sum of all the arrows arriving there by all possible paths.
— Photons emitted by single-colouied souices aie emitted with aiiows of constant
length pointing in the diiection ??; in othei woids, such souices spit out photons
with a rotating mouth.
¯ If lasers are used, fringes can only be observed if ihe iwo beams are derived froma single beamby spliiiing,
or if iwo expensive high-precision lasers are used. (Why: Challenge 41 s )
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,8 : iiou1 – n×u 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io×
FI GURE 29 Top: calculated interference patterns – and indistinguishable from observed ones under
ideal, “textbook” conditions – produced by two parallel narrow slits illuminated with green light and
with white light. Bottom: two Gaussian beams interfering at an angle (© Dietrich Zawischa, Rüdiger
Paschotta).
— Photons emitted by incoheient souices – e.g., theimal souices, such as pocket lamps
– aie emitted with aiiows of constant length pointing in random diiections.
With this simple model¯ we can explain the wave behavioui of light. In paiticulai, we
can desciibe the inteifeience stiipes seen in lasei expeiiments, as shown schematically
in Figuie 30. You can check that in some iegions the two aiiows tiavelling thiough the
two slits add up to zeio for all times. No photons aie detected theie: those iegions aie
black. In othei iegions, the aiiows always add up to the maximal value. Tese iegions
aie always biight. Regions in between have inteimediate shades. Obviously, in the case
of usual pocket lamps, shown in the lef-hand diagiam of Figuie 27, the biightness in the
common iegion also behaves as expected: the aveiages simply add up.
Obviously, the photon model implies that an inteifeience pattein is built up as the sum
of a laige numbei of single-photon hits. Using low-intensity beams, we should theiefoie
¯ Te model gives a correci descripiion of lighi excepi ihai ii neglecis polarizaiion. To add polarizaiion, ii
is necessary io combine arrows ihai roiaie in boih senses around ihe direciion of moiion.
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S
1
S
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two lasers or
point sources
screen
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2
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3
the arrow model:
s
d
FI GURE 30 Interference and the description of
light with arrows (at three instants of time).
be able to see how these little spots slowly build up an inteifeience pattein by accumu-
lating in the biight iegions and nevei hitting the daik iegions. Tis is indeed the case, as
we have seen eailiei on. Page 43 All expeiiments confim this desciiption.
In othei woids, inteifeience is the supeiposition of coheient light felds oi, moie gen-
eially, of coheient electiomagnetic felds. Coheient light felds have specifc, moie iegu-
lai photon behavioui, than incoheient light felds. We will exploie the details of photon
statistics in moie detail shoitly.
In summaiy, photons aie quantum paiticles. Quantum paiticles can pioduce inteifei-
ence patteins – and all othei wave efects – when they appeai in laige numbeis, because
they aie desciibed by an aiiow whose length squaied gives the piobability foi its detec-
tion.
I×1iviivi×ci oi : si×cii vuo1o×
It is impoitant to point out that inteifeience between two light beams is not the iesult of
two difeient photons cancelling each othei out oi being added togethei. Such cancella-
tion would contiadict conseivation of eneigy and momentum. Inteifeience is an efect
applicable to each photon sepaiately – as shown in the pievious section – because each
photon is spiead out ovei the whole set-up: each photon takes all possible paths. As Paul
Diiac stiessed: Ref. 29
⊳ Each photon inteifeies only with itself.
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6o : iiou1 – n×u 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io×
source image
mirror
arrow sum
screen
FI GURE 31 Light reflected by a
mirror, and the corresponding
arrows (at an instant of time).
Inteifeience of a photon with itself only occuis because photons aie quantons, and not
classical paiticles.
Diiac’s of-quoted statement leads to a famous paiadox: if a photon can inteifeie only
with itself, how can two lasei beams fiom two difeient laseis inteifeie with each othei:
Te answei given by quantum physics is simple but stiange: in the iegion wheie the
beams inteifeie – as mentioned Page 51 above – it is impossible to say fiom which souice a
photon has come. Te photons in the ciossing iegion cannot be said to come fiom a
specifc souice. Photons, also in the inteifeience iegion, aie quantons, and they indeed
inteifeie only with themselves.
Anothei desciiption of the situation is the following:
⊳ A photon inteifeies only within its volume of coheience. And in that
volume, it is impossible to distinguish photons.
In the coheience volume foimed by the longitudinal and tiansveisal coheience length –
sometimes also called a phase space cell – we cannot completely say that light is a fow
of photons, because a fow cannot be defned in it. Despite iegulai claims to the con-
tiaiy, Diiac’s statement is coiiect, as we will see below. Page 66 It is a stiange consequence of the
quantum of action.
Riiiic1io× :×u uiiiv:c1io× uiuUciu ivom vuo1o× :vvows
Waves also show difraction. Difiaction is the change of piopagation diiection of light
oi any othei wave neai edges. To undeistand this phenomenon with photons, let us stait
with a simple miiioi, and study refection fist. Photons (like all quantum paiticles) move
fiomsouice to detectoi by all possible paths. As Richaid Feynman,¯ who discoveied this
¯ Richard (‘Dick’) Phillips Feynman (b. :µ:8 New York Ciiy, d. :µ88 Los Angeles), physicisi, was one of
ihe founders of quanium elecirodynamics. He also discovered ihe ‘sum-over-hisiories’ reformulaiion of
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: iiou1 – n×u 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io× 6:
screen
source image
striped
mirror
arrow sum
at image
source point
usual
mirror
arrow sum
at point
vanishes
FI GURE 32 The light reflected
by a badly-placed mirror and by
a grating.
explanation, liked to stiess, the teim ‘all’ has to be taken liteially. Tis is not a big deal in
the explanation of inteifeience. But in oidei to undeistand a miiioi, we have to include
all possibilities, howevei ciazy they seem, as shown in Figuie 3I.
As stated above, a light souice emits iotating aiiows. To deteimine the piobability
that light aiiives at a ceitain location within the image, we have to add up all the aiiows
aiiiving at the same time at that location. Foi each path, the aiiow oiientation at the
image is shown – foi convenience only – belowthe coiiesponding segment of the miiioi.
Te angle and length of the aiiiving aiiow depends on the path. Note that the sum of all
the aiiows does not vanish: light does indeed aiiive at the image. Moieovei, the laigest
contiibution comes fiom the paths neai to the middle. If we weie to peifoim the same
calculation foi anothei image location, (almost) no light would get theie.
quanium iheory, made imporiani coniribuiions io ihe iheory of ihe weak inieraciion and io quanium
graviiy, and co-auihored a famous iexibook, ihe Feynman Lectures on Physics, now online ai hiip://www.
feynmanleciures.info. He is one of ihose iheoreiical physicisis who made his career mainly by performing
complex calculaiions – bui he backiracked wiih age, mosi successfully in his ieachings and physics books,
which are all worih reading. He was deeply dedicaied io physics and io enlarging knowledge, and was a
collecior of surprising physical explanaiions. He helped building ihe nuclear bomb, wroie papers in iop-
less bars, avoided io iake any professional responsibiliiy, and was famously arrogani and disrespeciful of
auihoriiy. He wroie several popular books on ihe evenis of his life. Tough he iried io surpass ihe genius of
Wolfgang Pauli ihroughoui his life, he failed in ihis endeavour. He shared ihe I963 Nobel Prize in Physics
for his work on quanium elecirodynamics.
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6: : iiou1 – n×u 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io×
air
water
light beam
FI GURE 33 If light were made of little stones, they would
move faster in water.
In shoit, the iule that iefection occuis with the incoming angle equal to the outgoing
angle is an appioximation, following fiom the aiiow model of light. In fact, a detailed
calculation, with moie aiiows, shows that the appioximation is quite piecise: the eiiois
aie much smallei than the wavelength of the light.
Te pioof that light does indeed take all these stiange paths is given by a moie spe-
cialized miiioi. As show in Figuie 32, we can iepeat the expeiiment with a miiioi that
iefects only along ceitain stiipes. In this case, the stiipes have been caiefully chosen so
that the coiiesponding path lengths lead to aiiows with a bias in one diiection, namely
to the lef. Te aiiow addition now shows that such a specialized miiioi – usually called
a grating – allows light to be iefected in unusual diiections. Indeed, this behavioui is
standaid foi waves: it is called difraction. In shoit, the aiiow model foi photons allows
us to desciibe this wave piopeity of light, piovided that photons follow the ‘ciazy’ piob-
ability scheme. Do not get upset! As was said above, quantum theoiy is the theoiy foi
ciazy people.
You may wish to check that the aiiow model, with the appioximations it geneiates
by summing ovei all possible paths, automatically ensuies that the quantum of action is
indeed the smallest action that can be obseived. Challenge 42 s
Riiv:c1io× :×u v:v1i:i viiiic1io× ivom vuo1o× :vvows
All waves have a signal velocity. Te signal velocity also depends on the medium in which
they piopagate. As a consequence, waves showrefraction when they move fiom one me-
dium into anothei with difeient signal velocity. Inteiestingly, the naive paiticle pictuie
of photons as little stones would imply that light is fastei in mateiials with high iefiactive
indices: the so-called dense mateiials. (See Figuie 33.) Can you confim this: Challenge 43 e Howevei,
expeiiments show that light in dense mateiials moves slowly. Te wave pictuie has no
dimculty explaining this obseivation. (Can you confim this:) Challenge 44 e Histoiically, this was one
of the aiguments against the paiticle theoiy of light. In contiast, the aiiowmodel of light
piesented above is able to explain iefiaction piopeily. It is not dimcult: tiy it. Challenge 45 e
Waves also refect partially fiom mateiials such as glass. Tis is one of the most dim-
cult wave piopeities to explain with photons. But it is one of the fewefects that is not ex-
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plained by a classical wave theoiy of light. Howevei, it is explained by the aiiowmodel, as
we will fnd out. Paitial iefection confims the fist two iules of the aiiowmodel. Page 57 Paitial
iefection shows that photons indeed behave randomly: some aie iefected and othei aie
not, without any selection ciiteiion. Te distinction is puiely statistical. Moie about this
issue shoitly.
Fvom vuo1o×s 1o w:vis
In waves, the felds oscillate in time and space. One way to show how waves can be made
of paiticles is to show how to build up a sine wave using a laige numbei of photons. A
sine wave is a coheient state of light. Te way to build themup was explained in detail Ref. 30 by
Roy Glaubei. In fact, to build a puie sine wave, we need a supeiposition of a beam with
one photon, a beam with two photons, a beam with thiee photons, and so on. Togethei,
they give a peifect sine wave. As expected, its photon numbei fuctuates to the highest
possible degiee.
If we iepeat the calculation foi non-ideal beams, we fnd that the indeteiminacy iela-
tion foi eneigy and time is iespected: eveiy emitted beam will possess a ceitain spectial
width. Puiely monochiomatic light does not exist. Similaily, no systemthat emits a wave
at random can pioduce a monochiomatic wave. All expeiiments confim these iesults.
In addition, waves can be polarized. So fai, we have disiegaided this piopeity. In the
photon pictuie, polaiization is the iesult of caiefully supeiposing beams of photons spin-
ning clockwise and anticlockwise. Indeed, we know that lineai polaiization can be seen
as a iesult of supeiposing ciiculaily-polaiized light of both signs, using the piopei phase.
What seemed a cuiiosity in classical optics tuins out to be a fundamental justifcation foi
quantum theoiy.
Finally, photons aie indistinguishable. When two photons of the same coloui cioss,
theie is no way to say afeiwaids which of the two is which. Te quantumof action makes
this impossible. Te indistinguishability of photons has an inteiesting consequence. It is
impossible to say which emitted photon coiiesponds to which aiiiving photon. In othei
woids, theie is no way to follow the path of a photon, as we aie used to following the
path of a billiaid ball. Photons aie indeed indistinguishable. In addition, Page 52 the expeiiment
by Hanbuiy Biown and Twiss implies that photons aie bosons. Ref. 31 We will discovei moie
details about the specifc indistinguishability of bosons latei on. Page 111
In summaiy, we fnd that light waves can indeed be desciibed as being built of
paiticles. Howevei, this is only coiiect with the pioviso that photons
— aie not piecisely countable – nevei with a piecision bettei than

?,
— aie not localizable – nevei with a piecision bettei than the coheience length,
— have no size, no chaige and no (iest) mass,
— show a phase that incieases as ??, i.e., as the pioduct of fiequency and time,
— caiiy spin I,
— of the same fiequency aie indistinguishable bosons – within a coheience volume,
— can take any path whatsoevei – as long as allowed by the boundaiy conditions,
— have no disceinable oiigin, and
— have a detection piobability given by the squaie of the sum of amplitudes¯ foi all
¯ Te ampliiude of a phoion feld, however, cannoi and should noi be ideniifed wiih ihe wave funciion of
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allowed paths leading to the point of detection.
In othei woids, light can be desciibed as made of paiticles only if these paiticles have
special, quantum piopeities. Tese quantum piopeities difei fiom eveidy paiticles and
allow photons to behave like waves whenevei they aie piesent in laige numbeis.
C:× iicu1 movi i:s1iv 1u:× iicu1: – Ri:i :×u viv1U:i vuo1o×s
In a vacuum, light can move fastei than ?, as well as slowei than ?. Te quantum piinciple
piovides the details. As long as this piinciple is obeyed, the speed of a shoit light fash
can difei – though only by a tiny amount – fiom the ‘omcial’ value. Can you estimate
the allowable difeience in aiiival time foi a light fash coming fiom the dawn of time: Challenge 46 ny
Te aiiow desciiption foi photons gives the same iesult. If we take into account the
ciazy possibility that photons can move with any speed, we fnd that all speeds veiy dif-
feient fiom? cancel out. Te only vaiiation that iemains, tianslated into distances, is the
indeteiminacy of about one wavelength in the longitudinal diiection, Challenge 47 ny which we men-
tioned above.
In shoit, light, oi ieal photons, can indeed move fastei than light, though only by an
amount allowed by the quantum of action. Foi eveiyday situations, i.e., foi high values of
the action, all quantumefects aveiage out, including light and photon velocities difeient
fiom ?.
Not only the position, but also the eneigy of a single photon can be undefned. Ref. 32 Foi
example, ceitain mateiials split one photon of eneigy ℏ? into two photons, whose two
eneigies add up to the oiiginal one. Quantum mechanics implies that the eneigy paiti-
tioning is known only when the eneigy of one of the two photons is measuied. Only at
that veiy instant is the eneigy of the second photon known. Befoie the measuiement,
both photons have undefned eneigies. Te piocess of eneigy fxing takes place instant-
aneously, even if the second photon is fai away. We will explain below Page 151 the backgiound
to this and similai stiange efects, which seem to be fastei than light. In fact, despite the
appeaiance, these obseivations do not involve fastei-than-light tiansmission of eneigy
oi infoimation. Challenge 48 s
Moie bizaiie consequences of the quantumof action appeai whenwe study static elec-
tiic felds, such as the feld aiound a chaiged metal spheie. Obviously, such a feld must
also be made of photons. How do they move: It tuins out that static electiic felds aie
made of virtual photons. Viitual photons aie photons that do not appeai as fiee paiticles:
they only appeai foi an extiemely shoit time befoie they disappeai again. In the case of
a static electiic feld, they aie longitudinally polaiized, and do not caiiy eneigy away.
Viitual photons, like othei viitual paiticles, aie ‘shadows’ of paiticles that obey
Δ?Δ? ⩽ ℏ/2 . (I4)
Rathei than obeying the usual indeteiminacy ielation, they obey the opposite ielation,
which expiesses theii veiy biief appeaiance. Despite theii intiinsically shoit life, and des-
pite the impossibility of detecting them diiectly, viitual paiticles have impoitant efects.
We will exploie them in detail shoitly. Page 192
any massive spin I pariicle.
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In fact, the vectoi potential ? allows four polaiizations, coiiesponding to the foui
cooidinates (?, ?, ?, ?). It tuins out that foi the photons one usually talks about – the
fiee oi real photons – the polaiizations in the ? and ? diiections cancel out, so that one
obseives only the ? and ? polaiizations in actual expeiiments.
Foi bound oi virtual photons, the situation is difeient. All foui polaiizations aie pos-
sible. Indeed, the z and t polaiizations of viitual photons – which do not appeai foi ieal
photons, i.e., foi fiee photons – aie the ones that can be said to be the building blocks of
static electiic and magnetic felds.
In othei woids, static electiic and magnetic felds aie continuous fows of viitual
photons. In contiast to ieal photons, viitual photons can have mass, can have spin dii-
ections not pointing along the path of motion, and can have momentum opposite to
theii diiection of motion. Exchange of viitual photons leads to the attraction of bodies
of difeient chaige. In fact, viitual photons necessarily appeai in any desciiption of elec-
tiomagnetic inteiactions. Latei on we will discuss theii efects fuithei – including Vol. V, page 117 the
famous attiaction of neutial bodies.
We have seen alieady eaily on that viitual photons, Vol. II, page 70 foi example those that aie needed
to desciibe collisions of chaiges, must be able to move with speeds highei than that of
light. Tis desciiption is iequiied in oidei to ensuie that the speed of light iemains a
limit in all expeiiments.
In summaiy, it might be intiguing to note that viitual photons, in contiast to ieal
photons, aie not bound by the speed of light; but it is also faii to say that viitual photons
move fastei-than-light only in a formal sense.
I×ui1ivmi×:cv oi iiic1vic iiiius
We have seen that the quantum of action implies an indeteiminacy foi light intensity.
Since light is an electiomagnetic wave, this indeteiminacy implies similai, sepaiate limits
foi electiic and magnetic felds at a given point in space. Tis conclusion was fist diawn
in I933 by Bohi and Rosenfeld. Ref. 33 Tey staited fiomthe efects of the felds on a test paiticle
of mass ? and chaige ?, which aie desciibed by:
?? = ? (? + ? × ?) . (I3)
Since it is impossible to measuie both the momentumand the position of a paiticle, they
deduced an indeteiminacy foi the electiical feld, given by Challenge 49 ny
Δ? =

? Δ??
, (I6)
wheie ? is the measuiement time and Δ? is the position indeteiminacy. Tus eveiy value
of an electiic feld, and similaily of a magnetic feld, possesses an indeteiminacy. Te
state of the electiomagnetic feld behaves like the state of mattei in this iespect: both
follow an indeteiminacy ielation.
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66 : iiou1 – n×u 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io×
C:× 1wo vuo1o×s i×1iviivi:
In I930, Paul Diiac made the famous statement alieady mentioned eailiei Page 59 on:
⊳ Each photon inteifeies only with itself. Inteifeience between two difeient
photons nevei Ref. 29 occuis.
Ofen this statement is misinteipieted as implying that light fiom two sepaiate photon
sources cannot inteifeie. Unfoitunately, this false inteipietation has spieadthiougha pait
of the liteiatuie. Ref. 34 Eveiybody can check that this statement is incoiiect with a iadio: signals
fiomtwo distant iadio stations tiansmitting on the same fiequency lead to beats in amp-
litude, i.e., to wave interference. (Tis should not to be confused with the moie common
radio interference, which usually is simply a supeiposition of intensities.) Radio tians-
mitteis aie coheient souices of photons, and any iadio ieceivei shows that signals foim
two difeient souices can indeed inteifeie.
In I949, inteifeience of feds emitted two difeient photon souices has been demon-
stiated also with microwave beams. Fiom the nineteen ffies onwaids, numeious expei-
iments with two laseis and even with two theimal light souices have shown light intei-
feience. Foi example, in I963, Ref. 35 Magyai and Mandel used two iuby laseis emitting light
pulses and a iapid shuttei cameia to pioduce spatial inteifeience fiinges.
Howevei, all these expeiimental iesults with two inteifeiing souices do not contiadict
the statement by Diiac. Indeed, two photons cannot inteifeie foi seveial ieasons.
— Inteifeience is a iesult of the space-time piopagation of waves; photons appeai only
when the eneigy–momentum pictuie is used, mainly when inteiaction with mattei
takes place. Te desciiption of space-time piopagation and the paiticle pictuie aie
mutually exclusive – this is one aspect of the complementaiy piinciple. Why does
Diiac seem to mix the two in his statement: Diiac employs the teim ‘photon’ in a
veiy geneial sense, as quantized state of the electiomagnetic feld. When two cohei-
ent beams aie supeiposed, the quantized entities, the photons, cannot be asciibed to
eithei of the souices. Inteifeience iesults fiom supeiposition of two coheient states,
not of two paiticles.
— Inteifeience is only possible if one cannot know wheie the detected photon comes
fiom. Te quantum mechanical desciiption of the feld in a situation of inteifeience
nevei allows asciibing photons of the supeiposed feld to one of the souices. In othei
woids, if it is possible to say fiom which souice a detected photon comes fiom, in-
teifeience cannot be obseived.
— Inteifeience between two coheient beams iequiies a coiielated oi fxed phase
between them, i.e., an undeteimined paiticle numbei; in othei woids, inteifeience
is possible if and only if the photon numbei foi each of the two beams is unknown.
And a beam has an unknown photon numbei when the numbei indeteiminacy is of
similai size as the aveiage numbei.
Te statement of Diiac thus depends on the defnition of the teim ‘photon’. A bettei
choice of woids is to say that inteifeience is always between two (indistinguishable) his-
toiies, but nevei between two quantum paiticles. Oi, as expiessed above:
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: iiou1 – n×u 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io× 6,
air
water
α
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p
2
α
2
FI GURE 34 Refraction and photons.
⊳ A photon inteifeies only within its volume of coheience, i.e., within its own
cell of phase space. Outside, theie is no inteifeience. And inside that volume
oi cell, it is impossible to distinguish photons, states oi histoiies.
Te concept of ‘photon’ iemains deep even today. Te quantum paiticle model of cohei-
ence and light iemains fascinating to this day. Summaiizing, we can say: Two diferent
electromagnetic beams can interfere, but two diferent photons cannot.
CUviosi1iis :×u iU× cu:iii×cis :voU1 vuo1o×s
Can one explain iefiaction with photons: Newton was not able to do so, but today we
can. In iefiaction by a hoiizontal suiface, as shown in Figuie 34, the situation is tiansla-
tionally invaiiant along the hoiizontal diiection. Teiefoie, the momentum component
along this diiection is conseived: ?
1
sin ?
1
= ?
2
sin ?
2
. Te photon eneigy ? = ?
1
= ?
2
is obviously conseived. Te index of iefiaction ? is defned in teims of momentum and
eneigy as
? =
??
?
. (I7)
Te ‘law’ of iefiaction follows: Challenge 50 e
sin ?
1
sin ?
2
= ? . (I8)
Te ielation is known since the middle ages.
Teie is an impoitant issue heie. In a mateiial, the velocity of a photon ? = ??/??
in a light iay difers fiom the phase velocity ? = ?/? that enteis into the calculation. In
summaiy, inside mattei, the concept of photon must be used with extieme caie.
∗∗
If an electiomagnetic wave has amplitude ?, the photon density ? is
? =
?
2
ℏ?
. (I9)
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68 : iiou1 – n×u 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io×
FI GURE 35 The blue shades of the sky and the colours
of clouds are due to various degrees of Rayleigh, Mie
and Tyndall scattering (© Giorgio di Iorio).
Can you show this: Challenge 51 ny
∗∗
Show that foi a lasei pulse in vacuum, the coheience volume incieases duiing piopaga-
tion, wheieas the volume occupied in phase space iemains constant. Challenge 52 e Its entiopy is con-
stant, as its path is ieveisible.
∗∗
A typical efect of the quantum ‘laws’ is the yellow coloui of the lamps used foi stieet
illumination in most cities. Tey emit puie yellow light of (almost) a single fiequency;
that is why no othei colouis can be distinguished in theii light. Accoiding to classical
electiodynamics, haimonics of that light fiequency should also be emitted. Expeiiments
show, howevei, that this is not the case; classical electiodynamics is thus wiong. Is this
aigument coiiect: Challenge 53 s
∗∗
What happens to photons that hit an object but aie not absoibed oi tiansmitted: Genei-
ally speaking, they aie scatteied. Scattering is the name foi any piocess that changes the
motion of light (oi that of any othei wave). Te details of the scatteiing piocess depend
on the object; some scatteiing piocesses only change the diiection of motion, otheis also
change the fiequency. Table 3 gives an oveiview of piocesses that scattei light.
All scatteiing piopeities depend on the mateiial that pioduces the defection of light.
Among otheis, the study of scatteiing piocesses explains many colouis of tianspaient
mateiials, as we will see below. Page 170
We note that the bending of light due to giavity is not called scatteiing. Why not: Challenge 54 e
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: iiou1 – n×u 1ui qUn×1Um oi nc1io× 6µ
TABLE 3 Types of light scattering.
S c n1 1 i v i × o
1 v v i
S c n1 1 i v i v Di 1n i i s E x n mv i i s
Rayleigh scaiiering aioms, molecules elasiic, iniensiiy
changes as 1/?
4
,
scaiierers smaller
ihan ?/10
blue sky, red evening
sky, blue cigareiie
smoke
Mie scaiiering iranspareni objecis,
dropleis
elasiic, iniensiiy
changes as 1/?
0.5
io
1/?
2
, scaiierer size
around ?
blue sky, red
evenings, blue
disiani mouniains
Geomeiric scaiiering edges elasiic, scaiierer size
larger ihan ?
beiier called
difraction, used in
inierference
Tyndall scaiiering non-iranspareni objecis elasiic, angle weakly
or noi wavelengih-
dependeni
smog, whiie clouds,
fog, whiie cigareiie
smoke
Smekal–Raman
scaiiering
exciied aioms, molecules inelasiic, lighi gains
energy
used in lidar
invesiigaiions of ihe
aimosphere
Inverse Raman
scaiiering
aioms, molecules inelasiic, lighi loses
energy
used in maierial
research
Tomson scaiiering elecirons elasiic used for eleciron
densiiy
deierminaiion
Compion scaiiering elecirons inelasiic, X-ray lose
energy
proves pariicle
naiure of lighi (see
page 46)
Brillouin scaiiering acousiic phonons, densiiy
variaiions in solids/ßuids
inelasiic, frequency
shif of a few GHz
used io siudy
phonons and io
diagnose opiical
fbres
Von Laue or X-ray
scaiiering
crysialline solids elasiic, due io
inierference ai
crysial planes
used io deiermine
crysial siruciures;
also called Bragg
difraction
A sUmm:vv o× iicu1: v:v1icii :×u w:vi
In summaiy, light is a stieam of light quanta oi photons. A single photon is the smallest
possible light intensity of a given coloui. Photons, like all quantons, aie quite difeient
fiom eveiyday paiticles. In fact, we can aigue that the only (classical) paiticle aspects of
photons aie theii quantized eneigy, momentum and spin. In all othei iespects, photons
aie not like little stones. Photons move with the speed of light. Photons cannot be local-
ized in light beams. Photons aie indistinguishable. Photons aie bosons. Photons have no
mass, no chaige and no size. It is moie accuiate to say that photons are calculating devices
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to precisely describe observations about light. Ref. 36
Te stiange piopeities of photons aie the ieason why eailiei attempts to desciibe
light as a stieam of (classical) paiticles, such as the attempt of Newton, failed miseiably,
and weie iightly iidiculed by othei scientists. Indeed, Newton upheld his theoiy against
all expeiimental evidence – especially with iegaid to light’s wave piopeities – which is
something that a physicist should nevei do. Only afei people had accepted that light is
a wave, and then discoveied and undeistood that quantum paiticles aie fundamentally
difeient fiom classical paiticles, was the quanton desciiption successful.
Te quantum of action implies that all waves are streams of quantons. In fact, all waves
aie correlated stieams of quantons. Tis is tiue foi light, foi any othei foim of iadiation,
and foi all foims of mattei waves.
Te indeteiminacy ielations show that even a single quanton can be iegaided as a
wave; howevei, whenevei it inteiacts with the iest of the woild, it behaves as a paiticle. In
fact, it is essential that all waves be made of quantons: if they weie not, then inteiactions
would be non-local, and objects could not be localized at all, contiaiy to expeiience.
To decide whethei the wave oi the paiticle desciiption is moie appiopiiate, we can
use the following ciiteiion. Whenevei mattei and light inteiact, it is moie appiopiiate to
desciibe electiomagnetic iadiation as a wave if the wavelength ? satisfes
? ≫
ℏ?
??
, (20)
wheie ? = 1.4 ⋅ 10
−23
J/K is Boltzmann’s constant. If the wavelength is much smaller
than the quantity on the iight-hand side, the paiticle desciiption is most appiopiiate. If
the two sides aie of the same oidei of magnitude, both desciiptions play a iole. Can you
explain the ciiteiion: Challenge 55 e
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C u : v 1 i v 3
MOTION OF MATTER – BEYOND
CLASSICAL PHYSICS

All greai ihings begin as blasphemies.

George Bernard Shaw
T
he existence of a smallest action has numeious impoitant consequences foi
he motion of mattei. We stait with a few expeiimental iesults that show
hat the quantum of action is indeed the smallest measuiable action value, also in
the case of mattei. Ten we show that the quantum of action implies the existence of a
phase and thus of the wave piopeities of mattei. Finally, fiom the quantum of action, we
deduce foi the motion of mattei the same desciiption that we alieady found foi light:
mattei paiticles behave like iotating aiiows.
Wi×i ci:ssis, vi×ciis :×u :1oms – ×o vis1

Oiium cum digniiaie.¯

Cicero, De oratore.
If the quantum of action is the smallest obseivable change in a physical system, then two
obseivations of the same system must always difei. Tus theie cannot be peifect iest in
natuie. Is that tiue: Expeiiments show that this is indeed the case.
A simple consequence of the lack of peifect iest is the impossibility of completely
flling a glass of wine. If we call a glass at maximum capacity (including suiface tension
efects, to make the aigument piecise) ‘full’, we immediately see that the situation ie-
quiies the liquid’s suiface to be completely at iest. Tis is nevei obseived. Indeed, a com-
pletely quiet suiface would admit two successive obseivations that difei by less than ℏ.
We could tiy to ieduce all motions by ieducing the tempeiatuie of the system. To achieve
absolute iest we would need to ieach absolute zeio tempeiatuie. Expeiiments show that
this is impossible. (Indeed, this impossibility, the so-called third ‘law’ of thermodynam-
ics, is equivalent to the existence of a minimum action.) All expeiiments confim: Tere
is no rest in nature. In othei woids, the quantum of action pioves the old tiuth that a
glass of wine is always paitially empty and paitially full.
Te absence of micioscopic iest, piedicted by the quantum of action, is confimed
in many expeiiments. Foi example, a pencil standing on its tip cannot iemain veitical,
as shown in Figuie 36, even if it is isolated fiom all distuibances, such as vibiations, aii
molecules and theimal motion. Tis – admittedly veiy academic – conclusion follows
¯ ‘Resi wiih digniiy.’
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,: ¸ mo1io× oi mn11iv – vivo×u cinssicni vuvsics
axis
?
FI GURE 36 A falling pencil.
fiom the indeteiminacy ielation. In fact, it is even possible to calculate the time afei
which a pencil must have fallen ovei. Challenge 56 d In piactice howevei, pencils fall ovei much eailiei,
because in usual conditions, exteinal distuibances aie much laigei than the efects of the
quantum of action.
But the most impoitant consequence of the absence of iest is anothei. Te absence of
iest foi the elections inside atoms pievents themfiomfalling into the nuclei, despite theii
mutual attiaction. In shoit, the existence and the size of atoms, and thus of all mattei, is a
diiect consequence of the absence of micioscopic iest! We will exploie this consequence
in moie detail below. Page 78 Since we aie made of atoms, we can say: we only exist and live
because of the quantum of action.
No i×ii×i1i mi:sUvimi×1 vvicisio×
Not only does the quantum of action pievent the existence of iest; the quantum of ac-
tion also pievents the obseivation oi measuiement of iest. In oidei to check whethei
an object is at iest, we need to obseive its position with high piecision. Because of the
wave piopeities of light, we need a high-eneigy photon: only a high-eneigy photon has
a small wavelength and thus allows a piecise position measuiement. As a iesult of this
high eneigy, howevei, the object is distuibed. Woise, the distuibance itself is not pie-
cisely measuiable; so theie is no way to deteimine the oiiginal position even by taking
the distuibance into account. In shoit, peifect iest cannot be obseived – even if it existed.
Indeed, all expeiiments in which systems have been obseived with highest piecision
confim that peifect iest does not exist. Te absence of iest has been confimed foi elec-
tions, neutions, piotons, ions, atoms, molecules, atomic condensates and ciystals. Te
absence of iest has been even confimed foi objects with a mass of about a tonne, as
used in ceitain giavitational wave detectois. No object is evei at iest.
Te same aigument on measuiement limitations also shows that no measuiement, of
any obseivable, can evei be peifoimed to infnite piecision. Tis is anothei of the fai-
ieaching consequences of the quantum of action.
Cooi c:s
Te quantum of action implies that iest is impossible in natuie. In fact, even at extiemely
low tempeiatuies, all paiticles inside mattei aie in motion. Tis fundamental lack of iest
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is said to be due to the so-called zero-point fuctuations. A good example is piovided by
the iecent measuiements of Bose–Einstein condensates. Tey aie tiapped gases, with a
small numbei of atoms (between ten and a few million), cooled to extiemely low tem-
peiatuies (aiound 1 nK). Te tiaps allow to keep the atoms suspended in mid-vacuum.
Tese cool and tiapped gases can be obseived with high piecision. Using elaboiate ex-
peiimental techniques, Bose–Einsteincondensates can be put into states foi which Δ?Δ?
is almost exactly equal to ℏ/2 – though nevei lowei than this value. Tese expeiiments
confim diiectly that theie is no obseivable iest, but a fundamental fuzziness in natuie.
And the fuzziness is desciibed by the quantum of action.
Tis leads to an inteiesting puzzle. In a noimal object, the distance between the atoms
is much laigei than theii de Bioglie wavelength. (Can you confim this:) Challenge 57 s But today it is
possible to cool objects to extiemely low tempeiatuies. At sumciently low tempeiatuies,
less than 1 nK, Ref. 37 the wavelength of the atoms may be laigei than theii sepaiation. Can you
imagine what happens in such cases: Challenge 58 s
Fiows :×u 1ui qU:×1iz:1io× oi m:11iv

Die Bewegung isi die Daseinsform der Maierie.

Friedrich Engels, Anti-Dühring.¯
Not only does the quantum of action make iest impossible, it also makes impossible any
situation that does not change in time. Te most impoitant examples of (appaiently) sta-
tionaiy situations aie fows. Te quantum of action implies that no fowcan be stationaiy.
Moie piecisely, a smallest action implies that no fow can be continuous. All fows fuc-
tuate. In natuie, all fows aie made of smallest entities: all fows aie made of quantum
paiticles. We saw above that this is valid foi light; it also applies to mattei fows. Two
simple kinds of fow fiom oui eveiyday expeiience diiectly confim this consequence
fiom the quantum of action: fows of fuids and fows of electiicity.
FiUiu iiows :×u qU:×1o×s
Te fow of mattei also exhibits smallest units. We mentioned eaily on in oui adventuie
Vol. I, page 365 that a consequence of the paiticulate stiuctuie of liquids is that oil oi any othei smooth
liquid pioduces noise when it fows thiough even the smoothest of pipes. We mentioned
that the noise we heai in oui eais in situations of absolute silence – foi example, in a
snowy and windless landscape in the mountains oi in an anechoic chambei – is paitly
due to the gianulaiity of blood fow in the veins. All expeiiments confim that all fows
of mattei pioduce vibiations. Tis is a consequence of the quantum of action, and of the
iesulting gianulaiity of mattei. In fact, the quantum of action can be deteimined fiom
noise measuiements in fuids.
K×ocxi×c 1:viis :×u qU:×1iziu co×uUc1ivi1v
If electiical cuiient weie a continuous fow, it would be possible to obseive action values
as small as desiied. Te simplest countei-example was discoveied in I996, by José Costa-
Kiämei Ref. 38, Ref. 39 and his colleagues. Tey put two metal wiies on top of each othei on a kitchen
¯ ‘Moiion is maiier’s way of being.’ Ref. 12
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FI GURE 37 Steps in the flow of electricity in metal wire crossings: the set-up, the nanowires at the
basis of the effect, and three measurement results (© José Costa-Krämer, AAPT from Ref. 39).
table and attached a batteiy, a cuiient-voltage conveitei – oi simply a iesistoi – and a
stoiage oscilloscope to them. Ten they measuied the electiical cuiient while knocking
on the table. Tat is all.
Knocking the table bieaks the contact between the two wiies. In the last millisecond
befoie the wiies detach, the conductivity and thus the electiical cuiient diminishes in
iegulai steps of about 7 µA, as can easily be seen on the oscilloscope. Figuie 37 shows
such a measuiement. Tis simple expeiiment could have beaten, if it had been peifoimed
a few yeais eailiei, a numbei of othei, enoimously expensive expeiiments which dis-
coveied this same quantization at costs of seveial million euio each, using complex set-
ups at extiemely low tempeiatuies.
In fact, the quantization of conductivity appeais in any electiical contact with a small
cioss-section. In such situations the quantum of action implies that the conductivity can
only be a multiple of 2?
2
/ℏ ≈ (12 906 Ω)
−1
. Can you confim this iesult: Challenge 59 e Note that elec-
tiical conductivity can be as small as iequiied; only the quantized electiical conductivity
has the minimum value of 2?
2
/ℏ.
Many moie elaboiate expeiiments confim the obseivation of conductance steps.
Tey foice us to conclude that theie is a smallest electric charge in natuie. Tis smal-
lest chaige has the same value as the chaige of an election. Indeed, elections tuin out to
be pait of eveiy atom, in a constiuction to be explained shoitly. In metals, a laige num-
bei of elections can move fieely: that is why metals conduct electiicity so well and woik
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¸ mo1io× oi mn11iv – vivo×u cinssicni vuvsics ,,
FI GURE 38 Electrons beams
diffract and interfere at multiple
slits (© Claus Jönsson).
as miiiois.
In shoit, mattei and electiicity fow in smallest units. Depending on the fowing
mateiial, the smallest fowing units of mattei may be ‘molecules’, ‘atoms’, ‘ions’, oi
‘elections’. All of them aie quantum paiticles, oi quantons. In shoit, the quantum of
action implies that mattei is made of quantons. Mattei quantons shaie some piopeities
with oidinaiy stones, but also difei fiom them in many ways. A stone has position and
momentum, mass and acceleiation, size, shape, stiuctuie, oiientation and angulai mo-
mentum, and coloui. We nowexploie each of these piopeities foi quantons, and see how
they aie ielated to the quantum of action.
M:11iv qU:×1o×s :×u 1uiiv mo1io× – m:11iv w:vis
In I923 and I924, the infuential physicist Louis de Bioglie Ref. 40 pondeied the consequences
of the quantum of action foi mattei paiticles. He knew that in the case of light, the
quantum of action connects wave behavioui to paiticle behavioui. He ieasoned that the
same should apply to mattei. It dawned to him that stieams of mattei paiticles with the
same momentumshould behave as waves, just as stieams of light quanta do. He thus pie-
dicted that like foi light, coheient mattei fows should have a wavelength ? and angulai
fiequency ? given by
? =
2π ℏ
?
and ? =
?

, (2I)
wheie ? and ? aie the momentum and the eneigy, iespectively, of the single paiticles.
Equivalently, we can wiite the ielations as
? = ℏ? and ? = ℏ? . (22)
All these ielations state that mattei quantons also behave as waves.
Soon afei de Bioglie’s piediction, expeiiments began to confim the statement. It is
indeed obseived that mattei stieams can difiact, iefiact and inteifeie; the obseivations
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FI GURE 39 Formation over time of the interference pattern of electrons, here in a low-intensity
double-slit experiment: (a) 8 electrons, (b) 270 electrons, (c) 2000 electrons, (d) 6000 electrons, after 20
minutes of exposure. The last image corresponds to the situation shown in the previous figure.
(© Tonomura Akira/Hitachi).
matched the values piedicted by de Bioglie. Because of the smallness of the wavelength
of quantons, caieful expeiiments aie needed to detect these efects. But one by one, all ex-
peiimental confimations of the wave piopeities of light weie iepeated foi mattei beams.
Foi example, just as light is difiacted when it passes aiound an edge oi thiough a slit,
mattei is also difiacted in these situations. Tis is tiue even foi elections, the simplest
paiticles of mattei, as shown in Figuie 38. Ref. 41 In fact, the expeiiment with elections is quite
dimcult. It was fist peifoimed by Claus Jönsson in Tübingen in I96I; in the yeai 2002 it
was voted the most beautiful expeiiment in all of physics. Many yeais afei Jönsson, the
expeiiment was iepeated with a modifed election micioscope, as shown in Figuie 39.
Inspiied by light inteifeiometeis, ieseaicheis began to build matter inteifeiometeis.
Mattei inteifeiometeis have been used in many beautiful expeiiments, as we will fnd
out. Vol. V, page 137 Today, mattei inteifeiometeis woik with beams of elections, nucleons, nuclei, atoms,
oi even laige Ref. 42 molecules. Just as obseivations of light inteifeience piove the wave chai-
actei of light, Vol. III, page 98 so the inteifeience patteins obseived with mattei beams piove the wave
chaiactei of mattei. Tey also confim the value of ℏ.
Like light, mattei is made of paiticles; like light, mattei behaves as a wave when laige
numbeis of paiticles with the same momentumaie involved. But althoughbeams of laige
molecules behave as waves, eveiyday objects – such as cais on a motoiway – do not.
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Teie aie seveial ieasons foi this. Fiist, foi cais on a motoiway the ielevant wavelength
is extiemely small. Secondly, the speeds of the cais vaiy too much. Tiidly, cais can be
counted. In summaiy, stieams of cais with the same speed cannot be made coheient.
If mattei behaves like a wave, we can diaw a stiange conclusion. Foi any wave, the
position and the wavelength cannot both be shaiply defned simultaneously: the inde-
teiminacies of the wave numbei ? = 2π/? and of the position ? obey the ielation
Δ?Δ? ≥
1
2
. (23)
Similaily, foi eveiy wave the angulai fiequency ? = 2π? and the instant ? of its peak
amplitude cannot both be shaiply defned. Teii indeteiminacies aie ielated by
Δ?Δ? ≥
1
2
. (24)
Using de Bioglie’s wave piopeities of mattei (22), we get
Δ?Δ? ⩾

2
and Δ?Δ? ⩾

2
. (23)
Tese famous ielations aie called Heisenberg’s indeterminacy relations. Tey weie dis-
coveied by Weinei Heisenbeig in I923. Tey aie valid foi all quantum paiticles, be they
mattei oi iadiation. Te indeteiminacy ielations state that theie is no way to simultan-
eously asciibe a piecise momentum and position to a quantum system, noi to simultan-
eously asciibe a piecise eneigy and age. Te moie accuiately one quantity is known, the
less accuiately the othei is.¯ As a iesult, mattei quantons – iathei like stones – can always
be localized, but always only appioximately. On the othei hand, we saw that photons of-
ten cannot be localized.
Both indeteiminacy ielations have been checked expeiimentally in gieat detail. All
expeiiments confim them. In fact, eveiy expeiiment pioving that mattei behaves like a
wave is a confimation of the indeteiminacy ielation – and vice veisa.
When two vaiiables aie linked by indeteiminacy ielations, one says that they aie com-
plementary to each othei. Niels Bohi systematically exploied all possible such paiis. You
can also do that foi youiself. Challenge 60 s Bohi was deeply fascinated by the existence of a com-
plementaiity piinciple, and he latei extended it in philosophical diiections. In a well-
known scene, somebody asked him what was the quantity complementaiy to piecision.
He answeied: ‘claiity’.
We iemaik that the usual, real, mattei quantons always move moie slowly than light.
Due to the inheient fuzziness of quantum motion, it should not come to a suipiise that
exceptions exist. Indeed, in some extiemely special cases, the quantum of action allows
the existence of paiticles that move fastei than light – so-called virtual paiticles – which
we will meet latei on. Page 192
In summaiy, the quantum of action means that mattei quantons do not behave like
¯ A policeman siopped ihe car being driven by Werner Heisenberg. ‘Do you know how fasi you were driv-
ing:’ ‘No, bui I know exacily where I was!’
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point-like stones, but as waves. In paiticulai, like foi waves, the values of position and
momentumcannot both be exactly defned foi quantons. Te values aie fuzzy – position
and momentum aie undeteimined. Te moie piecisely one of the two is known, the less
piecisely the othei is known.
M:ss :×u :cciiiv:1io× oi qU:×1o×s
Mattei quantons, like stones, have mass. Indeed, hits by single elections, atoms oi mo-
lecules can be detected, if sensitive measuiement set-ups aie used. Quantons can also
be slowed down oi acceleiated. We have alieady exploied some of these expeiiments in
the section on electiodynamics. Vol. III, page 28 Howevei, quantons difei fiompebbles. Using the time–
eneigy indeteiminacy ielation, you can deduce that Challenge 61 s
? ⩽
2??
3

. (26)
Tus theie is a maximum acceleration foi quantons.¯ Indeed, no paiticle has evei been
obseived with a highei acceleiation than this value. Ref. 43 In fact, no paiticle has evei been
obseived with an acceleiation anywheie near this value. Te quantum of action thus
pievents iest but also limits acceleiation.
Wuv :vi :1oms ×o1 ii:1: Wuv uo su:vis ixis1:
Te quantum of action deteimines all sizes in natuie. In paiticulai, it deteimines all
shapes. Let us stait to exploie this topic.
Expeiiments show that all composed quantons, such as atoms oi molecules, have
stiuctuies of fnite size and ofen with complex shape. Te size and the shape of eveiy
composed quanton aie due to the motion of theii constituents. Te motion of the con-
stituents is due to the quantum of action; but how do they move:
In I90I, Jean Peiiin and independently, in I904, Nagaoka Hantaio pioposed that
atoms aie small ‘solai systems’. Ref. 44 In I9I3, Niels Bohi used this idea, combining it with
the quantum of action, and found that he could piedict the size and the coloui of hy-
diogen atoms, two piopeities that had not until then been undeistood. Ref. 45 We will peifoim
the calculations below. Page 180 Even Bohi knew that the calculations weie not completely un-
deistood, because they seemed to assume that hydiogen atoms weie fat, like the solai
systemis. But fist of all, atoms aie obseived to be spheiical. Secondly, a fat shape would
contiadict the quantum of action. Challenge 63 e Indeed, the quantum of action implies that the mo-
tion of quantum constituents is fuzzy. Teiefoie, all composed quantons, such as atoms
oi molecules, must be made of clouds of constituents.
In shoit, the quantum of action piedicts:
¯ We noie ihai ihis acceleraiion limii is dinereni from ihe acceleraiion limii due io general relaiiviiy:
? ⩽
?
4
4??
. (27)
In pariicular, ihe quanium limii (26) applies io microscopic pariicles, whereas ihe general-relaiivisiic limii
applies io macroscopic sysiems. Can you confrm ihai in each domain ihe relevani limii is ihe smaller of
ihe Challenge 62 e iwo:
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FI GURE 40 Probability clouds: a hydrogen atom in its spherical ground state (left) and in a
non-spherical excited state (right) as seen by an observer travelling around it (QuickTime film produced
with Dean Dauger’ s software package ‘Atom in a Box’ , available at daugerresearch.com).
⊳ Atoms aie spheiical clouds.
Expeiiment and theoiy confim that the shape of any atom is due to the cloud, oi piob-
ability distiibution, of its lightest components, the elections. Te quantum of action thus
states that atoms oi molecules aie not haid balls, as Demociitus oi Dalton believed, but
that they aie clouds. Matter is made of clouds.
Atomic election clouds aie not infnitely haid, but can to a ceitain degiee inteipen-
etiate and be defoimed. Te iegion wheie this defoimation occuis is called a chemical
bond. Bonds lead to molecules. Molecules, being composed of atoms, aie composed of
(defoimed) spheiical clouds. Bonds also lead to liquids, solids, foweis and people. A de-
tailed exploiation confims that all shapes, fiom the simplest molecules to the shape of
people, aie due to the inteiactions between elections and nuclei of the constituent atoms.
Nowadays, moleculai shapes can be calculated to high piecision. Small molecules, like
watei, have shapes that aie faiily iigid, though endowed with a ceitain degiee of elasti-
city. Laige molecules, such as polymeis oi peptides, have fexible shapes. Tese shape
changes aie essential foi theii efects inside cells and thus foi oui suivival. A laige body
of biophysical and biochemical ieseaich is exploiing moleculai shape efects.
In summaiy, the quantum of action implies that shapes exist – and that they fuctuate.
Foi example, if a long molecule is held fxed at its two ends, it cannot iemain at iest in
between. Such expeiiments aie easy to peifoim nowadays, foi example with DNA. In
fact, all expeiiments confim that the quantum of action pievents iest, pioduces sizes
and shapes, and enables chemistiy and life.
In natuie, all sizes and shapes aie due to the quantum of action. Now, eveiy macio-
scopic object and eveiy quantum objects with a non-spheiical shape aie able to iotate.
We theiefoie exploie what the quantum of action can say about iotation.
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8o ¸ mo1io× oi mn11iv – vivo×u cinssicni vuvsics
source
?
?
?
FI GURE 41 The quantization of
angular momentum.
Ro1:1io×, qU:×1iz:1io× oi :×cUi:v momi×1Um, :×u 1ui i:cx oi
×ov1u voiis

Trisio è quel discepolo che non avanza il suo
maesiro.

Leonardo da Vinci¯
In eveiyday life, iotation is a fiequent type of motion. Wheels aie all aiound us. It tuins
out that the quantum of action has impoitant consequences foi iotational motion. Fiist
of all, we note that action and angulai momentum have the same physical dimension:
both aie measuied in Js oi Nms. It only takes a little thought to show that if mattei oi
iadiation has a momentum and wavelength ielated by the quantum of action, then an-
gulai momentumis fxed in multiples of the quantum of action. Tis beautiful aigument
is due to Dicke and Wittke. Ref. 46
Imagine a ciiculai fence, made of ? veitical steel bais spaced apait at a distance
? = 2π?/?, as shown in Figuie 4I. At the centie of the fence, imagine a souice of mattei
oi iadiation that can emit paiticles towaids the fence in any chosen diiection. Te lineai
momentum of such a paiticle is ? = ℏ? = 2πℏ/?. At the fence slits, the wave will intei-
feie. Outside the fence, the diiection of the motion of the paiticle is deteimined by the
condition of positive inteifeience. In othei woids, the angle ?, desciibing the diiection of
motion outside the fence, is given by ? sin ? = ??, wheie ? is an integei. Tiough the
defection due to the inteifeience piocess, the fence ieceives a lineai momentum?sin ?,
oi an angulai momentum ? = ??sin ?. Combining all these expiessions, we Challenge 64 e fnd that
the angulai momentum tiansfeiied to the fence is
? = ??ℏ . (28)
¯ ‘Sad is ihai disciple who does noi surpass his masier.’ Tis siaiemeni from one of his noiebooks, ihe
Codice Forsier III, is sculpied in large leiiers in ihe chemisiry aula of ihe Universiiy of Rome La Sapienza.
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¸ mo1io× oi mn11iv – vivo×u cinssicni vuvsics 8:
In othei woids, the angulai momentum of the fence is an integei multiple of ℏ. Fences
can only have integei intiinsic angulai momenta (in units of ℏ). Te geneialization of
the aigument to all bodies is also coiiect. (Of couise, this lattei statement is only a hint,
not a pioof.)
⊳ Te measuied intiinsic angulai momentumof bodies is always a multiple of
ℏ.
Quantum theoiy thus states that eveiy object’s angulai momentum incieases in steps.
Angulai momentum is quantized. Tis iesult is confimed by all expeiiments.
But iotation has moie inteiesting aspects. Tanks to the quantum of action, just as
lineai momentum is usually fuzzy, so is angulai momentum. Teie is an indeteiminacy
ielation foi angulai momentum ?. Ref. 47 Te complementaiy vaiiable is the phase angle ? of
the iotation. Te indeteiminacy Ref. 48 ielation can be expiessed in seveial ways. Te simplest
appioximation – and thus not the exact expiession – is Page 48
Δ? Δ? ⩾

2
. (29)
Tis is obviously an appioximation: the ielation is only valid foi laige angulai momenta.
In any case, the expiession tells us that iotation behaves similaily to tianslation. Te ex-
piession cannot be valid foi small angulai momentumvalues, as Δ? by defnition cannot
giow beyond 2π. In paiticulai, angulai-momentum eigenstates have Δ? = 0.¯
Te indeteiminacy of angulai momentumappeais foi all macioscopic bodies. We can
say that the indeteiminacy appeais foi all cases when the angulai phase of the systemcan
be measuied.
Te quantization and indeteiminacy of angulai momentum have impoitant con-
sequences. Classically speaking, the poles of the Eaith aie the places that do not move
when obseived by a non-iotating obseivei. Teiefoie, at those places mattei would have
a defned position and a defned momentum. Howevei, the quantum of action foibids
this. Teie cannot be a Noith Pole on Eaith. Moie piecisely, the idea of a fxed iota-
tional axis is an appioximation, not valid in geneial. Tis applies in paiticulai to iotating
quantum paiticles.
Ro1:1io× oi qU:×1o×s
Te efects of the quantum of action on the iotation of micioscopic paiticles, such as
atoms, molecules oi nuclei, aie especially inteiesting. We note again that action and an-
gulai momentum have the same units. Te piecision with which angulai momentum
¯ An exact formulaiion of ihe indeierminacy relaiion for angular momenium is
Δ?Δ? ⩾

2
|1 − 2π?(π)| , (30)
where ?(π) is ihe normalized probabiliiy ihai ihe angular posiiion has ihe value π. For an angular-
momenium eigensiaie, one has Δ? = π/_3 and ?(π) = 1/2π. Tis exaci expression has been iesied and
confrmed by experimenis. Ref. 49
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8: ¸ mo1io× oi mn11iv – vivo×u cinssicni vuvsics
can be measuied depends on the piecision of the iotation angle. But if a microscopic
paiticle iotates, this iotation might be unobseivable: a situation in fundamental contiast
with the case of macroscopic objects. Expeiiments indeed confimthat many micioscopic
paiticles have unobseivable iotation angles. Foi example, in many (but not all) cases, an
atomic nucleus iotated by half a tuin cannot be distinguished fiom the uniotated nuc-
leus.
If a micioscopic paiticle has a smallest unobseivable iotation angle, the quantum of
action implies that the angulai momentumof that paiticle cannot be zeio. It must always
be iotating. Teiefoie we need to check, foi each paiticle, what its smallest unobseivable
angle of iotation is. Physicists have checked all paiticles in natuie in expeiiments, and
found smallest unobseivable angles (depending on the paiticle type) of 0, 4π, 2π, 4π/3,
π, 4π/5, 2π/3 etc.
Let us take an example. Ceitain nuclei have a smallest unobseivable iotation angle of
half a tuin. Tis is the case foi a piolate nucleus (one that looks like a iugby ball) tuining
aiound its shoit axis, such as a
23
Na nucleus. Both the laigest obseivable iotation and
the indeteiminacy aie thus a quarter tuin. Since the change, oi action, pioduced by a
iotation is the numbei of tuins multiplied by the angulai momentum, we fnd that the
angulai momentum of this nucleus is 2 ⋅ ℏ.
As a geneial iesult, we deduce fiom the minimum angle values that the angulai mo-
mentum of a micioscopic paiticle can be 0, ℏ/2, ℏ, 3ℏ/2, 2ℏ, 5ℏ/2, 3ℏ etc. In othei woids,
the intiinsic angulai momentumof a paiticle, usually called its spin, is an integei multiple
of ℏ/2. Spin desciibes how a paiticle behaves undei iotations.
How can a paiticle iotate: At this point, we do not yet know how to picture the iota-
tion. But we can feel it – just as we showedthat light is made of iotating entities: all mattei,
including elections, can be polarized. Tis is shown cleaily by the famous Stein–Geilach
expeiiment.
Siiviv, S1iv× :×u Givi:cu – voi:viz:1io× oi qU:×1o×s
Afei a yeai of haid woik, in I922, Otto Stein and Walthei Geilach¯ completed a beau-
tiful expeiiment to investigate the polaiization of mattei quantons. Tey knew that in-
homogeneous magnetic felds act as polaiizeis foi iotating chaiges. Rotating chaiges aie
piesent in eveiy atom. Teiefoie they let a beam of silvei atoms, extiacted fiom an oven
by evapoiation, pass an inhomogeneous magnetic feld. Tey found that the beam splits
into two separate beams, Ref. 50 as shown in Figuie 42. No atoms leave the magnetic feld ie-
gion in inteimediate diiections. Tis is in full contiast to what would be expected fiom
classical physics.
Te splitting into two beams is an intiinsic piopeity of silvei atoms; today we know
that it is due to theii spin. Silvei atoms have spin ℏ/2, and depending on theii oiient-
ation in space, they aie defected eithei in the diiection of the feld inhomogeneity oi
against it. Te splitting of the beam is a puie quantum efect: theie aie no inteimediate
options. Indeed, the Stein–Geilach expeiiment piovides one of the cleaiest demonstia-
tions that classical physics does not woik well in the micioscopic domain. In I922, the
¯ Oiio Siern (:888–:µ6µ) and Waliher Gerlach (:88µ–:µ,µ) worked iogeiher ai ihe Universiiy of Frankfuri.
For his subsequeni measuremeni of ihe anomalous magneiic momeni of ihe proion, Siern received ihe
Nobel Prize for physics in I943, afer he had io ßee Naiional Socialism.
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¸ mo1io× oi mn11iv – vivo×u cinssicni vuvsics 8¸
observation
classical
prediction
S
silver
beam
silver
beam
N
aperture
oven
∂?
∂?
?
FI GURE 42 The
Stern–Gerlach
experiment.
iesult seemed so stiange that it was studied in gieat detail all ovei the woild.
When one of the two beams – say the ‘up’ beam – is passed thiough a second set-up,
all the atoms end up in the ‘up’ beam. Te othei possible exit, the ‘down’ beam, iemains
unused in this case. In othei woids, the up and down beams, in contiast to the oiiginal
beam, cannot be split fuithei. Tis is not suipiising.
But if the second set-up is iotated by π/2 with iespect to the fist, again two beams
– ‘iight’ and ‘lef’ – aie foimed, and it does not mattei whethei the incoming beam is
diiectly fiomthe oven oi fiomthe ‘up’ pait of the beam. Apaitially-iotated set-up yields
a paitial, uneven split. Te piopoitions of the two fnal beams depend on the angle of
iotation of the second set-up.
We note diiectly that if we split the beam fiom the oven fist veitically and then hoii-
zontally, we get a difeient iesult fiom splitting the beam in the opposite oidei. Challenge 65 e Splitting
piocesses do not commute. When the oidei of two opeiations makes a difeience to the
net iesult, physicists call them non-commutative. Since all measuiements aie also phys-
ical piocesses, we deduce that, in geneial, measuiements and piocesses in quantum sys-
tems aie non-commutative.
Beam splitting is diiection-dependent. Mattei beams behave almost in the same way
as polaiized light beams. Indeed, the inhomogeneous magnetic feld acts on mattei
somewhat like a polaiizei acts on light. Te up and down beams, taken togethei, defne a
polaiization diiection. Indeed, the polaiization diiection can be iotated, with the help of
a homogeneous magnetic feld. And a iotated beam in a uniotated magnet behaves like
an uniotated beam in a iotated magnet.
In summaiy, mattei quantons can be polaiized. We can pictuie polaiization as the
oiientation of an inteinal iotation axis of the massive quanton. To be consistent, the
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8¡ ¸ mo1io× oi mn11iv – vivo×u cinssicni vuvsics
FI GURE 43 An idealized graph of
the heat capacity of hydrogen over
temperature (© Peter Eyland).
iotation axis must be imagined to piecess aiound the diiection of polaiization. Tus,
massive quantum paiticles iesemble photons also in theii polaiizability.
CUviosi1iis :×u iU× cu:iii×cis :voU1 qU:×1Um m:11iv

Ii is possible io walk while reading, bui noi io
read while walking.

Serge Pahaui
Te quantum of action implies that theie aie no fractals in natuie. Eveiything is made of
paiticles. And paiticles aie clouds. Quantum theoiy iequiies that all shapes in natuie be
‘fuzzy’ clouds.
∗∗
Can atoms iotate: Can an atom that falls on the fooi ioll undei the table: Can atoms be
put into high-speed iotation: Te answei is ‘no’ to all these questions, because angulai
momentum is quantized; moieovei, atoms aie not solid objects, but clouds. Ref. 51 Te macio-
scopic case of an object tuining moie and moie slowly until it stops does not exist in the
micioscopic woild. Te quantum of action does not allow it.
∗∗
Light is iefiacted when it enteis dense mattei. Do mattei waves behave similaily: Yes,
they do. In I993, David Piitchaid showed this foi sodium waves enteiing a gas of helium
and xenon. Ref. 52
∗∗
Many quantum efects yield cuives that show steps. An impoitant example is the molai
heat of hydiogen H
2
gas, shown in Figuie 43. In cieasing the tempeiatuie fiom 20 to
8 000 K, the molai heat is shows two steps, fist fiom 3?/2 to 5?/2, and then to 7?/2.
Can you explain the ieason:
∗∗
Most examples of quantum motion given so fai aie due to electiomagnetic efects. Can
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you aigue that the quantum of action must also apply to nucleai motion, and in paiticu-
lai, to the nucleai inteiactions: Challenge 66 s
Fivs1 sUmm:vv o× 1ui mo1io× oi qU:×1Um v:v1iciis
In summaiy, the ‘digital’ beam splitting seen in the Stein–Geilach expeiiment and the
wave piopeities of mattei foice us to iethink oui desciiption of motion. Tey show that
micioscopic mattei motion follows fiom the quantum of action, the smallest obseiv-
able action value. In special ielativity, the existence of a maximum speed foiced us to
intioduce the concept of space-time, and then to iefne oui desciiption of motion. In
geneial ielativity, the maximum foice obliged us to intioduce the concepts of hoiizon
and cuivatuie, and then again to iefne oui desciiption of motion. At the piesent point,
the existence of the quantum of action and the wave behavioui of mattei foice us to take
two similai steps: we fist intioduce the concept of a wave function, and then we iefne
oui desciiption of mattei motion.
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C u : v 1 i v 4
THE QUANTUM DESCRI PTION OF
MATTER AND I TS MOTION

Die Quanien sind doch eine honnungslose
Schweinerei!¯ Max Born Ref. 53
I
n eveiyday life and in classical physics, we say that a system has a position, that
t is oiiented in a ceitain diiection, that it has an axis of iotation, and that
t is in a state with specifc momentum. In classical physics, we can talk in this
way because the state – the situation a system ‘is’ in and the piopeities a system ‘has’
– coincide with the results of measurement. Tey coincide because measuiements can
always be imagined to have a negligible efect on the system.
Howevei, because of the existence of a smallest action, the inteiaction necessaiy to
peifoim a measuiement on a system cannot be made aibitiaiily small. Teiefoie, the
quantum of action makes it impossible foi us to continue saying that a system has mo-
mentum, has position oi has an axis of iotation. Te quantum of action foices us to use
the idea of the iotating aiiow and to intioduce the concept of wave function oi state
function. Let us see why and how.
S1:1is :×u mi:sUvimi×1s
Te Stein–Geilach expeiiment Page 82 shows that the measuied values of spin orientation aie
not intiinsic, but iesult fiomthe measuiement piocess (in this case, fiom the inteiaction
with the applied inhomogeneous feld). Tis is in contiast to the spin magnitude, which
is intiinsic and independent of state and measuiement. In shoit, the quantum of action
foices us to distinguish caiefully thiee concepts:
— the state of the system;
— the opeiation of measuiement;
— the iesult oi outcome of the measuiement.
In contiast to the classical, eveiyday case, the state of a quantum system (the piopeities
a system ‘has’) is not desciibed by the outcomes of measuiements. Te simplest illus-
tiation of this difeience is the system made of a single paiticle in the Stein–Geilach
expeiiment. Te expeiiment shows that a spin measuiement on a geneial (oven) paiticle
state sometimes gives ‘up’ (say +1), and sometimes gives ‘down’ (say −1). So a geneial
atom, in an oven state, has no intiinsic oiientation. Only afer the measuiement, an atom
is eithei in an ‘up’ state oi in a ‘down’ state.
¯ ‘Tose quania are a hopeless diriy mess!’
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¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv 8,
It is also found that feeding ‘up’ states into a second measuiement appaiatus gives
only ‘up’ states: thus ceitain special states, called eigenstates, do iemain unafected by
measuiement.
Finally, the Stein–Geilach expeiiment and its vaiiations show that states can be io-
tated by applied felds: atom states have a diiection oi oiientation in space. Te expeii-
ments also show that the states iotate as the atoms move thiough space.
Te expeiimental obseivations can be desciibed in a stiaightfoiwaidway. Since meas-
uiements aie opeiations that take a state as input and pioduce an output state and a
measuiement iesult, we can say:
⊳ States aie desciibed by iotating aiiows, oi iotating vectois.
⊳ Measurements of obseivables aie opeiations on the state vectois.
⊳ Measurement results aie real numbers; and like in classical physics, they usu-
ally depend on the obseivei.
In paiticulai, we have distinguished two quantities that aie not distinguished in classical
physics: states and measuiement iesults. Given this distinction, quantum theoiy follows
quite simply, as we shall see.
Given that the quantum of action is not vanishingly small, any measuiement of an
obseivable quantity is an inteiaction with a systemand thus a tiansfoimation of its state.
Teifoie, quantumphysics desciibes physical obseivables as operators, oi equivalently, as
tiansfoimations. Te Stein–Geilach expeiiment shows this cleaily: the inteiaction with
the feld infuences the atoms: some in one way, and some in anothei way. In fact, all
expeiiments show:
⊳ Mathematically, states aie complex vectors, oi iotating aiiows, in an abstiact
space. Tis space of all possible states oi aiiows is a Hilbert space. Page 236
⊳ Mathematically, measuiements aie lineai tiansfoimations, moie piecisely,
they aie desciibed by self-adjoint, oi Hermitean, operators (oi matiices).
⊳ Mathematically, changes of viewpoint aie desciibed by unitary operators (oi
matiices) that act on states, oi aiiows, and on measuiement opeiatois.
Quantum-mechanical expeiiments also show that a measuiement of an obseivable can
only give a iesult that is an eigenvalue of the coiiesponding tiansfoimation. Te iesult-
ing states afei the measuiement, those exceptional states that aie not infuenced when
the coiiesponding vaiiable is measuied, aie the eigenvectors. In shoit, eveiy expeit on
motion must know what an eigenvalue and an eigenvectoi is.
Foi any lineai tiansfoimation ?, those special vectois ? that aie tiansfoimed into
multiples of themselves,
?? = ?? (3I)
aie called eigenvectors (oi eigenstates), and the multiplication factoi ? is called the asso-
ciated eigenvalue. Expeiiments show:
⊳ Te state of the system afer a measuiement is given by the eigenvectoi coi-
iesponding to the measuied eigenvalue.
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In the Stein–Geilach expeiiment, the eigenstates aie the ‘up’ and the ‘down’ states. In
geneial, the eigenstates aie those states that do not change when the coiiesponding vaii-
able is measuied. Eigenvalues of Heimitean opeiatois aie always ieal, so that consistency
is ensuied: all measuiement iesults aie ieal numbeis.
In summaiy, the quantum of action obliges us to distinguish between thiee concepts
that aie mixed togethei in classical physics: the state of a system, a measurement on
the system, and the measurement result. Te quantum of action foices us to change the
vocabulaiy with which we desciibe natuie, and obliges to use moie difeientiated con-
cepts. Now follows the main step: the desciiption of motion with these concepts. Tis is
what is usually called ‘quantum theoiy’.
VisU:iizi×c 1ui w:vi iU×c1io×: vo1:1i×c :vvows :×u vvov:viii1v
cioUus
We just desciibed the state of a quanton with an aiiow. In fact, this is an appioximation
foi localized quantons. Moie piecisely,
⊳ Te state of a quantum paiticle is desciibed by a spatial distiibution of ai-
iows, a so-called wave function.
To develop a visual image of the wave function, we fist imagine a quantum paiticle that
is localized as much as possible. In this case, the wave function foi a fiee quanton can be
desciibed simply by a single iotating aiiow.
Expeiiments show that when a localized quanton tiavels thiough space, the attached
aiiow iotates. If the paiticle is non-ielativistic and if spin can be neglected, the iotation
takes place in a plane peipendiculai to the diiection of motion. Te end of the aiiow
then tiaces a helix aiound the diiection of motion. In this case, the state at a given time
is desciibed by the angle of the aiiow. Tis angle is the quantum phase. Te quantum
phase is iesponsible foi the wave piopeities of mattei, as we will see. Te wavelength and
the fiequency of the helix aie deteimined by the momentum and the kinetic eneigy of
the paiticle.
If the paiticle is not localized – but still non-ielativistic and with still with negligible
spin efects – the state, oi the wave function, defnes a iotating aiiow at each point in
space. Te iotation still takes place in a plane peipendiculai to the diiection of motion.
But now we have a distiibution of aiiows that all tiace helices paiallel to the diiection of
motion. At each point in space and time, the state has a quantum phase and a length of
the aiiow. Te aiiow lengths deciease towaids spatial infnity.
Figuie 44 shows an example of evolution of a wave function foi non-ielativistic
paiticles with negligible spin efects. Te diiection of the aiiow at each point is shown
by the coloui at the specifc point. Te length of the aiiow is shown by the biightness of
the coloui. Foi non-ielativistic paiticles with negligible spin efects, the wave function
?(?, ?) is thus desciibed by a length and a phase: it is a complex numbei at each point in
space. Page 224 Te phase is essential foi inteifeience and many othei wave efects. What meas-
uiable piopeity does the amplitude, the length of the local aiiow, desciibe: Te answei
was given by the famous physicist Max Boin:
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¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv 8µ
FI GURE 44 The motion of a wave
function, the quantum state, through a
double slit, showing both the particle
and the wave properties of matter. The
density of the state, related to the arrow
length, is displayed by brightness, and
the local phase is encoded in the colour.
(QuickTime film © Bernd Thaller)
⊳ Te amplitude of the wave function is a probability amplitude. Te squaie
of the amplitude, i.e., the quantity |?(?, ?)|
2
, gives the piobability to fnd the
paiticle at the place ? at time ?.
In othei teims, a wave function is a combination of two ideas. On the one hand, a wave
function is a cloud. On the othei hand, at each point of the cloud one has to imagine an
aiiow. Ovei time, the aiiows iotate and the cloud changes shape. A wave function is a
cloud of iotating aiiows. We can claiify the situation fuithei.
⊳ In eveiy piocess in which the phase of the wave function is not impoitant,
the cloud image of the wave function is sumcient and coiiect.
Foi example, the motion of atoms of molecules in gases oi liquids can be imagined as
the motion of cloudy objects. It needs to be stiessed that the clouds in question aie quite
haid: it takes a lot of eneigy to defoim atomic clouds. Te haidness of a typical ciystals
is diiectly ielated to the haidness of the atomic clouds that aie found inside. Atoms aie
extiemely stif, oi haid clouds.
On the othei hand,
⊳ In eveiy piocess in which the phase of the wave function does play a iole,
the cloud image of the wave function needs to be expanded with aiiows at
each point.
Tis is the case foi inteifeience piocesses of quantons, but also foi the piecise desciiption
of chemical bonds. (In fact, an appioximate desciiption of bonds can be achieved without
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phases.)
Teacheis ofen discuss the best way to explain wave functions. Some teacheis piefei
to use the cloud model only, otheis piefei not to use any visualization at all. Both ap-
pioaches aie possible; but the most useful and helpful appioach is to imagine the state
oi wave function of non-relativistic quantum paiticles as an aiiow at eveiy point in
space. Te iotation fiequency of the set of aiiows is the kinetic energy of the paiticle; the
wavelength of the aiiow motion – the peiiod of the helical cuive that the tip of the ai-
iows – oi of the aveiage aiiow– tiaces duiing motion – is the momentumof the quantum
paiticle.
An aiiow at each point in space is a (mathematical) feld. Te feld is concentiated
in the iegion wheie the paiticle is located, and the amplitude of the feld is ielated to
the piobability to fnd the paiticle. Teiefoie the state feld, the wave function oi state
function, is an arrow cloud.
Note that even though the wave function can be seen as defning an aiiow at eveiy
point in space, the wave function as a whole can also be desciibed as one, single vec-
toi, this time in a Hilbeit space. Page 236 Foi fiee paiticles, the Hilbeit space is infnite dimen-
sional! Neveitheless, it is not haid to calculate in such spaces. Te scalai pioduct of two
wave functions is the spatial integial of the pioduct of the complex conjugate of the fist
function and the (unconjugated) second function. With this defnition, all vectoi con-
cepts (unit vectois, null vectois, basis vectois, etc.) can be meaningfully applied to wave
Challenge 67 e functions.
In summaiy, foi non-ielativistic paiticles without spin efects, the state or wave func-
tion of a quantum particle is a cloud or distributed wave of rotating arrows. Tis aspect of
a quantum cloud is unusual. Since the cloud is made of little aiiows, eveiy point of the
cloud is desciibed by a local density and a local oiientation. Tis lattei piopeity does not
occui in any cloud of eveiyday life.
Foi many decades it was tacitly assumed that a wave function cannot be visual-
ized moie simply than with a cloud of iotating aiiows. Only the last yeais have shown
that theie aie othei visualization foi such quantum clouds; one possible visualization is
piesented in the last volume of this Vol. VI, page 166 seiies.
Tui s1:1i ivoiU1io× – 1ui Scuvoui×civ iqU:1io×
Te desciiption of the state of a non-ielativistic quanton with negligible spin efects as a
iotating cloud completely deteimines how the wave function evolves in time. Indeed, foi
such quantum paiticles the evolution follows fiom the total eneigy, the sum of kinetic
and potential eneigy ? + ?, and the piopeities of mattei waves:
⊳ Te local iate of change of the state aiiow ? is pioduced by the local total
eneigy, oi Hamiltonian, ? = ? + ?:
?ℏ

∂?
? = ?? . (32)
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¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv µ:
Tis famous equation is Schrödinger’s equation of motion.¯ Tis evolution equation ap-
plies to all quantum systems and is one of the high points of modein physics.
In fact, Ref. 54 Eiwin Schiödingei had found his equation in two difeient ways. In his fist
papei, he deduced it fiom a vaiiational piinciple. Ref. 55 In his second papei, he deduced the
evolution equation diiectly, by asking a simple question: how does the state evolve: He
knew that the state of a quanton behaves both like a wave and like a paiticle. A wave is
desciibed by a feld, which he denoted ?(?, ?). If the state ? behaves like a wave, then
the coiiesponding wave function must be an amplitude ? multiplied by a phase factoi
e
???−??
. Te state can thus be wiitten as
?(?, ?) = ?(?, ?)e
???−??
. (33)
Te amplitude ? is the length of the local aiiow; the phase is the orientation of the local
aiiow. Equivalently, the amplitude is the local density of the cloud, and the phase is the
local oiientation of the cloud.
We know that the quantum wave must also behave like a paiticle of mass ?. In pai-
ticulai, the non-ielativistic ielation between eneigy and momentum ? = ?
2
/2? + ?(?)
– wheie ?(?) is the potential at position ? – must be fulflled foi these waves. Te two
de Bioglie ielations (22) foi mattei wavelength and mattei fiequency Page 75 then imply
?ℏ
∂?
∂?
= ?? =
−ℏ
2
2?

2
? + ?(?)? . (34)
Tis is the complete foim of Schiödingei’s wave equation. It states how the aiiow wave,
the wave function ?associated to a paiticle, evolves ovei time. In I926, this wave equation
foi the complex feld ? became instantly famous when Schiödingei used it, by inseiting
the potential felt by an election neai a pioton, to calculate the eneigy levels of the hydio-
gen atom. In a hydiogen atom, light is emitted by the single election inside that atom;
theiefoie a piecise desciiption of the motion of the election in a hydiogen atom allows
us to desciibe the light fiequencies it can emit. (We will peifoim the calculation and the
compaiisonwith expeiiment below.) Page 180 Fiist of all, the Schiödingei equation explained that
only discrete colouis aie emitted by hydiogen; in addition, the fiequencies of the emitted
light weie found to be in agieement with the piediction of the equation to fve decimal
places. Tis was an impoitant iesult, especially if we keep in mind that classical physics
cannot even explain the existence of atoms, let alone theii light emission! In contiast,
quantum physics explains all piopeities of atoms and theii colouis to high piecision. In
othei woids, the discoveiy of the quantum of action led the desciiption of the motion of
mattei to a new high point.
¯ Erwin Schrödinger (b. :88, Vienna, d. :µ6: Vienna) was famous for being a physicien bohémien, always
living in a household wiih iwo women. In I923 he discovered ihe equaiion ihai broughi him iniernaiional
fame, and ihe Nobel Prize for physics in I933. He was also ihe frsi io show ihai ihe radiaiion discovered
by Vicior Hess in Vienna was indeed coming from ihe cosmos. He lef Germany, and ihen again Ausiria,
oui of dislike for Naiional Socialism, and was a professor in Dublin for many years. Tere he published his
famous and inßueniial book What is life?. In ii, he came close io prediciing ihe ihen-unknown nucleic acid
DNA from iheoreiical insighi alone.
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FI GURE 45 Erwin Schrödinger (1887–1961)
In fact, the exact desciiption of mattei quantons is only found when both spin ef-
fects and the relativistic eneigy–momentum ielation aie taken into account. We do this
below. Page 186 No deviations between the full ielativistic calculations and expeiiments have evei
been found. And even today, piedictions and measuiements of atomic spectia iemain the
most piecise and accuiate in the whole study of natuie: in the cases that expeiimental
piecision allows it, the calculated values agiee with expeiiments to I3 decimal places.
Siii-i×1iviivi×ci oi qU:×1o×s
Waves inteifeie. All expeiiments, including the examples shown in Figuie 38 Page 75 and Fig-
uie 39, confim that all quantum paiticles, and in paiticulai all mattei quantons, show
inteifeience. Inteifeience is a diiect consequence of the Schiödingei equation, as the
flm of Figuie 44 Page 89 shows. Te flm illustiates the solution of the Schiödingei equation foi
a quantum paiticle moving thiough a double slit. Te flm visualizes how a double slit
induces difiaction and inteifeience foi a mattei paiticle.
It tuins out that the Schiödingei equation completely iepioduces and explains the
obseivations of mattei inteifeience: also the inteifeience of mattei quantons is due to
the evolution of clouds of iotating aiiows. And like in all inteifeience phenomena, the
local intensity of the inteifeience pattein tuins out to be piopoitional to the squaie }?}
2
of the local wave amplitude. And the local wave amplitude iesults fiom the phase of the
inteifeiing wave tiains. Te analogy with light inteiefence is complete; even the foimulae
aie the same.
We note that even though the wave function is spiead out ovei the whole detection
scieen just befoie it hits the scieen, it neveitheless yields only a localized spot on the
scieen. Tis efect, the so-called collapse of the wave function, is exploied in detail Page 151 below.
Tui sviiu oi qU:×1o×s
Let us delve a little into the details of the desciiption given by the Schiödingei equation
(34). Te equation expiesses a simple connection: the classical speed of a mattei paiticle
is the group velocity of the wave function ?. Seen fiom fai away, the wave function thus
moves like a classical paiticle would.
But we know fiom classical physics that the gioup velocity is not always well defned:
in cases wheie the gioup dissolves into seveial peaks, the concept of gioup velocity is not
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¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv µ¸
FI GURE 46 The evolution of a wave
function (lowest curve) with zero
momentum, and the motion of its
parts with positive and negative
momenta. Local phase is encoded in
the colour. (QuickTime film © Bernd
Thaller)
of much use. Tese aie also the cases in which quantum motion is veiy difeient fiom
classical motion, as we will soon discovei. Page 151 But foi well-behaved cases, such as fiee oi
almost fiee paiticles, we fnd that the wave function moves in the same way as a classical
paiticle does.
Te Schiödingei equation makes anothei point: velocity and position of mattei aie
not independent vaiiables, and cannot be chosen at will. Te initial condition of a system
is given by the initial value of the wave function alone. No deiivatives have to be (oi
can be) specifed. Indeed, expeiiments confim that quantum systems aie desciibed by
a frst-order evolution equation, in staik contiast to classical systems. Te ieason foi this
contiast is the quantum of action and the limit it poses on the possible state vaiiables of
a paiticle.
Disvivsio× oi qU:×1o×s
Foi fiee quantum paiticles, the Schiödingei’s evolution equation implies dispersion, as
illustiated in Figuie 46. Imagine a wave function that is localized aiound a given staiting
position. Such a wave function desciibes a quantum system at iest. When time passes,
this wave function will spread out in space. Indeed, Schiödingei’s evolution equation
is similai, mathematically, to a difusion equation. In the same way that a diop of ink
in watei spieads out, also the state of a localized quantum paiticle will spiead out in
space. Tiue, the most piobable position stays unchanged, but the piobability to fnd the
paiticle at laige distances fiom the staiting position incieases ovei time. Foi quantum
paiticles, this spieading efect is indeed obseived by all expeiiments. Te spiead is a
consequence of the wave aspect of mattei, and thus of the quantum of action ℏ. It occuis
foi quantons at iest and theiefoie Challenge 68 e also foi quantons in motion. Foi macioscopic objects,
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µ¡ ¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv
FI GURE 47 The tunnelling of a wave
function through a potential hill (the
rectangular column): most of the
wave function is reflected, and part
of the wave function passes to the
other side. Local phase is encoded in
the colour. (QuickTime film © Bernd
Thaller)
p
E
m
∆x 0
FI GURE 48 Climbing a hill.
the spieading efect is not obseived, howevei: cais iaiely move away fiompaiking spaces.
Indeed, quantum theoiy piedicts that foi macioscopic systems, the efect of spieading is
negligibly small. Can you show why: Challenge 69 ny
In summaiy, the wave aspect of mattei leads to the spieading of wave functions. Wave
functions show dispeision.
TU××iiii×c :×u iimi1s o× mimovv – u:mvi×c oi qU:×1o×s
‘Common sense’ says that a slowball cannot ioll ovei a high hill. Moie piecisely, classical
physics says that if the kinetic eneigy ? is smallei than the potential eneigy ? that the
ball would have at the top of the hill, then the ball cannot ieach the top of the hill. In
contiast, accoiding to quantum theoiy, theie is a positive piobability of passing the hill
foi any eneigy of the ball.
In quantum theoiy, hills and obstacles aie desciibed by potential baiiieis, and objects
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by wave functions. Any initial wave function will spiead beyond any potential baiiiei of
fnite height and width. Te wave function will also be non-vanishing at the location of
the baiiiei. In shoit, any object can oveicome any hill oi baiiiei, as shown in Figuie 48.
Tis efect is called the tunnelling efect. It is in complete contiast to eveiyday expeiience
– and to classical mechanics.
Te tunnelling efect iesults fiom a new aspect contained in the quantum desciip-
tion of hills: in natuie, any obstacle can be oveicome with a fnite efoit. No obstacle is
infnitely dimcult to suimount. Indeed, only foi a potential of infnite height would the
wave function vanish and fail to spiead to the othei side. But such potentials exist only
as appioximations; in natuie potentials aie always of fnite value.
Howlaige is the tunnelling efect: Calculation shows Challenge 70 ny that the tiansmission piobability
? is given appioximately by
? ≈
16?(? − ?)
?
2
e

2?

¸2?(? − ?)
(33)
wheie ?is the width of the hill, ? its height, and ?and ? the mass and the kinetic eneigy
of the paiticle. Foi a system of laige numbei of paiticles, the piobability is (at most) the
pioduct of the piobabilities foi the difeient paiticles.
Let us take the case of a cai in a gaiage, and assume that the cai is made of 10
28
atoms
at ioomtempeiatuie. Atypical gaiage wall has a thickness of 0.1 mand a potential height
of ? = 1 keV = 160 aJ foi the passage of an atom. We get that the piobability of fnding
the cai outside the gaiage is
? ≈ [10
−(10
12
)
¸
(10
28
)
≈ 10
−(10
40
)
. (36)
Te smallness of this value (just tiy to wiite it down, to be convinced) Challenge 71 e is the ieason why
it is nevei taken into account by the police when a cai is iepoited missing. (Actually, the
piobability is even consideiably smallei. Can you name at least one efect that has been
foigotten in this simple calculation:) Challenge 72 s
Obviously, tunnelling can be impoitant only foi small systems, made of a few
paiticles, and foi thin baiiieis, with a thickness of the oidei of ℏ]¸2?(? − ?) . Foi ex-
ample, tunnelling of single atoms is obseived in solids at high tempeiatuie, but is not
impoitant in daily life. Foi elections, the efect is moie pionounced: the baiiiei width ?
foi an appieciable tunnelling efect is
? ≈
0.3 nm _aJ
_
? − ?
. (37)
At ioomtempeiatuie, the kinetic eneigy ?is of the oidei of 6 zJ; incieasing the tempeiat-
uie obviously incieases the tunnelling. As a iesult, elections tunnel quite easily thiough
baiiieis that aie a few atoms in width. Indeed, eveiy TV tube uses tunnelling at high
tempeiatuie to geneiate the election beam pioducing the pictuie. Te necessaiy heating
is the ieason why in the past, television tubes took some time to switch on.
Te tunnelling of elections also limits the physical size of computei memoiies. Mem-
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µ6 ¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv
Farady cage
with high
electric
potential
screen with
intereference
pattern that
depends on
potential
charged matter beam
beam splitter
FI GURE 49 A localized electric potential
in an interferometer leads to a shift of the
interference pattern.
oiy chips cannot be made aibitiaiy small. Silicon integiated ciicuits with one teiabyte of
iandom-access memoiy (RAM) will piobably nevei exist. Can you imagine why: Challenge 73 s In fact,
tunnelling limits the woiking of any type of memoiy, including that of oui biain. Indeed,
if we weie much hottei than 37°C, we could not iemembei anything!
Since light is made of paiticles, it can also tunnel thiough potential baiiieis. Te best
– oi highest – potential baiiieis foi light aie miiiois; miiiois have baiiiei heights of the
oidei of one attojoule. Tunnelling implies that light can be detected behind any miiioi.
Tese so-called evanescent waves have indeed been detected; they aie used in vaiious
high-piecision expeiiments and devices.
Tui qU:×1Um vu:si
We have seen that the amplitude of the wave function, the piobability amplitude, shows
the same efects as any wave: dispeision and damping. We nowietuin to the phase of the
wave function and exploie it in moie detail.
Wheieas the amplitude of a wave function is easy to pictuie – just think of the (squaie
ioot of the) density of a ieal cloud – the phase takes moie efoit. As mentioned, states
oi wave functions aie clouds with a local phase: they aie clouds of iotating aiiows, i.e.,
clouds of objects that iotate and can be iotated. In case of an eveiyday watei cloud, a
local iotation of dioplets has no efect of the cloud. In contiast, in quantum theoiy, the
local iotation of the cloud, thus the local change of its phase, does have a measuiable
efect. Let us exploie this point.
Te phase of fiee mattei waves behaves like the phase of photons: Page 57 it evolves with time,
and thus incieases along the path of a moving paiticle. Te phase can be pictuied by a
small iotating aiiow. Te angulai velocity with which the phase iotates is given by the
famous ielation ? = ?]ℏ. In shoit, we can picture the wave function of a free quantum
particle as a moving cloud of arrows; the arrows rotate with constant frequency while the
cloud disperses at the same time.
Above all, the phase is that aspect of the wave function that leads to inteifeience ef-
fects. When two paitial wave functions aie sepaiated and iecombined afei a ielative
phase change, the phase change will deteimine the inteifeience pattein. Tis is the oiigin
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¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv µ,
solenoid
with
current
screen with
intereference
pattern that
depends on
magnetic field
neutral matter beam
beam splitter
FI GURE 50 Magnetic fields change the
phase of a spinning particle.
of the electionbeaminteifeience obseivations shownin Figuie 38. Without the quantum
phase, theie would be no extinction and no inteifeience.
Te phase of a wave function can be infuenced in many ways. Te simplest way is
the use of electiic felds. If the wave function of a charged paiticle is split, and one pait is
led thiough a iegion with an electiic feld, a phase change will iesult. Te aiiangement
is shown in Figuie 49. A peiiodic change of the electiic potential should yield a peiiodic
shif of the inteifeience pattein. Tis is indeed obseived.
Anothei simple case of phase manipulation is shown in Figuie 30: also a magnetic
feld changes the phase of a spinning chaiged paiticle, and thus infuences the inteifei-
ence behavioui.
A famous expeiiment shows the impoitance of the phase in an even moie suipiis-
ing way: the Aharonov–Bohm efect. Ref. 56 Te efect is famous foi two ieasons: it is countei-
intuitive and it was piedicted befoie it was obseived. Look at the set-up shown in Fig-
uie 3I. A mattei wave of chaiged paiticles is split into two by a cylindei – positioned at a
iight angle to the mattei’s path – and the mattei wave iecombines behind it. Inside the
cylindei theie is a magnetic feld; outside, theie is none. (A simple way to iealize such a
cylindei is a long solenoid.) Quantum physics piedicts that an inteifeience pattein will
be obseived, and that the position of the stiipes will depend on the value of the mag-
netic feld. Tis happens even though the wave nevei enteis the iegion with the feld!
Te suipiising efect has been obseived in countless expeiiments.
Te ieason foi the Ahaionov–Bohm efect is simple: foi a chaiged paiticle, the phase
of a wave function is deteimined by the vectoi potential ?, not by the magnetic feld ?.
Te vectoi potential aiound a solenoid does not vanish – as we know fiom the section
on electiodynamics Vol. III, page 79 – but ciiculates aiound the solenoid. Tis ciiculation distinguishes
the two sides of the solenoid and leads to a phase shif – one that indeed depends on the
magnetic feld value – and thus pioduces inteifeience, even though the paiticle nevei
inteiacts with the magnetic feld itself.
A fuithei example foi phase manipulation is the so-called Aharonov–Casher efect,
which even occuis foi neutial paiticles, as long as they have a magnetic moment, such as
neutions have. Te phase of a polarized neution will be infuenced by an electiic feld, so
that the aiiangement shown in Figuie 33 will show an inteifeience pattein that depends
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current
vector
potential
screen magnetic field (even
if only inside the solenoid)
charged matter beam
FI GURE 51 The Aharonov–Bohm effect: the influence of the magnetic vector potential on interference
(left) and a measurement confirmation (right), using a microscopic sample that transports electrons in
thin metal wires (© Doru Cuturela).
FI GURE 52 The motion of a wave
function around a solenoid showing the
Aharonov–Bohm effect. The density of
the state is displayed by brightness, and
the local phase is encoded in the colour.
(QuickTime film © Bernd Thaller)
on the applied electiic potential.
Anothei case of phase manipulation will be piesented latei on: also giavitational felds
can be used to iotate wave functions. Even the acceleiation due to iotational motion can
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screen with
intereference
pattern that
depends on
wire charge
beam splitter
electrically
charged
wire
polarized neutron beam
FI GURE 53 The Aharonov–Casher effect:
the influence of charge on the phase
leads to interference even for interfering
neutrons.
do so. In fact, it has been possible to measuie the iotation of the Eaith by obseiving the
change of neution beam inteifeience Ref. 57 patteins.
Anothei impoitant class of expeiiments that manipulate the phase of wave functions
aie possible with macioscopic quantum phenomena. In supeiconductivity and in supei-
fuidity, the phase of the wave function is iegulaily manipulated with magnetic and elec-
tiic felds. Tis possibility has many impoitant technical applications. Foi example, the
so-called Josephson efect is used to measuie electiic potential difeiences by measuiing
the fiequency of emitted iadio waves, and so-called superconducting quantum interfer-
ence devices, oi SQIDs, aie used to measuie tiny magnetic felds.
We note that all these expeiiments confimthat the absolute phase of a wave function
cannot be measuied. Howevei, relative phases – phase difeiences oi phase changes – can
be measuied. Can you confim this: Challenge 74 e
All the phase shif efects just piesented have been obseived in numeious expeii-
ments. Te phase is an essential aspect of the wave function: the phase leads to intei-
feience and is the main ieason foi calling it wave function in the fist place. Like in any
wave, the phase evolves ovei time and it can be infuenced by vaiious exteinal infu-
ences. Above all, the expeiiments show that a localized quantum paiticle – thus when
the spiead of the wave function can be neglected – is best imagined as a iotating aiiow;
in contiast, whenevei the spiead cannot be neglected, the wave function is best imagined
as a wave of aiiows iotating at each point in space.
C:× 1wo iiic1vo× vi:ms i×1iviivi: Avi 1uivi couivi×1 iiic1vo×
vi:ms:
Do coheient election souices exist: Te question is tiicky. Results in the liteiatuie, Ref. 58 such
as the one illustiated in Figuie 34, state that is possible to make hologiams with election
beams.¯ Howevei, when one asks these authois about the meaning of coheience, they
answei that election coheience is only tiansveisal, not longitudinal. Tiansveisal cohei-
ence is deteimined by the possible size of wavefionts with a given phase. Te uppei limit
¯ In 2002, ihe frsi holograms have been produced ihai made use of neuiron Ref. 59 beams.
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:oo ¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv
FI GURE 54 An electron hologram of DNA molecules (© Hans-Werner Fink/Wiley VCH).
of this size is given by the inteiactions such a state has with its enviionment. All this
behavioui is as expected foi actual coheience.
Howevei, the concept of ‘tiansveisal coheience’ is a misnomei. Te ability to inteifeie
with oneself, as implies in the teim ‘tiansveisal coheience’ is not the coiiect defnition of
coheience. Tiansveisal coheience, be it foi photons oi foi mattei paiticles, only expiesses
the smallness of the paiticle souice. Both small lamps (and laseis) can showinteifeience
when the beam is split and iecombined with identical path length; this is not a pioof of
coheience of the light feld. A similai ieasoning shows that monochiomaticity is not a
pioof foi coheience eithei.
A state is called coherent if it possesses a well-defned phase thioughout a given do-
main of space oi time. Te size of the spatial iegion oi of the time inteival defnes the
degiee of coheience. Tis defnition yields coheience lengths of the oidei of the souice
size foi small ‘incoheient’ souices. Even foi a small coheience length, the size of an in-
teifeience pattein oi the distance ? between its maxima can be much laigei than the
coheience length ? oi the souice size ?. In shoit, a laige size (oi a peisistent duiation in
time) of an inteifeience pattein alone is not a pioof of coheience.
Let us iecall the situation foi light. A light souice is coheient if it pioduces an ap-
pioximate sine wave ovei a ceitain length oi time. Due to the indeteiminacy ielation, in
any coheient beam of light, the photon numbei is undeteimined. Page 47 Te same iequiiement
applies to coheient election beams: an undeteimined election numbei is needed foi co-
heience. Tat is impossible, as elections caiiy a conseived chaige. Coheient election
beams do not exist.
In summaiy, even though an election can inteifeie with itself, and even though it is
possible to pioduce inteifeience between two light souices, inteifeience between two
election souices is impossible. Indeed, nobody has eveiy managed to pioduce inteifei-
ence between two election souices. Teie is no conventional concept of coheience foi
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¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv :o:
election beams.
Tui ii:s1 :c1io× vvi×civii i× qU:×1Um vuvsics
In natuie, motion happens in a way that minimizes change. Indeed, in classical physics,
the piinciple of least action – oi piinciple of cosmic lazyness – states: Vol. I, page 237 in natuie, the mo-
tion of a paiticle happens along that paiticulai path – out of all possible paths with the
same end points – foi which the action is minimal. Tis piinciple of cosmic laziness was
stated mathematically by saying that in natuie, the variation ?? of the action is zeio. Ac-
tion oi change minimization explains all classical evolution equations. We now tiansfei
this idea to the quantum domain.
Foi quantum systems, we need to iedefne both the concept of action and the concept
of vaiiation: fist of all, we have to fnd a desciiption of action that is based on opeiatois;
secondly, we need to defne the action vaiiation without paths, as the concept of ‘path’
does not exist foi quantum systems; thiidly, since theie is a smallest action in natuie, a
vanishing vaiiation is not a cleaily defned concept, and we must oveicome this huidle.
Teie aie two main ways to achieve this goal: to desciibe the motion of quantum sys-
tems as a supeiposition of all possible paths, oi to desciibe action with the help of wave
functions. Both appioaches aie equivalent.
In the fist appioach, the path integral formulation, the motion of a quantum paiticle
is desciibed as a demociatic supeipositionof motions along all possible paths. (We called
it the ‘aiiowmodel’ above.) Page 56 Foi each path, the evolution of the aiiowis deteimined, and
at the end point, the aiiows fiom all paths aie added. Te action foi each path is the
numbei of tuins that the aiiow peifoims along the path. Te iesult fiom this exeicise
is that the path foi which the aiiow makes the smallest numbei of tuins is usually (but
not always!) the most piobable path. A moie piecise investigation shows that classical,
macioscopic systems always follow only the path of smallest action, wheieas quantum
systems follow all paths.
In the second appioach to quantum physics, action is defned with the help of wave
functions. In classical physics, we defned the action (oi change) as the integial of the
Lagiangian between the initial and fnal points in time, and the Lagiangian itself as the
difeience between kinetic and potential eneigy. Vol. I, page 232 In quantum physics, the simplest defn-
ition is the quantum action defned by Julian Schwingei. Let us call the initial and fnal
states of the system ?
i
and ?
f
. Te action ? between these two states is defned as
? = ⟨?
i
} _? d? } ?
f
⟩ , (38)
wheie ? is the Lagiangian (opeiatoi). Te angle biackets iepiesent the ‘multiplication’
of states and opeiatois as defned in quantum theoiy.¯ In simple woids, also in quantum
theoiy, action – i.e., the change occuiiing in a system – is the integial of the Lagiangian.
Te Lagiangian opeiatoi ? is defned in the same way as in classical physics: the Lag-
iangian ? = ?−?is the difeience between the kinetic eneigy ? and the potential eneigy
¯ We skip ihe deiails of noiaiion and maihemaiics here; in ihe simplesi descripiion, siaies are wave func-
iions, operaiors aci on ihese funciions, and ihe produci of iwo dinereni brackeis is ihe iniegral of ihe func-
iion produci over space.
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?opeiatois. Te only difeience is that, in quantum theoiy, the momentumand position
variables of classical physics aie ieplaced by the coiiesponding operators of quantum
physics.¯
To tiansfei the concept of action vaiiation ?? to the quantum domain, Julian
Schwingei intioduced the stiaightfoiwaid expiession
?? = ⟨?
i
} ?_? d?} ?
f
⟩ . (39)
Te concept of path is not needed in this expiession, as the vaiiation of the action is
based on vaiying wave functions instead of vaiying paiticle paths.
Te last classical iequiiement to be tiansfeiied to the quantum domain is that, be-
cause natuie is lazy, the vaiiation of the action must vanish. Howevei, in the quantum
domain, the vaiiation of the action cannot be zeio, as the smallest obseivable action is
the quantum of action. As Julian Schwingei discoveied, theie is only one possible way to
expiess the iequiied minimality of action:
?? = ⟨?
i
} ?_? d?} ?
f
⟩ = −?ℏ ?⟨?
i
}?
f
⟩ . (40)
Tis so-called quantum action principle desciibes all motion in the quantum domain.
Classically, the iight-hand side is zeio – since ℏ is taken to be zeio – and we then ie-
covei the minimum-action piinciple ?? = 0 of classical physics. But in quantum the-
oiy, whenevei we tiy to achieve small vaiiations, we encountei the quantum of action
and changes of (ielative) phase. Tis is expiessed by the iight-hand side of the expies-
sion. Te iight side is the ieason that the evolution equations foi the wave function –
Schiödingei’s equation foi the spinless non-ielativistic case, oi Diiac’s equation foi the
spin I/2 ielativistic case – aie valid in natuie.
In othei woids, all quantum motion – i.e., the quantum evolution of a state ? oi }?⟩
– happens in such a way that the action vaiiation is the same as −? times the quantum
of action ℏ times the vaiiation of the scalai pioduct between initial and fnal states. In
simple teims, in the actual motion, the inteimediate states aie fxed by the iequiiement
that they must lead fiom the initial state to the fnal state with the smallest numbei of
efective tuins of the state phase. Te factoi −? expiesses the dependence of the action on
the iotation of the wave function.
In summaiy, the least action piinciple is also valid in quantum physics, piovided one
takes into account that action values below ℏ cannot be found in expeiiments. Te least
action piinciple goveins the evolution of wave function. Te least action piinciple thus
explains the coloui of all things, all othei mateiial science, all chemistiy and all biology,
as we will see in the following.
¯ More precisely, ihere is also a condiiion governing ihe ordering of operaiors in a mixed produci, so ihai
ihe non-commuiaiiviiy of operaiors is iaken inio accouni. We do noi explore ihis issue here.
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¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv :o¸
Tui mo1io× oi qU:×1o×s wi1u svi×

Everyihing iurns.

Anonymous
What is the oiigin of the quantum phase: Classical physics helps to answei the question.
Like eveiyday objects, also quantons can iotate aiound an axis: we speak of paiticle spin.
Page 81 But if quantum paiticles can spin, they should possess angulai momentum. And indeed,
expeiiments confim this deduction.
In paiticulai, elections have spin. Te full details of election spin weie deduced fiom
expeiiments by two Dutch students, Geoige Uhlenbeck and Samuel Goudsmit, in I923. Ref. 60
Tey had the guts to publish what Ralph Kionig had also suspected: that elections iotate
aiound an axis with a piojected component of the angulai momentum given by ℏ]2.
In fact, this value – ofen called spin I/2 foi shoit – is valid foi all elementaiy matter
paiticles. (In contiast, all known elementaiy radiation paiticles have spin values of ℏ, oi
spin I foi shoit.)
If a spinning paiticle has angulai momentum, it must be possible to ieaiiange the axis
by applying a toique, to obseive piecession, to tiansfei the spin in collisions, etc. All these
efects aie indeed obseived; foi example, the Stein–Geilach expeiiment alieady allows
all these obseivations. Page 82 Te only difeience between paiticle spin and classical angulai
momentum is that paiticle spin is quantized, Page 81 as we deduced above.
In othei woids, the spin of a quantum paiticle has all the piopeities of a iotation
aiound an axis. As a consequence, spinning charged quantum paiticles act as small di-
pole magnets, with the magnet oiiented along the axis of iotation. Te obseived stiength
of the dipole magnet, the magnetic moment, is piopoitional to the spin and to the con-
veision factoi −?]2?
?
, as expected fiom classical physics. Teiefoie, the natuial unit foi
the magnetic moment of the election is the quantity ?
B
= ?ℏ]2?
?
; it is called Bohr’s mag-
neton. It tuins out that the magnetic moment of quantons behaves difeiently fiom that
classical paiticles. Te quantum efects of spin aie desciibed by the so-called ?-value,
which is a puie numbei:
? = ?
−?
2?
?
? = −??
B
?

, with ?
B
=
?ℏ
2?
?
. (4I)
Fiom the obseived optical spectia, Uhlenbeck and Goudsmit deduced a ?-value of 2 foi
Page 105 the election. Classically, one expects a value ? = 1. Te expeiimental value ? = 2 was
explained by Llewellyn Tomas Ref. 61 as a ielativistic efect a few months afei its expeiimental
discoveiy.
By 2004, expeiimental techniques had become so sensitive that the magnetic efect
of a single election spin attached to an impuiity (in an otheiwise non-magnetic ma-
teiial) could be detected. Reseaicheis now hope to impiove these so-called ‘magnetic-
iesonance-foice micioscopes’ until they ieach atomic iesolution.
In I927, Wolfgang Pauli¯ discoveied howto include spin I/2 in a quantum-mechanical
¯ Wolfgang Ernsi Pauli (b. :µoo Vienna, d. :µ,8 Zürich), ai ihe age of 2I, wroie one of ihe besi iexis on special
and general relaiiviiy. He was ihe frsi io calculaie ihe energy levels of hydrogen using quanium iheory,
discovered ihe exclusion principle, incorporaied spin inio quanium iheory, elucidaied ihe relaiion beiween
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desciiption: instead of a state function desciibed by a single complex numbei, a state
function with two complex components is needed. Te ieason foi this expansion is
simple. In geneial, the little iotating aiiow that desciibes a quantum state does not io-
tate aiound a fxed axis, as is assumed by the Schiödingei equation; the axis of rotation
has also to be specifed at each position in space. Tis implies that two additional paia-
meteis aie iequiied at each space point, biinging the total numbei of paiameteis to foui
ieal numbeis, oi, equivalently, two complex numbeis. Nowadays, Pauli’s equation foi
quantum mechanics with spin is mainly of conceptual inteiest, because – like that of
Schiödingei – it does not comply with special ielativity. Howevei, the idea of including
the local iotation plane iemains valid. Te idea was used by Diiac when he intioduced
the ielativistic desciiption of the election, and the idea is also used in all othei wave
equations foi paiticles with spin.
In summaiy, the non-ielativistic desciiption of a quanton with spin implies the use of
wave functions that specify two complex numbeis at each point in space and time.
Rii:1ivis1ic w:vi iqU:1io×s
In I899, Max Planck had discoveied the quantum of action. In I903, Albeit Einstein pub-
lished the theoiy of special ielativity, which was based on the idea that the speed of light
? is independent of the speed of the obseivei. Te fist question Planck asked himself
was whethei the value of the quantum of action would be independent of the speed of
the obseivei. It was his inteiest in this question that led him to invite Einstein to Beilin.
With this invitation, he made the patent-omce cleik famous in the woild of physics.
Expeiiments show that the quantum of action is indeed independent of the speed of
the obseivei. All obseiveis fnd the same minimum value. To include special ielativity
into quantum theoiy, we theiefoie need to fnd the coiiect quantum Hamiltonian ?.
Given that the classical Hamiltonian of a fiee paiticle and antipaiticle is given by
? = |
_
?
4
?
2
+ ?
2
?
2
with ? = ??? , (42)
one might ask: what is the coiiesponding Hamilton opeiatoi: Te simplest answei was
given, in I949 by T.D. Newton and E.P. Wignei, and in I930, by L.L. Foldy and S.A.
Wouthuysen. Ref. 63 Te opeiatoi is almost the same one:
? = ?
_
?
4
?
2
+ ?
2
?
2
with ? = _
1 0 0 0
0 1 0 0
0 0 −1 0
0 0 0 −1
_ . (43)
spin and siaiisiics, proved ihe CPT iheorem, and predicied ihe neuirino. He was admired for his inielligence,
and feared for his biiing criiicisms, which led io his nickname, ‘conscience of physics’. Despiie ihis, he
helped many people in iheir research, suchas Heisenberg wiih quaniumiheory, wiihoui claiming any credii
for himself. Ref. 62 He was seenby many, including Einsiein, as ihe greaiesi and sharpesi mind of iweniieih-ceniury
physics. He was also famous for ihe ‘Pauli eneci’, i.e., his abiliiy io irigger disasiers in laboraiories, machines
and his surroundings by his mere presence. As we will see shorily, one can argue ihai Pauli aciually received
ihe Nobel Prize for physics in I943 (omcially ‘for ihe discovery of ihe exclusion principle’) for fnally seiiling
ihe quesiion of how many angels can dance on ihe iip of a pin.
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Te signs appeaiing in the matiix opeiatoi ? distinguish between paiticles and anti-
paiticles. Te numbeis +1 and −1 appeai twice, to take caie of the two possible spin
diiections foi each case.
With this ielativistic Hamiltonian opeiatoi foi spin I/2 paiticles – and with all otheis
– the wave function is desciibed by four complex numbeis, two foi paiticles and two
foi antipaiticles. Why: We saw that a quantum paiticle with spin iequiies two complex
components foi its state; Page 103 this followed fiom the iequiiement to specify, at each point in
space, the length of the aiiow, its phase, and its plane of iotation. Eailiei on Vol. II, page 70 we also found
that ielativity automatically intioduces antimattei. (We will exploie the issue in moie
detail below.) Page 190 Both mattei and antimattei aie thus pait of any ielativistic desciiption of
quantum efects. Te wave function foi a paiticle has vanishing antipaiticle components,
and vice veisa. In total, the wave function foi ielativistic spin I/2 paiticle has thus foui
complex components.
Te Hamilton opeiatoi yields the velocity opeiatoi ? thiough the same ielation that
is valid in classical physics:
? =
d
d?
? = ?
?
_
?
4
?
2
+ ?
2
?
2
. (44)
Tis velocity opeiatoi shows a continuum of eigenvalues, fiom minus to plus the speed
of light. Te velocity ? is a constant of motion, as aie the momentum? and the eneigy
? =
_
?
4
?
2
+ ?
2
?
2
. (43)
Also the oibital angulai momentum? is defned as in classical physics, thiough
? = ? × ? . (46)
Te oibital angulai momentum ? and the spin ? aie sepaiate constants of motion. Ref. 64 A
paiticle (oi antipaiticle) with positive (oi negative) angulai momentum component has
a wave function with only one non-vanishing component; the othei thiee components
vanish.
But alas, the iepiesentation of ielativistic motion given by Foldy and Wouthuysen is
not the simplest when it comes to take electiomagnetic inteiactions into account. Te
simple identity between the classical and quantum-mechanical desciiptions is lost when
electiomagnetismis included. We will solve this pioblembelow, when we exploie Diiac’s
evolution equation foi ielativistic wave functions. Page 187
BoU×u mo1io×, ov comvosi1i vs. iiimi×1:vv qU:×1o×s
When is an object composite, and not elementaiy: Whenevei it contains inteinal, oi
bound motion. When is this the case: Quantum theoiy gives seveial piagmatic answeis.
Te fist ciiteiion foi compositeness is somewhat stiange: an object is composite when
its gyiomagnetic iatio is difeient fiomthe one piedicted by QED. Ref. 65 Te gyromagnetic ratio
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? is defned as the iatio between the magnetic moment ? and the angulai momentum
?:
? = ?? . (47)
Te gyiomagnetic iatio ? is measuied in units of s
−1
T
−1
, i.e., C/kg, and deteimines the
eneigy levels of magnetic spinning paiticles in magnetic felds; it will ieappeai latei in
the context of magnetic iesonance imaging. Vol. V, page 157 All candidates foi elementaiy paiticles have
spin 1/2. Te gyiomagnetic iatio foi spin-1/2 paiticles of magnetic moment ?and mass
? can be wiitten as
? =
?
ℏ/2
= ?
?
2?
. (48)
Te ciiteiion foi being elementaiy can thus be ieduced to a condition on the value of the
dimensionless numbei ?, the so-called ?-factor. (Te expiession ?ℏ/2? is ofen called
the magneton of the paiticle.) If the ?-factoi difers fiom the value piedicted by QED foi
point paiticles – about 2.0 – the object is composite. Foi example, a
4
He
+
helium ion has
spin 1/2 and a ? value of 14.7 ⋅ 10
3
. Indeed, the iadius of the helium ion is 3 ⋅ 10
−11
m,
obviously a fnite value, and the ion is a composite entity. Foi the pioton, one measuies
a ?-factoi of about 5.6. Indeed, expeiiments yield a fnite pioton iadius of about 0.9 f m
and show that it contains seveial constituents.
Te neution, which has a magnetic moment despite being electiically neutial, must
theiefoie be composite. Indeed, its iadius is appioximately the same as that of the pioton.
Similaily, molecules, mountains, stais and people must be composite. Accoiding to this
fist ciiteiion, the only elementaiy paiticles aie leptons (i.e., elections, muons, tauons
and neutiinos), quarks, and intermediate bosons (i.e., photons, W-bosons, Z-bosons and
gluons). Moie details on these paiticles will be ievealed in the chapteis on the nucleus. Vol. V, page 157
Anothei simple ciiteiion foi compositeness has just been mentioned: any object with
a measurable size is composite. Tis ciiteiionyields the same list of elementaiy paiticles as
the fist. Indeed, the two ciiteiia aie ielated. Te simplest model foi composite stiuctuies
piedicts that the ?-factoi obeys Ref. 66
? − 2 =
?
?
C
(49)
wheie ? is the iadius and ?
C
= ℎ/?? is the Compton wavelength of the system. Tis
expiession is suipiisingly piecise Challenge 75 e foi helium-4 ions, helium-3, tiitium ions and piotons,
as you may wish to check. Te tables in Appendix B in the next volume Vol. V, page 334 make the same
point. In shoit, the second ciiteiion foi compositeness is equivalent to the fist.
Athiid ciiteiion foi compositeness is moie geneial: any object larger than its Compton
length is composite. Te aigument is simple. An object is composite if one can detect
internal motion, i.e., motion of some components. Now the action of any pait with mass
?
part
moving inside a composed system of size ? obeys
?
part
< 2π ? ?
part
? < π ? ?? (30)
wheie ? is the mass of the composite object. On the othei hand, following the piinciple
of quantum theoiy, this action, to be obseivable, must be laigei than ℏ/2. Inseiting this
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condition, we fnd that foi any composite object¯
? >

2π ??
. (3I)
Te iight-hand side difeis only by a factoi 4π
2
fiomthe so-called Compton (wave)length
? =

??
(32)
of an object. Tus any object larger than its own Compton wavelength is composite; and
any object smaller than the iight-hand side of expiession (3I) is elementaiy. Again, only
leptons, quaiks and inteimediate bosons passed the test. (Foi the Higgs boson discoveied
in 20I2, the test has yet to be peifoimed, but it is expected to comply as well.) All othei
objects aie composite. In shoit, this thiid ciiteiion pioduces the same list as the pievious
ones. Can you explain why: Challenge 77 e
A fouith ciiteiion foi compositeness is iegulaily cited by Steven Weinbeig: a paiticle
is elementaiy if it appeais in the Lagiangian of the standaid model of paiticle physics.
Can you show that this ciiteiion follows fiom the pievious ones: Challenge 78 s
Inteiestingly, we aie not yet fnished with this topic. Even stiangei statements about
compositeness will appeai when giavity is taken into account. Vol. VI, page 296 Just be patient: it is
woith it.
CUviosi1iis :×u iU× cu:iii×cis :voU1 qU:×1Um mo1io× oi m:11iv

Die meisien Physiker sind sehr naiv, sie glauben
immer noch an wirkliche Wellen oder
Teilchen.¯¯

Anion Zeilinger
Take the shaipest knife edge oi needle tip you can think of: the quantumof action implies
that theii boundaiies aie not shaip, but fuzzy, like the boundaiies of clouds. Take the
haidest oi most solid object you can think of, such as diamond oi a block of tungsten:
the quantum of action implies that its suiface is somewhat sof. All expeiiments confim
these statements. Nothing in nature is really sharp or really solid. Quantum physics thus
disagiees with seveial ideas of the ancient Gieek atomists.
∗∗
Do hydiogen atoms exist: Most types of atom have been imaged with micioscopes, pho-
togiaphed undei illumination, levitated one by one, and even moved with needles, one by
one, as the pictuie on page 323 in volume I shows. Reseaicheis have even moved single
atoms by using lasei beams to push them. Howevei, Ref. 67 not a single one of these expeii-
ments has measuied oi imaged hydiogen atoms. Is that a ieason to doubt the existence
¯ Can you fnd ihe missing facior of 2: Challenge 76 ny And is ihe assumpiion ihai ihe componenis musi always be lighier
ihan ihe composiie a valid one:
¯¯ ‘Mosi physicisis are very naive; ihey siill believe in real waves or real pariicles.’ Anion Zeilinger, physicisi
ai ihe Universiiy of Vienna, is well-known for his experimenis on quanium mechanics.
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:o8 ¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv
FI GURE 55 A special potential well
that does not disturb a wave
function. Colour indicates phase.
(QuickTime film © Bernd Thaller)
of hydiogen atoms: Taking this not-so-seiious discussion seiiously can be a lot of fun. Challenge 79 s
∗∗
Is the wave function ’ieal’: Moie piecisely, is the wave function ieally a cloud: Some
physicists still doubt this. Tis dying gioup of physicists, ofen boin aiound the middle
of the twentieth centuiy, have heaid so ofen – incoiiectly and usually fiom questionable
authoiities – that a wave function has no ieality that they stopped asking and answeiing
the simplest questions. To dispel theii doubts, ask them Challenge 80 e whethei they have a non-zeio
height oi whethei they think that atoms aie iound. If they agiee, they have admitted that
wave functions have some soit of ieality. All eveiyday objects aie made of elementaiy
paiticles that aie so unmeasuiably small that we can call them point-like. Teiefoie, the
size, suiface aiea and volume of all eveiyday objects aie exclusively due to wave func-
tions. Eveiy length, aiea and volume is a pioof that wave functions have some soit of
ieality.
∗∗
Two obseivables can commute foi two difeient ieasons: eithei they aie veiy similar –
such as the cooidinates ? and ?
2
– oi they aie veiy diferent – such as the cooidinate ?
and the momentum ?
?
. Can you give an explanation foi this: Challenge 81 d
∗∗
Space and time tianslations commute. Why then do the momentum opeiatoi and the
Hamiltonian not commute in geneial: Challenge 82 ny
∗∗
Teie exist special potentials that have no infuence on a wave function. Figuie 33 shows
an example. Tis potential has iefection coemcient zeio foi all eneigies; the scatteied
wave has no iefected pait. Te mathematical ieason is fascinating. Te potential well
has the shape of a soliton of the Koiteweg–de Viies equation; this equation is ielated to
the Schiödingei equation.
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¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv :oµ
∗∗
Any bound system in a non-ielativistic state with no angulai momentum obeys the
ielation Ref. 68
⟨?
2
⟩ ⟨?⟩ ⩾
9ℏ
2
8?
, (33)
wheie ?is the ieduced mass and ?the kinetic eneigy of the components, and ? is the size
of the system. Can you deduce this iesult, and check it foi the giound state of hydiogen:
Challenge 83 s
∗∗
Quantum theoiy allows foi many unusual bound states. Usually we think of bound states
as states of low eneigy. But theie aie situations in which bound states aiise due to foi-
cing in oscillating potentials. Vol. I, page 298 We encounteied such a situation in classical physics: the
veitically diiven, upside-down pendulum that iemain veitical despite being unstable.
Similai situations also occui in quantum physics. Examples aie Paul tiaps, the helium
atom, negative ions, Tiojan Ref. 69 elections and paiticle acceleiatois.
∗∗
One ofen ieads that the univeise might have been boin fiom a quantum fuctuation.
Can you explain why this statement make no sense: Challenge 84 s
A sUmm:vv o× mo1io× oi m:11iv qU:×1o×s
In summaiy, the motion of massive quantons, i.e., of quantum mattei paiticles, can be
desciibed in two ways:
— At laige magnifcation, quantum mattei paiticles aie desciibed by wave functions
that move like advancing, iotating and piecessing clouds of aiiows. Te local cloud
oiientation, the local phase, follows a wobbling motion. Te squaie of the piobability
amplitude, the density of the cloud, is the piobability foi fnding the paiticle at a given
spot.
— Seen fiomfai away, at lowmagnifcation, a moving massive quantumpaiticle behaves
as a single advancing, iotating and piecessing aiiow. Te details of the iotation and
piecession of the aiiowdepend on the eneigy and momentumof the paiticle and the
potential it is subjected to. Te aiiowis a piobability amplitude: the squaied length of
the aiiow is the piobability to obseive a paiticle. If a paiticle can get fiom a staiting
point to a fnal point in seveial ways, piobability amplitudes add up.
Te single iotating aiiow iesult fiom a cloud aveiage; the aiiow combines paiticle and
wave piopeities. A full iotation of the aiiow coiiesponds to the quantum of action ℏ.
Tis cential featuie implies that a non-ielativistic paiticle whose spin can be neglected
follows the Schiödingei equation, and that a ielativistic election follows the Diiac equa-
tion. Te Diiac equation agiees with all known expeiiments. In paiticulai, the Diiac
equation desciibes all of chemistiy and biology, as we will fnd out.
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::o ¡ 1ui qUn×1Um uiscviv1io× oi mn11iv
To continue with the gieatest emciency on oui path acioss quantum physics, we ex-
ploie thiee impoitant topics: the indistinguishability of paiticles of the same kind, the
spin of quantum paiticles, and the meaning of piobabilities.
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C u : v 1 i v 3
PERMUTATION OF PARTICLES – ARE
PARTICLES LI KE GLOVES?
W
hy aie we able to distinguish twins fiom each othei: Why can we distinguish
hat looks alike, such as a copy fiom an oiiginal: Most of us aie convinced that
henevei we compaie an oiiginal with a copy, we can fnd a difeience. Tis con-
viction tuins out to be coiiect also in the quantum domain, but the conclusion is not
stiaightfoiwaid.
Tink about any method that allows you to distinguish objects: you will fnd that it
iuns into tiouble foi point-like paiticles. Challenge 85 s Teiefoie, in the quantum domain something
must change about oui ability to distinguish paiticles and objects.
We could aigue that difeiences between an oiiginal object and a copy can always be
made to disappeai: it should be sumcient to use the same numbei and type of atoms. In
fact, the quantum of action shows that this is not sumcient, even though all atoms of the
same type aie indeed indistinguishable copies of each othei! In the following we exploie
the most impoitant consequences on motion of the indistinguishability of atoms and of
the distinguishability of macioscopic objects.
Dis1i×cUisui×c m:cvoscovic ov,ic1s
Anumbei of impoitant piopeities of objects aie highlighted by studying a combinatoiial
puzzle: the glove problem. It asks:
How many suigical gloves (foi the iight hand) aie necessaiy if ? doctois
need to opeiate ? patients in a hygienic way, so that nobody gets in contact
with the body fuids of anybody else:
Te same pioblem also appeais in othei settings. Foi example, it also applies to com-
puteis, inteifaces and computei viiuses Ref. 70 oi to condoms, men and women – and is then
called the condom problem. To be cleai, the optimal numbei of gloves is not the pioduct
??. In fact, the pioblem has thiee subcases.
— Te simple case ? = ? = 2 alieady piovides the most impoitant ideas needed. Challenge 86 s Aie
you able to fnd the optimal solution and pioceduie:
— In the case ? = 1 and ? odd oi the case ? = 1 and ? odd, the solution is (? + 1)/2
gloves. Challenge 87 e Tis is the optimal solution, as you can easily check youiself.
— Asolution with a simple pioceduie foi all othei cases is given by Ref. 71 ⌈2?/3+?/2⌉ gloves,
wheie ⌈?⌉ means the smallest integei gieatei than oi equal to ?. Foi example, foi two
doctois and thiee patients this gives only thiee gloves. (Howevei, this foimula does
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::: , vivmU1n1io× oi vnv1iciis
not always give the optimal solution; bettei values exist in ceitain subcases.) Challenge 88 e
Enjoy woiking on the puzzle. Yo will fnd that thiee basic piopeities of gloves deteimine
the solution. Fiist, gloves have two sides, an inteiioi and an exteiioi one, that can be
distinguished fiomeach othei. Secondly, gloves tuined inside out exchange lef and iight
and can thus be distingusihed fiom gloves that aie not ieveised. Tiidly, gloves can be
distinguished fiom each othei.
Now we come back to oui oiiginal aim: Do the thiee basic piopeities of gloves also
apply to quantum paiticles: We will exploie the issue of double-sidedness of quantum
paiticles in the last pait of oui mountain ascent. Vol. VI, page 109 Te question whethei paiticles can be
tuined inside out will be of impoitance foi theii desciiption and theii motion. We will
also exploie the difeience between iight- and lef-handed paiticles, though in the next
pait of oui adventuie. Vol. V, page 238 In the piesent chaptei we concentiate on the thiid issue, namely
whethei objects and paiticles can always be distinguished fiom copies. We will fnd that
elementary paiticles do not behave like gloves – but in a much moie suipiising mannei.
In eveiyday life, distinction of macioscopic objects can be achieved in two ways. On
the one hand, we aie able to distinguish objects – oi people – fiom each othei because
they difei in theii intrinsic properties, such as theii mass, coloui, size oi shape. On the
othei hand, we aie able to distinguish objects even if they have the same intiinsic piop-
eities. Any game of billiaid shows us that by following the path of each ball, we can
distinguish it fiom the othei balls. In shoit, we can distinguish objects with identical
piopeities also using theii state.
Te state of a billiaid ball is given by its position, its lineai and its angulai momentum.
We aie able to distinguish two identical billiaid balls because the measuiement eiioi foi
the position of each ball is much smallei than the size of the ball itself. Te difeient states
of two billiaid balls allow us to tiack each ball. Howevei, in the micioscopic domain, this
is not possible! Let us take two atoms of the same type. Two such atoms have exactly the
same intiinsic piopeities. To distinguish themin collisions, we would need to keep tiack
of theii motion. But due to the quantum of action and the ensuing indeteiminacy iela-
tion, we have no chance to achieve this. In fact, a simple expeiiment fiom the nineteenth
centuiy showed that even natuie itself is not able to do it! Tis piofound iesult was dis-
coveied studying systems which incoipoiate a laige numbei of colliding atoms of the
same type: gases.
Dis1i×cUisui×c :1oms
What is the entiopy of a gas: Te calculation of the entiopy ? of a simple gas, Vol. I, page 375 made of ?
simple paiticles¯ of mass ? moving in a volume ?, gives
?
??
= ln _
?
Λ
3
_ +
3
2
+
ln ?
?
. (34)
Heie, ? is the Boltzmann constant, ln the natuial logaiithm, ? the tempeiatuie, and Λ =
¸
2πℏ
2
/??? is the theimal wavelength (appioximately the de Bioglie wavelength of the
¯ Pariicles are simple if ihey are fully described by iheir momenium and posiiion; aioms are simple pariicles.
Molecules are noi simple, as ihey are describe also by iheor orieniaiion.
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FI GURE 56 Willard Gibbs (1839–1903)
paiticles making up the gas). In this iesult, the puie numbei ? is equal to I if the paiticles
aie distinguishable like billiaid balls, and equal to 1/?! if they aie not distinguishable at
all. Challenge 89 e Measuiing the entiopy of a simple gas thus allows us to deteimine ? and theiefoie to
test expeiimentally whethei paiticles aie distinguishable.
It tuins out that only the second case, ? = 1/?!, desciibes natuie. We can easily check
this without even peifoiming the measuiement: Challenge 90 e only in the second case does the entiopy
of two volumes of identical gas add up.¯ Te iesult, ofen called Gibbs’ paradox,¯¯ thus
pioves that the micioscopic components of mattei aie indistinguishable: Ref. 72 in a system of
quantum paiticles – be they elections, piotons, atoms oi small molecules – theie is no
way to say which paiticle is which.
Indistinguishability of paiticles is thus an expeiimental piopeity of natuie. It holds
without exception. Foi example, when iadioactivity was discoveied, people thought that
it contiadicted the indistinguishability of atoms, because decay seems to single out cei-
tain atoms compaied to otheis. But quantum theoiy then showed that this is not the case
and that even atoms and molecules aie indistinguishable.
Since ℏ appeais in the expiession foi the entiopy, indistinguishability is a quantum
efect. Indeed, indistinguishability plays no iole if quantum efects aie negligible, as is the
case foi billiaid balls. Neveitheless, indistinguishability is impoitant in eveiyday life. We
will fnd out that the piopeities of eveiyday mattei – plasma, gases, liquids and solids –
would be completely difeient without indistinguishability. Foi example, we will discovei
that without it, knifes and swoids would not cut. In addition, the soil would not caiiy
us; we would fall iight thiough it. To illuminate the issue in moie detail, we exploie the
following question.
¯ Indeed, ihe eniropy values observed by experimeni, for a monoaiomic gas, are given by ihe so-called
Challenge 91 d Sackur–Teirode formula
?
??
= ln_
?

3
_ +
5
2
(33)
whichfollows when ? = 1/?! is inseried above. Ii was deduced independenily by ihe German physicisi Oiio
Sackur (:88o–:µ:¡) and ihe Duich physicisi Hugo Teirode (:8µ,–:µ¸:). Noie ihai ihe esseniial parameier
is ihe raiio beiween ?/?, ihe classical volume per pariicle, and Λ
3
, ihe de Broglie volume of a quanium
pariicle.
¯¯ Josiah Willard Gibbs (:8¸µ–:µo¸), US-American physicisi who was, wiih Maxwell and Planck, one of ihe
ihree founders of siaiisiical mechanics and ihermodynamics; he iniroduced ihe concepi of ensemble and
ihe ierm thermodynamic phase.
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m
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FI GURE 57 Identical objects with
crossing paths.
Wuv uois i×uis1i×cUisu:viii1v :vvi:v i× ×:1Uvi:
Take two quantum paiticles with the same mass, the same composition and the same
shape, such as two atoms of the same kind. Imagine that theii paths cioss, and that they
appioach each othei to small distances at the ciossing, as shown in Figuie 37. In a gas,
both a collision of atoms oi a neai miss aie examples. Now, all expeiiments evei pei-
foimed show that at small distances it is impossible to say whethei the two quantons
have switched ioles oi not.
⊳ It is impossible in a gas to follow quantum paiticles moving aiound and to
deteimine which one is which. Tiacking colliding quantons is impossible.
Te impossibility to distinguish neaiby paiticles is a diiect consequence of the quantum
of action ℏ. Foi a path that biings two appioaching paiticles veiy close to each othei, a
iole switch iequiies only a small amount of change, i.e., only a small (physical) action.
Howevei, we know that theie is a smallest obseivable action in natuie. Keeping tiack
of each quantum paiticle at small distances would iequiie action values smaller than
the smallest action obseived in natuie. Te existence of a smallest action thus makes it
impossible to keep tiack of quantum paiticles when they come too neai to each othei.
Any desciiption of systems with seveial quantons must thus take into account that afei
a close encountei, it is impossible to say which quanton is which.
If we iemembei that quantum theoiy desciibes quantons as clouds, the indistin-
guishability appeais even moie natuial. Whenevei two clouds meet and depait again,
it is impossible to say which cloud is which. On the othei hand, if two paiticles aie kept
distant enough, one does have an efective distinguishability; indistinguishability thus
appeais only when the paiticles come close.
In shoit, indistinguishability is a natuial, unavoidable consequence of the existence of
a smallest action value in natuie. Tis iesult leads us stiaight away to the next question:
C:× qU:×1Um v:v1iciis vi coU×1iu:
In eveiyday life, we can count objects because we can distinguish them. Since quantum
paiticles cannot always be distinguished, we need some caie in deteimining howto count
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them. Te fist step in counting paiticles is the defnition of what is meant by a situation
without any paiticle at all. Tis seems an easy thing to do, but latei on we will encountei
situations wheie alieady this step iuns into dimculties. In any case, the fist step of count-
ing is thus the specifcation of the vacuum. Any counting method iequiies that the situ-
ation without paiticles is cleaily sepaiated fiom situations with paiticles.
Te second step necessaiy foi counting is the specifcation of an obseivable useful
foi deteimining quantum paiticle numbei. Te easiest way is to chose one of those con-
seived quantumnumbeis that add up undei composition, such as electiic chaige. Count-
ing itself is then peifoimedby measuiing the total chaige and dividing by the unit chaige.
In eveiyday life, the weight oi mass is commonly used as obseivable. Howevei, it
cannot be used geneially in the quantum domain, except foi simple cases. Foi a laige
numbei of paiticles, the inteiaction eneigy will intioduce eiiois. Foi veiy laige paiticle
numbeis, the giavitational binding eneigy will do so as well. But above all, foi tiansient
phenomena, unstable paiticles oi shoit measuiement times, mass measuiements ieach
theii limits. In shoit, even though counting stable atoms thiough mass measuiements
woiks in eveiyday life, the method is not applicable in geneial; especially at high paiticle
eneigies, it cannot be applied.
Counting with the help of conseived quantum numbeis has seveial advantages. Fiist
of all, it woiks also foi tiansient phenomena, unstable paiticles oi shoit measuiement
times. Secondly, it is not impoitant whethei the paiticles aie distinguishable oi not;
counting always woiks. Tiidly, viitual paiticles aie not counted. Tis is a welcome
state of afaiis, as we will see, Vol. V, page 122 because foi viitual paiticles, i.e., paiticles foi which
?
2
̸ = ?
2
?
2
+ ?
2
?
4
, theie is no way to defne a paiticle numbei anyway. Using a conseived
quantity is indeed the best paiticle counting method possible.
Te side efect of counting with the help of quantum numbeis is that antipaiticles
count negatively! Also this consequence is a iesult of the quantum of action. We saw
above that the quantum of action implies that even in vacuum, paiticle–antipaiticle paiis
aie obseived at sumciently high eneigies. As a iesult, an antipaiticle must count as minus
one paiticle. In othei woids, any way of counting quantumpaiticles can pioduce an eiioi
due to this efect. In eveiyday life this limitation plays no iole, as theie is no antimattei
aiound us. Te issue does play a iole at highei eneigies, howevei. It tuins out that theie is
no geneial way to count the exact numbei of paiticles and antipaiticles sepaiately; only
the sum can be defned. In shoit, quantum theoiy shows that paiticle counting is nevei
peifect.
In summaiy, natuie does piovide a way to count quantumpaiticles even if they cannot
be distinguished, though only foi eveiyday, low eneigy conditions; due to the quantum
of action, antipaiticles count negatively. Antipaiticles thus piovide a limit to the counting
of paiticles at high eneigies, when the mass–eneigy equivalence becomes impoitant.
Wu:1 is vivmU1:1io× svmmi1vv:
Since quantum paiticles aie countable but indistinguishable, theie exists a symmetiy of
natuie foi systems composed of seveial identical quantons. Permutation symmetry, also
called exchange symmetry, is the piopeity of natuie that obseivations aie unchanged un-
dei exchange of identical paiticles. Peimutation symmetiy foims one of the foui pil-
lais of quantum theoiy, togethei with space-time symmetiy, gauge symmetiy and the
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not yet encounteied ienoimalization symmetiy. Peimutation symmetiy is a piopeity of
composed systems, i.e., of systems made of many (identical) subsystems. Only foi such
systems does indistinguishability play a iole.
In othei woids, ‘indistinguishable’ is not the same as ‘identical’. Two quantum
paiticles of the same type aie not the same; they aie moie like exact copies of each othei.
On the othei hand, eveiyday life expeiience shows us that two copies can always be dis-
tinguished undei close inspection, so that the teim ‘copy’ is not fully appiopiiate eithei.
⊳ Quantons, quantum paiticles, aie countable and completely indistinguish-
able.¯ Quantum paiticles aie perfect copies of each othei.
Being peifect copies, not even natuie can distinguish paiticles; as a iesult, peimutation
symmetiy appeais.
In the next chaptei, we will discovei that peimutation is paitial iotation. Peimutation
symmetiy thus is a symmetiy undei paitial iotations. Can you fnd out why: Challenge 92 e
I×uis1i×cUisu:viii1v :×u w:vi iU×c1io× svmmi1vv
Te indistinguishability of quantum paiticles leads to impoitant conclusions about the
desciiption of theii state of motion. Tis happens because it is impossible to foimulate
a desciiption of motion that includes indistinguishability iight fiom the stait. (Aie you
able to confim this:) Challenge 93 s We need to desciibe a ?-paiticle state with a state Ψ
1...?...?...?
which
assumes that distinction is possible, as expiessed by the oideied indices in the notation,
and we intioduce the indistinguishability afeiwaids.
Indistinguishability, oi peimutation symmetiy, means that the exchange of any two
quantum paiticles iesults in the same physical obseivations.¯¯ Now, two quantum states
have the same physical piopeities if they difei at most by a phase factoi; indistinguishab-
ility thus iequiies
Ψ
1...?...?...?
= e
??
Ψ
1...?...?...?
(36)
foi some unknown angle ?. Applying this expiession twice, by exchanging the same
couple of indices again, allows us to conclude that e
2??
= 1. Tis implies that
Ψ
1...?...?...?
= ±Ψ
1...?...?...?
, (37)
in othei woids, a wave function is eithei symmetric oi antisymmetric undei exchange of
indices. (We can also say that the eigenvalue foi the exchange opeiatoi is eithei +1 oi
−1.)
⊳ Quantum theoiy thus piedicts that quantum paiticles can be indistinguish-
¯ Te word ‘indisiinguishable’ is so long ihai many physicisis sloppily speak of ‘ideniical’ pariicles never-
iheless. Take care.
¯¯ We iherefore have ihe same siiuaiion ihai we encouniered already several iimes: an overspecifcation of
the mathematical description, here ihe explicii ordering of ihe indices, implies a symmetry of this description,
which in our case is a symmeiry under exchange of indices, i.e., under exchange of pariicles.
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able in one of two distinct ways.¯
⊳ Paiticles coiiesponding to symmetric wave functions – those which tians-
foim undei paiticle exchange with a ‘+’ in equation (37) – aie called¯¯ bo-
sons.
⊳ Paiticles coiiesponding to antisymmetric wave functions – those which
tiansfoimundei paiticle exchange with a ‘−’ in equation (37) – aie called¯¯¯
fermions.
Expeiiments showthat the exchange behavioui depends on the type of paiticle. Photons
aie found to be bosons. On the othei hand, elections, piotons and neutions aie found
to be feimions. Also about half of the atoms aie found to behave as bosons (at modeiate
eneigies), the othei half aie feimions. To deteimine they type of atom, we need to take
into account the spin of the election and that of the nucleus.
In fact, a composite of an even numbei of feimions (at modeiate eneigies) – oi of
any numbei of bosons (at any eneigy) – tuins out to be a boson; a composite of an odd
numbei of feimions is (always) a feimion. Foi example,
4
He is a boson,
3
He a feimion.
Also the natuial isotopes
23
Na,
41
K,
85
Rb,
87
Rb and
133
Cs aie bosons, because they have
odd numbeis of elections and of nucleons; in contiast,
40
K and
134
Cs aie feimions (and,
in this case, also iadioactive).
To which class of paiticles do tennis balls, people, tiees, mountains and all othei mac-
ioscopic objects belong: Challenge 94 s
Tui viu:vioUv oi vuo1o×s
A simple expeiiment, shown in Figuie 38, allows obseiving an impoitant aspect of
photon behavioui. Take a souice that emits two indistinguishable photons, i.e., two
photons of identical fiequency and polaiization, at the same time. Te photon paii is
theiefoie in an entangled state. In the laboiatoiy, such a souice can be iealized with a
down-conveitei, a mateiial that conveits a photon of fiequency 2? into two photons of
fiequency ?. Te two entangled photons, afei having tiavelled exactly the same distance,
aie made to entei the two sides of an ideal beamsplittei (foi example, a half-silveied mii-
ioi). Two detectois aie located at the two exits of the beam splittei. Expeiiments show
¯ Tis conclusion applies io ihree-dimensional space. In iwo dimensions ihere are more possibiliiies. Such
possibiliiies have been and parily siill are iopic of research.
¯¯ ‘Bosons’ are named afer ihe physicisi Saiyenra Naih Bose (b. :8µ¡ Calcuiia, d. :µ,¡ Calcuiia) who frsi
described ihe siaiisiical properiies of phoions. Ref. 73 Te work was laier expanded by Alberi Einsiein, so ihai one
speaks of Bose–Einsiein siaiisiics.
¯¯¯ Te ierm ‘fermion’ is derived from ihe name of ihe physicisi and Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi
(b. :µo: Rome, d. :µ,¡ Chicago) famous for his all-encompassing genius in iheoreiical and experimenial
physics. He mainly worked on nuclear and elemeniary pariicle physics, on spin and on siaiisiics. For his
experimenial work he was called ‘quanium engineer’. He is also famous for his leciures, which are siill
published in his own hand-wriiing, and his brilliani approach io physical problems. Neveriheless, his highly
deserved Nobel Prize was one of ihe few cases in which ihe prize was given for a discovery which iurned
oui io be incorreci. He lef Iialy because of ihe bad ireaimeni his Jewish wife was sunering and emigraied io
ihe USA. Fermi worked on ihe Manhaiian projeci ihai buili ihe frsi aiomic bombs. Afer ihe Second World
War, he organized one of ihe besi physics deparimeni in ihe world, ai ihe Universiiy of Chicago, where he
was admired by everybody who worked wiih him.
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source
two photons of
same frequency f
and polarozation
detectors
possible
light
paths
mirrors
beam
splitter
one photon of
frequency 2f
FI GURE 58
Two-photon emission
and interference: two
indistinguishable
photons are always
found arriving
together, at the same
detector.
that Ref. 74 both photons aie always detected togethei on the same side, and nevei sepaiately on
opposite sides. Tis happens because the two options wheie one of the photons is tians-
mitted and the othei iefected inteifeie destiuctively. (Te discussion mentioned above
Page 59 applies also heie: despite two photons being involved, also in this case, when investigat-
ing the details, only one photon inteifeies with itself.)
Te expeiiment shows that photons aie bosons. Indeed, in the same expeiiment, fei-
mions behave in exactly the opposite way; two feimions aie always detected sepaiately
on opposite sides, Ref. 75 nevei togethei on the same side.
BU×cui×c :×u :×1ivU×cui×c
Anothei way to test the exchange chaiactei of a paiticle is the Hanbuiy Biown–Twiss ex-
peiiment desciibed eailiei on. Page 53 Fiist of all, this beautiful expeiiment shows that quantum
paiticles behave difeiently than classical paiticles. In addition, compaied to classical
paiticles, feimions show antibunching – because of Pauli’s exclusion piinciple – and
bosons show bunching. Hanbuiy Biown and Twiss peifoimed the expeiiment with
photons, which aie bosons.
In 2003, a Fiench–Dutch ieseaich collaboiation Ref. 76 peifoimed the expeiiment with
atoms. By using an extiemely cold helium gas at 500 nK and a clevei detectoi piinciple,
they weie able to measuie the coiielation cuives typical foi the efect. Te iesults, shown
in Figuie 39, confim that
3
He is a feimion and
4
He is a boson, as piedicted fiom the
composition iule of quantum paiticles.
Tui i×ivcv uivi×ui×ci oi vivmU1:1io× svmmi1vv
If expeiiments foice us to conclude that nobody, not even natuie, can distinguish
between two paiticles of the same type, we deduce that they do not foim two sepai-
ate entities, but some soit of unity. Oui naive, classical sense of paiticle as a sepaiate
entity fiom the iest of the woild is thus an incoiiect desciiption of the phenomenon of
‘paiticle’. Indeed, no expeiiment can tiack paiticles with identical intiinsic piopeities
in such a way that they can be distinguished with ceitainty. Tis impossibility has been
checked expeiimentally with all elementaiy paiticles, with nuclei, with atoms and with
numeious molecules.
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4
He shows bunching
3
He shows anti-bunching
classical
prediction
classical
prediction
FI GURE 59 Bunching and antibunching of
3
He and
4
He helium!bunching atoms: the measurement
result, the detector and the experiment (from atomoptic.iota.u-psud.fr/research/helium/helium.html,
photo © Denis Boiron, Jerome Chatin).
FI GURE 60 Picturing particles as localized excitations (left) or clouds (right).
How does this ft with eveiyday life, i.e., with classical physics: Photons do not woiiy
us much heie. Let us focus the discussion on mattei paiticles. We know to be able to
distinguish elections by pointing to the wiie in which they fow, and we can distinguish
oui fiidge fiom that of oui neighboui. While the quantum of action makes distinction
impossible, eveiyday life allows it.
Te simplest explanation foi both obseivations is to imagine a micioscopic paiticle,
especially an elementaiy one, as a bulge, i.e., as a localized excitation of the vacuum, oi
as a tiny cloud. Figuie 60 shows two such bulges and two clouds iepiesenting paiticles.
It is evident that if paiticles aie too neai to each othei, it makes no sense to distinguish
them; we cannot say any moie which is which.
Te bulge image shows that eithei foi laige distances oi foi high potential walls sep-
aiating them, distinction of identical paiticles does become possible. In such situations,
measuiements allowing us to tiack paiticles independently do exist – as we know fiom
eveiyday life. In othei woids, we can specify a limit eneigy at which peimutation sym-
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metiy of objects oi paiticles sepaiated by a distance ? becomes impoitant. It is given
by
? =
? ℏ
?
. (38)
Aie you able to confim the expiession: Challenge 95 e Foi example, at eveiyday tempeiatuies we can
distinguish atoms inside a solid fiom each othei, since the eneigy so calculated is much
highei than the theimal eneigy of atoms. To have fun, you might want to deteimine at
what eneigy two tiuly identical human twins become indistinguishable. Challenge 96 e Estimating at
what eneigies the statistical chaiactei of tiees oi fiidges will become appaient is then
stiaightfoiwaid.
To sum up, in daily life we aie able to distinguish objects and thus people foi two
ieasons: because they aie made of many paits, and because we live in a low energy envii-
onment. Te bulge image of paiticles puiveys the idea that distinguishability exists foi
objects in eveiyday life but not foi paiticles in the micioscopic domain.
Te eneigy issue immediately adds a new aspect to the discussion. How can we de-
sciibe feimions and bosons in the piesence of viitual paiticles and of antipaiticles:
I×uis1i×cUisu:viii1v i× qU:×1Um iiiiu 1uiovv
Quantum feld theoiy, as we will see shoitly, simply puts the cloudy bulge idea of Fig-
uie 60 into mathematical language. A situation with no bulge is called vacuum state.
Quantum feld theoiy desciibes all paiticles of a given type as excitations of a single fun-
damental feld. Paiticles aie indistinguishable because each paiticle is an excitation of the
same basic substiate and each excitation has the same piopeities. A situation with one
paiticle is then desciibed by a vacuum state acted upon by a creation operator. Adding
a second paiticle is desciibed by adding a second cieation opeiatoi, and subtiacting a
paiticle by adding a annihilation operator; the lattei tuins out to be the adjoint of the
foimei.
Quantum feld theoiy studies how cieation and annihilation opeiatois must behave
to desciibe obseivations.¯ It aiiives at the following conclusions:
— Field opeiatois foi paiticles with half-integei spin aie feimions and imply (local) an-
ticommutation.
— Fields with integei spin aie bosons and imply (local) commutation.
— Foi all feld opeiatois at space-like sepaiations, the commutatoi, iespectively anti-
commutatoi, vanishes.
— Antipaiticles of feimions aie feimions, and antipaiticles of bosons aie bosons.
— Viitual paiticles behave undei exchange like theii ieal counteipaits.
¯ Whenever ihe relaiion
[?, ?

] = ??

− ?

? = 1 (39)
holds beiween ihe creaiion operaior ?

and ihe annihilaiion operaior ?, ihe operaiors describe a boson. Te
dagger can ihus be seen as describing ihe operaiion of adjoining; a double dagger is equivaleni io no dagger.
If ihe operaiors for pariicle creaiion and annihilaiion aniicommuie
{?, ?

} = ??

+ ?

? = 1 (60)
ihey describe a fermion. Te so defned brackei is called ihe anticommutator bracket.
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Tese connections aie at the basis of quantum feld theoiy. Tey desciibe how paiticles
aie identical, moie piecisely, how they behave undei peimutation.
But why aie quantum paiticles identical: Why aie all elections identical: Quantum
feld theoiy desciibes elections as identical excitations of the vacuum, and as such as
identical by constiuction. Of couise, this answei is only paitially satisfying. We will fnd
a bettei one only in the fnal pait of oui mountain ascent.
How :ccUv:1iiv is vivmU1:1io× svmmi1vv viviiiiu:
Aie elections perfect feimions: In I990, a simple but efective expeiiment testing theii
feimion behavioui was caiiied out by Rambeig and Snow. Ref. 77 Tey sent an electiic cuiient
of 30 A thiough a coppei wiie foi one month and looked foi X-iay emission. Tey did
not fnd any. Tey concluded that elections aie always in an antisymmetiic state, with a
symmetiic component of less than
2 ⋅ 10
−26
(6I)
of the total state. In shoit, elections aie always in an antisymmetiic state: they aie feimi-
ons.
Te ieasoning behind this elegant expeiiment is the following. If elections would not
always be feimions, eveiy now and then an election could fall into the lowest eneigy
level of a coppei atom, leading to X-iay emission. Te lack of such X-iays implies that
elections aie feimions to a veiy high accuiacy. X-iays could be emitted only if they weie
bosons, at least pait of the time. Indeed, two elections, being feimions, cannot be in the
same quantum state: this iestiiction is called the Pauli exclusion principle. It applies to all
feimions and is the topic of the next chaptei.
Coviis, cio×is :×u ciovis
Can classical systems be indistinguishable: Tey can: laige molecules aie examples –
piovided they aie made of exactly the same isotopes. Can large classical systems, made
of a mole oi moie paiticles be indistinguishable: Tis simple question efectively asks
whethei a perfect copy, oi (physical) clone, of a physical system is possible.
It could be aigued that any factoiy foi mass-pioduced goods, such as one pioducing
shiit buttons oi papei clips, shows that copies aie possible. But the appeaiance is deceiv-
ing. On a micioscope theie is usually some difeience. Is this always the case: In I982, the
Dutch physicist Dennis Dieks and independently, the US-Ameiican physicists Wootteis
and Zuiek, published simple pioofs that quantum systems cannot be copied. Ref. 78 Tis is the
famous no-cloning theorem.
A copying machine is a machine that takes an oiiginal, ieads out its piopeities and
pioduces a copy, leaving the oiiginal unchanged. Tis defnition seems stiaightfoiwaid.
Howevei, we know that if we extiact infoimation fiom an oiiginal, we have to inteiact
with it. As a iesult, the system will change at least by the quantum of action. We thus
expect that due to quantum theoiy, copies and oiiginals can nevei be identical.¯
¯ Tis seems io provide a soluiion againsi banknoie forgeries. In faci, Siephen Wiesner proposed io use
quanium iheory already in I970; Ref. 79 he imagined io use polarizaiions of siored single phoions as biis of serial
numbers. Can you explain why ihis cannoi Challenge 97 s work:
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::: , vivmU1n1io× oi vnv1iciis
Quantum theoiy indeed shows that copying machines aie impossible. A copying ma-
chine is desciibed by an opeiatoi that maps the state of an oiiginal system to the state of
the copy. In othei woids, a copying machine is lineai. Tis lineaiity leads to a pioblem.
Simply stated, if a copying machine weie able to copy oiiginals eithei in state |?⟩ oi in
state |?⟩, it could not woik if the state of the oiiginal weie a supeiposition |?⟩ + |?⟩. Let
us see why.
A copy machine is a device desciibed by an opeiatoi ? that changes the staiting state
|?⟩
c
of the copy in the following way:
— If the oiiginal is in state |?⟩, a copiei acts on the copy |?⟩
c
as
?|?⟩|?⟩
c
= |?⟩|?⟩
c
. (62)
— If the oiiginal is in state |?⟩, a copiei acts on the copy |?⟩
c
as
?|?⟩|?⟩
c
= |?⟩|?⟩
c
. (63)
As a iesult of these two iequiiements, an oiiginal in the state |? + ?⟩ is tieated by the
copiei as
?|? + ?⟩|?⟩
c
= |?⟩|?⟩
c
+ |?⟩|?⟩
c
. (64)
Tis is in contiast to what we want, which would be
?
wanted
|? + ?⟩|?⟩
c
= (|?⟩ + |?⟩)(|?⟩
c
+ |?⟩
c
) . (63)
In othei woids, a copy machine cannot copy a state completely.¯ Tis is the so-called
no-cloning theorem.
Te impossibility of copying is implicit in quantum theoiy. If we weie able to clone
systems, we could measuie a vaiiable of a system and a second vaiiable on its copy. We
would be thus able to beat the indeteiminacy ielation in both copies. Tis is impossible.
In shoit, copies aie always impeifect.
Te lack of quantum mechanical copying machines is disappointing. Such science
fction machines could be fed with two difeient inputs, such as a lion and a goat, and
pioduce a supeiposition: a chimaeia. Quantum theoiy shows that all these imaginaiy
beings oi situations cannot be iealized.
Othei ieseaicheis thenexploied howneai to peifectiona copy can be, especially in the
case of classical systems. Ref. 80 To make a long stoiy shoit, these investigations show that also
the copying oi cloning of macioscopic systems is impossible. In simple woids, copying
machines do not exist. Copies can always be distinguished fiom oiiginals if obseivations
aie made with sumcient caie. In paiticulai, this is the case foi biological clones; biological
¯ Te no-cloning iheorem puis severe limiiaiions on quanium compuiers, as compuiaiions ofen need cop-
ies of iniermediaie resulis. Te iheorem also shows ihai fasier-ihan-lighi communicaiion is impossible in
EPR experimenis. In compensaiion, quantum cryptography becomes possible – ai leasi in ihe laboraiory.
Indeed, ihe no-cloning iheorem shows ihai nobody can copy a quanium message wiihoui being noiiced.
Te specifc ways io use ihis resuli in crypiography are ihe I984 Benneii–Brassard proiocol and ihe I99I
Ekeri proiocol.
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, vivmU1n1io× oi vnv1iciis ::¸
clones aie identical twins boin following sepaiate piegnancies. Tey difei in theii fngei
piints, iiis scans, physical and emotional memoiies, biain stiuctuies, and in many othei
aspects. (Can you specify a few moie:) Challenge 98 s In shoit, biological clones, like identical twins,
aie not copies of each othei.
In summaiy, eveiyday life objects such as photocopies, billiaid balls oi twins aie al-
ways distinguishable. Teie aie two ieasons: fist, quantum efects play no iole in eveiy-
day life, so that theie is no dangei of unobseivable exchange; secondly, peifect clones of
classical systems do not exist anyway, so that theie always aie tiny difeiences between
any two objects, even if they look identical at fist sight. Gloves, being classical systems,
can thus always be distinguished.
SUmm:vv
As a consequence of the quantum of action ℏ, quantum paiticles aie indistinguishable.
Tis happens in one of two ways: they aie eithei bosons oi feimions. Not even natuie is
able to distinguish among identical quantum paiticles. But despite the indistinguishab-
ility of quantons, the state of a physical system cannot be copied to a second system with
the same paiticle content. Teiefoie, peifect clones do not exist in natuie.
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C u : v 1 i v 6
ROTATIONS AND STATI STICS
– VI SUALI ZI NG SPI N
S
pin is the obseivation that mattei beams can be polarized: iays can be iotated.
pin thus desciibes how paiticles behave undei iotations. Paiticles aie thus not
imply point-like: quantum paiticles can iotate aiound an axis. Page 103 Tis piopei iotation
is called spin; like macioscopic iotation, it is desciibed by an angulai momentum.
In the following, we iecall that the spin of quantons is quantized in units of ℏ/2. Ten
we showa deep iesult: the value of spin deteimines whethei a quantum paiticle, and any
geneial quantum system, is a boson oi a feimion.
QU:×1Um v:v1iciis :×u svmmi1vv
Te geneial backgiound foi the appeaiance of spin was Ref. 81 claiifed by Eugene Wignei in
I939.¯ He staited by iecapitulating that any quantum paiticle, if elementary, must behave
like an irreducible representation of the set of all viewpoint changes. Tis set of view-
point changes foims the symmetiy gioup of fat space-time, the so-called inhomogeneous
Lorentz group. Why:
We have seen in the chaptei on symmetiy Vol. I, page 249 in the fist volume of this adventuie that
the symmetiy of any composite systemleads to ceitain iequiiements foi the components
of the system. If the components do not follow these iequiiements, they cannot build a
symmetiic composite.
We know fiom eveiyday life and piecision expeiiments that all physical systems aie
symmetiic undei tianslation in time and space, undei iotation in space, undei boosts,
and – in many cases – undei miiioi iefection, mattei–antimattei exchange and motion
ieveisal. We know these symmetiies known fiom eveiyday life; foi example, the useful-
ness of what we call ‘expeiience’ in eveiyday life is simply a consequence of time tians-
lation symmetiy. Te set of all these common symmetiies, moie piecisely, of all these
symmetiy tiansfoimations, is called the inhomogeneous Lorentz group.
Tese symmetries, i.e., these changes of viewpoints, lead to ceitain iequiiements foi
the components of physical systems, i.e., foi the elementaiy quantum paiticles. In math-
ematical language, Vol. I, page 249 the iequiiement is expiessed by saying that elementary particles must
be irreducible representations of the symmetiy gioup.
Eveiy textbook on quantum theoiy caiiies out this ieasoning in systematic detail.
Staiting with the Loientz gioup, one obtains a list of all possible iiieducible iepiesent-
¯ Eugene Wigner (b. :µo: Budapesi, d. :µµ, Princeion), iheoreiical physicisi, received ihe Nobel Prize for
physics in I963. He wroie over 300 papers, many aboui various aspecis of symmeiry in naiure. He was also
famous for being ihe mosi poliie physicisi in ihe world.
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6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi× ::,
ations, in othei woids, a list of all possible ways that elementaiy paiticles can behave. ¯
Cataloguing the possibilities, one fnds fist of all that eveiy elementaiy paiticle is de-
sciibed by four-momentum – no news so fai – by an inteinal angulai momentum, the
spin, and by a set of parities.
— Foui-momentum iesults fiom the tianslation symmetiy of natuie. Te momentum
value desciibes howa paiticle behaves undei tianslation, i.e., undei position and time
shif of viewpoints. Te magnitude of foui-momentumis an invaiiant piopeity, given
by the mass, wheieas its oiientation in space-time is fiee.
— Spin iesults fiom the iotation symmetiy of natuie. Te spin value desciibes how an
object behaves undei iotations in thiee dimensions, i.e., undei oiientation change
of viewpoints.¯¯ Te magnitude of spin is an invaiiant piopeity, and its oiientation
has vaiious possibilities with iespect to the diiection of motion. In paiticulai, the
spin of massive quantum paiticles behaves difeiently fiom that of massless quantum
paiticles.
Foi massive quantum paiticles, the inhomogeneous Loientz gioup implies that
the invaiiant magnitude of spin is ¸?(? + 1) ℏ, ofen wiitten, by oveisimplifcation,
as ?. It is thus customaiy to say and wiite ‘spin J’ instead of the cumbeisome ‘spin
¸?(? + 1) ℏ’. Since the value of the quantum numbei ? specifes the magnitude of the
angulai momentum, it gives the iepiesentation undei iotations of a given paiticle
type. Te exploiation shows that the spin quantum numbei ? can be any multiple
of 1/2, i.e., it can take the values 0, 1/2, 1, 3/2, 2, 5/2, etc. As summaiized in Table 4,
expeiiments show that elections, piotons and neutions have spin 1/2, the W and Z
paiticles spin I and helium atoms spin 0. In addition, the iepiesentation of spin ?
is 2? + 1 dimensional, meaning that the spatial oiientation of the spin has 2? + 1
possible values. Foi elections, with ? = 1/2, theie aie thus two possibilities; they aie
usually called ‘up’ and ‘down’. Spin thus only takes discrete values. Tis is in contiast
with lineai momentum, whose iepiesentations aie infnite dimensional and whose
possible values foim a continuous iange.
Also massless quantum paiticles aie chaiacteiized by the value of theii spin. It can
take the same values as in the massive case. Foi example, photons and gluons have
spin 1. Foi massless paiticles, the iepiesentations aie one-dimensional, so that mass-
less paiticles aie completely desciibed by theii helicity, defned as the piojection of
the spin onto the diiection of motion. Massless paiticles can have positive oi negat-
ive helicity, ofen also called iight-handed and lef-handed polaiization. Teie is no
othei fieedom foi the oiientation of spin in the massless case.
— To complete the list of paiticle piopeities, the iemaining, disciete symmetiies of the
inhomogeneous Loientz gioup must be included. Since motion inversion, spatial par-
ity and charge inversion aie paiities, each elementaiy paiticle has to be desciibed by
thiee additional numbeis, called T, P and C, each of which can only take the values
+1 oi −1. Being paiities, these numbeis must be multiplied to yield the value foi a
composed system.
¯ To be of physical relevance for quanium iheory, represeniaiions have io be unitary. Te full lisi of irre-
ducible and unitary represeniaiions of viewpoini changes ihus provides ihe range of possibiliiies for any
pariicle ihai wanis io be elementary.
¯¯ Te group of physical roiaiions is also called SO(3), since maihemaiically ii is described by ihe group of
Special Orihogonal 3 by 3 mairices.
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::6 6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi×
TABLE 4 Particle spin as representation of the rotation group.
S v i × S v s 1 i m M n s s i v i i x n mv i i s M n s s i i s s i x n mv i i s
[ℏ] unchanged afer
roiaiion by
elemeniary composiie elemeniary
0 any angle Higgs
boson
mesons, nuclei,
aioms
none
?
I/2 2 iurns ?, ?, ?, ?,
?
?
, ?
?
, ?
?
nuclei, aioms,
molecules,
radicals
none, as neuirinos have a iiny mass
I I iurn W, Z mesons, nuclei,
aioms, molecules,
ioasiers
?, ?
3/2 2/3 iurn none
?
baryons, nuclei,
aioms
none
?
2 I/2 iurn none nuclei ‘graviion’
?
3/2 2/3 iurn none nuclei none
3 I/3 iurn none nuclei
?
none
eic.
?
eic.
?
eic.
?
eic.
?
eic.
?
?. Supersymmeiry, a symmeiry conjeciured in ihe iweniieih ceniury, predicis elemeniary
pariicles in ihese and oiher boxes.
?. Te graviion has noi yei been observed.
?. Nuclei exisi wiih spins values up io ai leasi 101/2 and 51 (in uniis of ℏ). Ref. 82
In shoit, the symmetiies natuie lead to the classifcation of all elementaiy quantum
paiticles by theii mass, theii momentum, theii spin and theii P, C and T paiities.
Tvvis oi qU:×1Um v:v1iciis
Te spin values obseived foi all quantum paiticles in natuie aie given in Table 4. Te
paiities and all known intiinsic piopeities of the elementaiy paiticles aie given in Table 3.
Spin and paiities togethei aie called quantum numbers. All othei intiinsic piopeities of
quantons aie ielated to inteiactions, such as mass, electiic chaige oi isospin. We will
exploie them in the Vol. V, page 157 next volume.
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6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi× ::,
TABLE 5 Elementary particle properties.
Pnv1icii Mnss ?
?
Liii1imi ?
ov i×ivov
wiu1u,
?
mni× uicnv
mouis
Isosvi× ?,
svi× ?,
?
vnvi1v ?,
cunvoi
vnvi1v ?
Cunvoi,
isosvi×,
s1vn×oi-
×iss,
?
cunvm,
vinU1v,
?
1ov×iss:
??????
Liv1o×
&
vnvvo×
?
×Um-
vivs
? ?
Elementary radiation (bosons)
phoion ? 0 (<10
−53
kg) siable ?(?
??
) =
0, 1(1
−−
)
000000 0, 0
?
±
80.398(25) GeV/?
2
2.124(41) GeV ? = 1 ±100000 0, 0
67.60(27) ° hadrons,
32.I2(36) ° ?
+
?
? 91.1876(21) GeV/?
2
2.65(2) ⋅ 10
−25
s ? = 1 000000 0, 0
or 2.4952(23) GeV/?
2
69.9I(6) ° hadrons,
I0.0974(69) ° ?
+
?

gluon 0 siable ?(?
?
) = 0(1

) 000000 0, 0
Elementary matter (fermions): leptons
eleciron ? 9.109 382 15(45) ⋅ > 13 ⋅ 10
30
s ? =
1
2
−100 000 1, 0
10
−31
kg = 81.871 0438(41) pJ/?
2
= 0.510 998 910(13) MeV/?
2
= 0.000 548 579 909 43(23) u
gyromagneiic raiio ?
?
/?
B
= −1.001 159 652 1811(7)
muon ? 0.188 353 130(11) yg 2.197 03(4) µs ? =
1
2
−100000 1, 0
99 ° ?

̄ ?
?
?
?
= 105.658 3668(38) MeV/?
2
= 0.113 428 9256(29) u
gyromagneiic raiio ?
?
/(?ℏ/2?
?
) = −1.001 165 9208(6)
iau ? 1.776 84(17) GeV/?
2
290.6(1.0) f s ? =
1
2
−100000 1, 0
el. neuirino
?
e
< 2 eV/?
2
? =
1
2
1, 0
muon
neuirino ?
?
< 2 eV/?
2
? =
1
2
1, 0
iau neuirino
?
?
< 2 eV/?
2
? =
1
2
1, 0
Elementary matter (fermions): quarks
?
up ? I.3 io 3.3 MeV/?
2
see proion ?(?
?
) =
1
2
(
1
2
+
) +
2
3
+
1
2
0000 0,
1
3
down ? 3.3 io 6 MeV/?
2
see proion ?(?
?
) =
1
2
(
1
2
+
) −
1
3

1
2
0000 0,
1
3
sirange ? 70 io 130 MeV/?
2
?(?
?
) = 0(
1
2
+
) −
1
3
0−1000 0,
1
3
charm ? 1.27(11) GeV/?
2
?(?
?
) = 0(
1
2
+
) +
2
3
00+100 0,
1
3
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::8 6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi×
TABLE 5 (Continued) Elementary particle properties.
Pnv1icii Mnss ?
?
Liii1imi ?
ov i×ivov
wiu1u,
?
mni× uicnv
mouis
Isosvi× ?,
svi× ?,
?
vnvi1v ?,
cunvoi
vnvi1v ?
Cunvoi,
isosvi×,
s1vn×oi-
×iss,
?
cunvm,
vinU1v,
?
1ov×iss:
??????
Liv1o×
&
vnvvo×
?
×Um-
vivs
? ?
boiiom? 4.20(17) GeV/?
2
? = 1.33(11) ps ?(?
?
) = 0(
1
2
+
) −
1
3
000−10 0,
1
3
iop ? 171.2(2.1) GeV/?
2
?(?
?
) = 0(
1
2
+
) +
2
3
0000+1 0,
1
3
Observed elementary boson
Higgs boson 126 GeV/?
2
? = 0
Noies:
?. See also ihe iable of SI prefxes on page 203. Aboui ihe eV/?
2
mass unii, see page 209.
?. Te energy width Γ of a pariicle is relaied io iis lifeiime ? by ihe indeierminacy relaiion Γ? = ℏ.
Tere is a dinerence beiween ihe half-life ?
1/2
and ihe lifeiime ? of a pariicle: ihey are relaied by
?
1/2
= ? ln2, where ln 2 ≈ 0.693 147 18; ihe half-life is ihus shorier ihan ihe lifeiime. Te unifed
atomic mass unit u is defned as I/I2 of ihe mass of a carbon I2 aiom ai resi and in iis ground
siaie. One has 1 u =
1
12
?(
12
C) = 1.660 5402(10) yg.
?. To keep ihe iable shori, iis header does noi expliciily meniion colour, ihe charge of ihe sirong
inieraciions. Tis has io be added io ihe lisi of basic objeci properiies. Quanium numbers con-
iaining ihe word ‘pariiy’ are muliiplicaiive; all oihers are addiiive. Time pariiy ? (noi io be con-
fused wiih iopness ?), beiier called moiion inversion pariiy, is equal io CP in all known pariicles.
Te isospin ? (or ?
Z
) is defned only for up and down quarks and iheir composiies, such as ihe
proionand ihe neuiron. Inihe liieraiure one also sees references io ihe so-called ?-pariiy, defned
as ? = (−1)
??
.
. Te iable header also does noi meniion ihe weak charge of ihe pariicles. Te deiails on weak
charge ?, or, more precisely, on ihe weak isospin, a quanium number assigned io all lef-handed
fermions (and righi-handed anii-fermions), bui io no righi-handed fermion (and no lef-handed
aniifermion), are given in ihe seciion on ihe weak inieraciions. Vol. V, page 238
?. ‘Beauiy’ is now commonly called bottomness; similarly, ‘iruih’ is now commonly called top-
ness. Te signs of ihe quanium numbers ?, ?, ?, ?, ? can be defned in dinereni ways. In ihe
siandard assignmeni shown here, ihe sign of each of ihe non-vanishing quanium numbers is
given by ihe sign of ihe charge of ihe corresponding quark.
?. If supersymmeiry exisied, ?-pariiy would have io be added io ihis column. ?-pariiy is a mul-
iiplicaiive quanium number relaied io ihe lepion number ?, ihe baryon number ? and ihe spin
? ihrough ihe defniiion ? = (−1)
3?+?+2?
. All pariicles from ihe siandard model are ?-even,
whereas iheir conjeciured supersymmeiric pariner pariicles would be ?-odd.
?. For ihe precise defniiion and meaning of quark masses, see page 226 in volume V.
Svi× I/2 :×u 1i1uiviu ov,ic1s
A cential iesult of quantum theoiy is that spin I/2 is a possibility in natuie, even though
this value does not appeai in eveiyday life. Foi a system to have spin I/2 means that foi
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6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi× ::µ
FI GURE 61 An argument
showing why rotations by
4π are equivalent to no
rotation at all.
such a system only a iotation by two turns is equivalent to none at all, while one by one
turn is not. No simple systems with this piopeity exist in eveiyday life, but such systems
do exist in micioscopic systems: elections, neutiinos, silvei atoms and moleculai iadicals
all have spin I/2. Table 4 gives a moie extensive list.
Te mathematician Heimann Weyl used Vol. I, page 49 a simple image explaining the connection
between spin I/2 and invaiiance undei iotation by 4π. Take two cones, touching each
othei at theii tips as well as along a line, as shown in Figuie 6I. Hold one cone and ioll
the othei aiound it. When the iolling cone, afei a full tuin aiound the othei cone, has
come back to the oiiginal position, it has iotated by some angle. If the cones aie wide,
the iotation angle is small. If the cones aie veiy thin, like needles, the moving cone has
iotated by (almost) 720 degiees. A iotation of 720 degiees is thus similai to one by 0
degiees. If we imagine the cone angle to vaiy continuously, this visualization also shows
that a 720 degiee iotationcan be continuously defoimed into a 0 degiee iotation, wheieas
a 360 degiee iotation cannot.
Teie aie systems in eveiyday life that behave like spin I/2, but they aie not simple:
all such systems aie tethered. Te most well-known system is the belt. Figuie 62 and Fig-
uie 63 showthat a iotation by 4π of a belt buckle is equivalent to no iotation at all: this is
easily achieved by moving the belt aiound. You may want to iepeat the piocess by youi-
self, using a ieal belt oi a stiip of papei, in oidei to get a feeling foi it. Challenge 99 e Te untangling
piocess is ofen called the belt trick, but also scissor trick, plate trick, string trick, Philip-
pine wine dance oi Balinese candle dance. It is sometimes incoiiectly attiibuted to Diiac,
because he used it extensively in his lectuies.
Te human body has such a belt built in: the arm. Just take youi hand, put an object
on it foi claiity, such as a cup, and tuin the hand and object by 2π by twisting the aim.
Afei a second iotation the whole system will be untangled again, as shown in Figuie 64.
Te tiick is even moie impiessive when many aims aie used. You can put youi two hands
(if you chose the coiiect staiting position) Challenge 100 e undei the cup oi you can take a fiiend oi two
who each keep a hand attached to the cup togethei with you. Te belt tiick can still be
peifoimed, and the whole system untangles afei two full tuins. Challenge 101 e
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:¸o 6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi×
FI GURE 62 Assume that the belt cannot be observed, but the square object can, and that it represents
a particle. The animation then shows that such a particle (the square object) can return to the starting
position after rotation by 4π (and not after 2π). Such a ‘belted’ particle thus fulfils the defining property
of a spin 1/2 particle: rotating it by 4π is equivalent to no rotation at all. The belt thus represents the
spinor wave function; for example, a 2π rotation leads to a twist; this means a change of the sign of the
wave function. A 4π rotation has no influence on the wave function. You can repeat the trick at home,
with a paper strip. The equivalence is shown here with two attached belts, but the trick works with any
positive number of belts! (QuickTime film © Antonio Martos)
FI GURE 63 The belt trick with a simple belt: a double rotation of the belt buckle is equivalent to no
rotation. (QuickTime film © Greg Egan)
Tis leads us to the most geneial way to show the connection between tetheiing and
spin I/2. Just glue any numbei of thieads, belts oi tubes, say half a metie long, to some
object, as shown in Figuie 63. (With many such tails, is not appiopiiate any moie to call
it a belt buckle.) Like the aim of a human being, each band is supposed to go to spatial
infnity and be attached theie. If the object, which iepiesents the paiticle, is iotated by
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6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi× :¸:
? = 0
? = 2π
? = 4π
FI GURE 64 The human arm as spin 1/2 model.
rotating the buckle
either by 4π
or simply rearranging
the bands gives the
other situation
FI GURE 65 The generalized
belt trick, modelling the
rotation behaviour of a spin
1/2 particle: independently of
the number of bands or tubes
or strings attached, the two
situations can be transformed
into each other, either by
rotating the central object by
4π or by keeping the central
object fixed and moving the
bands around it.
2π, twists appeai in its tails. If the object is iotated by an additional tuin, to a total of 4π,
all twists and tangles can be made to disappeai, without moving oi tuining the object.
You ieally have to expeiience this in oidei to believe it. And the piocess ieally woiks with
any numbei of bands glued to the object. Te website www.evl.uic.edu/hypeicomplex/
html/diiac.html piovides a animation showing this piocess with foui attached belts.
In soit, all these animations show that belt buckles, and in fact all (sumciently)
tetheied systems, ietuin to theii oiiginal state only afei iotations by 4π, and not afei
iotations by 2π only. Tethered objects behave like spin / particles. In fact, tetheied ob-
jects, such as belt buckles, aie the only systems that iepioduce spin I/2 piopeities. Challenge 102 e In the
last pait of oui adventuie we will discovei the deep undeilying ieasonfoi the equivalence
between spin I/2 paiticles and tetheied systems.
Exploiing the symmetiies of wave functions, quantum theoiy shows that iotations
require the existence of spin foi all quantum paiticles. An investigation of the wave func-
tion shows that wave functions of elementaiy mattei paiticles behave undei iotation like
tetheied objects. Foi example, a wave function whose tetheied equivalent is tangled ac-
quiies a negative sign.
In summaiy, quantum theoiy implies the existence of the slightly countei-intuitive
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:¸: 6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi×
FI GURE 66 Two belt buckles
connected by a belt, one way of
visualizing two spin 1/2 particles.
spin I/2 value. In paiticulai, it appeais foi elementaiy mattei paiticles.
Tui ix1i×sio× oi 1ui vii1 1vicx
But why do expeiiments showthat all feimions have half-integei spin and that all bosons
have integei spin: In paiticulai, why do elections obey Page 134 the Pauli exclusion piinciple: At
fist sight, it is not cleai what the spin value has to do with the statistical piopeities of a
paiticle. In fact, theie aie seveial ways to showthat iotations and statistics aie connected.
Te fist pioof, due to Wolfgang Pauli, Ref. 85 used the details of quantumfeld theoiy and was so
complicated that its essential ingiedients weie hidden. It took seveial decades to convince
eveiybody that a fuithei obseivation about belts was the cential pait of the Ref. 86 pioof.
Staiting fiom the bulge model of quantum paiticles shown in Figuie 60, Page 119 we can ima-
gine a tube connecting two paiticles, similai to a belt connecting two belt buckles, as
shown in Figuie 66. Te buckles iepiesent the paiticles. Te tube keeps tiack of theii
ielative oiientation. If one paiticle/buckle is iotated by 2π along any axis, a twist is insei-
ted into the belt. As just shown, if the same buckle is iotated by anothei 2π, biinging the
total to 4π, the ensuing double twist can easily be undone without moving oi iotating
the buckles.
Now we look again at Figuie 66. If we take the two buckles and simply swap theii
positions, a twist is intioduced into the belt. If we swap them again, the twist will disap-
peai. In shoit, two connected belt buckles ietuin to theii oiiginal state only afei a double
exchange, and not afei a single exchange.
In othei woids, if we take each buckle to iepiesent a paiticle and a twist to mean
a factoi −1, the belt exactly desciibes the phase behavioui of spin 1/2 wave functions,
both undei rotation and undei exchange. In paiticulai, we see that iotation and exchange
behavioui aie ielated.
Similaily, also the belt tiick itself can be extended to exchange. Take two buckles that
aie connected with many bands oi thieads, like in Figuie 67 oi in Figuie 68. Te band can
connect the paiticles, oi go to spatial infnity, oi both. An exchange of the two buckles
pioduces quite a messy tangle. But almost inciedibly, in all cases, a secondexchange leads
back to the oiiginal situation, if the belts aie piopeily ieaiianged. Challenge 103 e You might want to test
youiself that the behavioui is also valid if additional paiticles aie involved, as long as you
always exchange the same two paiticles twice.
We conclude that tetheied objects behave like feimions undei exchange. Tese ob-
seivations togethei foim the spin–statistics theoiem foi spin I/2 paiticles: spin and ex-
change behaviour are related. Indeed, these almost ‘expeiimental’ aiguments can be put
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6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi× :¸¸
FI GURE 67 Extended
belt models for two
spin 1/2 particles.
FI GURE 68 Assume that the belts cannot be observed, but the square objects can, and that they
represent particles. We know from above that belted buckles behave as spin 1/2 particles. The
animation shows that two such particles return to the original situation if they are switched in position
twice (but not once). Such particles thus fulfil the defining property of fermions. (For the opposite case,
that of bosons, a simple exchange would lead to the identical situation.) You can repeat the trick at
home using paper strips. The equivalence is shown here with two belts per particle, but the trick works
with any positive number of belts attached to each buckle. This animation is the essential part of the
proof that spin 1/2 particles are fermions. This is called the spin–statistics theorem. (QuickTime film
© Antonio Martos)
into exact mathematical language Ref. 87 by studying the behavioui of the confguiation space
of paiticles. Tese investigations iesult in the following statements:
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:¸¡ 6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi×
⊳ Objects of spin I/2 aie feimions.¯
⊳ Exchange and iotation of spin I/2 paiticles aie similai piocesses.
In shoit, objects that behave like spin I/2 paiticles undei iotations also behave like fei-
mions undei exchange. And vice veisa. Te exchange behavioui of paiticles deteimines
theii statistical piopeities; the iotation behavioui deteimines theii spin. By extending the
belt tiick to seveial buckles, each with seveial belts, we thus visualized the spin–statistics
theoiem foi feimions.
Note that all these aiguments iequiie thiee dimensions of space, because theie aie no
tangles (oi knots) in fewei oi moie dimensions.¯¯ And indeed, spin exists only in thiee
spatial dimensions.
Te belt tiick leads to inteiesting puzzles. We saw that a spin I/2 object can be mod-
elled by imagining that a belt leading to spatial infnity is attached to it. If we want to
model the spin behavioui with attached one-dimensional strings instead of bands, what
is the minimum numbei of stiings we need: Challenge 105 s Moie dimcult is the following puzzle: Can
the belt tiick be peifoimed if the buckle is glued into a mattiess, thus with the mattiess
acting like ‘infnitely many’ Challenge 106 d belts:
A×ciis, P:Uii ’ s ixciUsio× vvi×civii :×u 1ui u:vu×iss oi m:11iv
Why aie we able to knock on a dooi: Why can stones not fy thiough tiee tiunks: How
does the mountain we aie walking on caiiy us: Why can’t we walk acioss walls: In clas-
sical physics, we avoided this issue, by taking solidity as a defning piopeity of mattei.
But we cannot do so any moie: we have seen that mattei consists mainly of low density
election clouds. Te quantum of action thus foices us to explain the quantum of mattei.
Te explanation of the impenetiability of mattei is so impoitant that it led to a Nobel
piize in physics. Te inteipenetiation of bodies is made impossible by Pauli’s exclusion
principle among the elections inside atoms. Pauli’s exclusion piinciple states:
⊳ Two feimions cannot occupy the same quantum state.
All expeiiments known confim the statement.
Why do elections and othei feimions obey Pauli’s exclusion piinciple: Te answei
can be given with a beautifully simple aigument. Ref. 88 We knowthat exchanging two feimions
pioduces a minus sign in the total wave function. Imagine these two feimions being, as
a classical physicist would say, located at the same spot, oi as a quantum physicist would
say, in the same state. If that could be possible, an exchange would change nothing in the
system. But an exchange of feimions must pioduce a minus sign foi the total state. Both
possibilities – no change at all as well as a minus sign – cannot be iealized at the same
¯ A maihemaiical observable behaving like a spin I/2 pariicle is neiiher a vecior nor a iensor, as you may
wani io check. Challenge 104 e An addiiional concepi is necessary; such an observable is called a spinor. We will iniroduce
ii in deiail laier Page 187 on.
¯¯ Of course, knois and iangles do exisi in higher dimensions. Insiead of considering knoiied one-
dimensional lines, one can consider knoiied planes or knoiied higher-dimensional hyperplanes. For ex-
ample, deformable planes can be knoiied in four dimensions and deformable 3-spaces in fve dimensions.
However, ihe eneciive dimensions ihai produce ihe knoi are always ihree.
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time. Teie is only one way out: two feimions must avoid to evei be in the same state.
Tis is Pauli’s exclusion piinciple.
Te exclusion piinciple is the ieason that two pieces of mattei in eveiyday life cannot
penetiate each othei, but have to repel each othei. Foi example, take a bell. A bell would
not woik if the colliding pieces that pioduce the sound would inteipenetiate. But in any
example of two inteipenetiating pieces, the elections fiomdifeient atoms would have to
be at the same spot: they would have to be in the same states. Tis is impossible. Pauli’s
exclusion piinciple foibids inteipenetiation of mattei. Bells only woik because of the
exclusion piinciple.
Why don’t we fall thiough the fooi, even though giavity pulls us down, but iemain
standing on its suiface: Again, the ieason is Pauli’s exclusion piinciple. Why does the
fooi itself not fall: It does not fall, because the mattei of the Eaith cannot inteipenetiate
and the atoms cannot made to appioach each othei than a ceitain minimal distance. In
othei woids, Pauli’s exclusion piinciple implies that atomic mattei cannot be compiessed
indefnitely. At a ceitain stage an efective Pauli pressure appeais, so that a compiession
limit ensues. Foi this ieason foi example, planets made of atomic mattei – oi neution
stais made of neutions, which also have spin I/2 and thus also obey the exclusion piin-
ciple – do not collapse undei theii own giavity.
Te exclusion piinciple is the ieason that atoms aie extended election clouds and that
difeient atoms have difeient sizes. In fact, the exclusion piinciple foices the elections
in atoms to foim shells. When elections aie added aiound a nucleus and when one shell
is flled, a new shell is staited. Tis is the oiigin of the peiiodic systems of the elements.
Te size of any atom is the size of its last shell. Without the exclusion piinciple, atoms
would be as small as a hydiogen atom. In fact, most atoms aie consideiably laigei. Te
same aigument applies to nuclei: theii size is given by the last nucleon shell. Without the
exclusion piinciple, nuclei would be as small as a single pioton. In fact, they aie usually
about I00 000 times laigei.
Te exclusion piinciple also settles an old question: How many angels can dance on
the top of a pin: (Note that angels, if at all, must be made of feimions, as you might
want to deduce fiom the infoimation known about them, and that the top of a pin is a
single point in space.) Challenge 107 s Both theoiy and expeiiment confim the answei alieady given by
Tomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages: Only one angel! Ref. 89 Te feimion exclusion piinciple
could also be called ‘angel exclusion piinciple’. To stay in the topic, the piinciple also
shows that ghosts cannot be objects, as ghosts aie supposed to be able to tiaveise walls.
Let us sum up. Simplifying somewhat, the exclusion piinciple keeps things aiound us
in shape. Without the exclusion piinciple, theie would be no thiee-dimensional objects.
Only the exclusion piinciple fxes the diametei of atomic clouds, keeps these clouds fiom
meiging, and holds them apait. Tis iepulsion is the oiigin foi the size of soap, planets
and neution stais. All shapes of solids and fuids aie a diiect consequence of the exclusion
piinciple. In othei woids, when we knock on a table oi on a dooi, we piove expeiiment-
ally that these objects and oui hands aie made of feimions.
So fai, we have only consideied feimions of spin 1/2. We will not talk much about
paiticles with odd spin of highei value, such as 3/2 oi 5/2. Such paiticles can all be seen
as being composed of spin 1/2 entities. Can you confim this: Challenge 108 e
We did not talk about lowei spins than 1/2 eithei. A famous theoiemstates that a spin
value between 0 and 1/2 is impossible in thiee dimensions. Ref. 81 Smallei spins aie impossible
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:¸6 6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi×
because the laigest angle that can be measuied in thiee dimensions is 4π. Teie is no
way to measuie a laigei angle; the quantum of action makes this impossible. Tus theie
cannot be any spin value between 0 and 1/2 in natuie.
Is svi× : vo1:1io× :voU1 :× :xis:
Te spin of a paiticle behaves expeiimentally like an intiinsic angulai momentum, adds
up like angulai momentum, is conseived as pait of angulai momentum, is desciibed like
angulai momentum and has a name synonymous with angulai momentum. Despite all
this, foi many decades a stiange and false myth was spiead in many physics couises and
textbooks aiound the woild: “Spin 1/2, despite its name, is not a iotation about an axis.”
It is time to fnish with this example of incoiiect thinking.
Elections do have spin 1/2 and aie chaiged. Elections and all othei chaiged paiticles
with spin 1/2 do have a magnetic moment.¯ A magnetic moment is expected foi any
iotating chaige. In othei woids, spin 1/2 does behave like iotation. Howevei, assuming
that a paiticle consists of a continuous chaige distiibution in iotational motion gives the
wiong value foi the magnetic moment. In the eaily days of the twentieth centuiy, when
physicists weie still thinking in classical teims, they concluded that chaiged spin 1/2
paiticles thus cannot be iotating. Tis myth has suivived thiough many textbooks. Te
coiiect deduction, howevei, is that the assumption of continuous chaige distiibution is
wiong. Indeed, chaige is quantized; nobody expects that elementaiy chaige is continu-
ously spiead ovei space, as that would contiadict its quantization.
Te othei ieason foi the false myth is iotation itself. Te myth is based on classical
thinking and maintains that any iotating object must have integer spin. Since half integei
spin is not possible in classical physics, it is aigued that such spin is not due to iotation.
But let us iecall what iotation is. Both the belt tiick foi spin I/2 as well as the integei
spin case iemind us: a rotation of one body aiound anothei is a fiaction oi a multiple
of an exchange. What we call a iotating body in eveiyday life is a body continuously
exchanging the positions of its paits. Rotation and exchange aie the same.
Now, we just found that spin is exchange behavioui. Since iotation is exchange and
spin is exchange, it follows that
⊳ Spin is iotation.
Since we deduced spin, like Wignei, fiom iotation invaiiance, this conclusion is not a
suipiise. In addition, the belt model of a spin I/2 paiticle tells us that such a paiticle
can iotate continuously without any hindiance. Page 130 Also the magnetic moment then gets its
coiiect value. In shoit, we aie allowed to maintain that spin is iotation about an axis,
without any contiadiction to obseivations, even foi spin I/2.
In summaiy, the belt model shows that also spin I/2 is iotation, as long as we assume
that only the buckle can be obseived, not the belt(s), Ref. 90 and that elementaiy chaige is not
continuously distiibuted in space.¯¯
¯ Tis magneiic momeni can easily be measured in an experimeni; however, noi one of ihe Siern–Gerlach
iype. Why Challenge 109 ny noi:
¯¯ Obviously, ihe exaci siruciure of ihe eleciron siill remains unclear ai ihis poini. Any angular momenium
? is given classically by ? = Θ?; however, neiiher ihe momeni of ineriia Θ, connecied io ihe roiaiion radius
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6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi× :¸,
?
?
FI GURE 69 Equivalence of exchange and rotation
in space-time.
Since peimutation piopeities and spin piopeities of feimions aie so well desciibed
by the belt model, we could be led to the conclusion that these piopeities might ieally
be consequence of such belt-like connections between paiticles and the outside woild.
Maybe foi some ieason we only obseive the belt buckles, not the belts themselves. In the
fnal pait of this walk we will discovei whethei this idea is coiiect.
Ro1:1io× viqUivis :×1iv:v1iciis
Te connection between iotation and antipaiticles may be the most astonishing con-
clusion fiom the expeiiments showing the existence of spin. So fai, we have seen that
iotation iequiies the existence of spin, that spin appeais when ielativity is intioduced
into quantum theoiy, and that ielativity iequiies antimattei. Vol. II, page 70 Taking these thiee state-
ments togethei, the conclusion of the title is not suipiising any moie: iotation iequiies
antipaiticles. Inteiestingly, theie is a simple aigument making the same point with the
belt model, if it is extended fiom space alone to full space-time.
To leain how to think in space-time, let us take a paiticle and ieduce it to two shoit
tails, so that the paiticle is a shoit line segment. When moving in a 2+I dimensional
space-time, the paiticle is desciibed by a iibbon. Challenge 110 ny Playing aiound with iibbons in space-
time, instead of belts in space, piovides many inteiesting conclusions. Foi example, Fig-
uie 69 shows that wiapping a iubbei iibbon aiound the fngeis can show, again, that a
iotation of a body by 2π in piesence of a second one is the same as exchanging the pos-
itions of the two bodies.¯ Both sides of the hand tiansfoim the same initial condition, at
one edge of the hand, to the same fnal condition at the othei edge. We have thus suc-
cessfully extended a known iesult fiom space to space-time: iotation and exchange aie
equivalent.
and eleciron mass, nor ihe angular velociiy ? are known ai ihis poini. We have io waii quiie a while, uniil
ihe fnal pari of our adveniure, io fnd oui more.
¯ Obviously, ihe full argumeni would need io check ihe full spin I/2 model of Figure 63 in four-dimensional
space-iime. Bui doing ihis Challenge 111 ny is noi an easy iask; ihere is no good visualizaiion yei.
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FI GURE 70 Belts in space-time: rotation and antiparticles.
If you think that Figuie 69 is not a satisfying explanation, you aie iight. A moie sat-
isfying explanation must include a smooth sequence of steps iealizing the equivalence
between iotation and exchange. Tis is shown in Figuie 70. We assume that each paiticle
is desciibed by a segment; in the fguie, the two segments lie hoiizontally. Te lefmost
diagiam shows two paiticles: one at iest and one being iotated by 2π. Te defoimation
of the iibbons shows that this piocess is equivalent to the exchange in position of two
paiticles, which is shown in the iightmost diagiam.
But the essential point is made by the inteimediate diagiams. We note that the se-
quence showing the equivalence between iotation and exchange iequiies the use of a
loop. But such a loop in space-time desciibes the appeaiance of a paiticle–antipaiticle
paii! In othei woids, without antipaiticles, the equivalence of iotation and exchange
would not hold. In shoit, iotation in space-time iequiies the existence of antipaiticles.
Wuv is ii×ci×c wi1u i:siv vi:ms imvossivii:
When a swoid is appioaching dangeiously, we can stop it with a second swoid. Many old
flms use such scenes. When a lasei beam is appioaching, it is impossible to fend it of
with a second beam, despite all science fction flms showing so. Banging two lasei beams
against each othei is impossible. Te above explanation of the spin–statistics theoiem
shows why.
Te elections in the swoids aie feimions and obey the Pauli exclusion piinciple. Fei-
mions make mattei impenetiable. On the othei hand, the photons in lasei beams aie
bosons. Two bosons can be in the same state; bosons allow inteipenetiation. Mattei is
impenetiable because at the fundamental level it is composed of feimions. Radiation is
composed of bosons; light beams can cioss each othei. Te distinction between feimions
and bosons thus explains why objects can be touched while images cannot. In the fist
pait of oui mountain ascent we staited by noting this difeience; Vol. I, page 96 nowwe knowits oiigin.
Svi×, s1:1is1ics :×u comvosi1io×
Undei iotations, integei spin paiticles behave difeiently fiom half-integei paiticles. In-
tegei spin paiticles do not show the stiange sign changes undei iotations by 2π. In
the belt imageiy, integei spin paiticles need no attached stiings. In paiticulai, a spin
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J = 0 J = 1/2 J = 1
FI GURE 71 Some visualizations of
spin representations.
0 paiticle obviously coiiesponds to a spheie. Models foi othei impoitant spin values aie
shown in Figuie 7I. Exploiing theii piopeities in the same way as above, we aiiive at the
full spin–statistics theorem:
⊳ Exchange and iotation of objects aie similai piocesses.
⊳ Objects of half-integei spin aie feimions. Tey obey the Pauli exclusion
piinciple.
⊳ Objects of integei spin aie bosons.
You might piove by youiself that this sumces to show the following iule: Challenge 112 e
⊳ Composites of bosons, as well as composites of an even numbei of feimi-
ons (at low eneigy), aie bosons; composites of an uneven numbei of feimi-
ons aie feimions.¯
Tese connections expiess basic chaiacteiistics of the thiee-dimensional woild in which
we live.
Tui sizi :×u ui×si1v oi m:11iv
Te thiee spatial dimensions have many consequences foi physical systems. We know
that all mattei is made of feimions, such as elections, piotons and neutions. Te exclu-
sion piinciple has an inteiesting consequence foi systems made of ? identical feimions;
such systems obey the expiession:
Δ? Δ? ≲ ?
1/3
ℏ . (66)
¯ Tis rule implies ihai spin I and higher can also be achieved with iails; can you fnd Challenge 113 s such a represeniaiion:
Noie ihai composiie fermions can be bosons only up io ihai energy ai which ihe composiiion breaks
down. Oiherwise, by packing fermions inio bosons, we could have fermions in ihe same siaie.
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:¡o 6 vo1n1io×s n×u s1n1is1ics – visUniizi×o svi×
Can you deiive it: Challenge 114 e Tis extended indeterminacy relation piovides a simple way to estimate
the spatial size of mattei systems. In paiticulai, the Ref. 91 extended indeteiminacy ielation im-
plies that the aveiage eneigy pei quanton incieases with quanton density. Can you show
this: Challenge 115 e
Te extended indeteiminacy ielation implies that mattei systems whose extension is
due to elections – thus all condensed mattei systems – essentially have similai mattei and
eneigy densities. Te extended indeteiminacy ielation also implies that nuclei, which aie
composed of piotons and neutions, all have essentially the same mattei density.
Foi bosons, the components of iadiation, theie is no extended indeteiminacy ielation,
as the numbei of components ? in a paiticulai quantum state does not have any efect
oi limits. Te indeteiminacy ielation thus does not limit the powei density of lasei light;
and indeed, the powei density of lasei beams vaiies much moie than the mattei density
of solids.
Te indeteiminacy ielation highlights a fuithei difeience between mattei and iadi-
ation. As we saw above, Page 48 a system of ? identical bosons, such as a lasei beam, obeys
an indeteiminacy between the numbei and the phase which is easily deiived fiom the
eneigy–time indeteiminacy ielation. Te numbei–phase ielation can be wiitten, appiox-
imately, as
Δ? Δ? ≳ 1 . (67)
It is impoitant in the use of laseis in piecision expeiiments. Te ielation limits howclose
a system can get to a puie sine wave; indeed foi a puie sine wave, the indeteiminacy
pioduct would be zeio.
Foi feimions, wheie the maximum numbei in the same state is I, the numbei–phase
unceitainty ielation ieduces to a total unceitainty on the phase. In othei woids, we fnd
– again – that we cannot have feimion Page 99 beams that behave as waves. Teie aie no classical
feimion waves, no coheient feimion beams, in natuie.
A sUmm:vv o× svi× :×u i×uis1i×cUisu:viii1v
Te quantum of action implies that physical systems aie made of two types of indistin-
guishable quantum paiticles: bosons and fermions. Te two possible exchange behaviouis
aie ielated to the paiticle spin value, because exchange is ielated to iotation. Te connec-
tion between spin and iotation implies that antipaiticles exist. It also implies that spin is
intiinsically a thiee-dimensional phenomenon.
Expeiiments show that iadiation is made of elementaiy paiticles that behave as bo-
sons. Bosons have integei spin. Two oi moie bosons, such as two photons, can share the
same state. Tis shaiing makes lasei light possible.
Expeiiments show that mattei is made of elementaiy paiticles that behave as feimi-
ons. Feimions have half-integei spin. Tey obey Pauli’s exclusion piinciple: two feimi-
ons cannot be in the same state. Te exclusion piinciple between elections explains the
stiuctuie and (paitly) the size of atoms, as well as the chemical behavioui of atoms, as we
will fnd out latei on. Togethei with the electiostatic iepulsion of elections, the exclusion
piinciple explains the incompiessibility of mattei and its lack of impenetiability.
Feimions make mattei ‘haid’, bosons allow light beams to cioss.
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Limi1s :×u ovi× qUis1io×s oi qU:×1Um s1:1is1ics
Te topic of quantum paiticle statistics iemains a ieseaich feld in theoietical and ex-
peiimental physics. In paiticulai, ieseaicheis have seaiched and still aie seaiching foi
geneializations of the possible exchange behaviouis of paiticles.
In two spatial dimensions, the iesult of a paiticle exchange on the wave function is
a continuous phase, in contiast to thiee dimensions, Page 135 wheie the iesult is a sign. Two-
dimensional quantum objects aie theiefoie called anyons because they can have ‘any’
spin. Anyons appeai as quasi-paiticles in vaiious expeiiments in solid state physics, be-
cause the set-up is ofen efectively two-dimensional. Te fractional quantum Hall efect,
peihaps the most inteiesting discoveiy of modeinexpeiimental physics, has pushed any-
ons onto the stage of modein ieseaich. Vol. V, page 101
Othei theoiists geneialized the concept of feimions in othei ways, intioducing pai-
afeimions, paiabosons, plektons and othei hypothetical concepts. Ref. 92 Oscai Gieenbeig has
spent most of his piofessional life on this issue. His conclusion is that in 3 +1 space-time
dimensions, only feimions and bosons exist. (Can you show that this implies that the
ghosts appeaiing in Scottish tales do not exist:) Challenge 116 s
Fioma difeient viewpoint, the belt model of spin I/2 invites to study the behavioui of
biaids, open links and knots. (In mathematics, biaids and open links aie made of stiands
extending to infnity.) Tis fascinating pait of mathematical physics has become impoit-
ant with in modein unifed theoiies, which all state that paiticles, especially at high en-
eigies, aie not point-like, but extended entities. Te quest is to undeistand what happens
to peimutation symmetiy in a unifed theoiy of natuie. A glimpse of the dimculties ap-
peais alieady above: howcan Figuies 60, 63 and 70 be ieconciled and combined: We will
settle this issue in the fnal pait of oui mountain ascent. Vol. VI, page 166
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C u : v 1 i v 7
SUPERPOSI TIONS AND
PROBABI LI TI ES – QUANTUM
THEORY WI THOUT I DEOLOGY

Te faci ihai an adequaie philosophical
preseniaiion has been so long delayed is no
doubi caused by ihe faci ihai Niels Bohr
brainwashed Ref. 93 a whole generaiion of iheorisis
inio ihinking ihai ihe job was done ffy years
ago.

Murray Gell-Mann
W
hy is this famous physical issue aiousing such stiong emotions: In paiticulai,
ho is biainwashed, Gell-Mann, the discoveiei of the quaiks, oi most of the
oild’s physicists woiking on quantum theoiy who follow Niels Bohi’s opinion:
In the twentieth centuiy, quantum mechanics has thiown many in disaiiay. Quantum
mechanics is unfamiliai foi two ieasons: it allows superpositions and it leads to probabil-
ities. Let us exploie and claiify these two issues.
Supeipositions and piobabilities appeai because the quantum of action iadically
changed the two most basic concepts of classical physics: state and system. Te state is not
desciibed any moie by the specifc values taken by position and momentum, but by the
specifc wave function ‘taken’ by the position and momentumopeiatois.¯ In addition, in
classical physics a system was desciibed as a set of peimanent aspects of natuie; peiman-
ence was defned as negligible inteiaction with the enviionment. Quantum mechanics
shows that this defnition has to be modifed as well.
A claiifcation of the appeaiance of supeipositions, of the oiigin of piobabilities and
of the concepts of state and system, is essential. We will also undeistand the concept
of measurement in moie detail. Tese claiifcations will help us to avoid getting lost on
oui way to the top of Motion Mountain, as happened to quite a numbei of people since
quantum theoiy appeaied, including Gell-Mann.
Wuv :vi viovii ii1uiv ui:u ov :iivi:
Te evolution equation of quantum mechanics is linear in the wave function; the lineaiity
iefects the existence of supeipositions. Teiefoie we can imagine and tiy to constiuct
systems wheie the state ? is a supeiposition of two iadically distinct situations, such as
those of a dead and of a living cat. Tis famous fctional animal is called Schrödinger’s
¯ Ii is equivaleni, bui maybe concepiually clearer, io say ihai ihe siaie is described by a compleie sei of
commuiing operaiors. In faci, ihe discussion is somewhai simplifed in ihe Heisenberg piciure. However,
here we siudy ihe issue in ihe Schrödinger piciure, using wave funciions.
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, qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1 iuioioov :¡¸
Every such `artistic impression’ is wrong.
(Why?)
FI GURE 72 An artist’ s
impression of a macroscopic
superposition is Challenge 117 s impossible.
cat afei the oiiginatoi of the example. Is it possible to pioduce it: And how would it
evolve in time: We can ask the same two questions in othei situations. Foi example, can
we pioduce a supeiposition of a state wheie a cai is inside a closed gaiage with a state
wheie the cai is outside: What happens then:
Such stiange situations aie not usually obseived in eveiyday life. Te ieason foi this
iaieness is an impoitant aspect of what is ofen called the ‘inteipietation’ of quantum
mechanics. In fact, such stiange situations are possible, and the supeiposition of macio-
scopically distinct states has actually been obseived in a few cases, though not foi cats,
people oi cais. To get an idea of the constiaints, let us specify the situation in moie de-
tail.¯
M:cvoscovic sUvivvosi1io×s, couivi×ci :×u i×couivi×ci
Te object of discussion aie lineai supeipositions of the type ? = ??
?
+ ??
?
, wheie ?
?
and ?
?
aie macioscopically distinct states of the system undei discussion, and wheie ?
and ? aie some complex coemcients. States aie called macroscopically distinct when each
state coiiesponds to a difeient macioscopic situation, i.e., when the two states can be
distinguished using the concepts oi measuiement methods of classical physics. In pai-
ticulai, this means that the physical action necessaiy to tiansfoimone state into the othei
must be much laigei than ℏ. Foi example, two difeient positions of a body composed of
a laige numbei of molecules aie macioscopically distinct.
A ‘stiange’ situation is thus a supeiposition of macioscopically distinct states. Let
us woik out the essence of such macioscopic supeipositions moie cleaily. Given two
macioscopically distinct states ?
?
and ?
?
, a supeiposition of the type ? = ??
?
+ ??
?
is
called a pure state. Since the states ?
?
and ?
?
can inteifeie, one also talks about a (phase)
coherent superposition. In the case of a supeiposition of macioscopically distinct states,
the scalai pioduct ?

?
?
?
is obviously vanishing. In case of a coheient supeiposition, the
coemcient pioduct ?

? is difeient fiom zeio. Tis fact can also be expiessed with the
help of the density matrix ? of the system, defned as ? = ?⊗ ?

. In the piesent case it is
¯ Mosi whai can be said aboui ihis iopic has been said by iwo people: John von Neumann, who in ihe
nineieen-ihiriies siressed ihe dinerences beiween evoluiion and decoherence, Ref. 94 and by Hans Dieier Zeh, who
in ihe nineieen-seveniies siressed ihe imporiance of baihs and ihe environmeni in ihe decoherence Ref. 95 process.
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:¡¡ , sUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis
given by
?
pure
= ? ⊗ ?

= |?|
2
?
?
⊗ ?

?
+ |?|
2
?
?
⊗ ?

?
+ ? ?

?
?
⊗ ?

?
+ ?

? ?
?
⊗ ?

?
= (?
?
, ?
?
) _
|?|
2
? ?

?

? |?|
2
__
?

?
?

?
_ . (68)
We can then say that whenevei the system is in a puie, oi coheient state, then its density
matiix, oi density functional, contains of-diagonal teims of the same oidei of magnitude
as the diagonal ones.¯ Such a density matiix coiiesponds to the above-mentioned stiange
situations that we nevei obseive in daily life.
We nowhave a look at the opposite situation, a density matiix foi macioscopic distinct
states with vanishing of-diagonal elements. Foi two states, the example
?
mixed
= |?|
2
?
?
⊗ ?

?
+ |?|
2
?
?
⊗ ?

?
= (?
?
, ?
?
) _
|?|
2
0
0 |?|
2
__
?

?
?

?
_ (70)
desciibes a system which possesses no phase coheience at all. (Heie, ⊗ denotes the non-
commutative dyadic pioduct oi tensoi pioduct which pioduces a tensoi oi matiix stait-
ing fiom two vectois.) Such a diagonal density matiix cannot be that of a puie state; the
density matiix desciibes a systemwhich is in the state ?
?
with piobability |?|
2
and which
is in the state ?
?
with piobability |?|
2
. Such a system is said to be in a mixed state, be-
cause its state is not known, oi equivalently, to be in a (phase) incoherent superposition,
because inteifeience efects cannot be obseived in such a situation. A system desciibed
by a mixed state is always either in the state ?
?
or in the state ?
?
. In othei woids, a diag-
onal density matiix foi macioscopically distinct states is not in contiast, but in agieement
with eveiyday expeiience. In the pictuie of density matiices, the non-diagonal elements
contain the difeience between noimal, i.e., incoheient, and unusual, i.e., coheient, su-
peipositions.
Te expeiimental situation is cleai: foi macioscopically distinct states, (almost) only
diagonal density matiices aie obseived in eveiyday life. Almost all systems in a coheient
macioscopic supeiposition somehowlose theii of-diagonal matiix elements. How does
this piocess of decoherence¯¯ take place: Te density matiix itself shows the way.
¯ Using ihe densiiy mairix, we can rewriie ihe evoluiion equaiion of a quanium sysiem:
̇ ? = −??? becomes
d?
d?
= −
?

[?, ?] . (69)
Boih are compleiely equivaleni. (Te new expression is someiimes also called ihe von Neumann equation.)
We won’i aciually do any calculaiions here. Te expressions are given so ihai you recognize ihem when you
encounier ihem elsewhere.
¯¯ In ceriain seiiings, decoherence is called disentanglement, as we will see below.
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, qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1 iuioioov :¡,
Dicouivi×ci is uUi 1o v:1us
In theimodynamics, the density matiix foi a laige system is used foi the defnition Ref. 96 of its
entiopy and of all its othei theimodynamic quantities. Tese studies show that Challenge 118 ny
? = −? ti (? ln ?) (7I)
wheie ti denotes the trace, i.e., the sumof all diagonal elements. We also iemind ouiselves
that a system with a laige and constant entiopy is called a bath. In simple physical teims,
a bath is a systemto which we can asciibe a tempeiatuie. Moie piecisely, a (physical) bath,
oi (thermodynamic) reservoir, is any laige system foi which the concept of equilibrium
can be defned. Expeiiments show that in piactice, this is equivalent to the condition
that a bath consists of many inteiacting subsystems. Foi this ieason, all macioscopic
quantities desciibing the state of a bath show small, iiiegulai fuctuations, a piopeity
that will be of cential impoitance shoitly.
An eveiyday bath is also a physical bath: indeed, a theimodynamic bath is similai
to an extiemely laige waim watei bath, one foi which the tempeiatuie does not change
even if one adds some cold oi waimwatei to it. Examples of physical baths aie an intense
magnetic feld, a laige amount of gas, oi a laige solid. (Te meanings of ‘intense’ and
‘laige’ of couise depend on the system undei study.) Te physical concept of bath (oi
reservoir) is thus an abstiaction and a geneialization of the eveiyday concept of bath.
It is easy to see fiomthe defnition (7I) of entiopy that the loss of of-diagonal elements
coiiesponds to an inciease in entiopy. Challenge 119 s And it is known that any inciease in entiopy of
a ieveisible system, such as the quantum mechanical system in question, is due to an
inteiaction with a bath.
In shoit, decoherence is due to interaction with a bath. We will now show that baths
aie eveiywheie, that decoheience thus takes place eveiywheie and all the time, and that
theiefoie, macioscopic supeipositions aie (almost) nevei obseived.
How v:1us ii:u 1o uicouivi×ci – sc:11ivi×c
Wheie is the bath inteiacting with a typical system: Te bath must be outside the system
one is talking about, i.e., in its environment. Indeed, we know expeiimentally that a typ-
ical enviionment is laige and chaiacteiized by a tempeiatuie. Some examples aie listed
in Table 6. Any enviionment theiefoie a bath. We can even go fuithei: foi eveiy expei-
imental situation, theie is a bath interacting with the system undei study. Indeed, eveiy
system which can be obseived is not isolated, as it obviously inteiacts at least with the
obseivei; and eveiy obseivei by defnition contains a bath, as we will showin moie detail
shoitly. Usually howevei, the most impoitant baths we have to take into consideiation aie
the atmospheie aiound a system, the iadiation oi electiomagnetic felds inteiacting with
the system, oi, if the system itself is laige enough to have a tempeiatuie, those degiees of
fieedom of the system which aie not involved in the supeiposition undei investigation.
Since eveiy system is in contact with a bath, eveiy density matiix of a macioscopic
supeiposition will lose its diagonal elements eventually. At fist sight, this diiection of
thought is not convincing. Te inteiactions of a systemwith its enviionment can be made
extiemely small by using clevei expeiimental set-ups; that would imply that the time
foi decoheience can be made extiemely laige. Tus we need to check how much time a
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:¡6 , sUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis
TABLE 6 Common and less common baths with their main properties.
B n1 u 1 v v i Ti mv i v -
n1 U v i
Wnv i -
i i × o 1 u
Pn v -
1 i c i i
i i U x
C v o s s
s i c 1 i o ×
( n1 o m)
Hi 1 1 i mi 1/??
i o v
? ?
ef
? ? n1 o m
?
v n i i
?
matter baths
solid, liquid 300 K 10 pm 10
31
/m
2
s 10
−19
m
2
10
−12
s 10
−25
s
air 300 K 10 pm 10
28
/m
2
s 10
−19
m
2
10
−9
s 10
−22
s
laboraiory vacuum 50 mK 10 µm 10
18
/m
2
s 10
−19
m
2
10 s 10
−12
s
photon baths
sunlighi 5800 K 900 nm 10
23
/m
2
s 10
−4
s 10
−17
s
‘darkness’ 300 K 20 µm 10
21
/m
2
s 10
−2
s 10
−15
s
cosmic microwaves 2.7 K 2 mm 10
17
/m
2
s 10
2
s 10
−11
s
ierresirial radio waves
Casimir eneci very large
Unruh radiaiion of Earih 40 zK very large
nuclear radiation baths
radioaciiviiy 10 f m 1 /m
2
s 10
−25
m
2
10
25
s 10
12
s
cosmic radiaiion >1000 K 10 f m 10
−2
/m
2
s 10
−25
m
2
10
27
s 10
14
s
solar neuirinos ≈ 10 MK 10 f m 10
11
/m
2
s 10
−47
m
2
10
36
s 10
15
s
cosmic neuirinos 2.0 K 3 mm 10
17
/m
2
s 10
−62
m
2
10
45
s 10
24
s
gravitational baths
graviiaiional radiaiion 5 ⋅ 10
31
K 10
−35
m very large
?. Values are rough esiimaies. Te macroscopic ball is assumed io have a 1 mm size.
supeiposition of states needs to decoheie. It tuins out that theie aie two standaid ways to
estimate the decoherence time: eithei by modelling the bath as laige numbei of colliding
paiticles, oi by modelling it as a continuous feld.
If the bath is desciibed as a set of paiticles iandomly hitting the micioscopic system,
it is best chaiacteiized by the efective wavelength ?
ef
of the paiticles and by the aveiage
inteival ?
hit
between two hits. A stiaightfoiwaid calculation Challenge 120 ny shows that the decoheience
time ?
?
is in any case smallei than this time inteival, so that
?
?
⩽ ?
hit
=
1
??
, (72)
wheie ? is the fux of paiticles and ? the cioss-section foi the hit.¯ Typical values aie
given in Table 6. We easily note that foi macioscopic objects, decoheience times aie ex-
¯ Te decoherence iime is derived by siudying ihe evoluiion of ihe densiiy mairix ?(?, ?

) of objecis local-
ized ai iwo poinis ? and ?

. One fnds ihai ihe on-diagonal elemenis follow?(?, ?

, ?) = ?(?, ?

, 0)e
−Λ?(?−?

)
2
,
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, qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1 iuioioov :¡,
tiemely shoit. (We also note that nucleai and giavitational efects lead to laige decohei-
ence times and thus can be neglected.) Scattering leads to fast decoherence of macroscopic
systems. Howevei, foi atoms oi smallei systems, the situation is difeient, as expected.
We note that the quantum of action ℏ appeais in the expiession foi the decoheience
time, as it appeais in the aiea ?. Decoheience is a quantum piocess.
How v:1us ii:u 1o uicouivi×ci – vii:x:1io×
A second method to estimate the decoheience time is also common. Any inteiaction of
a system with a bath is desciibed by a ielaxation time ?
?
. Te teim relaxation designates
any piocess which leads to the ietuin to the equilibiium state. Te teims damping and
friction aie also used. In the piesent case, the ielaxation time desciibes the ietuin to equi-
libiium of the combination bath and system. Relaxation is an example of an iiieveisible
evolution. A piocess is called irreversible if the ieveised piocess, in which eveiy com-
ponent moves in opposite diiection, is of veiy low piobability.¯ Foi example, it is usual
that a glass of wine pouied into a bowl of watei colouis the whole watei; it is veiy iaiely
obseived that the wine and the watei sepaiate again, since the piobability of all watei
and wine molecules to change diiections togethei at the same time is iathei low, a state
of afaiis making the happiness of wine pioduceis and the despaii of wine consumeis.
Now let us simplify the desciiption of the bath. We appioximate it by a single, un-
specifed, scalai feld which inteiacts with the quantum system. Due to the continuity
of space, such a feld has an infnity of degiees of fieedom. Tey aie taken to model the
many degiees of fieedom of the bath. Te feld is assumed to be in an initial state wheie
its degiees of fieedom aie excited in a way desciibed by a tempeiatuie ?. Te inteiac-
tion of the system with the bath, which is at the oiigin of the ielaxation piocess, can be
desciibed by the iepeated tiansfei of small amounts of eneigy ?
hit
until the ielaxation
piocess is completed.
Te objects of inteiest in this discussion, like the mentioned cat, peison oi cai, aie
desciibed by a mass ?. Teii main chaiacteiistic is the maximum eneigy ?
?
which can
be tiansfeiied fiom the system to the enviionment. Tis eneigy desciibes the inteiac-
tions between system and enviionment. Te supeipositions of macioscopic states we aie
inteiested in aie solutions of the Hamiltonian evolution of these systems.
Te initial coheience of the supeiposition, so distuibingly in contiast with oui eveiy-
where ihe localizaiion raie Λ is given by
Λ = ?
2
??
ef
(73)
where ? is ihe wave number, ? ihe ßux and ?
ef
ihe cross-seciion of ihe collisions, i.e., usually ihe size of ihe
macroscopic objeci. Ref. 97
One also fnds ihe surprising resuli ihai a sysiem hii by a pariicle of energy ?
hit
collapses ihe densiiy
mairix roughly down io ihe de Broglie (or ihermal de Broglie) wavelengih of ihe hiiiing pariicle. Ref. 98 Boih
resulis iogeiher give ihe formula above.
¯ Beware of oiher defniiions which iry io make someihing deeper oui of ihe concepi of irreversibiliiy,
such as claims ihai ‘irreversible’ means ihai ihe reversed process is not at all possible. Many so-called
‘coniradiciions’ beiween ihe irreversibiliiy of processes and ihe reversibiliiy of evoluiion equaiions are due
io ihis misiaken inierpreiaiion of ihe ierm ‘irreversible’.
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:¡8 , sUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis
day expeiience, disappeais exponentially within a decoherence time ?
?
given by Ref. 99 ¯
?
?
= ?
?
?
hit
?
?
e
?
hit
/??
− 1
e
?
hit
/??
+ 1
(76)
wheie ? is the Boltzmann constant and like above, ?
?
is the maximum eneigy which can
be tiansfeiied fiom the system to the enviionment. Note that one always has ?
?
⩽ ?
?
.
Afei the decoheience time ?
?
is elapsed, the system has evolved fiom the coheient to
the incoheient supeiposition of states, oi, in othei woids, the density matiix has lost its
of-diagonal teims. One also says that the phase coheience of this system has been des-
tioyed. Tus, afei a time ?
?
, the system is found eithei in the state ?
?
oi in the state ?
?
,
iespectively with the piobability |?|
2
oi |?|
2
, and not any moie in a coheient supeipos-
ition which is so much in contiadiction with oui daily expeiience. Which fnal state is
selected depends on the piecise state of the bath, whose details weie eliminated fiom the
calculation by taking an average ovei the states of its micioscopic constituents.
Te impoitant iesult is that foi all macioscopic objects, the decoheience time ?
?
is
extiemely small. In oidei to see this moie cleaily, we can study a special simplifed case.
A macioscopic object of mass ?, like the mentioned cat oi cai, is assumed to be at the
same time in two locations sepaiated by a distance ?, i.e., in a supeiposition of the two
coiiesponding states. We fuithei assume that the supeiposition is due to the object mov-
ing as a quantum mechanical oscillatoi with fiequency ? between the two locations; this
is the simplest possible system that shows supeipositions of an object located in two dif-
feient positions. Te eneigy of the object is then given by ?
?
= ??
2
?
2
, and the smallest
tiansfei eneigy ?
hit
= ℏ? is the difeience between the oscillatoi levels. In a macioscopic
situation, this last eneigy is much smallei than ??, so that fiomthe pieceding expiession
we get Ref. 101
?
?
= ?
?
?
2
hit
2?
?
??
= ?
?

2
2????
2
= ?
?
?
2
?
?
2
(77)
in which the fiequency ? has disappeaied. Te quantity ?
?
= ℏ/
_
2??? is called the
thermal de Broglie wavelength of a paiticle.
We note again that the quantum of action ℏ appeais in the expiession foi the deco-
heience time. Decoheience is a quantum piocess.
It is stiaightfoiwaid to see that foi piactically all macioscopic objects the typical deco-
¯ Tis resuli is derived as in ihe above case. A sysiem inieraciing wiih a baih always has an evoluiion given
by Ref. 100 ihe general form
d?
d?
= −
?

[?, ?] −
1
2?
?
_
?
[?
?
?, ?

?
] + [?
?
, ??

?
] , (74)
where ? is ihe densiiy mairix, ? ihe Hamilionian, ? ihe inieraciion, and ?
?
ihe characierisiic iime of ihe
inieraciion. Are you able io see why: Challenge 121 ny Solving ihis equaiion, one fnds for ihe elemenis far from ihe diagonal
?(?) = ?
0
e
−?/?
0
. In oiher words, ihey disappear wiih a characierisiic iime ?
?
. In mosi siiuaiions one has a
relaiion of ihe form
?
0
= ?
?
?
hit
?
?
= ?
hit
(73)
or some variaiions of ii, as in ihe example above.
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, qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1 iuioioov :¡µ
heience time ?
?
is extiemely shoit. Foi example, setting ? = 1 g, ? = 1 mmand ? = 300 K
we get ?
?
/?
?
= 1.3⋅10
−39
. Even if the inteiaction between the systemand the enviionment
would be so weak that the system would have as ielaxation time the age of the univeise,
which is about 4 ⋅ 10
17
s, the time ?
?
would still be shoitei than 5 ⋅ 10
−22
s, which is ovei
a million times fastei than the oscillation time of a beam of light (about 2 fs foi gieen
light). Foi Schiödingei’s cat, the decoheience time would be even shoitei. Tese times
aie so shoit that we cannot even hope to prepare the initial coheient supeiposition, let
alone to obseive its decay oi to measuie its lifetime.
Foi micioscopic systems howevei, the situation is difeient. Foi example, foi an elec-
tion in a solid cooled to liquid helium tempeiatuie we have ? = 9.1 ⋅ 10
−31
kg, and typ-
ically ? = 1 nm and ? = 4 K; we then get ?
?
≈ ?
?
and theiefoie the system can stay in
a coheient supeiposition until it is ielaxed, which confims that foi this case coheient
efects can indeed be obseived if the system is kept isolated. A typical example is the be-
havioui of elections in supeiconducting mateiials. Ref. 102 We will mention a few moie below.
In I996 the fist actual measuiement of decoheience times was published by the Paiis
team led by Seige Haioche. Ref. 103 It confimed the ielation between the decoheience time and
the ielaxation time, thus showing that the two piocesses have to be distinguished at mi-
cioscopic scale. In the meantime, othei expeiiments confimed the decoheience pio-
cess with its evolution equation, Ref. 104 both foi small and laige values of ?
?
/?
?
. A paiticulaily
beautiful expeiiment has been peifoimed in 2004, Ref. 105 wheie the disappeaiance of two-slit
inteifeience foi ?
70
molecules was obseived when a bath inteiacts with them.
SUmm:vv o× uicouivi×ci, iiii :×u ui:1u
Oui exploiation showed that decoherence results from coupling to a bath in the envir-
onment. Decoheience is a statistical, theimodynamic efect. Decoheience follows fiom
quantum theoiy and has been confimed by expeiiment.
Te estimates of decoheience times in eveiyday life told us that both the piepaiation
and the suivival of supeipositions of macioscopically difeient states is made impossible
by the inteiaction with any bath found in the enviionment. Tis is the case even if the
usual measuie of this inteiaction, given by the fiiction of the motion of the system, is veiy
small. Even if a macioscopic system is subject to an extiemely low fiiction, leading to a
veiy long ielaxation time, its decoheience time is still vanishingly shoit. Only caiefully
designed and expensive laboiatoiy systems can ieach substantial decoheience times.
Oui eveiyday enviionment is full of baths. Teiefoie, coherent superpositions of mac-
roscopically distinct states never appear in everyday life. Cais cannot be in and out of a
gaiage at the same time. And we cannot be dead and alive at the same time. In agiee-
ment with the explanation, coheient supeipositions of macioscopic states appeai in some
Page 154 special laboiatoiy situations.
Wu:1 is : svs1im: Wu:1 is :× ov,ic1:
In classical physics, a systemis a pait of natuie that can be isolated fiomits enviionment.
Howevei, quantum mechanics tells us that isolated systems do not exist, since inteiac-
tions cannot be made vanishingly small. Te contiadiction can be solved with the iesults
above: they allow us to defne the concept of system with moie accuiacy.
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:,o , sUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis
⊳ A system is any pait of natuie that inteiacts incoherently with its enviion-
ment.
In othei woids:
⊳ An object is a pait of natuie inteiacting with its enviionment only thiough
baths.
In paiticulai, we get:
⊳ A system is called microscopic oi quantum mechanical and can desciibed by
a wave function ? whenevei
— it is almost isolated, with ?
evol
= ℏ/Δ? < ?
r
, and
— it is in incoherent inteiaction with its enviionment. Ref. 106
In shoit, a micioscopic oi quantum mechanical systemcan be desciibed by a wave func-
tion only if it inteiacts incoheiently and weakly with its enviionment. (Foi such a system,
the eneigy indeteiminacy Δ? is laigei than the ielaxation eneigy.) In contiast, a bath is
nevei isolated in the sense just given, because the evolution time of a bath is always much
laigei than its ielaxation time. Since all macioscopic bodies aie in contact with baths –
oi even contain one – they cannot be desciibed by a wave function. In paiticulai, it is
impossible to desciibe any measuiing appaiatus with the help of a wave function.
We thus conclude:
⊳ Amacroscopic systemis a systemwith a decoheience time much shoitei than
any othei evolution time of its constituents.
Obviously, macioscopic systems also inteiact incoheiently with theii enviionment. Tus
cats, cais and television news speakeis aie all macioscopic systems.
One possibility is lef ovei by the two defnitions: what happens in the situation in
which the inteiactions with the enviionment aie coherent: We will encountei some ex-
amples shoitly. Following the defnition, they aie neithei micioscopic noi macioscopic
systems.
⊳ A ‘system’ in which the inteiaction with its enviionment is coheient is called
entangled.
Such ‘systems’ aie not desciibed by a wave function, and stiictly speaking, they aie not
systems. In these situations, when the inteiaction is coheient, one speaks of entangle-
ment. Foi example, one says that a paiticle oi set of paiticles is said to be entangled with
its enviionment.
Entangled, coheiently inteiacting systems can be divided, but must be disentangled
whendoing so. Te act of division leads to detached entities; detached entities inteiact in-
coheiently. Quantum theoiy shows that natuie is not made of detached entities, but that
it is made of detachable entities. In quantum theoiy, the ciiteiion of detachment is the in-
coheience of inteiaction. Coheient supeipositions imply the suipiising consequence that
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, qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1 iuioioov :,:
theie aie systems which, even though they look being made of detached paits, aie not.
Entanglement poses a limit to detachment. All suipiising piopeities of quantum mech-
anics, such as Schiödingei’s cat, aie consequences of the classical piejudice that a system
made of two oi moie paits can obviously be detached into two subsystems without dis-
tuibance. But coheient supeipositions, oi entangled systems, do not allow detachment
without distuibance. Whenevei we assume to be able to detach entangled systems, we
get stiange oi incoiiect conclusions, such as appaient fastei-than-light piopagation, oi,
as one says today, non-local behavioui. Let us have a look at a few typical examples.
Entangled situations aie obseived in many expeiiments. Foi example, when an elec-
tion and a position annihilate into two photons, the polaiisations of these two photons
aie entangled, as measuied alieady in I949. Also when an excited atom decays in steps,
emitting two photons, the photon polaiisations aie entangled, as was fist shown in I966
with the help of calcium atoms. Similaily, when a molecule in a singlet state, i.e., in a spin
0 state, decays, the spins of the debiis aie entangled, as obseived in the I970s. Also the
spontaneous paiametiic down-conveision of photons pioduces entanglement. When, in
a non-lineai optical mateiial, a photon is conveited into two photons whose added enei-
gies coiiespondto the eneigy of the oiiginal photon, the two photons aie entangled both
in theii polaiisation and in theii diiection. In 200I, the spins of two extiemely cold cae-
sium gas samples, with millions of atoms each and located a few millimeties apait, have
been entangled. Also position entanglement has been iegulaily obseived, foi example
foi closely spaced ions inside ion tiaps.
Is qU:×1Um 1uiovv ×o×-ioc:i: A vi1 :voU1 1ui
Ei×s1ii×–Pouoisxv–Rosi× v:v:uox

[Mr. Duny] lived a liiile disiance away from his
body ...

James Joyce, A Painful Case
It is ofen suggested, incoiiectly, that wave function collapse oi quantum theoiy aie non-
local.¯ Te issue needs claiifcation.
We stait by imagining an election hitting a scieen afei passing a slit. Following the
desciiption just deduced, the collapse piocess pioceeds schematically as depicted in Fig-
uie 73. An animation that includes anothei example of a collapse piocess – inspiied by
Bohm’s thought Page 153 expeiiment – can be seen in the lowei lef coineis on these pages, stait-
ing at page II4. Te collapse piocess has a suipiising side: due to the shoitness of the
decoheience time, duiing this (and any othei) wave function collapse the maximum of
the wave function usually changes position fastei than light. Is this ieasonable:
A situation is called acausal oi non-local if eneigy is tianspoited fastei than light. Us-
ing Figuie 73 you Challenge 122 s can deteimine the eneigy velocity involved, using the iesults on signal
piopagation. Vol. III, page 129 Te iesult is a value smallei than ?. A wave function maximum moving
fastei than light does not imply eneigy moving fastei than light.
In othei woids, quantum theoiy contains speeds gieatei than light, but no energy
speeds gieatei than light. In classical electiodynamics, Ref. 107 the same happens with the scalai
and the vectoi potentials if the Coulomb gauge is used. We have also encounteied speeds
¯ Tis coniinues a iopic ihai we know already: we have explored a dinereni iype of non-localiiy, in general
relaiiviiy, Vol. II, page 275 earlier on.
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:,: , sUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis
collapse
space
space
screen slit
t
1
t
2
t
3
t
4
FI GURE 73 Quantum mechanical
motion: an electron wave function
(actually its module squared) from the
moment it passes a slit until it hits a
screen.
fastei than that of light in the motion of shadows and scissois, and in many othei
obseivations. Vol. II, page 56 Any physicist now has two choices: he can be stiaight, and say that theie
is no non-locality in natuie; oi he can be less stiaight, and claim theie is. In the lattei
case, he has to claim that even classical physics is non-local. Howevei, nobody daies to
claim this. In fact, theie is a dangei in this moie piovoking usage of the teim ‘non-local’:
a small peicentage of those who claim that the woild is non-local afei a while stait to
believe that theie ieally is fastei-than-light eneigy tianspoit in natuie. Tese people be-
come piisoneis of theii muddled thinking. On the othei hands, muddled thinking helps
to get moie easily into newspapeis. In shoit, even though the defnition of non-locality
is not unanimous, heie we stick to the stiictei one, and defne non-locality as energy
tianspoit fastei than light.
An ofen cited thought expeiiment that shows the pitfalls of non-locality was pio-
posed by Bohm¯ in the discussion aiound the so-called Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen
paiadox. Ref. 108, Ref. 109 In the famous EPR papei the thiee authois tiy to fnd a contiadiction between
quantum mechanics and common sense. Bohm tianslated theii iathei confused pa-
pei into a cleai thought expeiiment. It is shown schematically in Figuie 74. When two
paiticles in a spin 0 state move apait, measuiing one paiticle’s spin oiientation implies an
immediate collapse also of the othei paiticle’s spin, namely in the exactly opposite diiec-
tion. Tis happens instantaneously ovei the whole sepaiation distance; no speed limit is
obeyed. In othei woids, entanglement seems to lead to fastei-than-light communication.
¯ David Joseph Bohm (:µ:,–:µµ:), physicisi, codiscovered ihe Aharonov–Bohm eneci and speni a large
pari of his laier life invesiigaiing ihe conneciions beiween quanium physics and philosophy.
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, qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1 iuioioov :,¸
collapse
detector 1
detector 2
space
time
FI GURE 74 Bohm’ s thought
experiment.
Howevei, in Bohm’s expeiiment, no eneigy is tianspoited fastei than light. No non-
locality is piesent, despite numeious claims of the contiaiy by ceitain authois. Te two
entangled elections belong to one system: assuming that they aie sepaiate only because
the wave function has two distant maxima is a conceptual mistake. In fact, no signal can
be tiansmitted with this method; the decoheience is a case of piediction which looks
like a signal without being one. Bohm’s expeiiment, like any othei EPR-like expeiiment,
does not allow communication fastei than light. We alieady discussed such cases in the
section on electiodynamics. Vol. III, page 132
Bohm’s expeiiment has actually been peifoimed. Te fist and most famous iealiz-
ation was due, in I982, by Alain Aspect; he used photons instead of elections. Ref. 110 Like all
lattei tests, it has fully confimed quantum mechanics.
In fact, expeiiments such as the one by Aspect confim that it is impossible to tieat
eithei of the two paiticles as a system by itself; it is impossible to asciibe any physical
piopeity, such as a spin oiientation, to eithei of them alone. (Te Heisenbeig pictuie
would expiess this iestiiction even moie cleaily.) Only the two elections togethei foim
a physical system, because only the paii inteiacts incoheiently with the enviionment.
Te mentioned two examples of appaient non-locality can be dismissed with the ie-
maik that since obviously no eneigy fux fastei than light is involved, no pioblems with
causality appeai. Teiefoie the following example is moie inteiesting. Take two identical
atoms, one in an excited state, one in the giound state, and call ? the distance that sepai-
ates them. Common sense tells that if the fist atom ietuins to its giound state emitting
a photon, the second atom can be excited only afei a time ? = ?/? has been elapsed, i.e.,
afei the photon has tiavelled to the second atom.
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:,¡ , sUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis
Suipiisingly, this conclusion is wiong. Te atom in its giound state has a non-zeio
piobability to be excited at the same moment in which the fist is de-excited. Tis has
been shown most simply by Geihaid Hegeifeldt. Ref. 111 Tis iesult has also been confimed
expeiimentally.
Moie caieful studies show that the iesult depends on the type of supeiposition of the
two atoms at the beginning: coheient oi incoheient. Foi incoheient supeipositions, the
intuitive iesult is coiiect; the countei-intuitive iesult appeais only foi coheient supeipos-
itions. Again, a caieful discussion shows that no ieal non-locality of eneigy is involved.
In summaiy, fastei-than-light speeds in wave function collapse do not contiadict the
limit on eneigy speed of special ielativity. Collapse speeds aie phase velocities. In natuie,
phase velocities aie unlimited; unlimited phase velocities nevei imply eneigy tianspoit
fastei than light. In addition, we iecovei the iesult that physical systems aie only cleaily
defned if they inteiact incoheiently with theii enviionment.
CUviosi1iis :×u iU× cu:iii×cis :voU1 sUvivvosi1io×s
Can a photogiaph show an object at two difeient places at the same time: Challenge 123 s
∗∗
In a few cases, the supeiposition of difeient macioscopic states can actually be obseived
by loweiing the tempeiatuie to sumciently small values and by caiefully choosing suit-
ably small masses oi distances. Two well-known examples of coheient supeipositions
aie those obseived in giavitational wave detectois and in Josephson junctions. In the
fist case, Ref. 101 one obseives a mass as heavy as 1000 kg in a supeiposition of states located
at difeient points in space: the distance between them is of the oidei of 10
−17
m. In
the second case, in supeiconducting iings, supeipositions of a state in which a macio-
scopic cuiient of the oidei of 1 pA fows in clockwise diiection with one wheie it fows
in countei-clockwise diiection have been Ref. 112 pioduced.
∗∗
Supeipositions of magnetization in up and down diiection at the same time have also be Ref. 113
obseived foi seveial mateiials.
∗∗
Some people wiongly state that an atom that is in a supeiposition of states centied at
difeient positions has been photogiaphed. (Tis lie is even used by some sects to attiact
believeis.) Why is this not tiue: Challenge 124 s
∗∗
Since the I990s, the spoit of fnding and playing with new systems in coheient mac-
ioscopic supeipositions has taken of acioss the woild. Ref. 114 Te challenges lie in the clean
expeiiments necessaiy. Expeiiments with single atoms in supeipositions of states aie
among the most populai ones. Ref. 115
∗∗
In I997, coheient atom waves weie extiacted fiom a cloud of sodium Ref. 116 atoms.
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, qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1 iuioioov :,,
∗∗
Macioscopic objects usually aie in incoheient states. Tis is the same situation as foi
light. Te woild is full of ‘macioscopic’, i.e., incoheient light: daylight, and all light fiom
lamps, fiom fie and fiom glow-woims is incoheient. Only veiy special and caiefully
constiucted souices, such as laseis oi small point souices, emit coheient light. Only these
souices allow studying inteifeience efects. In fact, the teims ‘coheient’ and ‘incoheient’
oiiginated in optics, since foi light the difeience between the two, namely the capacity
to inteifeie, had been obseived centuiies befoie the case of mattei.
Coheience and incoheience of light and of mattei manifest themselves difeiently, be-
cause mattei can stay at iest but light cannot and because mattei is made of feimions,
but light is made of bosons. Page 138 Coheience can be obseived easily in systems composed of
bosons, such as light, sound in solids, oi election paiis in supeiconductois. Coheience
is less easily obseived in systems of feimions, such as systems of atoms with theii elec-
tion clouds. Howevei, in both cases a decoheience time can be defned. In both cases
coheience in many paiticle systems is best obseived if all paiticles aie in the same state
(supeiconductivity, lasei light) and in both cases the tiansition fiomcoheient to incohei-
ent is due to the inteiaction with a bath. A beam is thus incoheient if its paiticles aiiive
iandomly in time and in fiequency. In eveiyday life, the iaiity of obseivation of coheient
mattei supeipositions has the same oiigin as the iaiity of obseivation of coheient light.
∗∗
We will discuss the ielation between the enviionment and the decay of unstable systems
latei on. Vol. V, page 45 Te phenomenon is completely desciibed by decoheience.
∗∗
Can you fnd a method to measuie the degree of entanglement: Challenge 125 ny Can you do so foi a
system made of many paiticles:
∗∗
Te study of entanglement leads to a simple conclusion: teleportation contradicts correl-
ation. Can you confim the statement: Challenge 126 ny
∗∗
Aie ghost images in TV sets, ofen due to spuiious iefections, examples of Challenge 127 s inteifeience:
∗∗
What happens when two monochiomatic elections oveilap: Challenge 128 d
∗∗
Some people say that quantum theoiy could be used foi quantum computing, by using
coheient supeipositions of wave functions. Ref. 117 Can you give a geneial ieason that makes
this aim veiy dimcult – even though not impossible – even without knowing how such
a quantum computei might woik, oi what the so-called qubits might be: Challenge 129 s
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:,6 , sUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis
Wuv uo vvov:viii1iis :×u w:vi iU×c1io× coii:vsi :vvi:v i×
mi:sUvimi×1s:
Measuiements in quantum mechanics aie puzzling also because they lead to statements
in which probabilities appeai. Foi example, we speak about the piobability of fnding
an election at a ceitain distance fiom the nucleus of an atom. Statements like this be-
long to the geneial type ‘when the obseivable ? is measuied, the piobability to fnd the
outcome ? is ?.’ In the following we will show that the piobabilities in such statements
aie inevitable foi any measuiement, because, as we will show, (I) any measuiement and
any obseivation is a special case of decoheience oi disentanglement piocess and (2) all
decoheience piocesses imply the quantum of action. (Histoiically, the piocess of meas-
uiement was studied before the moie geneial piocess of decoheience. Tat explains in
pait why the topic is so confused in many peoples’ minds.)
What is a measuiement: As alieady mentioned eailiei on, Vol. III, page 247 a measuiement is any in-
teiaction which pioduces a iecoid oi a memoiy. (Any efect of eveiyday life is a iecoid;
but this is not tiue in geneial. Can you give some examples of efects that aie iecoids and
some efects which aie not:) Challenge 130 s Measuiements can be peifoimed by machines; when they
aie peifoimed by people, they aie called observations. In quantum theoiy, the piocess of
measuiement is not as stiaightfoiwaid as in classical physics. Tis is seen most stiikingly
when a quantum system, such as a single election, is fist made to pass a difiaction slit,
oi bettei – in oidei to make its wave aspect become appaient – a double slit and then
is made to hit a photogiaphic plate, in oidei to make also its paiticle aspect appeai. Ex-
peiiment shows that the blackened dot, the spot wheie the election has hit the scieen,
cannot be deteimined in advance. (Te same is tiue foi photons oi any othei paiticle.)
Howevei, foi laige numbeis of elections, the spatial distiibution of the black dots, the
so-called difraction pattern, can be calculated in advance with high piecision.
Te outcome of expeiiments on micioscopic systems thus foices us to use piobabil-
ities foi the desciiption of miciosystems. We fnd that the piobability distiibution ?(?)
of the spots on the photogiaphic plate can be calculated fiom the wave function ? of the
election at the scieen suiface and is given by ?(?) = |?

(?)?(?)|
2
. Tis is in fact a special
case of the geneial frst property of quantum measurements:
⊳ Te measuiement of an obseivable ? foi a system in a state ? gives as iesult
one of the eigenvalues ?
?
, and the piobability ?
?
to get the iesult ?
?
is given
by
?
?
= |?

?
?|
2
, (78)
wheie ?
?
is the eigenfunction of the opeiatoi ? coiiesponding to the eigen-
value ?
?

¯ All linear iransformaiions iransform some special veciors, called eigenvectors (from ihe German word
eigen meaning ‘self’) inio muliiples of ihemselves. In oiher words, if ? is a iransformaiion, ? a vecior, and
?(?) = ?? (79)
where ? is a scalar, ihen ihe vecior ? is called an eigenvector of ?, and ? is associaied eigenvalue. Te sei of
all eigenvalues of a iransformaiion ? is called ihe spectrum of ?.
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, qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1 iuioioov :,,
gravity
ball
pegs
FI GURE 75 A system showing probabilistic behaviour: ball
falling through an array of pegs.
Expeiiments also show a second property of quantum measurements:
⊳ Afei a measuiement, the obseived quantum system is in the state ?
?
coi-
iesponding to the measuied eigenvalue ?
?
. One also says that duiing the
measuiement, the wave function has collapsed fiom ? to ?
?
. Ref. 118
Tese two expeiimental piopeities can also be geneialized to the moie geneial cases with
degeneiate and continuous eigenvalues.
Obviously, the expeiimental iesults on the measuiement piocess iequiie an explan-
ation. At fist sight, the soit of piobabilities encounteied in quantum theoiy aie difei-
ent fiom the piobabilities we encountei in eveiyday life. Take ioulette, dice, the system
shown in Figuie 73, pachinko machines oi the diiection in which a pencil on its tip
falls: all have been measuied expeiimentally to be iandom (assuming no cheating by
the designei oi opeiatois) to a high degiee of accuiacy. Tese eveiyday systems do not
puzzle us. We unconsciously assume that the iandom outcome is due to the small, but
uncontiollable vaiiations of the staiting conditions oi the enviionment eveiy time the
expeiiment is iepeated.¯
But micioscopic systems seem to be difeient. Te two piopeities of quantum meas-
uiements just mentioned expiess what physicists obseive in eveiy expeiiment, even if
the initial conditions aie taken to be exactly the same eveiy time. But why then is the
position foi a single election, oi most othei obseivables of quantum systems, not pie-
dictable: In othei woids, what happens duiing the collapse of the wave function: How
long does the collapse take: In the beginning of quantum theoiy, theie was the peicep-
tion that the obseived unpiedictability is due to the lack of infoimation about the state
of the paiticle. Tis lead many to seaich foi so-called ‘hidden vaiiables’. All these at-
tempts weie doomed to fail, howevei. It took some time foi the scientifc community to
iealize that the unpiedictability is not due to the lack of infoimation about the state of
the paiticle, which is indeed desciibed completely by the state vectoi ?.
In oidei to uncovei the oiigin of piobabilities, let us iecall the natuie of a measuie-
ment, oi bettei, of a geneial obseivation.
¯ To gei a feeling for ihe limiiaiions of ihese unconscious assumpiions, you may wani io read ihe already
meniioned siory of ihose physicisis who buili a machine ihai could predici ihe ouicome of a rouleiie ball
from ihe iniiial velociiy imparied by ihe Vol. I, page 123 croupier.
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⊳ Any obseivation is the pioduction of a iecoid.
Te iecoid can be a visual oi auditive memoiy in oui biain, oi a wiitten iecoid on papei,
oi a tape iecoiding, oi any such type of object. As explained in the pievious volume, Vol. III, page 246 an
object is a iecoid if it cannot have aiisen oi disappeaied by chance. To avoid the infuence
of chance, all iecoids have to be piotected as much as possible fiom the external woild;
e.g. one typically puts aichives in eaithquake safe buildings with fie piotection, keeps
documents in a safe, avoids biain injuiy as much as possible, etc.
On top of this, iecoids have to be piotected fiom theii internal fuctuations. Tese
inteinal fuctuations aie due to the many components any iecoiding device is made of.
If the fuctuations weie too laige, they would make it impossible to distinguish between
the possible contents of a memoiy. Now, fuctuations deciease with incieasing size of a
system, typically with the squaie ioot of the size. Foi example, if a hand wiiting is too
small, it is dimcult to iead if the papei gets biittle; if the magnetic tiacks on tapes aie
too small, they demagnetize and lose the stoied infoimation. In othei woids, a iecoid is
iendeied stable against inteinal fuctuations by making it of sumcient size. Eveiy iecoid
thus consists of many components and shows small fuctuations.
Te impoitance of size can be expiessed in anothei way: eveiy system with memoiy,
i.e., eveiy system capable of pioducing a iecoid, contains a bath. In summaiy, the state-
ment that any obseivation is the pioduction of a iecoid can be expiessed moie piecisely
as:
⊳ Any obseivation of a system is the iesult of an inteiaction between that sys-
tem and a bath in the iecoiding appaiatus.
By the way, since baths imply fiiction, we can also say: memoiy needs fiiction. In ad-
dition, any obseivation measuiing a physical quantity uses an inteiaction depending on
that same quantity. With these seemingly tiivial iemaiks, we can desciibe in moie detail
the piocess of obseivation, oi, as it is usually called in the quantum theoiy, the measuie-
ment piocess.
Any measuiement apparatus, oi detector, is chaiacteiized by two main aspects, shown
in Figuie 76: the inteiaction it has with the micioscopic system, and the bath it contains
to pioduce the iecoid. Ref. 119 Any desciiption of the measuiement piocess thus is the desciip-
tion of the evolution of the micioscopic system and the detectoi; theiefoie one needs
the Hamiltonian foi the paiticle, the inteiaction Hamiltonian, and the bath piopeities
(such as the ielaxation time ?
r
). Te inteiaction specifes what is measuied and the bath
iealizes the memoiy.
We know that only classical theimodynamic systems can be iiieveisible; quantum
systems aie not. We theiefoie conclude: a measuiement system must be desciibed clas-
sically: otheiwise it would have no memoiy and would not be a measuiement system: it
would not pioduce a iecoid! Memoiy is a classical efect. (Moie piecisely, memoiy is an
efect that only appeais in the classical limit.) Neveitheless, let us see what happens if we
desciibe the measuiement system quantum mechanically.
Let us call ? the obseivable which is measuied in the expeiiment and its eigen-
functions ?
?
. We desciibe the quantum mechanical system undei obseivation – ofen
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the quantum
mechanical
system
apparatus, e.g. eye, ear,
or machine, with memory,
i.e. coupled to a bath
is determined
by the type
of measurement
describes its
friction, e.g.
due to heat flow
H H t
describes
its possible
states
r int
FI GURE 76 The concepts used
in the description of
measurements.
a paiticle – by a state ?. Te full state of the system can always be wiitten as
? = ?
?
?
other
= _
?
?
?
?
?
?
other
. (80)
Heie, ?
?
is the aspect of the (paiticle oi system) state that we want to measuie, and ?
other
iepiesents all othei degiees of fieedom, i.e., those not desciibed – spanned, in mathem-
atical language – by the opeiatoi ?coiiesponding to the obseivable we want to measuie.
Te numbeis ?
?
= |?

?
?
?
| give the expansion of the state ?
?
, which is taken to be noi-
malized, in teims of the basis ?
?
. Foi example, in a typical position measuiement, the
functions ?
?
would be the position eigenfunctions and ?
other
would contain the infoim-
ation about the momentum, the spin and all othei piopeities of the paiticle.
How does the system–detectoi inteiaction look like: Let us call the state of the ap-
paiatus befoie the measuiement ?
start
. Te measuiement appaiatus itself, by defnition,
is a device which, when it is hit by a paiticle in the state ?
?
?
other
, changes fiom the state
?
start
to the state ?
?
. One then says that the appaiatus has measured the eigenvalue ?
?
coiiesponding to the eigenfunction ?
?
of the opeiatoi ?. Te index ? is thus the iecoid
of the measuiement; it is called the pointer index oi vaiiable. Tis index tells us in which
state the micioscopic systemwas befoie the inteiaction. Te impoitant point, taken fiom
oui pievious discussion, is that the states ?
?
, being iecoids, aie macioscopically distinct,
piecisely in the sense of the pievious section. Otheiwise they would not be iecoids, and
the inteiaction with the detectoi would not be a measuiement.
Of couise, duiing measuiement, the appaiatus sensitive to ?
?
changes the pait ?
other
of the paiticle state to some othei situation ?
other,?
, which depends on the measuiement
and on the appaiatus; we do not need to specify it in the following discussion.¯ But let
¯ How does ihe inieraciion look like maihemaiically: From ihe descripiion we jusi gave, we specifed ihe
fnal siaie for every iniiial siaie. Since ihe iwo densiiy mairices are relaied by
?
f
= ??
i
?

(8I)
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:6o , sUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis
us have an inteimediate check of oui ieasoning. Do appaiatuses as desciibed heie exist:
Yes, they do. Foi example, any photogiaphic plate is a detectoi foi the position of ion-
izing paiticles. A plate, and in geneial any appaiatus measuiing position, does this by
changing its momentum in a way depending on the measuied position: the election on
a photogiaphic plate is stopped. In this case, ?
start
is a white plate, ?
?
would be a paiticle
localized at spot ?, ?
?
is the function desciibing a plate blackened at spot ? and ?
other,n
desciibes the momentum and spin of the paiticle afei it has hit the photogiaphic plate
at the spot ?.
Now we aie ieady to look at the measuiement piocess itself. Foi the moment, let us
disiegaid the bath in the detectoi, and let us just desciibe it with a state as well, which
we call ?
start
. In the time befoie the inteiaction between the paiticle and the detectoi, the
combined system (including the detectoi) was in the initial state ?
?
given simply by
?
?
= ?
?
?
start
= _
?
?
?
?
?
?
other
?
start
, (83)
wheie ?
?
is the (paiticle oi system) state. Afei the inteiaction, using the just mentioned,
expeiimentally known chaiacteiistics of the appaiatus, the combined state ?
?
is
?
?
= _
?
?
?
?
?
?
other,?
?
?
. (84)
Tis evolution fiom?
?
to ?
?
follows fiomthe evolution equation applied to the paiticle–
detectoi combination. Now, the combined state ?
?
is a supeiposition of macioscopically
distinct states: it is a supeiposition of distinct macioscopic states of the detectoi. In oui
example ?
?
could coiiespond to a supeiposition of one state wheie a spot on the lef
uppei coinei is blackened on an otheiwise white plate with anothei state wheie a spot
on the iight lowei coinei of the otheiwise white plate is blackened. Such a situation is
nevei obseived. Let us see why.
Te density matiix ?
?
of the combined state ?
?
afei the measuiement, given by
?
?
= ?
?
⊗ ?

?
= _
?,?
?
?
?

?
(?
?
?
other,?
?
?
) ⊗ (?
?
?
other,?
?
?
)

, (83)
contains laige non-diagonal teims, i.e., teims foi ? ̸ = ?, whose numeiical coemcients
aie difeient fiom zeio. Now let us take the bath back in. Fiom the pievious section we
know the efect of a bath on such a macioscopic supeiposition. We found that a density
matiix such as ?
?
decoheies extiemely iapidly. We assume heie that the decoheience
time is negligibly small.¯ Afei decoheience, the of-diagonal teims vanish, and only the
we can deduce ihe Hamilionian from ihe mairix ?. Are you able io see how: Challenge 131 ny
By ihe way, one can say in general ihai an apparaius measuring an observable ?has a sysiem inieraciion
Hamilionian depending on ihe poinier variable ?, and for which one has
[? + ?
int
, ?] = 0 . (82)
¯ Noie however, ihai an exactly vanishing decoherence iime, which would mean a strictly infniie number
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, qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1 iuioioov :6:
fnal, diagonal density matiix ?
f
, given by
?
f
= _
?
|?
?
|
2
(?
?
?
other,?
?
?
) ⊗ (?
?
?
other,?
?
?
)

(86)
iemains and has expeiimental ielevance. As explained above, such a density matiix de-
sciibes a mixed state, and the numbeis ?
?
= |?
?
|
2
= |?

?
?
?
|
2
give the piobability of meas-
uiing the value ?
?
and of fnding the paiticle in the state ?
?
?
other,n
as well as the detectoi
in the state ?
?
. But this is piecisely what the two piopeities of quantum measuiements
state.
We theiefoie fnd that desciibing a measuiement as an evolution of a quantum sys-
tem inteiacting with a macioscopic detectoi, itself containing a bath, we can deduce the
two piopeities of quantum measuiements, piobabilistic outcomes and the collapse of the
wave function, fiomthe quantum mechanical evolution equation. Te decoheience time
?
d
of the pievious section becomes the time of collapse foi the case of a measuiement; in
addition we fnd
?
collapse
= ?
d
< ?
r
. (87)
In othei woids, the collapse time is always smallei than the ielaxation time of the bath.
We thus have a foimula foi the time the wave function takes to collapse. All expeiimental
measuiements of the time of collapse have confimed this iesult. Ref. 103
Wuv is ℏ ×iciss:vv iov vvov:viii1iis:
At fist sight, one could aigue that the two piopeities of quantum measuiements do not
contain ℏ, and thus aie not consequences of quantum theoiy. Howevei, this aigument is
incoiiect.
Decoheience is a quantum piocess, because ℏ appeais in the expiession of the deco-
heience time. Since the collapse of the wave function is based on decoheience, it is a
quantum piocess as well. Also piobabilities aie due to the quantum of action.
In addition, we have seen that the concept of wave function appeais only because the
quantum of action ℏ is not zeio. Page 86 Wave functions, theii collapse and piobabilities aie due
to the quantum of change ℏ.
Tese iesults iecall a statement made eailiei on: Page 31 piobabilities appeai whenevei an
expeiiment attempts to detect changes, i.e., action values, smallei than ℏ. Most puzzles
aiound measuiement aie due to such attempts. Challenge 132 e Howevei, natuie does not allow such
measuiements; in eveiy such attempt, piobabilities appeai.
Hiuui× v:vi:viis
Alaige numbei of people aie not satisfed with the explanation of piobabilities. Tey long
foi moie mysteiy in quantum theoiy. Tey do not like the idea that piobabilities aie due
to baths and to the quantum of action. Te most famous piejudice such people cultivate
of degrees of freedom of ihe baih or ihe environmeni, is in coniradiciion wiih ihe evoluiion equaiion, and
in pariicular wiih uniiariiy, localiiy and causaliiy. Ii is esseniial in ihe whole argumeni noi io confuse ihe
logical consequences of a exiremely small decoherence iime wiih ihose of an exacily vanishing decoherence
iime.
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:6: , sUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis
is the idea that the piobabilities aie due to some hidden aspect of natuie which is still
unknown to humans. Such imagined, unknown aspects aie called hidden variables.
Te beautiful thing about quantum mechanics is that it allows both conceptual and
expeiimental tests on whethei such hidden vaiiables exist without the need of know-
ing them. Of couise, hidden vaiiables contiolling the evolution of micioscopic system
would contiadict the iesult that action values below ℏ cannot be detected. Tis smallest
obseivable action value is the ieason foi the iandom behavioui of micioscopic systems.
A smallest action thus excludes hidden vaiiables. But let us add some moie detailed ai-
guments.
Histoiically, the fist aigument against hidden vaiiables was given by John von Neu-
mann.¯ An additional no-go theoiem foi hidden vaiiables was published by Kochen
and Speckei in Ref. 120 I967, (and independently by Bell in I969). Te theoiem states that non-
contextual hidden vaiiables aie impossible, if the Hilbeit space has a dimension equal oi
laigei than thiee. Te theoiemis about non-contextual vaiiables, i.e., about hidden vaii-
ables inside the quantum mechanical system. Te Kochen–Speckei theoiem thus states
that theie is no non-contextual hidden vaiiables model, because mathematics foibids
it. Tis iesult essentially eliminates all possibilities foi hidden vaiiables, because usual
quantum mechanical systems have Hilbeit space dimensions laigei than thiee.
Of couise, one cannot avoid noting that theie aie no iestiicting theoiems about con-
textual hidden vaiiables, i.e., vaiiables in the enviionment and in paiticulai, in the baths
contained in it. Indeed, theii necessity was shown above.
Also common sense eliminates hidden vaiiables, without any iecouise to mathemat-
ics, with a simple aigument. If a quantum mechanical system had inteinal hidden vaii-
ables, the measuiement appaiatus would have zillions of them.¯¯ And this would mean
that it could not woik as a measuiement system.
Despite all aiguments, ieseaicheis have looked foi expeiimental tests on hidden vaii-
ables. Most tests aie based on the famed Bell’s inequality, a beautifully simple ielation
published by John Bell¯¯¯ in the I960s.
Te staiting idea is to distinguish quantum theoiy and locally iealistic theoiies using
hidden vaiiables by measuiing the polaiizations of two coiielated photons. Quantum
theoiy says that the polaiization of the photons is fxed only at the time it is measuied,
wheieas local iealistic models – the most stiaightfoiwaid type of hidden vaiiable models
– claim that it is fxed alieady in advance by a hidden vaiiable. Inteiestingly, expeiiments
can be used to decide which appioach is coiiect.
Imagine that the polaiization is measuiedat two distant points ?and ?. Each obseivei
can measuie 1 oi −1 in each of his favouiite diiection. Let each obseivei choose two
diiections, I and 2, and call theii iesults ?
1
, ?
2
, ?
1
and ?
2
. Since the measuiement iesults
all aie eithei 1 oi −1, the value of the specifc expiession (?
1
+ ?
2
)?
1
+ (?
2
− ?
1
)?
2
has
¯ János von Neumann (b. :µo¸ Budapesi, d. :µ,, Washingion DC) inßueniial maihemaiician. One of ihe
greaiesi and clearesi minds of ihe iweniieih ceniury, he seiiled already many quesiions, especially in applied
maihemaiics and quanium iheory, ihai oihers siill siruggle wiih ioday. He worked on ihe aiomic and ihe
hydrogen bomb, on ballisiic missiles, and on general defence problems. In anoiher famous projeci, he build
ihe frsi US-American compuier, building on his exiension of ihe ideas of Konrad Zuse.
¯¯ Which leads io ihe defniiion: one zillion is 10
23
.
¯¯¯ John Siewari Bell (:µ:8–:µµo), iheoreiical physicisi who worked mainly on ihe foundaiions of quanium
iheory.
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, qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1 iuioioov :6¸
always the value |2.
Imagine you iepeat the expeiiment Ref. 121 many times, assuming that the hidden vaiiables
appeai statistically. You then can deduce (a special case of) Bell’s inequality foi two hid-
den vaiiables; it piedicts that Challenge 133 e
|(?
1
?
1
) + (?
2
?
1
) + (?
2
?
2
) − (?
1
?
2
)| ⩽ 2 . (88)
Heie, the expiessions in biackets aie the aveiages of the measuiement pioducts ovei a
laige numbei of samples. Tis hidden vaiiable piediction holds independently of the
diiections of the involved polaiizeis.
On the othei hand, foi the case that the polaiizeis 1 and 2 at position ? and the
coiiesponding ones at position ? aie chosen with angles of π/4, quantum theoiy piedicts
that
|(?
1
?
1
) + (?
2
?
1
) + (?
2
?
2
) − (?
1
?
2
)| = 2
_
2 > 2 . (89)
Tis piediction is in complete contiadiction with the hidden vaiiable iesult.
All expeiimental checks of Bell’s equation have confimed standaid quantum mech-
anics. Teie aie no exceptions.
Anothei measuiable contiadiction between quantum theoiy and locally iealistic the-
oiies has been piedicted by Gieenbeigei, Hoin and Zeilingei in systems with thiee en-
tangled paiticles. Ref. 122 Again, quantum theoiy has been confimed in all expeiiments.
In summaiy, no evidence foi hidden vaiiables has evei been found. Of couise, this
is not ieally suipiising. Te seaich foi hidden vaiiables is based on a misundeistanding
of quantum mechanics oi on peisonal desiies on how the woild should be, instead of
taking it as it is: theie is a smallest measuiable action value, ℏ, in natuie.
SUmm:vv o× vvov:viii1iis :×u ui1ivmi×ism

Geomeiric demonsiramus quia facimus; si
physics demonsirare possemus, faceremus.

Giambaiiisia Vico¯
Fiomthe aiguments piesented heie we diaw a numbei of conclusions which we need foi
the iest of oui mountain ascent. Note that these conclusions, even though in agieement
with expeiiments, aie not yet shaied by all physicists! Te whole topic is a pioblem foi
people who piefei ideology to facts.
— Piobabilities do not appeai in measuiements because the state of the quantum system
is unknown oi fuzzy, but because the detailed state of the bath in the enviionment
is unknown. Quantum mechanical probabilities are of statistical origin and are due to
baths in the environment (or in the measurement apparatus), in combination with the
quantum of action ℏ. Te piobabilities aie due to the laige numbei of degiees of fiee-
dom contained in any bath. Tese laige numbeis make the outcome of expeiiments
¯ ‘We are able io demonsiraie geomeirical maiiers because we make ihem; if we could prove physical mai-
iers we would be able io make ihem.’ Giovanni Baiiisia Vico (b. :668 Napoli, d. :,¡¡ Napoli) imporiani
philosopher and ihinker. In ihis famous siaiemeni he poinis oui a fundamenial disiinciion beiween maih-
emaiics and physics.
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:6¡ , sUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis
unpiedictable. If the state of the bath weie known, the outcome of an expeiiment
could be piedicted. Te piobabilities of quantum theoiy aie ‘theimodynamic’ in oii-
gin.
In othei woids, theie aie no fundamental piobabilities in natuie. All piobabilities
in natuie aie due to decoheience; in paiticulai, all piobabilities aie due to the statistics
of the many paiticles – some of which may be viitual – that aie pait of the baths
in the enviionment. Modifying well-known woids by Albeit Einstein, ‘natuie ieally
does not play dice.’ We theiefoie called ? the wave function instead of ‘piobability
amplitude’, as is ofen done. An even bettei name would be state function.
— Any obseivation in eveiyday life is a special case of decoheience. What is usually
called the ‘collapse of the wave function’ is a decoheience piocess due to the in-
teiaction with the baths piesent in the enviionment oi in the measuiing appaiatus.
Because humans aie waim-blooded and have memoiy, humans themselves aie thus
measuiement appaiatuses. Te fact that oui body tempeiatuie is 37°C is thus the
ieason that we see only a single woild, and no supeipositions. (Actually, theie aie
many additional ieasons; can you Challenge 134 s name a few:)
— A measuiement is complete when the micioscopic system has inteiacted with the
bath in the measuiing appaiatus. Quantum theoiy as a desciiption of natuie does not
iequiie detectois; the evolution equation desciibes all examples of motion. Howevei,
measurements do iequiie the existence of detectois. Detectois, being machines that
iecoid obseivations, have to include a bath, i.e., have to be classical, macioscopic
objects. In this context one speaks also of a classical apparatus. Tis necessity of the
measuiement appaiatus to be classical had been alieady stiessed in the veiy eaily
stages of quantum theoiy.
— All measuiements, being decoheience piocesses that involve inteiactions with baths,
aie iiieveisible piocesses and inciease entiopy.
— A measuiement is a special case of quantum mechanical evolution, namely the evolu-
tion foi the combination of a quantum system, a macioscopic detectoi and the envii-
onment. Since the evolution equation is ielativistically invaiiant, no causality piob-
lems appeai in measuiements; neithei do locality pioblems oi logical pioblems ap-
peai.
— Since both the evolution equation and the measuiement piocess does not involve
quantities othei than space-time, Hamiltonians, baths and wave-functions, no othei
quantity plays a iole in measuiement. In paiticulai, no human obseivei noi any con-
sciousness is involved oi necessaiy. Vol. III, page 315 Eveiy measuiement is complete when the micio-
scopic systemhas inteiacted with the bath in the appaiatus. Te decoheience inheient
in eveiy measuiement takes place even if nobody is looking. Tis tiivial consequence
is in agieement with the obseivations of eveiyday life, foi example with the fact that
the Moon is oibiting the Eaith even if nobody looks at it.¯ Similaily, a tiee falling in
the middle of a foiest makes noise even if nobody listens. Decoheience is independ-
ent of human obseivation, of the human mind and of human existence.
— In eveiy measuiement the quantum system inteiacts with the detectoi. Since theie
is a minimum value foi the magnitude of action, eveiy observation infuences the ob-
¯ Te opposiie view is someiimes falsely aiiribuied io Niels Bohr. Te Moon is obviously in coniaci wiih
many radiaiion baihs. Can you Challenge 135 s lisi a few:
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, qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1 iuioioov :6,
served. Teiefoie eveiy measuiement disturbs the quantum system. Any piecise de-
sciiption of obseivations must also include the desciiption of this distuibance. In the
piesent section the distuibance was modelled by the change of the state of the system
fiom ?
other
to ?
other,n
. Without such a change of state, without a distuibance of the
quantum system, a measuiement is impossible.
— Since the complete measuiement is desciibed by quantum mechanics, unitaiity is
and iemains the basic piopeity of evolution. Teie aie no non-unitaiy piocesses in
quantum mechanics.
— Te desciiption of the collapse of the wave function as a decoheience piocess is an
explanation exactly in the sense in which the teim ‘explanation’ was defned eailiei
on; Vol. III, page 310 it desciibes the ielation between an obseivation and all the othei aspects of ieality,
in this case the bath in the detectoi oi the enviionment. Te collapse of the wave
function has been measuied, calculated and explained. Te collapse is not a question
of ‘inteipietation’, i.e., of opinion, as unfoitunately ofen is suggested.¯
— It is not useful to speculate whethei the evolution foi a single quantum measuiement
could be deteimined if the state of the enviionment aiound the system weie known.
Measuiements need baths. But a bath is, to an excellent appioximation, iiieveisible
and thus cannot be desciibed by a wave function, which behaves ieveisibly.¯¯
In shoit:
⊳ Quantum mechanics is deteiministic.
⊳ Baths aie piobabilistic.
⊳ Baths aie piobabilistic because of the quantum of action.
In summaiy, theie is no iiiationality in quantum theoiy. Whoevei uses quantum the-
oiy as aigument foi supeistitions, iiiational behavioui, new age beliefs oi ideologies is
guilty of disinfoimation. Te statement by Gell-Mann at the beginning of this chaptei is
thus such an example. Page 142 Anothei is the following well-known, but incoiiect statement by
Richaid Feynman:
... nobody undeistands quantum mechanics. Ref. 124
Nobel Piizes obviously do not pievent views distoited by ideology. Te coiiect statement
is:
⊳ Te quantum of action and decoheience aie the key to undeistanding
quantum theoiy.
In fact, these two concepts allow claiifying many othei issues. We exploie a few inteiest-
ing ones.
¯ Tis implies ihai ihe so-called ‘many worlds’ inierpreiaiion is wishful ihinking. Te conclusion is con-
frmed when siudying ihe deiails of ihis religious Ref. 123 approach. Ii is a belief sysiem, noi based on facis.
¯¯ Tis very sirong iype of deierminism will be very much challenged in ihe lasi pari of ihis iexi, in which
ii will be shown ihai iime is noi a fundamenial concepi, and iherefore ihai ihe debaie around deierminism
looses mosi of iis inieresi.
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:66 , sUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis
Wu:1 is 1ui uiiiivi×ci vi1wii× sv:ci :×u 1imi:
Space and time difei. Objects aie localized in space but not in time. Why is this the
case: In natuie, most bath–system inteiactions aie mediated by a potential. All poten-
tials aie by defnition position dependent. Teiefoie, eveiy potential, being a function
of the position ?, commutes with the position obseivable (and thus with the inteiaction
Hamiltonian). Te decoheience induced by baths – except if special caie is taken – thus
fist of all destioys the non-diagonal elements foi eveiy supeiposition of states centied
at difeient locations. In shoit, objects are localized because they interact with baths via
potentials.
Foi the same ieason, objects also have only one spatial oiientation at a time. If the
system–bath inteiaction is spin-dependent, the bath leads to ‘localization’ in the spin
vaiiable. Tis occuis foi all micioscopic systems inteiacting with magnets. As a iesult,
macioscopic supeipositions of magnetization aie almost nevei obseived. Since elections,
piotons and neutions have a magnetic moment and a spin, this conclusion can even be
extended: eveiyday objects aie nevei seen in supeipositions of difeient iotation states
because theii inteiactions with baths aie spin-dependent.
As a countei-example, most systems aie not localized in time, but on the contiaiy exist
foi veiy long times, because piactically all system–bath inteiactions do not commute
with time. In fact, this is the way a bath is defned to begin with. In shoit, objects are
permanent because they interact with baths.
Aie you able to fnd an inteiaction which is momentum-dependent instead of
position-dependent: What is the consequence foi macioscopic systems: Challenge 136 s
In othei woids, in contiast to geneial ielativity, quantum theoiy pioduces a distinc-
tion between space and time. In fact, we can defne position as the obseivable that com-
mutes with inteiaction Hamiltonians. Tis distinction between space and time is due to
the piopeities of mattei and its inteiactions. We could not have deduced this distinction
in geneial ielativity.
Avi wi coou ovsivvivs:
Aie humans classical appaiatuses: Yes, they aie. Even though seveial piominent physi-
cists claim that fiee will and piobabilities aie ielated, a detailed investigation shows that
this in not the case. Ref. 125 Oui senses aie classical machines because they obey theii defnition:
human senses iecoid obseivations by inteiaction with a bath. Oui biain is also a clas-
sical appaiatus: the neuions aie embedded in baths. Quantum piobabilities do not play
a deteimining iole in the biain.
Any obseiving entity, be it a machine oi a human being, needs a bath and a memoiy
to iecoid its obseivations. Tis means that obseiveis have to be made of mattei; an ob-
seivei cannot be made of iadiation. Oui desciiption of natuie is thus seveiely biased: we
desciibe it fiom the standpoint of mattei. Tat is a bit like desciibing the stais by putting
the Eaith at the centie of the Challenge 137 e univeise: we always put mattei at the centie of oui desciip-
tion. Can we eliminate this basic anthiopomoiphism: We will fnd out as we Vol. VI, page 79 continue.
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, qUn×1Um 1uiovv wi1uoU1 iuioioov :6,
Wu:1 vii:1is i×iovm:1io× 1uiovv, cvvv1oiocv :×u qU:×1Um
1uiovv:
Physics means talking about obseivations of natuie. Like any obseivation, also measuie-
ments pioduce infoimation. It is thus possible to tianslate much (but not all) of quantum
theoiy into the language of infoimation theoiy. In paiticulai, the existence of a smallest
change value in natuie implies that the infoimation about a physical system can nevei
be complete, that infoimation tianspoit has its limits and that infoimation can nevei be
fully tiusted. Te details of these studies foim a fascinating way to look at the micio-
scopic woild.
Te analogy between quantum theoiy and infoimation theoiy becomes even moie
inteiesting when the statements aie tianslated into the language of ciyptology. Ref. 126 Ciypto-
logy is the science of tiansmitting hidden messages that only the intended ieceivei can
deciypt. In oui modein times of constant suiveillance, ciyptology is an impoitant tool
to piotect peisonal fieedom.¯
Te quantum of action implies that messages can be sent in an (almost) safe way.
Listening to a message is a measuiement piocess. Since theie is a smallest action, one
can detect whethei somebody has tiied to listen to a sent message. A man in the middle
attack – somebody who pietends to be the ieceivei and then sends a copy of the message
to the ieal, intended ieceivei – can be avoided by using entangled systems as signals to
tiansmit the infoimation. Quantum ciyptologists theiefoie usually use communication
systems based on entangled photons.
Te majoi issue of quantum cryptology, a laige modein ieseaich feld, is the key dis-
tiibution pioblem. All secuie communication is based on a seciet key that is used to
deciypt the message. Even if the communication channel is of the highest secuiity – like
entangled photons – one still has to fnd a way to send the communication paitnei the
seciet key necessaiy foi the deciyption of the messages. Finding such methods is the
main aspect of quantum ciyptology. Howevei, close investigation shows that all key ex-
change methods aie limited in theii secuiity.
In shoit, due to the quantum of action, natuie piovides limits on the possibility of
sending enciypted messages. Te statement of these limits is (almost) equivalent to the
statement that change in natuie is limited by the quantum of action.
Is 1ui U×ivivsi : comvU1iv:
Te quantum of action piovides a limit to secuie infoimation exchange. Tis connection
allows us to biush aside seveial incoiiect statements ofen found in the media. Stating
that ‘the univeise is infoimation’ oi that ‘the univeise is a computei’ is as ieasonable
as saying that the univeise is an obseivation oi a chewing-gum dispensei. Vol. VI, page 104 Any expeit
of motion should bewaie of these and similaily fshy statements; people who use them
eithei deceive themselves oi tiy to deceive otheis.
¯ Crypiology consisis of ihe feld of cryptography, ihe ari of coding messages, and ihe feld of cryptoana-
lysis, ihe ari of deciphering encrypied messages. For a good iniroduciion io crypiology, see ihe iexi
by Aivvicu1 BiU1iisvncuiv, Jovo Scuwi×x & KinUs-Dii1iv Woiii×s1X11iv, Moderne
Verfahren der Kryptographie, Vieweg I993.
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:68 , sUvivvosi1io×s n×u vvovnviii1iis
Dois 1ui U×ivivsi u:vi : w:vi iU×c1io×: A×u i×i1i:i co×ui1io×s:
Te wave function of the univeise is fiequently invoked in discussions about quantum
theoiy. Many deduce conclusions fiom this idea, foi example on the iiieveisibility of
time, on the impoitance of initial conditions, on changes iequiied to quantum theoiy
and much moie. Aie these aiguments coiiect:
Te fist thing to claiify is the meaning of ‘univeise’. As explained alieady, Vol. II, page 216 the teim
can have two meanings: eithei the collection of all mattei and iadiation, oi this collection
plus all of space-time. Let us also iecall the meaning of ‘wave function’: it desciibes the
state of a system. Te state distinguishes two otheiwise identical systems; foi example,
position and velocity distinguish two otheiwise identical ivoiy balls on a billiaid table.
Alteinatively and equivalently, the state desciibes changes in time.
Does the univeise have a state: If we take the widei meaning of univeise, it does not.
Talking about the state of the univeise is a contiadiction: by defnition, Vol. I, page 27 the concept of
state, defned as the non-peimanent aspects of an object, is applicable only to parts of
the univeise.
We then can take the naiiowei sense of ‘univeise’ – the sum of all mattei and iadi-
ation only – and ask the question again. To deteimine the state of all mattei and iadi-
ation, we need a possibility to measuie it: we need an enviionment. But the enviionment
of mattei and iadiation is space-time only; initial conditions cannot be deteimined since
we need measuiements to do this, and thus an appaiatus. An appaiatus is a mateiial sys-
tem with a bath attached to it; howevei, theie is no such system outside the univeise.
In shoit, quantum theoiy does not allow foi measuiements of the univeise; theiefoie
the univeise has no state. Bewaie of anybody who claims to know something about the
wave function of the univeise. Just ask him Wheelei’s question: If you know the wave
function of the univeise, why aien’t you iich:
Despite this conclusion, seveial famous physicists have pioposed evolution equa-
tions foi the wave function of the univeise. (Te best-known is, iionically, the Wheelei–
DeWitt equation.) Ref. 127 It seems a silly point, but not one piediction of these equations has
been compaied to expeiiment; the aiguments just given even make this impossible in
piinciple. Exploiing such equations, so inteiesting it may seem at fist sight, must theie-
foie be avoided if we want to ieach the top of Motion Mountain and avoid getting lost in
false beliefs.
Teie aie many additional twists to this stoiy. One twist is that space-time itself, even
without mattei, might be a bath. Tis speculation will be shown to be coiiect in the last
volume of this adventuie. Te iesult seems to allow speaking of the wave function of the
univeise. But then again, it tuins out that time is undefned at the scales wheie space-time
is an efective bath; this implies that the concept of state is not applicable theie.
A lack of ‘state’ foi the univeise is a stiong statement. It also implies a lack of ini-
tial conditions! Te aiguments aie piecisely the same. Tis is a tough iesult. We aie so
used to think that the univeise has initial conditions that we nevei question the teim.
(Even in this text the mistake might appeai eveiy now and then.) But theie aie no initial
conditions foi the univeise.
We can ietain as summaiy, valid even in the light of the latest ieseaich: Te univeise
is not a system, has no wave function and no initial conditions – independently of what
is meant by ‘univeise’.
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C u : v 1 i v 8
COLOURS AND OTHER
I NTERACTIONS BETWEEN LIGHT
AND MATTER

Rem iene; verba sequeniur.¯

Caio
S
tones and all othei objects have colouis. Why: In othei woids, what is the
pecifc way in which chaiged quantum paiticles that aie found inside
tones and inside all othei objects inteiact with electiomagnetic felds: In this
chaptei, we fist give an oveiview of the vaiious ways that colouis in natuie iesult fiom
the quantum of action, i.e., fiom the inteiaction between mattei quantons and photons.
Ten we exploie the simplest such system: we show how the quantum of action leads
to the colouis of hydiogen atoms. Afei this, we discovei that the inteiaction between
mattei and iadiation leads to othei suipiising efects, especially when special ielativity
is taken into account.
Tui c:Usis oi coioUv
Quantum theoiy explains all colouis in natuie. Indeed, all the colouis that we obseive aie
due to chaiged paiticles. Moie piecisely, colouis aie due to the inteiactions of chaiged
paiticles with photons. All colouis aie thus quantum efects.
Te chaiged paiticles at the basis of most colouis aie elections and nuclei, including
theii composites, fiomions, atoms and molecules to fuids and solids. Many coloui issues
aie still topic of ieseaich. Foi example, until iecently it was uncleai why exactly asphalt is
black. Te exact stiuctuie of the chemical compounds, the asphaltenes, that pioduce the
veiy daik biown coloui was unknown. Only iecent ieseaich has settled this question. Ref. 129 In
addition, developing new colouiants and coloui efects is an impoitant pait of modein
industiy.
An oveiview of the specifc mechanisms that geneiate coloui is given in the following
table. Ref. 128 Te table includes all colouis that appeai in eveiyday life. (Can you fnd one that
is Challenge 138 s missing:)
¯ ‘Know ihe subjeci and ihe words will follow.’ Marcus Porcius Caio, (:¸¡–:¡µ vci) or Caio ihe elder,
Roman poliiician famous for his speeches and his iniegriiy.
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8 coioUvs n×u movi :,:
TABLE 7 Causes of colour.
C o i o U v 1 v v i E x n mv i i Di 1n i i s
Class I: Colours due to simple excitations
I. Incandescence and free charge radiation
Carbon arc lamp, hoi sieel,
lighibulb wire, mosi siars,
magma, lava, hoi melis
Colours are due io coniinuous
specirum emiiied by all hoi
maiier; colour sequence,
given by Wien’s rule, is black,
red, orange, yellow, whiie,
blue-whiie (molien lead and
silver · Graela)
Wood fre, candle Wood and wax ßames are
yellow due io incandescence if
carbon-rich and oxygen-poor
Whiie freworks, ßashlamp,
sparklers
Due io meials burning io
oxide ai high iemperaiure,
such as magnesium, zinc,
iron, aluminium or zirconium
(sparkler · Sarah Domingos)
Nuclear reaciors,
synchroion lighi sources,
free eleciron lasers
Due io fasi free charges:
Vavilov–Čerenkov radiaiion is
due io speed of pariicle larger
ihan ihe speed of lighi in
maiier, Bremssirahlung is due
io ihe deceleraiion of charged
pariicles (nuclear reacior core
under waier, couriesy NASA)
2. Atomic gas excitations
Red neon lamp, blue argon
lamp, UV mercury lamp,
yellow sodium sireei
lamps, mosi gas lasers,
meial vapour lasers, some
ßuorescence
Colours are due io iransiiions
beiween aiomic energy levels
(gas discharges · Pslawinski)
Aurora, iriboluminescence
in scoich iape,
crysialloluminescence in
sironiium bromaie
In air, blue and red colours are
due io aiomic and molecular
energy levels of niirogen,
whereas green, yellow, orange
colours are due io oxygen
(aurora · Jan Curiis)
Lighining, arcs, sparks,
coloured freworks, mosi
coloured ßames, some
eleciroluminescence
Colour lines are due io energy
levels of highly exciied aioms
(ßames of K, Cu, Cs, B, Ca
· Philip Evans)
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:,: 8 coioUvs n×u movi
TABLE 7 Causes of colour (continued).
C o i o U v 1 v v i E x n mv i i Di 1n i i s
3. Vibrations and rotations of molecules
Bluish waier, blue ice when
clear, violei iodine,
red-brown bromine,
yellow-green chlorine, red
ßames from CN or
blue-green ßames from
CH, some gas lasers, blue
ozone leading io blue and
grey evening sky
Colours are due io quaniized
levels of roiaiion and
vibraiions in molecules (blue
iceberg · Marc Shandro)
Class II: Colours due to ligand neld enects
4. Transition metal compounds
Green malachiie
Cu
2
CO
3
(OH)
2
, blue cobali
oxide, blue azuriie
Cu
3
(CO
3
)
2
(OH)
2
, red io
brown hemaiiie Fe
2
O
3
,
green MnO, whiie
Mn(OH)
2
, brown
manganiie, chrome green
Ci
2
O
3
, green
praesodymium, pink
europium and yellow
samarium compounds,
piezochromic and
ihermochromic
Ci
2
O
3
− Al
2
O
3
UV and
eleciron phosphors,
sciniillaiion, some
ßuorescence, some lasers
Colours are due io elecironic
siaies of ihe ions; phosphors
are used in caihodes iubes for
TV/compuier displays and on
ßuoresceni lamp iubes (green
malachiie on yellow kasoliie, a
uranium mineral, piciure
widih 5 mm, found in
Kolwezi, Zaire/Congo,
· Siephan Wolfsried,
ielevision shadow mask phoio
· Planemad)
3. Transition metal impurities
Ruby, emerald, alexandriie,
perovskiies, corresponding
lasers
Elecironic siaies of iransiiion
meial ions are exciied by lighi
and ihus absorb specifc
wavelengihs (ruby on calciie
from Mogok, Myanmar,
piciure widih 3 cm, · Rob
Lavinsky)
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TABLE 7 Causes of colour (continued).
C o i o U v 1 v v i E x n mv i i Di 1n i i s
Class III: Colours due to molecular orbitals
6. Organic compounds
Red haemoglobin in blood,
blue blood haemocyanin,
green chlorophyll in planis,
yellow or orange caroienes
in carrois, ßowers and
yellow auiumn leaves, red
or purple anihocyanins in
berries, ßowers and red
auiumn leaves, blue indigo,
red lycopene in iomaioes,
red meai from
iron-coniaining
myoglobin, brown
glucosamine in crusi of
baked food, brown iannins,
black eumelanin in human
skin, hair and eye,
iron-rich variaiion
pheomelanin in redheads,
black melanin also in cui
apples and bananas as well
as in movable sacks in
chameleons, brown-black
asphali, some ßuorescence,
chemiluminescence,
phosphorescence,
halochromism,
elecirochromism and
ihermochromism, dye
lasers
Colours are due io conjugaied
π-bonds, i.e. io aliernaiing
single and double bonds in
molecules; ßoral pigmenis are
almosi all anihocyanins,
beialains or caroienes; used in
colouranis for foods and
cosmeiics, in iexiile dyes, in
elecirochromic displays, in
inks for colour priniers, in
phoiosensiiizers (narcissus
· Tomas Lüihi, blood on
fnger · Ian Humes, berries
· Naihan Wall, hair couriesy
dusdin)
Glow-worms, some
bacieria and fungi, mosi
deep-sea fsh, ociopi,
jellyfsh, and oiher
deep-sea animals
Bioluminescence is due io
exciied molecules, generally
called luciferines (angler fsh,
lengih 4.5 cm, · Sieve
Haddock)
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TABLE 7 Causes of colour (continued).
C o i o U v 1 v v i E x n mv i i Di 1n i i s
7. Inorganic charge transfer
Blue sapphire, blue lapis
lazuli, green amazoniie,
brown-black magneiiie
Fe
3
O
4
and mosi oiher iron
minerals (colouring basali
black, beer boiiles brown,
quariz sand yellow, and
many oiher rocks wiih
brown or red iones), black
graphiie, purple
permanganaie, orange
poiassium dichromaie,
yellow molybdaies, red
hemaiiie Fe
2
O
3
, some
ßuorescence
Lighi induces change of
posiiion of an eleciron from
one aiom io anoiher; for
example, in blue sapphire ihe
iransiiion is beiween Ti and
Fe impuriiies; many paini
pigmenis use charge iransfer
colours; ßuoresceni analyiical
reagenis are used in molecular
medicine and biology
(magneiiie found in Laach,
Germany, piciure widih
10 mm, · Siephan Wolfsried,
sand deseri Evelien
Willemsen)
Class IV: Colours due to energy band enects
8. Metallic bands
Gold (green in
iransmission), pyriie, iron,
brass, alloys, silver, copper,
ruby glass
Colours in reßeciion and in
iransmission are due io
iransiiions of elecirons
beiween overlapping bands
(saxophone · Selmer)
9. Pure semiconductor bands
Silicon, GaAs, black galena
PbS, red cinnabar HgS,
cadmium yellow CdS,
black CdSe, red CdS
x
Se
1−x
,
whiie ZnO, orange
vermillion HgS, colourless
diamond, black io gold
piezochromic SmS
Colours are due io eleciron
iransiiions beiween separaie
bands; colour series is black,
red, orange, yellow,
whiie/colourless; some used
as pigmenis (zinc oxide
couriesy Walkerma)
I0. Doped semiconductor bands
Blue, yellow, green and
black diamond; LEDs;
semiconducior lasers; solar
cells; ZnS and Zn
x
Cd
1−x
S
based and oiher phosphors
Colours are due io iransiiions
beiween dopanis and
semiconducior bands
(e.g. blue diamond: boron
accepiers, black diamond:
niirogen donors) (quanium
dois · Andrey Rogach)
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TABLE 7 Causes of colour (continued).
C o i o U v 1 v v i E x n mv i i Di 1n i i s
II. Colour centres
Ameihysi, smoky quariz,
ßuoriie, green diamonds,
blue, yellow and brown
iopaz, brown sali, purple
colour of irradiaied glass
coniaining Mn
2+
,
lyoluminescence, some
ßuorescence, F-cenire
lasers
Colours are due io colour
cenires, i.e. io elecirons or io
holes bound ai crysial
vacancies; colour cenires are
usually are creaied by
radiaiion (ameihysi · Rob
Lavinsky)
Some lighi-dependeni
sunglasses
Te phoiochromic colouring
is due io colour cenires
formed by ihe UV lighi of ihe
Sun
Class V: Colours due to physical and geometrical optics
I2. Dispersive refraction and polarization
Cui diamond, cui zirconia,
halos and sun dogs formed
by ice crysials in ihe air
Speciral decomposiiion
(sparkle or ‘fre’ of
gemsiones) is due io
dispersion in crysials
(zirconia phoio · Gregory
Phillips)
Rainbow Colours of primary and
secondary bow are due io
dispersion in waier dropleis
Green ßash dispersion in ihe aimosphere
shifs ihe sun colours
I3. Scattering
Blue sky, blue colouring of
disiani mouniains, red
sunsei; colour
iniensifcaiion by
polluiion; blue quariz
Blue lighi is scaiiered more
ihan red lighi by Rayleigh
scaiiering, when scaiierers
(molecules, dusi) are smaller
ihan ihe wavelengih of lighi
(Tokyo sunsei · Alius
Plunkeii, blue quariz · David
Lynch)
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TABLE 7 Causes of colour (continued).
C o i o U v 1 v v i E x n mv i i Di 1n i i s
Whiie colour of hair, milk,
beer foam, clouds, fog,
cigareiie smoke coming oui
of lungs, snow, whipped
cream, shampoo, siars in
gemsiones
Te whiie colour is due io
wavelengih-independeni Mie
scaiiering, i.e. scaiiering ai
pariicles larger ihan ihe
wavelengih of lighi (snow
man · Andreas Kosiner)
Blue human skin colour in
cold weaiher, blue and
green eyes in humans, blue
monkey skin, blue iurkey
necks, mosi blue fsh, blue
repiiles, blue cigareiie
smoke
Tyndall blue colours are due
io scaiiering on small pariicles
in froni of a dark background
(blue poison frog Dendrobates
azureus · Lee Hancock)
Ruby glass Te red colour of Murano
glass is due io scaiiering by
iiny colloidal gold pariicles
included in ihe glass in
combinaiion wiih ihe meiallic
band siruciure of gold (ruby
glass · murano-glass-shop.ii)
Nonlineariiies, Raman
eneci, poiassium
dihydrogen phosphaie
(KDP)
Frequency-shifing scaiiering,
second harmonic generaiion
and oiher nonlineariiies of
ceriain maierials change ihe
colour of lighi impinging wiih
high iniensiiies (800 nm io
400 nm frequency doubling
ring laser · Jen Sherman)
I4. Interference (without dinraction)
Nacre, oil flms, soap
bubbles, coaiings on
camera lenses, eyes of cais
in ihe dark, wings of ßies
and dragonßies, fsh scales,
some snakes, pearls,
iempering colours of sieel
Tin flm inierference
produces a siandard colour
sequence ihai allows precise
ihickness deierminaiion
(abalone shell · Anne Ellioi)
Polarizaiion colours of ihin
layers of birefringeni
crysials or ihicker layers of
siressed polymers
Colours are due io
inierference, as shown by ihe
dependence on layer
ihickness (phoioelasiiciiy
couriesy Nevii Dilmen)
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TABLE 7 Causes of colour (continued).
C o i o U v 1 v v i E x n mv i i Di 1n i i s
Supernumerary rainbows
(see page 99 in volume III)
Due io inierference, as shown
by ihe dependence on drop
size
Iridesceni beeiles,
buiierßies and bird
feaihers, iridesceni colours
on banknoies and on cars
Due io scaiiering ai small
siruciures or ai nanopariicles,
as shown by ihe angular
dependence of ihe colour
(mallard duck · Simon
Grimih)
I3. Dinraction (with interference)
Opal Colours are due io ihe iiny
spheres included in ihe waier
inside ihe opal; colours can
change if ihe opal dries oui
(polished Brazilian opal
· Opalsnopals)
Aureole, glory, corona Colours are due io dinraciion
ai ihe iiny misi dropleis
(aeroplane condensaiion
cloud iridescence · Franz
Kerschbaum)
Dinraciion graiings, CDs,
vinyl records, some beeiles
and snakes
Colours are due io dinraciion
and inierference ai iiny,
regular piis (CD illuminaied
by ßashlamp · Alfons
Reicheri)
Phoionic crysials A modern research iopic
Cholesieric liquid crysials,
ceriain beeiles
Colours are due io dinraciion
and inierference in iniernal
maierial layers (liquid crysial
colours · Ingo Dierking)
Class VI: Colours due to eye limitations
Fechner colours, as on liie.bu.
edu/vision/appleis/Color/
Benham/Benham.himl
Benham’s wheel or iop Colours are due io dinereni
speed response of dinereni
phoiorecepiors
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TABLE 7 Causes of colour (continued).
C o i o U v 1 v v i E x n mv i i Di 1n i i s
Iniernal colour produciion when
eyes are siimulaied
Phosphenes Occur ihrough pressure
(rubbing, sneeze), or wiih
eleciric or magneiic felds
Polarizaiion colours Haidinger’s brush See page II0 in volume III
Colour illusions, as on www.psy.
riisumei.ac.jp/~akiiaoka/color9e.
himl
Appearing and
disappearing colours
Enecis are due io
combinaiions of brain
processing and eye limiiaiions
False colour ouipui of eye, as
described on page I87 in volume
III
Red lighi can be seen as
green
Observable wiih adapiive
opiics, if red lighi is focused
on a green-sensiiive cone
Colour-blind or ‘dalionic’
person, see page I97 in volume
III, wiih reduced colour specirum
Proian, deuian or iriian Each iype limiis colour
percepiion in a dinereni way
Colouis fascinate. Fascination always also means business; indeed, a laige pait of the
chemical industiy is dedicated to synthesizing colouiants foi paints, inks, clothes, food
and cosmetics. Also evolution uses the fascination of colouis foi its own business, namely
piopagating life. Te specialists in this domain aie the foweiing plants. Te chemistiy
of coloui pioduction in plants is extiemely involved and at least as inteiesting as the
pioduction of colouis in factoiies. Piactically all fowei colouiants, fiom white, yellow,
oiange, ied to blue, aie fiom thiee chemical classes: the carotenoids, the anthocyanins
(favonoids) and the betalains. Tese colouiants aie stoied in petals inside dedicated con-
taineis, the vacuoles. Teie aie many good ieview aiticles pioviding the details. Ref. 130
Even though colouis aie common in plants and animals, most highei animals do not
pioduce many colouiants themselves. Foi example, humans pioduce only one coloui-
ant: melanin. (Hemoglobin, which colouis blood ied, is not a dedicated colouiant, but
tianspoits the oxygen fiom the lungs thiough the body. Also the pink myoglobin in the
muscles is not a dedicated colouiant.) Many highei animals, such as biids, need to eat
the colouiants that aie so chaiacteiistic foi theii appeaiance. Te yellow coloui of legs
of pigeons is an example. It has been shown that the connection between coloui and
nutiition is iegulaily used by potential mates to judge fiom the body colouis whethei a
pioposing paitnei is sumciently healthy, and thus sumciently attiactive. Ref. 131
Above all, the pievious table distinguished six classes among the causes of colouis.
As mentioned, it was the study of the fist class, the colouis of incandescence, that led
Max Planck to discovei the quantum of action. In the meantime, ieseaich has confimed
that in each class, colouis aie due to the quantum of action ℏ. Te ielation between the
quantum of action and the mateiial piopeities of atoms, molecules, liquids and solids
aie so well known that colouiants can now be designed on the computei.
In summaiy, an exploiation of the causes of colouis found in natuie confims that all
colouis aie due to quantum efects. We showthis by exploiing the simplest example: the
colouis of atomic gas excitations.
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FI GURE 77 The spectrum of daylight: a stacked image of an extended rainbow, showing its Fraunhofer
lines (© Nigel Sharp, NOAO, FTS, NSO, KPNO, AURA, NSF).
Usi×c 1ui v:i×vow 1o ui1ivmi×i wu:1 s1:vs :vi m:ui oi
Neai the beginning of the eighteenth centuiy, Bavaiian instiument-makei Joseph
Fiaunhofei¯ and the English physicist William Wollaston noted that the iainbow lacks
ceitain colouis. Tese colouis appeai as black lines when the iainbow is spiead out in
sumcient bieadth. Figuie 77 shows the lines in detail; they aie called Fraunhofer lines
today. In I860, Gustav Kiichhof and Robeit Bunsen showed that the colouis missing in
the iainbow weie exactly those colouis that ceitain elements emit when heated. In this
way they managed to showthat sodium, calcium, baiium, nickel, magnesium, zinc, cop-
pei and iion aie piesent in the Sun. Looking at the iainbow thus tells us what the Sun is
made of.
¯ Joseph Fraunhofer (b. :,8, Siraubing, d. :8:6 Munich), having been orphaned ai ihe age of II, learned lens-
polishing. He iaughi himself opiics frombooks. He eniered an opiical company ai ihe age of I9, ensuring ihe
success of ihe business by producing ihe besi available lenses, ielescopes, micromeiers, opiical graiings and
opiical sysiems of his iime. He invenied ihe speciroscope and ihe heliomeier. He discovered and counied
476 lines in ihe specirum of ihe Sun; Vol. II, page 302 ihese lines are now named afer him. (Today, Fraunhofer lines are siill
used as measuremeni siandards: ihe second and ihe meire are defned in ierms of ihem.) Physicisis from all
over ihe world would buy iheir equipmeni from him, visii him, and ask for copies of his publicaiions. Even
afer his deaih, his insirumenis remained unsurpassed for generaiions. Wiih his ielescopes, in I837 Bessel
was able io make ihe frsi measuremeni of parallax of a siar, and in I846 Johann Goiifried Galle discovered
Nepiune. Fraunhofer became a professor in I8I9. He died young, from ihe consequences of ihe years speni
working wiih lead and glass powder.
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FI GURE 78 A
low-pressure
hydrogen discharge
in a 20 cm long glass
tube (© Jürgen Bauer
at www.
smart-elements.com).
Of the 476 Fiaunhofei lines that Kiichhof and Bunsen obseived, 13 did not coiies-
pond to any known element. In I868, Jules Janssen and Joseph Lockyei independently
piedicted that these unknown lines weie fiom an unknown element. Te element was
eventually found on Eaith, in an uianium mineial called cleveite, in I893. Te new ele-
ment was called helium, fiom the Gieek woid ἥλιος ‘helios’ – Sun.
In I923, using an equation developed by Saha and Langmuii, the young physicist
Cecilia Payne (b. :µoo Wendovei, England, d. :µ,µ Cambiidge, Massachusetts) taught
the woild how to deduce the mass peicentage of each element fiom the light spectium
of a stai. She did so in hei biilliant PhD thesis. Above all, she found that hydiogen and
helium weie the two most abundant elements in the Sun, in stais, and thus in the whole
univeise. Tis went completely against the ideas of the time, but is now common know-
ledge. Payne had completed the study of physics in Cambiidge, UK, but had not ieceived
a degiee theie because she was a woman. So she lef foi the United States, wheie the situ-
ation was somewhat bettei, and wheie she woiked on hei PhD thesis; eventually, she
became piofessoi at Haivaid Univeisity, and latei head of its astionomy depaitment.
Above all, Payne became an impoitant iole model foi many female scientists.
Despite being the second most common element in the univeise, helium is iaie on
Eaith because it is a light noble gas that does not foim chemical compounds. Helium
atoms on Eaith thus iise in the atmospheie and fnally escape into space.
Undeistanding the coloui lines pioduced by each element had staited to become in-
teiesting alieady befoie the discoveiy of helium; but afeiwaids the inteiest incieased
fuithei, thanks to the incieasing numbei of applications of coloui knowledge in chem-
istiy, physics, technology, ciystallogiaphy, biology and laseis. Colouis aie big business,
as the fashion industiy, the media and the adveitising business show.
In summaiy, colouis aie specifc mixtuies of light fiequencies. Vol. III, page 121 Light is an electiomag-
netic wave and is emitted by moving chaiges. Foi a physicist, colouis thus iesult fiomthe
inteiaction of chaiged mattei with the electiomagnetic feld. Now, sharp coloui lines can-
not be explained by classical electiodynamics. Indeed, only quantum theoiy can explain
them.
Wu:1 ui1ivmi×is 1ui coioUvs oi :1oms:
Te simplest colouis to study aie the shaip coloui lines emitted oi absoibed by single
atoms. Single atoms aie mainly found in gases. Te simplest atom to study is that of hy-
diogen. Hot hydiogen gas, shown in Figuie 78, emits light consisting of a handful of
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shaip spectial lines, as shown on the lef of Figuie 79. Alieady in I883, the Swiss school-
teachei Johann Balmei (:8:8–:8µ8) had discoveied that the wavelengths of visible hy-
diogen lines obey the foimula:
1
?
?
= ?_
1
4

1
?
2
j foi ? = 3, 4, 5, ... . (90)
Caieful measuiements, which included the hydiogen’s spectial lines in the infiaied and
in the ultiaviolet, allowed Johannes Rydbeig (:8,¡–:µ:µ) to geneialize this foimula to:
1
?
??
= ?_
1
?
2

1
?
2
j , (9I)
wheie ? and ? > ? aie positive integeis, and the so-called Rydberg constant ? has the
value 10.97 µm
−1
; easiei to iemembei, the inveise value is 1/? = 91.16 nm. All the coloui
lines emitted by hydiogen satisfy this simple foimula. Classical physics cannot explain
this iesult at all. Tus, quantum theoiy has a cleaily defned challenge heie: to explain
the foimula and the value of ?.
Incidentally, the tiansition ?
21
foi hydiogen is called the Lyman-alpha line. Its
wavelength, 121.6 nm, lies in the ultiaviolet. It is easily obseived with telescopes, since
most of the visible stais consist of excited hydiogen. Te Lyman-alpha line is ioutinely
used to deteimine the speed of distant stais oi galaxies, since the Doppler efect changes
the wavelength when the speed is laige. Te iecoid in 2004 was a galaxy Ref. 132 with a Lyman-
alpha line shifed to 1337 nm. Can you calculate the speed with which it is moving away
fiom the Eaith: Challenge 139 s
Fiom the stait, it was cleai that the colouis of hydiogen aie due to the motion of its
election. (Why:) Challenge 140 e Te fist way to deduce Balmei’s foimula fiom the minimum action
was found by Niels Bohi in I903. Bohi undeistood that in contiast to planets ciicling
the Sun, the election moving aiound the pioton has only a disciete numbei of possible
motion states: the angulai momentum of the election is quantized. Page 80 Assuming that the
angulai momentum of the election is an integei multiple of ℏ yields Balmei’s foimula
and explains the numeiical value of the Rydbeig constant ?. Challenge 141 e Tis calculation is so famous
that it is found in many secondaiy school books. Te iesult also stiengthened Bohi’s
decision to dedicate his life to the exploiation of the stiuctuie of the atom.
Twenty yeais time latei, in I926, Eiwin Schiödingei solved his equation of motion foi
an election moving in the electiostatic potential ?(?) = ?
2
/4π?
0
? of a point-like pioton.
By doing so, Schiödingei iepioduced Bohi’s iesult, deduced Balmei’s foimula and be-
came famous in the woild of physics. Howevei, this impoitant calculation is long and
complex.
In oidei to undeistand hydiogen colouis, it is not necessaiy to solve an equation of
motion foi the election; it is sumcient to compaie the eneigies of the initial and fnal
states of the election. Tis can be done most easily by noting that a specifc foim of the
action must be a multiple of ℏ/2. Tis appioach, a geneialization of Bohi’s explanation,
was developed by Einstein, Biillouin and Kellei, and is now named afei them. It ielies
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Hydrogen: spectral lines and
energy levels
656.2852 nm
954.597 nm
656.272 nm
486.133 nm
434.047 nm
397.007 nm
410.174 nm
400
450
500
550
600
650
700
nm
n = 1
n = 2
n = 3
Energy
nonrelativistic
(Bohr) levels
relativistic
(Sommerfeld-
Dirac) levels
(fine structure)
virtual particle
levels (with
Lamb shift)
nuclear levels
at higher scale
(hyperfine
structure)
1S
1/2
1S
1/2
2S
1/2
, 2P
1/2
2P
3/2
2S
1/2
2P
1/2
2P
3/2
3S
1/2
, 3P
1/2
3S
1/2

3P
1/2
3D
5/2
3P
3/2
, 3D
3/2
3D
5/2
3P
3/2
, 3D
3/2
Continuum of ionized states
n = 8
F = 0
F = 1
F = 0
F = 1
F = 1
F = 1
F = 2
F = 0
FI GURE 79 Atomic hydrogen: the visible spectrum of hydrogen (NASA) and its calculated energy levels,
in four approximations of increasing precision. Can you associate the visible lines to the correct level
transitions?
on the fact that the action ? of any quantum system obeys Ref. 133
? =
1

∮d?
?
?
?
= _?
?
+
?
?
4
jℏ (92)
foi eveiy cooidinate ?
?
and its conjugate momentum?
?
. Te expiessioniefects the simil-
aiity between angulai momentumand action. Heie, ?
?
can be zeio oi any positive integei,
and ?
?
is the so-called Maslov index, an even integei, which in the case of atoms has the
value 2 foi the iadial and azimuthal cooidinates ? and ?, and 0 foi the iotation angle ?.
Te integial is to be taken along a full oibit. In simple woids, the action ? is a half-integer
multiple of the quantum of action. Tis iesult can be used to calculate the eneigy levels
of peiiodic quantum systems, such as hydiogen atoms.
Any iotational motion in a spheiical potential ?(?) is chaiacteiized by a constant
eneigy ? and constant angulai momenta ? and ?
?
. Teiefoie the conjugate momenta
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foi the cooidinates ?, ? and ? aie Challenge 142 ny
?
?
=
_
2?(? − ?(?)) −
?
2
?
2
?
?
=
_
?
2

?
2
?
sin
2
?
?
?
= ?
?
. (93)
Using these expiessions in equation (92) and setting ? = ?
?
+ ?
?
+ ?
?
+ 1, we get¯ the
iesult
?
?
= −
1
?
2
??
4
2(4π?
0
)
2

2
= −
?ℎ?
?
2
= −
?
2
??
2
2?
2
≈ −
2.19 aJ
?
2
≈ −
13.6 eV
?
2
. (96)
Tese energy levels ?
?
, the non-ielativistic Bohi levels, aie shown in Figuie 79. Using the
idea that a hydiogen atom emits a single photon when its election changes fiom state ?
?
to ?
?
, we get exactly the foimula deduced by Balmei and Rydbeig fiom obseivations!
Challenge 144 e Te match between obseivation and calculation is about foui digits. Foi (almost) the fist
time evei, a mateiial piopeity, the coloui of hydiogen atoms, had been explained fiom
a fundamental piinciple of natuie. Key to this explanation was the quantum of action ℏ.
(Tis whole discussion assumes that the elections in hydiogen atoms that emit light aie
in eigenstates. Can you aigue why this is the case:) Challenge 145 s
In shoit, the quantum of action implies that only ceitain specifc eneigy values foi
an election aie allowed inside an atom. Te lowest eneigy level, foi ? = 1, is called the
ground state. Its eneigy value 2.19 aJ is the ionization energy of hydiogen; if that eneigy is
added to the giound state, the election is no longei bound to the nucleus. Te ionization
eneigy thus plays the same iole foi elections aiound atoms as does the escape velocity, oi
bettei, the escape energy, foi satellites oi iockets shot fiom planets.
In the same way that the quantum of action deteimines the colouis of the hydiogen
atom, it deteimines the colouis of all othei atoms. All Fiaunhofei lines, whethei obseived
in the infiaied, visible and ultiaviolet, aie due to the quantum of action. In fact, eveiy
coloui in natuie is due to a supeiposition of coloui lines, so that all colouis, also those
of solids and liquids, aie deteimined by the quantum of action.
¯ Te calculaiion is siraighiforward. Afer inseriion of ?(?) = ?/4π?
0
? inio equaiion (93) one needs io
perform ihe (iricky) iniegraiion. Using ihe general resuli Challenge 143 ny
1


d?
?
¸
??
2
+ 2?? − ? = −
_
? +
?
_
−?
(94)
one geis
_?
?
+
1
2
jℏ + ? = ?ℏ =
?
2
4π?
0
_
?
−2?
. (93)
Tis leads io ihe energy formula (96).
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nucleus
(not to scale)
1 nm 1 nm 0.2 0 0.4 0.6 0.8
n=1, l=0
n=2, l=0 n=2, l=1
n=3, l=0
n=3, l=1
n=3, l=2
FI GURE 80 The imagined, but not existing and thus false electron orbits of the Bohr–Sommerfeld
model of the hydrogen atom (left) and the correct description, using the probability density of the
electron in the various states (right) (© Wikimedia).
Tui sizi oi :1oms
Te calculation just peifoimed also yields the efective iadius of the election oibit in
hydiogen. It is given by
?
?
= ?
2

2
4π?
0
?
e
?
2
=

?
?
??
= ?
2
?
0
≈ ?
2
52.918 937 pm , with ? = 1, 2, 3, ... (97)
We again see that, in contiast to classical physics, quantum theoiy allows only ceitain
specifc oibits aiound the nucleus. (Foi moie details about the fne-stiuctuie constant
?, see Page 186, page 195 below.) Te smallest value, 53 pm foi ? = 1, is called the Bohr radius, and is de-
noted by ?
0
. To be moie piecise, these iadii aie the aveiage sizes of the election clouds
suiiounding the nucleus.
In a gas of hydiogen atoms, most atoms aie in the giound state desciibed by ?
1
= ?
0
and ?
1
. On the othei hand, quantum theoiy implies that a hydiogen atom excited to the
level ? = 500 is about 12 µm in size: laigei than many bacteiia! Such blown-up atoms, Ref. 134
usually called Rydberg atoms, have indeed been obseived in the laboiatoiy, although they
aie extiemely sensitive to peituibations.
In shoit, the quantum of action deteimines the size of atoms. Te iesult thus confims
the piediction by Aithui Eiich Haas fiom I9I0. Page 21
In I9I3, Ainold Sommeifeld undeistood that the analogy of election motion with oi-
bital motion could be continued in two ways. Fiist of all, elections can move, on aveiage,
on ellipses instead of ciicles. Te quantization of angulai momentum then implies that
only selected eccentiicities aie possible. Te highei the angulai momentum, the laigei
the numbei of possibilities: the fist few aie shown in Figuie 80. Te highest eccentiicity
coiiesponds to the minimum value ? = 0 of the so-called azimuthal quantum numbei,
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wheieas the case ? = ?−1 coiiespond to ciiculai oibits. Ref. 136 In addition, the ellipses can have
difeient oiientations in space.
Te second point Sommeifeld noted was that the speeds of the election in hydiogen
aie slightly ielativistic: the speed values aie not negligible compaied to the speed of light.
Indeed, the oibital fiequency of elections in hydiogen is
?
?
=
1
?
3
?
4
?
e
4?
2
0

3
=
1
?
3
?
?
?
2
?
2


6.7 PHz
?
3
(98)
and the election speed is
?
?
=
1
?
?
2
4π?
0

=
??
?

2.2 Mm/s
?

0.007 ?
?
. (99)
As expected, the fuithei the election’s oibit is fiomthe nucleus, the moie slowly it moves.
Tis iesult can also be checked by expeiiment: exchanging the election foi a muon allows
us to measuie the time dilation of its lifetime. Measuiements aie in excellent agieement
with the calculations. Ref. 135
In shoit, Sommeifeld noted that Bohi’s calculation did not take into account ielativ-
istic efects. And indeed, high-piecision measuiements show slight difeiences between
the Bohi’s non-ielativistically eneigy levels and the measuied ones. Te calculation must
be impioved.
Tui su:vi oi :1oms
Fiee atoms aie spheiical. Atoms in exteinal felds aie defoimed. Whatevei the situation,
the shape of atoms is due to the shape of the wave function. Te simplest case is the
hydiogen atom. Its wave functions – moie piecisely, the eigenfunctions foi the fist few
eneigy levels – aie illustiated on the iight hand side of Figuie 80. Tese functions had
been calculated by Eiwin Schiödingei alieady in I926 and aie found in all textbooks. We
do not peifoim the calculation heie, and just show the iesults.
Te squaie of the wave function is the piobability density of the election. Tis density
quickly decieases with incieasing distance fiom the nucleus. Like foi a ieal cloud, the
density is nevei zeio, even at laige distances. We could thus aigue that all atoms have
infnite size; in piactice howevei, chemical bonds oi the aiiangement of atoms in solids
show that it is much moie appiopiiate to imagine atoms as clouds of fnite size.
Suipiisingly, the fist measuiement of the wave function of an atom dates only fiom
the yeai 20I3; it was peifoimed with a clevei photoionization technique by Aneta Sto-
dolna and hei team. Ref. 137 Te beautiful expeiimental iesult is shown in Figuie 8I. Te fguies
confim that wave functions, in contiast to piobability densities, have nodes, i.e. lines –
oi bettei, suifaces – wheie theii value is zeio.
In summaiy, all expeiiments confim that the election in the hydiogen atom foims
wave functions in exactly the way that is piedicted by quantum theoiy. In paiticulai, also
the shape of atoms is found to agiee with the calculation fiom quantum mechanics.
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FI GURE 81 The figure shows the calculated and the measured nodal structure of the hydrogen atom in
a weak external electric field, magnified by an electrostatic lens. The patterns are two-dimensional
interference shadows of the wave functions. Left column: how the wave function is projected from the
atoms to the macroscopic screen; central column: the measured nodal structure; right column:
comparison of the measured (solid) and calculated (dashed) electron densities. (© Aneta Stodolna/APS,
from Ref. 137).
Rii:1ivis1ic uvuvoci×
Measuiing atomic eneigy levels is possible which a much highei piecision that meas-
uiing wave functions. In paiticulai, only eneigy level measuiements allow to obseive
ielativistic efects.
Also in the ielativistic case, the EBK action has to be a multiple of ℏ/2. Fiom the ie-
lativistic expiession foi Ref. 133 the kinetic eneigy of the election in a hydiogen atom
? + ?
2
? =
_
?
2
?
2
+ ?
2
?
4

?
2
4π?
0
?
(I00)
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we get the expiession Challenge 146 e
?
2
?
= 2??_1 +
?
2?
2
?
j +
2??
2
4π?
0
?
_1 +
?
?
2
?
j . (I0I)
We now intioduce, foi convenience, the so-called fne-structure constant, as ? =
?
2
/(4π?
0
ℏ?) = ¸4πℏ?/?? ≈ 1/137.036. (? is a dimensionless constant; ? = 10.97 µm
−1
is the Rydbeig constant.) Te iadial EBK action then implies that Challenge 147 e
?
??
+ ?
2
? =
?
2
?
_
1 +
?
2
?−?−
1
2
+¸(?+
1
2
)
2
−?
2

2
. (I02)
Tis iesult, fist found by Ainold Sommeifeld in I9I3, is coiiect foi point-like, i.e., non-
iotating elections. In ieality, the election has spin 1/2; the coiiect ielativistic eneigy
levels thus appeai when we set ? = ? | 1/2 in the above foimula. Te iesult can be ap-
pioximated by
?
??
= −
?
?
2
_1 +
?
2
?
2
_
?
? +
1
2

3
4
_+ ..._ . (I03)
It iepioduces the hydiogen spectium to an extiemely high accuiacy. If we compaie the
iesult with the non-ielativistic one, we note that each non-ielativistic level ? is split in
? difeient levels. Tis splitting is illustiated in Figuie 79. Page 182 In piecision expeiiments, the
splitting of the lines of the hydiogen spectiumis visible as the so-called fne structure. Te
magnitude of the fne stiuctuie depends on ?, a fundamental constant of natuie. Since
Ainold Sommeifeld discoveied the impoitance of this fundamental constant in this con-
text, the name he chose, the fne-structure constant, has been taken ovei acioss the woild.
Te fne-stiuctuie constant desciibes the strength of the electiomagnetic inteiaction; Page 195 the
fne-stiuctuie constant is the electiomagnetic coupling constant.
Modein high-piecision expeiiments show additional efects that modify the colouis
of atomic hydiogen. Tey aie also illustiated in Figuie 79. Page 182 Viitual-paiticle efects and the
coupling of the pioton spin give additional coiiections. But that is still not all: isotope
efects, Dopplei shifs and level shifs due to enviionmental electiic oi magnetic felds
also infuence the hydiogen spectium. We will discuss the Lamb shif latei Vol. V, page 120 on.
Rii:1ivis1ic w:vi iqU:1io×s – :c:i×

Te equaiion was more inielligeni ihan I was.

Paul Dirac aboui his equaiion, repeaiing
a siaiemeni made by Heinrich Heriz.
What is the evolution equation foi the wave function in the case that ielativity, spin and
inteiactions with the electiomagnetic feld aie taken into account: We could tiy to gen-
eialize the iepiesentation of ielativistic motion given Page 104 by Foldy and Wouthuysen to the
case of paiticles with electiomagnetic inteiactions. Unfoitunately, this is not a simple
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FI GURE 82 Paul Dirac (1902–1984)
mattei. Te simple identity between the classical and quantum-mechanical desciiptions
is lost if electiomagnetism is included.
Charged quantum paiticles aie best desciibed by anothei, equivalent iepiesentation
of the Hamiltonian, which was discoveied much eailiei, in I926, by the Biitish physicist
Paul Diiac.¯ Diiac found a neat tiick to take the squaie ioot appeaiing in the ielativistic
eneigy opeiatoi. In Diiac’s iepiesentation, the Hamilton opeiatoi is given by
?
Dirac
= ??+ ? ⋅ ? . (I04)
Te quantities ? and the thiee components (?
1
, ?
2
, ?
3
) = ? tuin out to be complex 4 × 4
matiices.
In Diiac’s iepiesentation, the position opeiatoi ? is not the position of a paiticle, but
has additional teims; its velocity opeiatoi has only the eigenvalues plus oi minus the
velocity of light; the velocity opeiatoi is not simply ielated to the momentum opeiatoi;
the equation of motion contains the famous ‘Zitteibewegung’ teim; oibital angulai mo-
mentum and spin aie not sepaiate constants of motion.
So why use this hoiiible Hamiltonian: Because only the Diiac Hamiltonian can easily
be used foi chaiged paiticles. Indeed, it is tiansfoimed to the Hamiltonian coupled to the
electiomagnetic feld by the so-called minimal coupling, i.e., by the substitution Vol. III, page 82
? → ? − ?? , (I03)
that tieats electiomagnetic momentum like paiticle momentum. With this piesciiption,
Diiac’s Hamiltonian desciibes the motion of chaiged paiticles inteiacting with an elec-
tiomagnetic feld ?. Te minimal coupling substitution is not possible in the Foldy–
¯ Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (b. :µo: Brisiol, d. :µ8¡ Tallahassee), bilingual physicisi, siudied eleciroiech-
nics in Brisiol, ihen weni io Cambridge, where he laier became a professor, holding ihe chair ihai Newion
had once held. In ihe years from I923 io I933 he published a siream of papers, of which several were worih a
Nobel Prize; he received ii in I933. Dirac unifed special relaiiviiy and quanium iheory, predicied aniimai-
ier, worked on spin and siaiisiics, predicied magneiic monopoles, speculaied on ihe law of large numbers,
and more besides. His iniroversion, friendliness and shyness, and his deep insighis inio naiure, combined
wiih a dedicaiion io beauiy in iheoreiical physics, made him a legend all over ihe world during his lifeiime.
For ihe laiier half of his life he iried, unsuccessfully, io fnd an aliernaiive io quanium elecirodynamics, of
which he was ihe founder, as he was repelled by ihe problems of infniiies. He died in Florida, where he
lived and worked afer his reiiremeni from Cambridge.
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FI GURE 83 The famous
Zitterbewegung: the
superposition of positive and
negative energy states leads
to an oscillation around a
mean vale. Colour indicates
phase; two coloured curves
are shown, as the Dirac
equation in one dimension
has only two components (not
four); the grey curve is the
probability density. (QuickTime
film © Bernd Thaller)
Wouthuysen Hamiltonian. In the Diiac iepiesentation, paiticles aie puie, point-like,
stiuctuieless electiic chaiges; in the Foldy–Wouthuysen iepiesentation they acquiie a
chaige iadius and a magnetic-moment inteiaction. Ref. 138 (We will come to the ieasons below,
in the section on QED.)
In moie detail, the simplest desciiption of an election (oi any othei elementaiy, stable,
electiically-chaiged paiticle of spin 1/2) is given by the action ? and Lagiangian
? = _
QED
?
4
? wheie (I06)

QED
= ?(?ℏ?/ D− ?
2
?) ? −
1
4?
0
?
??
?
??
and
/ D
?
= ?
?
(∂
?
− ???
?
)
Te fist, mattei teim in the Lagiangian leads to the Diiac equation: it desciibes how
elementaiy, chaiged, spin I/2 paiticles aie moved by electiomagnetic felds. Te second,
iadiation teim leads to Maxwell’s equations, and desciibes how electiomagnetic felds
aie moved by the chaiged paiticle wave function. Togethei with a few calculating tiicks,
these equations desciibe what is usually called quantum electrodynamics, oi QED foi
shoit.
As fai as is known today, the ielativistic desciiption of the motion of chaiged mat-
tei and electiomagnetic felds given the QED Lagiangian (I06) is perfect: no difeiences
between theoiy and expeiiment have evei been found, despite intensive seaiches and
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despite a high iewaid foi anybody who would fnd one. All known piedictions com-
pletely coiiespond with the measuiements. In the most spectaculai cases, the coiies-
pondence between theoiy and measuiement extends to moie than thiiteen digits. But
even moie inteiesting than the piecision of QED aie ceitain of its featuies that aie miss-
ing in classical electiodynamics. Let’s have a quick toui.
Gi11i×c : iivs1 iiiii×c iov 1ui Div:c iqU:1io×
Te QED Lagiangian implies that the wave function of a chaiged paiticle in a potential
follows the Diiac equation:
?ℏ?
?
(∂
?
− ???
?
)? = ??? . (I07)
Te many indices should not make us foiget that this equation simply states that the
eigenvalue of the eneigy–momentum opeiatoi is the iest mass (times the speed of light
?). In othei woids, the equation states that the wave ? moves with a phase velocity ?.
Te wave function ? has foui complex components. Two desciibe the motion of
paiticles, and two the motion of antipaiticles. Each type of paiticle needs two complex
components, because the equation desciibes spin and paiticle density. Spin is a iotation,
and a iotation iequiies thiee ieal paiameteis. Spin and density thus iequiie foui ieal
paiameteis; they can be combined into two complex numbeis, both foi paiticles and foi
antipaiticles.
Each of the foui components of the wave function of a ielativistic spinning paiticle
follows the ielativistic Schiödingei–Klein–Goidon equation. Challenge 148 e Tis means that the ielativ-
istic eneigy–momentum ielation is followed by each component sepaiately.
Te ielativistic wave function ? has the impoitant piopeity that a iotation by 2π
changes its sign. Challenge 149 e Only a iotation by 4π leaves the wave function unchanged. Tis is the
typical behavioui of spin I/2 paiticles. Foi this ieason, the foui-component wave func-
tion of a spin I/2 paiticle is called a spinor.
A×1im:11iv
‘Antimattei’ is now a household teim. Inteiestingly, the concept appeaied before theie
was any expeiimental evidence foi it. Te ielativistic expiession foi the eneigy ? of an
election with chaige ? in the feld of a chaige ? is
? +
??
4π?
0
?
=
_
?
2
?
4
+ ?
2
?
2
. (I08)
Tis expiession also allows solutions with negative eneigy and opposite chaige −?, if the
negative ioot is used. Quantum theoiy shows that this is a geneial piopeity, and these
solutions coiiespond to what is called antimatter.
Indeed, the antimattei companion of the election was piedicted in the I920s by Paul
Diiac fiom his equation (I07), which is based on the above ielativistic eneigy ielation
(I08). Unawaie of this piediction, Cail Andeison discoveied the antielection in I932,
and called it the positron. (Te coiiect name would have been ‘positon’, without the ‘i’.
Tis coiiect foim is used in the Fiench language.) Andeison was studying cosmic iays,
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FI GURE 84 Klein’ s paradox:
the motion of a relativistic
wave function that encounters
a very steep potential. Part of
the wave function is
transmitted; this part is
antimatter, as the larger lower
component shows. (QuickTime
film © Bernd Thaller)
and noticed that some ‘elections’ weie tuining the wiong way in the magnetic feld he
had applied to his appaiatus. He checked his appaiatus thoioughly, and fnally deduced
that he had found a paiticle with the same mass as the election but with positive electiic
chaige.
Te existence of positions has many stiange implications. Alieady in I928, befoie theii
discoveiy, the Swedish theoiist Oskai Klein had pointed out that Diiac’s equation foi
elections makes a stiange piediction: when an election hits a sumciently steep potential
wall, the iefection coemcient is laigei than unity. Such a wall will iefect more than is
thiown at it. In addition, a laige pait of the wave function is tiansmitted thiough the
wall. In I933, afei the discoveiy of the position, Weinei Heisenbeig and Hans Eulei
explained the paiadox. Ref. 139 Tey found that the Diiac equation piedicts that whenevei an
electiic feld exceeds the ciitical value of
?
c
=
?
e
?
2
??
e
=
?
2
e
?
3
?ℏ
= 1.3 EV]m , (I09)
the vacuum will spontaneously geneiate election–position paiis, which aie then sepai-
ated by the feld. As a iesult, the oiiginal feld is ieduced. Tis so-called vacuumpolariza-
tion is the ieason foi the iefection coemcient gieatei than unity found by Klein. Indeed,
steep potentials coiiespond to high electiic felds.
Vacuum polaiization shows that, in contiast to eveiyday life, the number of paiticles
is not a constant in the micioscopic domain. Only the diference between paiticle numbei
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and antipaiticle numbei tuins out to be conseived. Vacuum polaiization thus limits oui
possibility to count paiticles in natuie!
Vacuum polaiization is a weak efect. It has been only obseived in paiticle collisions
of high eneigy. In those case, the efect even incieases the fne-stiuctuie constant! Latei
on Vol. V, page 148 we will desciibe tiuly gigantic examples of vacuum polaiization that aie postulated
aiound chaiged black holes.
Of couise, the geneiation of election–position paiis is not a creation out of nothing,
but a transformation of eneigy into mattei. Such piocesses aie pait of eveiy ielativistic
desciiptionof natuie. Unfoitunately, physicists have a habit of calling this tiansfoimation
‘paii cieation’, thus confusing the issue somewhat. Te tiansfoimation is desciibed by
quantum feld theoiy, which we will exploie in the next volume.
Viv1U:i v:v1iciis
Despite what was said so fai, action values smallei than the smallest action value do
have a iole to play. We have alieady encounteied one example: in a collision between
two elections, theie is an exchange of viitual photons. Page 64 We leained that the exchanged
viitual photon cannot be obseived. Indeed, the action ? foi this exchange obeys
? ⩽ ℏ . (II0)
In shoit, virtual paiticles appeai only as mediatois in inteiactions. Tey cannot be ob-
seived. Viitual paiticles, in contiast to oidinaiy, ieal paiticles, do not obey the ielation
?
2
− ?
2
?
2
= ?
2
?
4
. Foi example, the kinetic eneigy can be negative. Indeed, viitual
paiticles aie the opposite of ‘fiee’ oi ieal paiticles. Tey may be obseived in a vacuum if
the measuiement time is veiy shoit. Tey aie intiinsically shoit-lived.
Viitual photons aie the cause foi electiostatic potentials, foi magnetic felds, foi
the Casimii efect, foi spontaneous emission, foi the van dei Waals foice, and foi the
Lamb shif in atoms. A moie detailed tieatment shows that in eveiy situation with vii-
tual photons theie aie also, with even lowei piobability, viitual elections and viitual
positions.
Massive viitual paiticles aie essential foi vacuum polaiization, foi the limit in the
numbei of the elements, foi black-hole iadiation and foi Uniuh iadiation. Massive vii-
tual paiticles also play a iole in the stiong inteiaction, wheie they hold the nucleons
togethei in nuclei, and in weak nucleai inteiaction, wheie they explain why beta decay
happens and why the Sun shines.
In paiticulai, viitual paiticle–antipaiticles paiis of mattei and viitual iadiation
paiticles togethei foim what we call the vacuum. In addition, viitual iadiation paiticles
foimwhat aie usually called static felds. Viitual paiticles aie needed foi a full desciiption
of all inteiactions. In paiticulai, viitual paiticles aie iesponsible foi eveiy decay piocess.
CUviosi1iis :×u iU× cu:iii×cis :voU1 coioUv
Wheie is the sea bluest: Sea watei, like fiesh watei, is blue because it absoibs ied and
gieen light. Te absoiption is due to a vibiational band of the watei molecule that is due
to a combination of symmetiic and asymmetiic moleculai stietches. Ref. 140 Te absoiption is
weak, but noticeable. At 700 nm (ied), the 1/? absoiption length of watei is 1 m.
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Sea watei can also be of biight coloui if the sea fooi iefects light. In addition, sea
watei can be gieen, when it contains small paiticles that scattei oi absoib blue light.
Most ofen, these paiticles aie soil oi plankton. (Satellites can deteimine plankton con-
tent fiom the ‘gieenness’ of the sea.) Tus the sea is especially blue if it is deep, quiet and
cold; in that case, the giound is distant, soil is not mixed into the watei, and the plankton
content is low. Te Saigasso Sea is 5 km deep, quiet and cold foi most of the yeai. It is
ofen called the bluest of the Eaith’s wateis.
Lakes can also be blue if they contain small mineial paiticles. Te paiticles scattei
light and lead to a blue coloui foi ieasons similai to the blue coloui of the sky. Such blue
lakes aie found in many places on Eaith.
∗∗
On modein high-piecision measuiements of the hydiogen spectia, listen to the undis-
puted mastei of the feld: enjoy the 20I2 talk by Teodoi Hänsch, who has devoted a
laige pait of his life to the topic, at www.mediatheque.lindau-nobel.oig.
∗∗
If atoms contain oibiting elections, the iotation of the Eaith, via the Coiiolis acceleia-
tion, should have an efect on theii motion, and thus on the coloui of atoms. Ref. 135 Tis beau-
tiful piediction is due to Maik Silveiman; the efect is so small, howevei, that is has not
yet been measuied.
∗∗
Light is difiacted by mateiial giatings. Can mattei be difiacted by light giatings: Sui-
piisingly, it actually can, as piedicted by Diiac and Kapitza in I937. Tis was accomplished
foi the fist time in I986, using atoms. Foi fiee elections, the feat is moie dimcult; Ref. 141 the
cleaiest confimation came in 200I, when new lasei technology was used to peifoim a
beautiful measuiement of the typical difiaction maxima foi elections difiacted by a
light giating.
∗∗
Light is totally iefected when it is diiected to a dense mateiial at a laige enough angle
so that it cannot entei the mateiial. A gioup of Russian physicists have shown that if the
dense mateiial is excited, the intensity of the totally-iefected beam can be amplifed. Ref. 135 It
is uncleai whethei this will evei lead to applications.
∗∗
Te ways people handle single atoms with electiomagnetic felds piovide many beautiful
examples of modein applied technologies. Nowadays it is possible to levitate, to tiap, to
excite, to photogiaph, Vol. I, page 322 to deexcite and to move single atoms just by shining light onto
them. Ref. 142 In I997, the Nobel Piize in Physics has been awaided to the oiiginatois of the feld,
Steven Chu, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William Philips.
∗∗
Given two miiiois and a fewphotons, Ref. 143 it is possible to captuie an atomand keep it foating
between the two miiiois. Tis feat, one of seveial ways to isolate single atoms, is now
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standaid piactice in laboiatoiies. Can you imagine how it is done: Challenge 150 s
∗∗
An example of modein ieseaich is the study of hollow atoms, i.e., atoms missing a num-
bei of innei elections. Tey have been discoveied in I990 by J.P. Biiand and his gioup.
Tey appeai when a completely ionized atom, i.e., one without any elections, is biought
in contact with a metal. Te acquiied elections then oibit on the outside, leaving the
innei shells empty, in staik contiast with usual atoms. Such hollow atoms can also be
foimed by intense lasei iiiadiation. Ref. 144
∗∗
Relativistic quantum efects can be seen. Te two most impoitant ones concein gold and
meicuiy. Te yellow coloui of gold – which has atomic numbei 79 – is due to the tians-
ition eneigy between 3d and 6s elections, which absoibs blue light. Without ielativistic
efects, this tiansition would lie in the ultiaviolet, similai to the tiansition between 4d
and 3s elections foi silvei, and gold would be colouiless. Te yellow coloui of gold is
thus a ielativistic efect.
Meicuiy – which has atomic numbei 80 – has a flled 6s shell. Due to the same ie-
lativistic efects that appeai in gold, these shells aie contiacted and do not like to foim
bonds. Foi this ieason, meicuiy is still liquid a ioomtempeiatuie, in contiast to all othei
metals. Relativity is thus the ieason that meicuiy is liquid, and that theimometeis woik.
∗∗
Is phosphoius phosphoiescent: Challenge 151 s
∗∗
It is possible to detect the passage of a single photon thiough an appaiatus without ab-
soibing it. How would you do this: Challenge 152 ny
M:1ivi:i vvoviv1iis
Like the size of hydiogen atoms, also the size of all othei atoms is fxed by the quantum
of action. Indeed, the quantum of action deteimines to a laige degiee the inteiactions
among elections. By doing so, the quantum of change deteimines all the inteiactions
between atoms in eveiyday mattei and thus deteimines all othei mateiial piopeities.
Te elasticity, the plasticity, the biittleness, the magnetic and electiic piopeities of ma-
teiials aie equally fxed by the quantum of action. Only ℏ makes electionics possible. We
will study some examples of mateiial piopeities in the next volume. Vaiious details of
the geneial connection between ℏ and mateiial piopeities aie still a subject of ieseaich,
though none is in contiadiction with the quantum of action. Mateiial ieseaich is among
the most impoitant felds of modein science, and most advances in the standaid of living
iesult fiom it. We will exploie some aspects in the next volume.
In summaiy, mateiials science has confimed that quantum physics is also the coiiect
desciiption of all mateiials; quantum physics has confimed that all mateiial piopeities
of eveiyday life aie of electiomagnetic oiigin; and quantum physics has confimed that
all mateiial piopeities of eveiyday life aie due to inteiactions that involve elections.
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8 coioUvs n×u movi :µ,
Tui s1vi×c1u oi iiic1vom:c×i1ism
Te gieat physicist Wolfgang Pauli used to say that afei his death, the fist thing he
would ask god would be to explain Sommeifeld’s fne-stiuctuie constant. (Otheis used
to comment that afei god will have explained it to him, he will think a little, and then
snap: ‘Wiong!’)
Te fne-structure constant, intioduced by Ainold Sommeifeld, is the dimensionless
constant of natuie whose value is measuied to be Ref. 145
? =
?
2
4π?
0
ℏ?

1
137.035 999 679(94)
≈ 0.007 297 352 5376(50) . (III)
Tis numbei fist appeaied in explanations of the fne stiuctuie of atomic coloui spectia;
hence its stiange name. Sommeifeld was the fist to undeistand its geneial impoitance. Ref. 146
It is cential to quantum electiodynamics foi seveial ieasons.
Fiist of all, the fne-stiuctuie constant desciibes the strength of electiomagnetism.
Te numbei ? iesults fiom the inteiaction of two electiic chaiges ?. Wiiting Coulomb’s
ielation foi the foice ? between two elections as
? = ?
ℏ?
?
2
(II2)
it becomes cleai that the fne-stiuctuie constant desciibes the stiength of electiomagnet-
ism. A highei value foi the fne-stiuctuie constant ? would mean a stiongei attiaction
oi iepulsion between chaiged bodies. Tus the value of ? deteimines the sizes of atoms,
and indeed of all things, as well as all colouis in natuie.
Secondly, it is only because the fne-stiuctuie constant ? is so small that we aie able
to talk about paiticles at all. Indeed, only because the fne-stiuctuie constant is much
smallei than I it is possible to distinguish paiticles fiom each othei. If the numbei ?
weie neai to oi laigei than I, paiticles would inteiact so stiongly that it would not be
possible to obseive them sepaiately oi to talk about paiticles at all.
Tis leads on to the thiid ieason foi the impoitance of the fne-stiuctuie constant.
Since it is a dimensionless numbei, it implies some yet-unknown mechanismthat fxes its
value. Uncoveiing this mechanism is one of the challenges iemaining in oui adventuie.
As long as the mechanism iemains unknown – as was the case in 2007 – we do not
undeistand the coloui and size of a single thing aiound us!
Small changes in the stiength of electiomagnetic attiaction between elections and
piotons would have numeious impoitant consequences. Can you desciibe what would
happen to the size of people, to the coloui of objects, to the coloui of the Sun, oi to the
woikings of computeis, if the stiength weie to double: And what if it weie to giadually
diop to half its usual value: Challenge 153 s
Since the I920s, explaining the value of ? has been seen as one of the toughest chal-
lenges facing modein physics. Tat is the ieason foi Pauli’s fantasy. In I946, duiing his
Nobel Piize lectuie, he iepeated the statement that a theoiy that does not deteimine
this numbei cannot be complete. Ref. 147 Since that time, physicists seem to have fallen into two
classes: those who did not daie to take on the challenge, and those who had no clue. Tis
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fascinating stoiy still awaits us.
Te pioblem of the fne-stiuctuie constant is so deep that it leads many astiay. Foi
example, it is sometimes claimed that it is impossible to change physical units in such a
way that ℏ, ? and ? aie all equal to 1 at the same time, because to do so would change the
numbei ? = 1/137.036.... Can you show that the aigument is wiong: Challenge 154 s
A sUmm:vv o× coioUvs :×u m:1ivi:is
In summaiy, the quantum of action ℏ – togethei with the inteiaction between electio-
magnetic felds and the elections inside atoms, molecules, liquids and solids – deteim-
ines the size, the shape, the coloui and the mateiial piopeities of all things aiound us.
Te stiength of the electiomagnetic inteiaction is desciibed by the fne-stiuctuie con-
stant ? ≈ 1/137.036. Its value is yet unexplained.
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C u : v 1 i v 9
QUANTUM PHYSICS I N A NUTSHELL
C
ompaied to classical physics, quantum theoiy is defnitely moie
omplex. Te basic idea howevei, is simple: in natuie theie is a smallest
hange, oi a smallest action, with the value ℏ = 1.1 ⋅ 10
−34
Js. Te smallest ac-
tion value leads to all the stiange obseivations made in the micioscopic domain, such
as the wave behavioui of mattei, indeteiminacy ielations, decoheience, iandomness
in measuiements, indistinguishability, quantization of angulai momentum, tunnelling,
paii cieation, decay and paiticle ieactions.
Te essence of quantum theoiy is thus the lack of infnitely small change. Te math-
ematics of quantum theoiy is abstiact and involved, though. Was this pait of oui walk
woith the efoit: It was: the iesults aie piofound, and the accuiacy of the desciiption is
complete. We fist give an oveiview of these iesults and then tuin to the questions that
aie still lef open.
Puvsic:i visUi1s oi qU:×1Um 1uiovv

Deorum injuriae diis curae.¯

Tiberius, as reporied by Taciius.
All of quantum theoiy can be iesumed in one sentence:
⊳ In natuie, actions oi changes smallei than ℏ = 1.1 ⋅ 10
−34
Js aie not ob-
seived.
Te existence of a smallest action in natuie diiectly leads to the main lesson we leained
about motion in the quantum pait of oui adventuie:
⊳ If it moves, it is made of quantons, oi quantum paiticles.
Tis statement applies to eveiy physical system, thus to all objects and to all images, i.e.,
to all mattei and iadiation. Moving stuf is made of quantons. Stones, watei waves, light,
sound waves, eaithquakes, gelatine and eveiything else we can inteiact with is made of
quantum paiticles.
Once we asked: what is mattei Vol. II, page 284 and what aie inteiactions: Nowwe know: they both aie
composites Vol. II, page 299 of elementaiy quantum paiticles. An elementary quantumparticle is a count-
¯ ‘Onenses of gods are care of ihe gods.’
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:µ8 µ qUn×1Um vuvsics i× n ×U1suiii
able entity that is smallei than its own Compton wavelength. All elementaiy paiticles aie
desciibed by eneigy–momentum, mass, spin, C, P and T paiity. Howevei, as we will see
in the next volume, this is not yet the complete list of paiticle piopeities. About the in-
trinsic piopeities of quantum paiticles, i.e., those that do not depend on the obseivei,
quantum theoiy makes a simple statement:
⊳ In natuie, all intiinsic piopeities of quantons, oi quantum paiticles – with
the exception of mass – such as spin, electiic chaige, stiong chaige, paiities
etc., Page 127 appeai as integei multiples of a basic unit. Since all physical systems aie
made of quantons, in composed systems all intiinsic piopeities – with the
exception of mass¯ – eithei add oi multiply.
In summaiy, all moving entities aie made of quantum paiticles desciibed by discrete in-
tiinsic piopeities. To see how deep this iesult is, you can apply it to all those moving
entities foi which it is usually foigotten, such as ghosts, spiiits, angels, nymphs, dae-
mons, devils, gods, goddesses and souls. You can check youiself what happens when
theii paiticle natuie is taken into account. Challenge 155 e
RisUi1s o× 1ui mo1io× oi qU:×1Um v:v1iciis
Quantons, oi quantum paiticles, difei fiom eveiyday paiticles: quantum paiticles in-
terfere: they behave like a mixtuie of paiticles and waves. Tis piopeity follows diiectly
fiom the existence of ℏ, the smallest possible action in natuie. Fiom the existence of ℏ,
quantum theoiy deduces all its statements about quantum paiticle motion. We summai-
ize the main ones.
Teie is no rest in natuie. All objects obey the indeteiminacy ielation, which states
that the indeteiminacies in position ? and momentum ? follow
Δ?Δ? ⩾ ℏ/2 with ℏ = 1.1 ⋅ 10
−34
Js (II3)
and making iest an impossibility. Te state of quantum paiticles is defned by the same
obseivables as in classical physics, with the difeience that obseivables do not commute.
Classical physics appeais in the limit that the Planck constant ℏ can efectively be set to
zeio.
Quantum theoiy intioduces a probabilistic element into motion. Piobabilities iesult
fiom the minimum action value thiough the inteiactions with the baths that aie pait
of the enviionment of eveiy physical system. Equivalently, piobabilities iesult in eveiy
expeiiment that tiies to induce a change that is smallei than the quantum of action.
Quantum paiticles behave like waves. Te associated de Bioglie wavelength ? is given
by the momentum ? thiough
? =

?
=
2πℏ
?
(II4)
both in the case of mattei and of iadiation. Tis ielation is the oiigin of the wave beha-
¯ More precisely, iogeiher wiih mass, also mixing angles are noi quaniized. Tese properiies are defned in
ihe nexi volume.
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vioui of light and mattei. Te light paiticles aie called photons; theii obseivation is now
standaid piactice. Quantum theoiy states that paiticle waves, like all waves, inteifeie, ie-
fiact, dispeise, dampen, can be dampened and can be polaiized. Tis applies to photons,
elections, atoms and molecules. All waves being made of quantum paiticles, all waves
can be seen, touched and moved. Light foi example, can be ‘seen’ in photon-photon
scatteiing in vacuum at high eneigies, can be ‘touched’ using the Compton efect, and
can be ‘moved’ by giavitational bending. Mattei paiticles, such as molecules oi atoms,
can be seen in election micioscopes and can be touched and moved with atomic foice
micioscopes. Te inteifeience and difiaction of wave paiticles is obseived daily in the
election micioscope.
Mattei waves can be imagined as clouds that rotate locally. In the limit of negligible
cloud size, quantum paiticles can be imagined as iotating little aiiows. Equivalently,
quantons have a phase.
Paiticles cannot be enclosed forever. Even though mattei is impenetiable, quantum
theoiy shows that tight boxes oi insuimountable obstacles do not exist. Enclosuie is
nevei foievei. Waiting long enough always allows us to oveicome any boundaiy, since
theie is a fnite piobability to oveicome any obstacle. Tis piocess is called tunnelling
whenseen fiomthe spatial point of viewand is called decay when seen fiomthe tempoial
point of view. Tunnelling explains the woiking of television tubes as well as iadioactive
decay.
All paiticles and all paiticle beams can be rotated. Paiticles possess an intiinsic an-
gulai momentum called spin, specifying theii behavioui undei iotations. Bosons have
integei spin, feimions have half integei spin. An even numbei of bound feimions oi any
numbei of bound bosons yield a composite boson; an odd numbei of bound feimions
yield a low-eneigy feimion. Solids aie impenetiable because of the feimion chaiactei of
its elections in the atoms.
Identical paiticles aie indistinguishable. Radiation is made of indistinguishable
paiticles called bosons, mattei of feimions. Undei exchange of two feimions at space-like
sepaiations, the wave function changes sign, wheieas foi two bosons the wave function
iemains unchanged. All othei piopeities of quantum paiticles aie the same as foi
classical paiticles, namely countability, inteiaction, mass, chaige, angulai momentum,
eneigy, momentum, position, as well as impenetiability foi mattei and penetiability foi
iadiation. Peifect copying machines do not exist.
In collisions, paiticles interact locally, thiough the exchange of othei paiticles. When
mattei paiticles collide, they inteiact thiough the exchange of viitual bosons, i.e., of-
shell bosons. Motion change is thus due to paiticle exchange. Exchange bosons of even
spin mediate only attiactive inteiactions. Exchange bosons of odd spin mediate iepulsive
inteiactions as well.
Te piopeities of collisions imply the non-conseivation of paiticle numbei. In col-
lisions, paiticles can appeai – i.e., can be ‘cieated’ – oi disappeai – i.e., can be
‘annihilated’. Tis is valid both foi bosons and foi feimions.
Te piopeities of collisions imply the existence of antiparticles, which aie iegulaily
obseived in expeiiments. Elementaiy feimions, in contiast to many elementaiy bosons,
difei fiomtheii antipaiticles; they can be cieated and annihilated only in paiis. Element-
aiy feimions have non-vanishing mass and move slowei than light.
Paiticles can decay and be transformed. Detailed investigations show that collisions
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imply the non-conseivation of paiticle type. In collisisons, selected paiticles can change
theii intiinsic piopeities. Tis obseivation will be detailed in the next volume. Equival-
ently, the quantum of action implies that things break and living beings die.
Images, made of iadiation, aie desciibed by the same obseivables as mattei: position,
phase, speed, mass, momentum etc. – though theii values and ielations difei. Images
can only be localized with a piecision of the wavelength ? of the iadiation pioducing
them.
Te appeaiance of Planck’s constant ℏ implies that length scales and time scales exist
in natuie. Quantum theoiy intioduces a fundamental jittei in eveiy example of motion.
Tus the infnitely small is eliminated. In this way, lowei limits to stiuctuial dimensions
and to many othei measuiable quantities appeai. In paiticulai, quantum theoiy shows
that it is impossible that on the elections in an atom small cieatuies live in the same way
that humans live on the Eaith ciicling the Sun. Quantum theoiy shows the impossibility
of Lilliput.
Clocks and metie bais have fnite precision, due to the existence of a smallest action
and due to theii inteiactions with baths. On the othei hand, all measuiement appaiatuses
must contain baths, since otheiwise they would not be able to iecoid iesults.
Quantum efects leave no ioom foi cold fusion, astiology, Ref. 148 telepoitation, telekinesis,
supeinatuial phenomena, multiple univeises, oi fastei than light phenomena – the EPR
paiadox Page 151 notwithstanding.
Acuiivimi×1s i× :ccUv:cv :×u vvicisio×
Apait fiom the conceptual changes, quantum theoiy impioved the accuiacy of piedic-
tions fiom the few – if any – digits common in classical mechanics to the full numbei of
digits – sometimes thiiteen – that can be measuied today. Te limited piecision is usu-
ally not given by the inaccuiacy of theoiy, it is given by the measuiement accuiacy. In
othei woids, the agieement is only limited by the amount of money the expeiimentei is
willing to spend. Table 8 shows this in moie detail.
TABLE 8 Selected comparisons between classical physics, quantum theory and experiment.
Ov s i vvn v i i C i n s -
s i c n i
v v i u i c -
1 i o ×
P v i u i c 1 i o × o i
q Un × 1 U m
1 u i o vv
?
Mi n s U v i -
mi × 1
C o s 1
i s 1 i -
mn1 i
Simple motion of bodies
Indeierminacy 0 Δ?Δ? ⩾ ℏ/2 (1 ± 10
−2
) ℏ/2 10 kt
Maiier wavelengih none ?? = 2πℏ (1 ± 10
−2
) ℏ 10 kt
Compion wavelengih none ?
c
= ℎ/?
e
? (1 ± 10
−3
) ? 20 kt
Pair creaiion raie 0 ?? agrees 100 kt
Radiaiive decay iime in
hydrogen
none ? ∼ 1/?
3
(1 ± 10
−2
) 5 kt
Smallesi angular
momenium
0 ℏ/2 (1 ± 10
−6
) ℏ/2 10 kt
Casimir eneci/pressure 0 ? = (π
2
ℏ?)/(240?
4
) (1 ± 10
−3
) 30 kt
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n
.
n
e
t
µ qUn×1Um vuvsics i× n ×U1suiii :o:
Ov s i vvn v i i C i n s -
s i c n i
v v i u i c -
1 i o ×
P v i u i c 1 i o × o i
q Un × 1 U m
1 u i o vv
?
Mi n s U v i -
mi × 1
C o s 1
i s 1 i -
mn1 i
Colours of objects
Specirum of hoi objecis diverges ?
max
= ℎ?/(4.956 ??) (1 ± 10
−4
) Δ? 10 kt
Lamb shif none Δ? = 1057.86(1) MHz (1 ± 10
−6
) Δ? 50 kt
Rydberg consiani none ?

= ?
e
??
2
/2ℎ (1 ± 10
−9
) ?

50 kt
Siefan–Bolizmann
consiani
none ? = π
2
?
4
/60ℏ
3
?
2
(1 ± 3 ⋅ 10
−8
) ? 20 kt
Wien’s displacemeni
consiani
none ? = ?
max
? (1 ± 10
−5
) ? 20 kt
Refraciive index of waier none I.34 wiihin a few ° 1 kt
Phoion-phoion scaiiering 0 from QED: fniie agrees 50 Mt
Eleciron gyromagneiic
raiio
I or 2 2.002 3I9 304 363(7) 2.002 3I9 304
36I 33(33)
30 Mt
Muon anomalous
magneiic momeni
0 11 659 1827(63) ⋅ 10
−11
II 639 2080(60) ⋅ 10
−11
100 Mt
Composite matter properties
Aiom lifeiime ≈ 1 µs ∞ > 10
20
a I t
Muonium hyperfne
spliiiing
none 4 463 302 542(620) Hz 4 463 302 763(33) HzI t
Molecular size and shape none from QED wiihin 10
−3
20 kt
?. All ihese prediciions are calculaied from ihe basic physical consianis given in Appendix A. Page 213
We notice that the piedicted values do not difei fiom the measuied ones. If we iemem-
bei that classical physics does not allow us to calculate any of the measuied values, we
get an idea of the piogiess quantum physics has achieved. Tis advance in undeistand-
ing is due to the intioduction of the quantum of action ℏ. Equivalently, we can state: no
desciiption of natuie without the quantum of action is complete.
In summaiy, quantum theoiy is piecise and accuiate. In the micioscopic domain
quantum theoiy is in perfect coiiespondence with natuie; despite piospects of fame and
iiches, despite the laigest numbei of ieseaicheis evei, no contiadiction between obsei-
vation and theoiy has been found yet. On the othei hand, explaining the measuied value
of the fne-stiuctuie constant, ? = 1/137.035 999 074(44), iemains an open pioblem of
the electiomagnetic inteiaction.
Is qU:×1Um 1uiovv m:cic:
Studying natuie is like expeiiencing magic. Natuie ofen looks difeient fiom what it is.
Duiing magic we aie fooled – but only if we foiget oui own limitations. Once we stait
to see ouiselves as pait of the game, we stait to undeistand the tiicks. Tat is the fun of
magic. Te same happens in quantum motion.
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:o: µ qUn×1Um vuvsics i× n ×U1suiii
∗∗
Nature seems irreversible, even though it isn’t. We nevei iemembei the futuie. We aie
fooled because we aie macioscopic.
∗∗
Nature seems decoherent, even though it isn’t. We aie fooled again because we aie mac-
ioscopic.
∗∗
Tere are no clocks in natuie. We aie fooled by those of eveiyday life because we aie
suiiounded by a huge numbei of paiticles.
∗∗
Motion ofen seems to disappear, even though it is eteinal. We aie fooled again, because
oui senses cannot expeiience the micioscopic domain.
∗∗
Objects seem distinguishable, even though the statistical piopeities of theii components
show that they aie not. We aie fooled because we live at low eneigies.
∗∗
Matter seems continuous, even though it isn’t. We aie fooled because of the limitations
of oui senses.
∗∗
Motion seems deterministic in the classical sense, even though it is iandom. We aie fooled
again because we aie macioscopic.
∗∗
In shoit, oui human condition peimanently fools us. Te answei to the title question is:
classical physics is like magic, and the tiicks aie uncoveied by quantum theoiy. Tat is
its main attiaction.
QU:×1Um 1uiovv is ix:c1, vU1 c:× uo movi
We can summaiize this pait of oui adventuie with a simple statement: quantumphysics is
the description of matter and radiation without the concept of infnitely small. All change
in natuie is desciibed by fnite quantities, above all, by the smallest change possible in
natuie, the quantum of action ℏ = 1.054 571 726(47) ⋅ 10
−34
Js.
All expeiiments, without exception, showthat the quantum of action ℏ is the smallest
obseivable change. Te desciiption of natuie with the quantum of action is thus exact
and fnal. Te smallest measuiable action ℏ, like the maximum eneigy speed ?, is a fun-
damental piopeity of natuie. One could also call both of them fundamental truths.
Since quantum theoiy follows logically and completely fiom the smallest measuiable
action ℏ, the simplest way – and the only way – to dispiove quantum theoiy is to fnd an
obseivation that contiadicts the smallest change value ℏ. Tiy it! Challenge 156 e
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µ qUn×1Um vuvsics i× n ×U1suiii :o¸
Even thoughwe have deduced a fundamental piopeity of natuie, if we tuin back to the
stait of oui exploiation of quantum theoiy, Page 15 we cannot hide a ceitain disappointment. We
know that classical physics cannot explain life. Seaiching foi the details of micioscopic
motion, we encounteied so many inteiesting aspects that we have not achieved the ex-
planation of life yet. Foi example, we know what deteimines the speed of elections in
atoms, but we do not know what deteimines the iunning speed of an athlete. In fact,
we have not even discussed the piopeities of any solid oi liquid, let alone those of moie
complex stiuctuies like living beings.
In othei teims, afei this intioduction into quantum theoiy, we must still connect
quantum piocesses to oui eveiyday woild. Teiefoie, the topic of the next volume will
be the exploiation of the motion of and inside living things – and of the motion inside all
kind of mattei, including solids and stais, using the quantum of action as a foundation.
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Av v i × u i x A
UNI TS, MEASUREMENTS AND
CONSTANTS
M
easuiements aie compaiisons with standaids. Standaids aie based on units.
any difeient systems of units have been used thioughout the woild.
ost of these standaids confei powei to the oiganization in chaige of them.
Such powei can be misused; this is the case today, foi example in the computei in-
dustiy, and was so in the distant past. Te solution is the same in both cases: oiganize
an independent and global standaid. Foi measuiement units, this happened in the
eighteenth centuiy: in oidei to avoid misuse by authoiitaiian institutions, to eliminate
pioblems with difeiing, changing and iiiepioducible standaids, and – this is not a joke
– to simplify tax collection and to make it moie just, a gioup of scientists, politicians
and economists agieed on a set of units. It is called the Système International d’Unités,
abbieviated SI, and is defned by an inteinational tieaty, the ‘Convention du Mètie’.
Te units aie maintained by an inteinational oiganization, the ‘Conféience Généiale
des Poids et Mesuies’, and its daughtei oiganizations, the ‘Commission Inteinationale
des Poids et Mesuies’ and the ‘Buieau Inteinational des Poids et Mesuies’ (BIPM). All
oiiginated in the times just befoie the Fiench ievolution. Ref. 149
SI U×i1s
All SI units aie built fiom seven base units, whose omcial defnitions, tianslated fiom
Fiench into English, aie given below, togethei with the dates of theii foimulation:
‘Te second is the duiation of 9 I92 63I 770 peiiods of the iadiation coiiesponding
to the tiansition between the two hypeifne levels of the giound state of the caesium I33
atom.’ (I967)¯
‘Te metre is the length of the path tiavelled by light in vacuum duiing a time intei-
val of I/299 792 438 of a second.’ (I983)¯
‘Te kilogramis the unit of mass; it is equal to the mass of the inteinational piototype
of the kilogiam.’ (I90I)¯
‘Te ampere is that constant cuiient which, if maintained in two stiaight paiallel
conductois of infnite length, of negligible ciiculai cioss-section, and placed I metie
apait in vacuum, would pioduce between these conductois a foice equal to 2 ⋅ 10
−7
new-
ton pei metie of length.’ (I948)¯
‘Te kelvin, unit of theimodynamic tempeiatuie, is the fiaction I/273.I6 of the thei-
modynamic tempeiatuie of the tiiple point of watei.’ (I967)¯
‘Te mole is the amount of substance of a systemwhich contains as many elementaiy
entities as theie aie atoms in 0.0I2 kilogiam of caibon I2.’ (I97I)¯
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n U×i1s, minsUvimi×1s n×u co×s1n×1s :o,
‘Te candela is the luminous intensity, in a given diiection, of a souice that emits
monochiomatic iadiation of fiequency 540⋅ 10
12
heitz and has a iadiant intensity in that
diiection of (I/683) watt pei steiadian.’ (I979)¯
We note that both time and length units aie defned as ceitain piopeities of a standaid
example of motion, namely light. In othei woids, also the Conféience Généiale des Poids
et Mesuies makes the point that the obseivation of motion is a prerequisite foi the defn-
ition and constiuction of time and space. Motion is the fundament of every observation
and of all measurement. By the way, the use of light in the defnitions had been pioposed
alieady in I827 by Jacques Babinet.¯¯
Fiomthese basic units, all othei units aie defned by multiplication and division. Tus,
all SI units have the following piopeities:
SI units foima systemwith state-of-the-art precision: all units aie defned with a pie-
cision that is highei than the piecision of commonly used measuiements. Moieovei, the
piecision of the defnitions is iegulaily being impioved. Te piesent ielative unceitainty
of the defnition of the second is aiound 10
−14
, foi the metie about 10
−10
, foi the kilo-
giam about 10
−9
, foi the ampeie 10
−7
, foi the mole less than 10
−6
, foi the kelvin 10
−6
and
foi the candela 10
−3
.
SI units foim an absolute system: all units aie defned in such a way that they can
be iepioduced in eveiy suitably equipped laboiatoiy, independently, and with high pie-
cision. Tis avoids as much as possible any misuse by the standaid-setting oiganization.
(Te kilogiam, still defned with the help of an aitefact, is the last exception to this ie-
quiiement; extensive ieseaich is undei way to eliminate this aitefact fiom the defnition
– an inteinational iace that will take a few moie yeais. Teie aie two appioaches: count-
ing paiticles, oi fxing ℏ. Te foimei can be achieved in ciystals, e.g., ciystals made of
puie silicon, the lattei using any foimula wheie ℏ appeais, such as the foimula foi the de
Bioglie wavelength oi that of the Josephson efect.)
SI units foima practical system: the base units aie quantities of eveiyday magnitude.
Fiequently used units have standaid names and abbieviations. Te complete list includes
the seven base units just given, the supplementaiy units, the deiived units and the ad-
mitted units.
Te supplementary SI units aie two: the unit foi (plane) angle, defned as the iatio
of aic length to iadius, is the radian (iad). Foi solid angle, defned as the iatio of the
subtended aiea to the squaie of the iadius, the unit is the steradian (si).
Te derived units with special names, in theii omcial English spelling, i.e., without
capital letteis and accents, aie:
¯ Te respeciive symbols are s, m, kg, A, K, mol and cd. Te iniernaiional proioiype of ihe kilogram is
a plaiinum–iridium cylinder kepi ai ihe BIPM in Sèvres, in France. Vol. I, page 98 For more deiails on ihe levels of ihe
caesium aiom, consuli a book on aiomic physics. Ref. 150 Te Celsius scale of iemperaiure ? is defned as: ?/°C =
?/K − 273.15; noie ihe small dinerence wiih ihe number appearing in ihe defniiion of ihe kelvin. SI also
siaies: ‘When ihe mole is used, ihe elemeniary eniiiies musi be specifed and may be aioms, molecules,
ions, elecirons, oiher pariicles, or specifed groups of such pariicles.’ In ihe defniiion of ihe mole, ii is
undersiood ihai ihe carbon I2 aioms are unbound, ai resi and in iheir ground siaie. In ihe defniiion of ihe
candela, ihe frequency of ihe lighi corresponds io 555.5 nm, i.e., green colour, around ihe wavelengih io
which ihe eye is mosi sensiiive.
¯¯ Jacques Babinei (:,µ¡–:8,¡), French physicisi who published imporiani work in opiics.
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:o6 n U×i1s, minsUvimi×1s n×u co×s1n×1s
Nn mi Av v v i v i n1 i o × Nn mi Av v v i v i n1 i o ×
heriz Hz = 1/s newion N = kg m/s
2
pascal Pa = N/m
2
= kg/ms
2
joule J = Nm = kg m
2
/s
2
waii W = kg m
2
/s
3
coulomb C = As
voli V = kg m
2
/As
3
farad F = As/V = A
2
s
4
/kg m
2
ohm Ω = V/A = kg m
2
/A
2
s
3
siemens S = 1/Ω
weber Wb = Vs = kg m
2
/As
2
iesla T = Wb/m
2
= kg/As
2
= kg/Cs
henry H = Vs/A = kg m
2
/A
2
s
2
degree Celsius °C (see defniiion of kelvin)
lumen lm = cd si lux lx = lm/m
2
= cd si/m
2
becquerel Bq = 1/s gray Gy = J/kg = m
2
/s
2
sieveri Sv = J/kg = m
2
/s
2
kaial kat = mol/s
We note that in all defnitions of units, the kilogiam only appeais to the poweis of I,
0 and −1. Can you tiy to foimulate the ieason: Challenge 157 s
Te admitted non-SI units aie minute, hour, day (foi time), degree 1° = π/180 iad,
minute 1

= π/10 800 iad, second 1
ὔὔ
= π/648 000 iad (foi angles), litre, and tonne. All
othei units aie to be avoided.
All SI units aie made moie piactical by the intioduction of standaid names and ab-
bieviations foi the poweis of ten, the so-called prefxes:¯
P o wi v Nn mi P o wi v Nn mi P o wi v Nn mi P o wi v Nn mi
10
1
deca da 10
−1
deci d 10
18
Exa E 10
−18
aiio a
10
2
hecio h 10
−2
cenii c 10
21
Zeiia Z 10
−21
zepio z
10
3
kilo k 10
−3
milli m 10
24
Yoiia Y 10
−24
yocio y
10
6
Mega M 10
−6
micro µ unomcial: Ref. 151
10
9
Giga G 10
−9
nano n 10
27
Xenia X 10
−27
xenno x
10
12
Tera T 10
−12
pico p 10
30
Wekia W 10
−30
weko w
10
15
Peia P 10
−15
femio f 10
33
Vendekia V 10
−33
vendeko v
10
36
Udekia U 10
−36
udeko u
SI units foim a complete system: they covei in a systematic way the full set of ob-
seivables of physics. Moieovei, they fx the units of measuiement foi all othei sciences
as well.
¯ Some of ihese names are invenied (yocio io sound similar io Laiin octo ‘eighi’, zepio io sound similar
io Laiin septem, yoiia and zeiia io resemble ihem, exa and peia io sound like ihe Greek words ἑξάκις and
πεντάκις for ‘six iimes’ and ‘fve iimes’, ihe unomcial ones io sound similar io ihe Greek words for nine,
ien, eleven and iwelve); some are from Danish/Norwegian (aiio from atten ‘eighieen’, femio from femten
‘ffeen’); some are from Laiin (from mille ‘ihousand’, from centum ‘hundred’, from decem ‘ien’, from
nanus ‘dwarf’); some are from Iialian (from piccolo ‘small’); some are Greek (micro is from µικρός ‘small’,
deca/deka from δέκα ‘ien’, hecio from ἑκατόν ‘hundred’, kilo from χίλιοι ‘ihousand’, mega from µέγας
‘large’, giga from γίγας ‘giani’, iera from τέρας ‘monsier’).
Translaie: I was caughi in such a iramc jam ihai I needed a microceniury for a picoparsec and ihai my
car’s fuel consumpiion was iwo ienihs of a square millimeire. Challenge 158 e
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n U×i1s, minsUvimi×1s n×u co×s1n×1s :o,
SI units foima universal system: they can be used in tiade, in industiy, in commeice,
at home, in education and in ieseaich. Tey could even be used by extiateiiestiial civil-
izations, if they existed.
SI units foim a self-consistent system: the pioduct oi quotient of two SI units is also
an SI unit. Tis means that in piinciple, the same abbieviation, e.g. ‘SI’, could be used
foi eveiy unit.
Te SI units aie not the only possible set that could fulfl all these iequiiements, but they
aie the only existing system that does so.¯ In the neai futuie, the BIPM plans to iedefne
the SI units using the physics cube diagiam shownin Figuie I. Page 8 Tis will be iealized by fx-
ing, in addition to the values of ? and ?
cd
, also the values of ℏ, ?, ? and ?
A
. Te defnition
of the second will be ietained, in oidei to avoid the low piecision of all known meas-
uiements of ?. Te details of this futuie, new SI aie piesented on www.bipm.oig/en/
measuiement-units/new-si/ and www.bipm.oig/utils/common/pdf/si_biochuie_diaf_
chI23.pdf.
Tui mi:×i×c oi mi:sUvimi×1
Eveiy measuiement is a compaiison with a standaid. Teiefoie, any measuiement ie-
quiies matter to iealize the standaid (even foi a speed standaid), Challenge 159 e and radiation to achieve
the compaiison. Te concept of measuiement thus assumes that mattei and iadiation ex-
ist and can be cleaily sepaiated fiom each othei.
Eveiy measuiement is a compaiison. Measuiing thus implies that space and time ex-
ist, and that they difei fiom each othei.
Eveiy measuiement pioduces a measuiement iesult. Teiefoie, eveiy measuiement
implies the storage of the iesult. Te piocess of measuiement thus implies that the situ-
ation befoie and afei the measuiement can be distinguished. In othei teims, eveiy meas-
uiement is an irreversible piocess.
Eveiy measuiement is a piocess. Tus eveiy measuiement takes a ceitain amount of
time and a ceitain amount of space.
All these piopeities of measuiements aie simple but impoitant. Bewaie of anybody
who denies them.
Pi:×cx’ s ×:1Uv:i U×i1s
Since the exact foim of many equations depends on the system of units used, theoietical
physicists ofen use unit systems optimized foi pioducing simple equations. Te chosen
units and the values of the constants of natuie aie ielated. In micioscopic physics, the
system of Planck’s natural units is fiequently used. Tey aie defned by setting ? = 1, ℏ =
1, ? = 1, ? = 1, ?
0
= 1/4π and ?
0
= 4π. Planck units aie thus defned fiom combinations
¯ Apari from iniernaiional uniis, ihere are also provincial uniis. Mosi provincial uniis siill in use are of
Roman origin. Te mile comes from milia passum, which used io be one ihousand (double) sirides of aboui
1480 mm each; ioday a nauiical mile, once defned as minuie of arc on ihe Earih’s surface, is defned exacily
as 1852 m. Te inch comes from uncia/onzia (a iwelfh – now of a fooi). Te pound (from pondere ‘io
weigh’) is used as a iranslaiion of libra – balance – which is ihe origin of iis abbreviaiion lb. Even ihe habii
of couniing in dozens insiead of iens is Roman in origin. Tese and all oiher similarly funny uniis – like
ihe sysiem in which all uniis siari wiih ‘f’, and which uses furlong/forinighi as iis unii of velociiy – are now
omcially defned as muliiples of SI uniis.
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:o8 n U×i1s, minsUvimi×1s n×u co×s1n×1s
of fundamental constants; those coiiesponding to the fundamental SI units aie given in
Table I0.¯ Te table is also useful foi conveiting equations wiitten in natuial units back
to SI units: just substitute eveiy quantity ? Challenge 160 e by ?/?
Pl
.
TABLE 10 Planck’ s (uncorrected) natural units.
Nn mi Di i i × i 1 i o × Vn i U i
Basic units
ihe Planck lengih ?
Pl
= _ℏ?/?
3
= 1.616 0(12) ⋅ 10
−35
m
ihe Planck iime ?
Pl
= _ℏ?/?
5
= 5.390 6(40) ⋅ 10
−44
s
ihe Planck mass ?
Pl
= _ℏ?/? = 21.767(16) µg
ihe Planck curreni ?
Pl
= _4π?
0
?
6
/? = 3.479 3(22) ⋅ 10
25
A
ihe Planck iemperaiure ?
Pl
= _ℏ?
5
/??
2
= 1.417 1(91) ⋅ 10
32
K
Trivial units
ihe Planck velociiy ?
Pl
= ? = 0.3 Gm/s
ihe Planck angular momenium ?
Pl
= ℏ = 1.1 ⋅ 10
−34
Js
ihe Planck aciion ?
aPl
= ℏ = 1.1 ⋅ 10
−34
Js
ihe Planck eniropy ?
ePl
= ? = 13.8 yJ/K
Composed units
ihe Planck mass densiiy ?
Pl
= ?
5
/?
2
ℏ = 5.2 ⋅ 10
96
kg/m
3
ihe Planck energy ?
Pl
= _ℏ?
5
/? = 2.0 GJ = 1.2 ⋅ 10
28
eV
ihe Planck momenium ?
Pl
= _ℏ?
3
/? = 6.5 Ns
ihe Planck power ?
Pl
= ?
5
/? = 3.6 ⋅ 10
52
W
ihe Planck force ?
Pl
= ?
4
/? = 1.2 ⋅ 10
44
N
ihe Planck pressure ?
Pl
= ?
7
/?ℏ = 4.6 ⋅ 10
113
Pa
ihe Planck acceleraiion ?
Pl
= _?
7
/ℏ? = 5.6 ⋅ 10
51
m/s
2
ihe Planck frequency ?
Pl
= _?
5
/ℏ? = 1.9 ⋅ 10
43
Hz
ihe Planck eleciric charge ?
Pl
= _4π?
0
?ℏ = 1.9 aC = 11.7 e
ihe Planck voliage ?
Pl
= _?
4
/4π?
0
? = 1.0 ⋅ 10
27
V
ihe Planck resisiance ?
Pl
= 1/4π?
0
? = 30.0 Ω
ihe Planck capaciiance ?
Pl
= 4π?
0
_ℏ?/?
3
= 1.8 ⋅ 10
−45
F
ihe Planck induciance ?
Pl
= (1/4π?
0
)_ℏ?/?
7
= 1.6 ⋅ 10
−42
H
ihe Planck eleciric feld ?
Pl
= _?
7
/4π?
0
ℏ?
2
= 6.5 ⋅ 10
61
V/m
ihe Planck magneiic ßux densiiy ?
Pl
= _?
5
/4π?
0
ℏ?
2
= 2.2 ⋅ 10
53
T
¯ Te naiural uniis ?
Pl
given here are ihose commonly used ioday, i.e., ihose defned using ihe consiani
ℏ, and noi, as Planck originally did, by using ihe consiani ℎ = 2πℏ. Te eleciromagneiic uniis can also be
defned wiih oiher faciors ihan 4π?
0
in ihe expressions: for example, using 4π?
0
?, wiih ihe fne-structure
constant ?, gives ?
Pl
= ?. Page 195 For ihe explanaiion of ihe numbers beiween brackeis, see below.
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n U×i1s, minsUvimi×1s n×u co×s1n×1s :oµ
Te natuial units aie impoitant foi anothei ieason: whenevei a quantity is sloppily called
‘infnitely small (oi laige)’, the coiiect expiession is ‘as small (oi as laige) as the coiies-
ponding coiiected Planck unit’. As explained thioughout the text, and especially in the
fnal pait, Vol. VI, page 35 this substitution is possible because almost all Planck units piovide, within
a coiiection factoi of oidei I, the extiemal value foi the coiiesponding obseivable –
some an uppei and some a lowei limit. Unfoitunately, these coiiection factois aie not
yet widely known. Te exact extiemal value foi each obseivable in natuie is obtained
when ? is substituted by 4? and 4π?
0
by 4π?
0
? in all Planck quantities. Tese extiemal
values, oi corrected Planck units, aie the true natural units. To exceed the extiemal values
is possible only foi some extensive quantities. (Can you fnd out which ones:) Challenge 161 s
O1uiv U×i1 svs1ims
A cential aim of ieseaich in high-eneigy physics is the calculation of the stiengths of
all inteiactions; theiefoie it is not piactical to set the giavitational constant ? to unity,
as in the Planck system of units. Foi this ieason, high-eneigy physicists ofen only set
? = ℏ = ? = 1 and ?
0
= 1/?
0
= 4π,¯ leaving only the giavitational constant ? in the
equations.
In this system, only one fundamental unit exists, but its choice is fiee. Ofen a stand-
aid length is chosen as the fundamental unit, length being the aichetype of a measuied
quantity. Te most impoitant physical obseivables aie then ielated by
1/[?
2
] = [?]
2
= [?] = [?] = [?
electric
] ,
1/[?] = [?] = [?] = [?] = [?] = [?] = [?] = [?] = [?] ,
1 = [?] = [?] = [?] = [?] = [?
action
] = [?
entropy
] = ℏ = ? = ? = [?] ,
[?] = 1/[?] = [?] = [?] = [?] and
[?]
2
=1/[?]
2
= [?] = [?]
(II3)
wheie we wiite [?] foi the unit of quantity ?. Using the same unit foi time, capacitance
and inductance is not to eveiybody’s taste, howevei, and theiefoie electiicians do not
use this system.¯¯
Ofen, in oidei to get an impiession of the eneigies needed to obseive an efect un-
dei study, a standaid eneigy is chosen as fundamental unit. In paiticle physics the most
common eneigy unit is the electron volt eV, defned as the kinetic eneigy acquiied by
an election when acceleiated by an electiical potential difeience of I volt (‘pioton volt’
¯ Oiher defniiions for ihe proporiionaliiy consianis in elecirodynamics lead io ihe Gaussian unii sysiem
ofen used in iheoreiical calculaiions, ihe Heaviside–Loreniz unii sysiem, ihe elecirosiaiic unii sysiem, and
ihe eleciromagneiic unii sysiem, among oihers. Ref. 152
¯¯ Inihe lisi, ? is lengih, ? energy, ? force, ?
electric
ihe eleciric and ? ihe magneiic feld, ?mass, ?momenium,
? acceleraiion, ? frequency, ? eleciric curreni, ? voliage, ? iemperaiure, ? speed, ? charge, ? resisiance, ?
power, ? ihe graviiaiional consiani.
Te web page www.chemie.fu-berlin.de/chemisiry/general/uniis_en.himl provides a iool io converi
various uniis inio each oiher.
Researchers in general relaiiviiy ofen use anoiher sysiem, in which ihe Schwarzschild radius ?
s
=
2??/?
2
is used io measure masses, by seiiing ? = ? = 1. In ihis case, mass and lengih have ihe same
dimension, and ℏ has ihe dimension of an area.
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::o n U×i1s, minsUvimi×1s n×u co×s1n×1s
would be a bettei name). Teiefoie one has 1 eV = 1.6 ⋅ 10
−19
J, oi ioughly
1 eV ≈
1
6
aJ (II6)
which is easily iemembeied. Te simplifcation ? = ℏ = 1 yields ? = 6.9 ⋅ 10
−57
eV
−2
and
allows one to use the unit eV also foi mass, momentum, tempeiatuie, fiequency, time
and length, with the iespective coiiespondences 1 eV ≡ 1.8 ⋅ 10
−36
kg Challenge 162 e ≡ 5.4 ⋅ 10
−28
Ns
≡ 242 THz ≡ 11.6 kK and 1 eV
−1
≡ 4.1 fs ≡ 1.2 µm.
To get some feeling foi the unit eV, the following ielations aie useful. Room tempei-
atuie, usually taken as 20°C oi 293 K, coiiesponds to a kinetic eneigy pei paiticle of
0.025 eV oi 4.0 zJ. Te highest paiticle eneigy measuied so fai belongs to a cosmic iay
with an eneigy of 3 ⋅ 10
20
eV oi 48 J. Ref. 153 Down heie on the Eaith, an acceleiatoi able to pio-
duce an eneigy of about 105 GeV oi 17 nJ foi elections and antielections has been built,
and one able to pioduce an eneigy of 14 TeV oi 2.2 µJ foi piotons will be fnished soon.
Both aie owned by CERN in Geneva and have a ciicumfeience of 27 km.
Te lowest tempeiatuie measuied up to now is 280 pK, in a system of ihodium
nuclei held inside a special cooling system. Ref. 154 Te inteiioi of that ciyostat may even be
the coolest point in the whole univeise. Te kinetic eneigy pei paiticle coiiespond-
ing to that tempeiatuie is also the smallest evei measuied: it coiiesponds to 24 feV oi
3.8 vJ = 3.8 ⋅ 10
−33
J. Foi isolated paiticles, the iecoid seems to be foi neutions: kinetic
eneigies as low as 10
−7
eV have been achieved, coiiesponding to de Bioglie wavelengths
of 60 nm.
CUviosi1iis :×u iU× cu:iii×cis :voU1 U×i1s
Te Planck length is ioughly the de Bioglie wavelength ?
B
= ℎ/?? of a man walking
comfoitably (? = 80 kg, ? = 0.5 m/s); Ref. 155 this motion is theiefoie aptly called the ‘Planck
stioll.’
∗∗
Te Planck mass is equal to the mass of about 10
19
piotons. Tis is ioughly the mass of
a human embiyo at about ten days of age.
∗∗
Te most piecisely measuied quantities in natuie aie the fiequencies of ceitain milli-
second pulsais, Ref. 156 the fiequency of ceitain naiiow atomic tiansitions, and the Rydbeig
constant of atomic hydiogen, which can all be measuied as piecisely as the second is
defned. Te caesium tiansition that defnes the second has a fnite linewidth that limits
the achievable piecision: the limit is about I4 digits.
∗∗
Te most piecise clock evei built, using miciowaves, had a stability of 10
−16
duiing a
iunning time of 500 s. Ref. 157 Foi longei time peiiods, the iecoid in I997 was about 10
−15
; but
values aiound 10
−17
seem within technological ieach. Ref. 158 Te piecision of clocks is limited
foi shoit measuiing times by noise, and foi long measuiing times by diifs, i.e., by sys-
tematic efects. Te iegion of highest stability depends on the clock type; it usually lies
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n U×i1s, minsUvimi×1s n×u co×s1n×1s :::
between 1 ms foi optical clocks and 5000 s foi maseis. Pulsais aie the only type of clock
foi which this iegion is not known yet; it ceitainly lies at moie than 20 yeais, the time
elapsed at the time of wiiting since theii discoveiy.
∗∗
Te shoitest times measuied aie the lifetimes of ceitain ‘elementaiy’ paiticles. In pai-
ticulai, the lifetime of ceitain D mesons have been measuied at less than Ref. 159 10
−23
s. Such
times aie measuied using a bubble chambei, wheie the tiack is photogiaphed. Can you
estimate how long the tiack is: Challenge 163 s (Tis is a tiick question – if youi length cannot be ob-
seived with an optical micioscope, you have made a mistake in youi calculation.)
∗∗
Te longest times encounteied in natuie aie the lifetimes of ceitain iadioisotopes, ovei
10
15
yeais, and the lowei limit of ceitain pioton decays, ovei 10
32
yeais. Tese times aie
thus much laigei than the age of the univeise, estimated to be fouiteen thousand million
yeais. Ref. 160
∗∗
Vaiiations of quantities aie ofen much easiei to measuie than theii values. Foi example,
in giavitational wave detectois, the sensitivity achieved in I992 was Δ?/? = 3 ⋅ 10
−19
foi
lengths of the oidei of 1 m. Ref. 161 In othei woids, foi a block of about a cubic metie of metal
it is possible to measuie length changes about 3000 times smallei than a pioton iadius.
Tese set-ups aie now being supeiseded by iing inteifeiometeis. Ring inteifeiometeis
measuiing fiequency difeiences of 10
−21
have alieady been built; and they aie still being
impioved. Ref. 162
Pvicisio× :×u :ccUv:cv oi mi:sUvimi×1s
Measuiements aie the basis of physics. Eveiy measuiement has an error. Eiiois aie due
to lack of piecision oi to lack of accuiacy. Precision means howwell a iesult is iepioduced
when the measuiement is iepeated; accuracy is the degiee to which a measuiement coi-
iesponds to the actual value.
Lack of piecision is due to accidental oi random errors; they aie best measuied by the
standard deviation, usually abbieviated ?; it is defned thiough
?
2
=
1
? − 1
?
_
?=1
(?
?
− ̄ ?)
2
, (II7)
wheie ̄ ? is the aveiage of the measuiements ?
?
. (Can you imagine why ? − 1 is used in
the foimula instead of ?:) Challenge 164 s
Foi most expeiiments, the distiibution of measuiement values tends towaids a noi-
mal distiibution, also called Gaussian distribution, whenevei the numbei of measuie-
ments is incieased. Te distiibution, shown in Figuie 83, is desciibed by the expiession
?(?) ≈ e

(?− ̄ ?)
2
2?
2
. (II8)
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::: n U×i1s, minsUvimi×1s n×u co×s1n×1s
x
average value
x
measured values
N
number of measurements
limit curve for a large number
of measurements: the
Gaussian distribution
full width at half maximum
(FWHM)
standard deviation
FI GURE 85 A precision experiment and its measurement distribution. The precision is high if the width
of the distribution is narrow; the accuracy is high if the centre of the distribution agrees with the actual
value.
Te squaie ?
2
of the standaid deviation is also called the variance. Foi a Gaussian distii-
bution of measuiement values, 2.35? is the full width at half maximum. Challenge 165 e
Lack of accuiacy is due to systematic errors; usually these can only be estimated. Tis
estimate is ofen added to the iandomeiiois to pioduce a total experimental error, some-
times also called total uncertainty. Ref. 163 Te relative eiioi oi unceitainty is the iatio between
the eiioi and the measuied value.
Foi example, a piofessional measuiement will give a iesult such as 0.312(6) m. Te
numbei between the paientheses is the standaid deviation ?, in units of the last digits.
As above, a Gaussian distiibution foi the measuiement iesults is assumed. Teiefoie, a
value of 0.312(6) m implies that the actual value is expected to lie Challenge 166 e
— within 1? with 68.3 ° piobability, thus in this example within 0.312 ± 0.006 m;
— within 2? with 93.4 ° piobability, thus in this example within 0.312 ± 0.012 m;
— within 3? with 99.73 ° piobability, thus in this example within 0.312 ± 0.018 m;
— within 4? with 99.9937° piobability, thus in this example within 0.312 ± 0.024 m;
— within 5? with 99.999943 °piobability, thus in this example within 0.312 ± 0.030 m;
— within 6? with 99.999999 80 ° piobability, thus within 0.312 ± 0.036 m;
— within 7? with 99.999999 999 74 ° piobability, thus within 0.312 ± 0.041 m.
(Do the lattei numbeis make sense:) Challenge 167 s
Note that standaid deviations have one digit; you must be a woild expeit to use two,
and a fool to use moie. If no standaid deviation is given, a (I) is assumed. As a iesult,
among piofessionals, 1 km and 1000 m aie not the same length!
What happens to the eiiois when two measuied values ?and ? aie added oi subtiac-
ted: If the all measuiements aie independent – oi uncoiielated – the standaid deviation
of the sumand that of difeience is given by ? = _?
2
?
+ ?
2
?
. Foi both the pioduct oi iatio
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of two measuied and uncoiielated values ?and ?, the iesult is ? = _?
2
?
+ ?
2
?
, wheie the
? teims aie the relative standaid deviations.
Assume you measuie that an object Challenge 168 s moves 1.0 m in 3.0 s: what is the measuied speed
value:
Limi1s 1o vvicisio×
What aie the limits to accuiacy and piecision: Teie is no way, even in piinciple, to
measuie a length ? to a precision highei than about 6I digits, because in natuie, the iatio
between the laigest and the smallest measuiable length is Δ?/? > ?
Pl
/?
horizon
= 10
−61
.
(Is this iatio valid also foi foice oi foi volume:) Challenge 169 e In the fnal volume of oui text, studies
of clocks and metie bais stiengthen this theoietical limit. Vol. VI, page 90
But it is not dimcult to deduce moie stiingent piactical limits. No imaginable machine
can measuie quantities with a highei piecision than measuiing the diametei of the Eaith
within the smallest length evei measuied, about 10
−19
m; that is about 26 digits of pieci-
sion. Using a moie iealistic limit of a 1000 m sized machine implies a limit of 22 digits.
If, as piedicted above, time measuiements ieally achieve I7 digits of piecision, then they
aie neaiing the piactical limit, because apait fiom size, theie is an additional piactical
iestiiction: cost. Indeed, an additional digit in measuiement piecision ofen means an
additional digit in equipment cost.
Puvsic:i co×s1:×1s
In physics, geneial obseivations aie deduced fiom moie fundamental ones. As a con-
sequence, many measuiements can be deduced fiom moie fundamental ones. Te most
fundamental measuiements aie those of the physical constants.
Te following tables give the woild’s best values of the most impoitant physical con-
stants and paiticle piopeities – in SI units and in a few othei common units – as pub-
lished in the standaid iefeiences. Ref. 164 Te values aie the woild aveiages of the best measuie-
ments made up to the piesent. As usual, expeiimental eiiois, including both iandom
and estimated systematic eiiois, aie expiessed by giving the standaid deviation in the
last digits. In fact, behind each of the numbeis in the following tables theie is a long
stoiy which is woith telling, Ref. 165 but foi which theie is not enough ioom heie.
In piinciple, all quantitative piopeities of mattei Ref. 164 can be calculated with quantum the-
oiy and the values of ceitain physical constants. Foi example, coloui, density and elastic
piopeities can be piedicted using the equations of the standaid model of paiticle Vol. V, page 254 physics
and the values of the following basic constants.
TABLE 11 Basic physical constants.
Q Un × 1 i 1 v S v mv o i Vn i U i i × S I U × i 1 s U× c i v1.
?
Constants that denne the SI measurement units
Vacuum speed of lighi
?
? 299 792 458 m/s 0
Vacuum permeabiliiy
?
?
0
4π ⋅ 10
−7
H/m 0
= 1.256 637 061 435 ... µH/m0
Vacuum permiiiiviiy
?
?
0
= 1/?
0
?
2
8.854 187 817 620 ... pF/m 0
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TABLE 11 (Continued) Basic physical constants.
Q Un × 1 i 1 v S v mv o i Vn i U i i × S I U × i 1 s U× c i v1.
?
Original Planck consiani ℎ 6.626 069 57(52) ⋅ 10
−34
Js 4.4 ⋅ 10
−8
Reduced Planck consiani, ℏ 1.054 571 726(47) ⋅ 10
−34
Js 4.4 ⋅ 10
−8
quanium of aciion
Posiiron charge ? 0.160 217 656 5(35) aC 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
Bolizmann consiani ? 1.380 6488(13) ⋅ 10
−23
J/K 9.1 ⋅ 10
−7
Graviiaiional consiani ? 6.673 84(80) ⋅ 10
−11
Nm
2
/kg
2
1.2 ⋅ 10
−4
Graviiaiional coupling consiani? = 8π?/?
4
2.076 50(25) ⋅ 10
−43
s
2
/kg m 1.2 ⋅ 10
−4
Fundamental constants (of unknown origin)
Number of space-iime dimensions 3 + 1 0
?
Fine-siruciure consiani
?
or ? =
?
2
4π?
0
ℏ?
1/137.035 999 074(44) 3.2 ⋅ 10
−10
e.m. coupling consiani = ?
em
(?
2
e
?
2
) = 0.007 297 352 5698(24) 3.2 ⋅ 10
−10
Fermi coupling consiani
?
or ?
F
/(ℏ?)
3
1.166 364(5) ⋅ 10
−5
GeV
−2
4.3 ⋅ 10
−6
weak coupling consiani ?
w
(?
Z
) = ?
2
w
/4π 1/30.1(3) 1 ⋅ 10
−2
Weak mixing angle sin
2
?
W
(??) 0.231 24(24) 1.0 ⋅ 10
−3
sin
2
?
W
(on shell) 0.2224(19) 8.7 ⋅ 10
−3
= 1 − (?
W
/?
Z
)
2
Sirong coupling consiani
?
?
s
(?
Z
) = ?
2
s
/4π 0.118(3) 25 ⋅ 10
−3
CKM quark mixing mairix |?| _
0.97428(15) 0.2253(7) 0.00347(16)
0.2252(7) 0.97345(16) 0.0410(11)
0.00862(26) 0.0403(11) 0.999152(45)
_
Jarlskog invariani ? 2.96(20) ⋅ 10
−5
PMNS neuirino mixing m. ? _
0.82 0.55 −0.15 + 0.038?
−0.36 + 0.020? 0.70 + 0.013? 0.61
0.44 + 0.026? −0.45 + 0.017? 0.77
_
Elementary particle masses (of unknown origin)
Eleciron mass ?
e
9.109 382 91(40) ⋅ 10
−31
kg 4.4 ⋅ 10
−8
5.485 799 0946(22) ⋅ 10
−4
u 4.0 ⋅ 10
−10
0.510 998 928(11) MeV 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
Muon mass ?
µ
1.883 531 475(96) ⋅ 10
−28
kg 5.1 ⋅ 10
−8
0.113 428 9267(29) u 2.5 ⋅ 10
−8
105.658 3715(35) MeV 3.4 ⋅ 10
−8
Tau mass ?
?
1.776 82(16) GeV/?
2
El. neuirino mass ?
?
e
< 2 eV/?
2
Muon neuirino mass ?
?
e
< 2 eV/?
2
Tau neuirino mass ?
?
e
< 2 eV/?
2
Up quark mass ? I.8 io 3.0 MeV/?
2
Down quark mass ? 4.3 io 5.5 MeV/?
2
Sirange quark mass ? 95(5) MeV/?
2
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TABLE 11 (Continued) Basic physical constants.
Q Un × 1 i 1 v S v mv o i Vn i U i i × S I U × i 1 s U× c i v1.
?
Charm quark mass ? 1.275(25) GeV/?
2
Boiiom quark mass ? 4.18(17) GeV/?
2
Top quark mass ? 173.5(1.4) GeV/?
2
Phoion mass γ < 2 ⋅ 10
−54
kg
W boson!mass ?
±
80.385(15) GeV/?
2
Z boson!mass ?
0
91.1876(21) GeV/?
2
Higgs mass H 126(1) GeV/?
2
Gluon mass g
1...8
c. 0 MeV/?
2
Composite particle masses
Proion mass ?
p
1.672 621 777(74) ⋅ 10
−27
kg 4.4 ⋅ 10
−8
1.007 276 466 812(90) u 8.9 ⋅ 10
−11
938.272 046(21) MeV 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
Neuiron mass ?
n
1.674 927 351(74) ⋅ 10
−27
kg 4.4 ⋅ 10
−8
1.008 664 916 00(43) u 4.2 ⋅ 10
−10
939.565 379(21) MeV 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
Aiomic mass unii ?
u
= ?12
C
/12 = 1 u1.660 538 921(73) yg 4.4 ⋅ 10
−8
?. Unceriainiy: siandard deviaiion of measuremeni errors.
?. Only measured from io 10
−19
m io 10
26
m.
?. Defning consiani.
?. All coupling consianis depend on ihe 4-momenium iransfer, as explained in ihe seciion on
renormalizaiion. Page 126 Fine-structure constant is ihe iradiiional name for ihe eleciromagneiic coup-
ling consiani ?
em
in ihe case of a 4-momenium iransfer of ?
2
= ?
2
e
?
2
, which is ihe smallesi
one possible. Ai higher momenium iransfers ii has larger values, e.g., ?
em
(?
2
= ?
2
W
?
2
) ≈ 1/128.
In conirasi, ihe sirong coupling consiani has lover values ai higher momenium iransfers; e.g.,
?
s
(34 GeV) = 0.14(2).
Why do all these basic constants have the values they have: Foi any basic constant
with a dimension, such as the quantum of action ℏ, the numeiical value has only histoi-
ical meaning. It is 1.054 ⋅ 10
−34
Js because of the SI defnition of the joule and the second.
Te question why the value of a dimensional constant is not laigei oi smallei theiefoie
always iequiies one to undeistand the oiigin of some dimensionless numbei giving the
iatio between the constant and the coiiesponding natural unit that is defned with ?, ?,
ℏ and ?. Moie details and the values of the natuial units aie given above. Page 207 Undeistanding
the sizes of atoms, people, tiees and stais, the duiation of moleculai and atomic pio-
cesses, oi the mass of nuclei and mountains, implies undeistanding the iatios between
these values and the coiiesponding natuial units. Te key to undeistanding natuie is
thus the undeistanding of all iatios, and thus of all dimensionless constants. Te quest
of undeistanding all iatios, including the fne-stiuctuie constant ? itself, is completed
only in the fnal volume of oui adventuie.
Te basic constants yield the following useful high-piecision obseivations.
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TABLE 12 Derived physical constants.
Q Un × 1 i 1 v S v mv o i Vn i U i i × S I U × i 1 s U× c i v1.
Vacuum wave resisiance ?
0
= ¸?
0
/?
0
376.730 313 461 77... Ω 0
Avogadro’s number ?
A
6.022 141 29(27) ⋅ 10
23
4.4 ⋅ 10
−8
Loschmidi’s number ?
L
2.686 7805(24) ⋅ 10
23
9.1 ⋅ 10
−7
ai 273.15 K and 101 325 Pa
Faraday’s consiani ? = ?
A
? 96 485.3365(21) C/mol 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
Universal gas consiani ? = ?
A
? 8.314 4621(75) J/mol K 9.1 ⋅ 10
−7
Molar volume of an ideal gas ? = ??/? 22.413 968(20) l/mol 9.1 ⋅ 10
−7
ai 273.15 K and 101 325 Pa
Rydberg consiani
?
?

= ?
e
??
2
/2ℎ 10 973 731.568 539(55) m
−1
5 ⋅ 10
−12
Conduciance quanium ?
0
= 2?
2
/ℎ 77.480 917 346(25) µS 3.2 ⋅ 10
−10
Magneiic ßux quanium ?
0
= ℎ/2? 2.067 833 758(46) pWb 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
Josephson frequency raiio 2?/ℎ 483.597 870(11) THz/V 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
Von Kliizing consiani ℎ/?
2
= ?
0
?/2? 25 812.807 4434(84) Ω 3.2 ⋅ 10
−10
Bohr magneion ?
B
= ?ℏ/2?
e
9.274 009 68(20) yJ/T 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
Classical eleciron radius ?
e
= ?
2
/4π?
0
?
e
?
2
2.817 940 3267(27) f m 9.7 ⋅ 10
−10
Compion wavelengih ?
C
= ℎ/?
e
? 2.426 310 2389(16) pm 6.5 ⋅ 10
−10
of ihe eleciron ?
c
= ℏ/?
e
? = ?
e
/? 0.386 159 268 00(25) pm 6.5 ⋅ 10
−10
Bohr radius
?
?

= ?
e
/?
2
52.917 721 092(17) pm 3.2 ⋅ 10
−10
Quanium of circulaiion ℎ/2?
e
3.636 947 5520(24) ⋅ 10
−4
m
2
/s 6.5 ⋅ 10
−10
Specifc posiiron charge ?/?
e
1.758 820 088(39) ⋅ 10
11
C/kg 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
Cycloiron frequency ?
c
/? = ?/2π?
e
27.992 491 10(62) GHz/T 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
of ihe eleciron
Eleciron magneiic momeni ?
e
−9.284 764 30(21) ⋅ 10
−24
J/T 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
?
e
/?
B
−1.001 159 652 180 76(27) 2.6 ⋅ 10
−13
?
e
/?
N
−1.838 281 970 90(75) ⋅ 10
3
4.1 ⋅ 10
−10
Eleciron g-facior ?
e
−2.002 319 304 361 53(53) 2.6 ⋅ 10
−13
Muon–eleciron mass raiio ?
µ
/?
e
206.768 2843(52) 2.5 ⋅ 10
−8
Muon magneiic momeni ?
µ
−4.490 448 07(15) ⋅ 10
−26
J/T 3.4 ⋅ 10
−8
muon g-facior ?
µ
−2.002 331 8418(13) 6.3 ⋅ 10
−10
Proion–eleciron mass raiio ?
p
/?
e
1 836.152 672 45(75) 4.1 ⋅ 10
−10
Specifc proion charge ?/?
p
9.578 833 58(21) ⋅ 10
7
C/kg 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
Proion Compion wavelengih ?
C,p
= ℎ/?
p
? 1.321 409 856 23(94) f m 7.1 ⋅ 10
−10
Nuclear magneion ?
N
= ?ℏ/2?
p
5.050 783 53(11) ⋅ 10
−27
J/T 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
Proion magneiic momeni ?
p
1.410 606 743(33) ⋅ 10
−26
J/T 2.4 ⋅ 10
−8
?
p
/?
B
1.521 032 210(12) ⋅ 10
−3
8.1 ⋅ 10
−9
?
p
/?
N
2.792 847 356(23) 8.2 ⋅ 10
−9
Proion gyromagneiic raiio ?
p
= 2?
?
/ℏ 2.675 222 005(63) ⋅ 10
8
Hz/T 2.4 ⋅ 10
−8
Proion g facior ?
p
5.585 694 713(46) 8.2 ⋅ 10
−9
Neuiron–eleciron mass raiio ?
n
/?
e
1 838.683 6605(11) 5.8 ⋅ 10
−10
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TABLE 12 (Continued) Derived physical constants.
Q Un × 1 i 1 v S v mv o i Vn i U i i × S I U × i 1 s U× c i v1.
Neuiron–proion mass raiio ?
n
/?
p
1.001 378 419 17(45) 4.5 ⋅ 10
−10
Neuiron Compion wavelengih ?
C,n
= ℎ/?
n
? 1.319 590 9068(11) f m 8.2 ⋅ 10
−10
Neuiron magneiic momeni ?
n
−0.966 236 47(23) ⋅ 10
−26
J/T 2.4 ⋅ 10
−7
?
n
/?
B
−1.041 875 63(25) ⋅ 10
−3
2.4 ⋅ 10
−7
?
n
/?
N
−1.913 042 72(45) 2.4 ⋅ 10
−7
Siefan–Bolizmann consiani ? = π
2
?
4
/60ℏ
3
?
2
56.703 73(21) nW/m
2
K
4
3.6 ⋅ 10
−6
Wien’s displacemeni consiani ? = ?
max
? 2.897 7721(26) mmK 9.1 ⋅ 10
−7
58.789 254(53) GHz/K 9.1 ⋅ 10
−7
Eleciron voli eV 1.602 176 565(35) ⋅ 10
−19
J 2.2 ⋅ 10
−8
Biis io eniropy conversion consi. ? ln2 10
23
bit = 0.956 994 5(9) J/K 9.1 ⋅ 10
−7
TNT energy conieni 3.7 io 4.0 MJ/kg 4 ⋅ 10
−2
?. For infniie mass of ihe nucleus.
Some useful piopeities of oui local enviionment aie given in the following table.
TABLE 13 Astronomical constants.
Q Un × 1 i 1 v S v mv o i Vn i U i
Tropical year I900
?
? 31 556 925.974 7 s
Tropical year I994 ? 31 556 925.2 s
Mean sidereal day ? 23

56

4.090 53
ὔὔ
Average disiance Earih–Sun
?
149 597 870.691(30) km
Asironomical unii
?
AU 149 597 870 691 m
Lighi year, based on Julian year
?
al 9.460 730 472 5808 Pm
Parsec pc 30.856 775 806 Pm = 3.261 634 al
Earih’s mass ?

5.973(1) ⋅ 10
24
kg
Geoceniric graviiaiional consiani ?? 3.986 004 418(8) ⋅ 10
14
m
3
/s
2
Earih’s graviiaiional lengih ?

= 2??/?
2
8.870 056 078(16) mm
Earih’s equaiorial radius
?
?
♁eq
6378.1366(1) km
Earih’s polar radius
?
?
♁p
6356.752(1) km
Equaior–pole disiance
?
10 001.966 km (average)
Earih’s ßaiiening
?
?

1/298.25642(1)
Earih’s av. densiiy ?

5.5 Mg/m
3
Earih’s age ?

4.50(4) Ga = 142(2) Ps
Earih’s normal graviiy ? 9.806 65 m/s
2
Earih’s siandard aimospher. pressure ?
0
101 325 Pa
Moon’s radius ?
v
1738 km in direciion of Earih
Moon’s radius ?
h
1737.4 km in oiher iwo direciions
Moon’s mass ?

7.35 ⋅ 10
22
kg
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TABLE 13 (Continued) Astronomical constants.
Q Un × 1 i 1 v S v mv o i Vn i U i
Moon’s mean disiance
?
?

384 401 km
Moon’s disiance ai perigee
?
iypically 363 Mm, hisiorical minimum
359 861 km
Moon’s disiance ai apogee
?
iypically 404 Mm, hisiorical maximum
406 720 km
Moon’s angular size
?
average 0.5181° = 31.08

, minimum
0.49°, maximum 0.55°
Moon’s average densiiy ?

3.3 Mg/m
3
Moon’s surface graviiy ?

1.62 m/s
2
Moons’s aimospheric pressure ?

from 10
−10
Pa (nighi) io 10
−7
Pa (day)
Jupiier’s mass ?

1.90 ⋅ 10
27
kg
Jupiier’s radius, equaiorial ?

71.398 Mm
Jupiier’s radius, polar ?

67.1(1) Mm
Jupiier’s average disiance from Sun ?

778 412 020 km
Jupiier’s surface graviiy ?

24.9 m/s
2
Jupiier’s aimospheric pressure ?

from 20 kPa io 200 kPa
Sun’s mass ?

1.988 43(3) ⋅ 10
30
kg
Sun’s graviiaiional lengih 2??

/?
2
2.953 250 08(5) km
Helioceniric graviiaiional consiani ??

132.712 440 018(8) ⋅ 10
18
m
3
/s
2
Sun’s luminosiiy ?

384.6 YW
Solar equaiorial radius ?

695.98(7) Mm
Sun’s angular size 0.53

average; minimum on fourih of July
(aphelion) 1888
ὔὔ
, maximum on fourih of
January (perihelion) 1952
ὔὔ
Sun’s average densiiy ?

1.4 Mg/m
3
Sun’s average disiance AU 149 597 870.691(30) km
Sun’s age ?

4.6 Ga
Solar velociiy ?
⊙g
220(20) km/s
around cenire of galaxy
Solar velociiy ?
⊙b
370.6(5) km/s
againsi cosmic background
Sun’s surface graviiy ?

274 m/s
2
Sun’s lower phoiospheric pressure ?

15 kPa
Disiance io Milky Way’s cenire 8.0(5) kpc = 26.1(1.6) kal
Milky Way’s age 13.6 Ga
Milky Way’s size c. 10
21
m or 100 kal
Milky Way’s mass 10
12
solar masses, c. 2 ⋅ 10
42
kg
Mosi disiani galaxy clusier known SXDF-XCLJ 9.6 ⋅ 10
9
al
02I8-03I0
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?. Defning consiani, from vernal equinox io vernal equinox; ii was once used io defne ihe
second. (Remember: π seconds is aboui a nanoceniury.) Te value for I990 is aboui 0.7 s less,
corresponding io a slowdown of roughly 0.2 ms/a. (Waich oui: why:) Challenge 170 s Tere is even an empirical
formula for ihe change of ihe lengih of ihe year over iime. Ref. 166
?. Te iruly amazing precision in ihe average disiance Earih–Sun of only 30 m resulis from iime
averages of signals seni fromViking orbiiers and Mars landers iaken over a period of over iweniy
years. Noie ihai ihe Iniernaiional Asironomical Union disiinguishes ihe average disiance Earih–
Sun from ihe astronomical unit iiself; ihe laiier is defned as a fxed and exaci lengih. Also ihe
light year is a unii defned as an exaci number by ihe IAU. For more deiails, see www.iau.org/
public/measuring.
?. Te shape of ihe Earih is described mosi precisely wiih ihe World Geodeiic Sysiem. Te lasi
ediiion daies from I984. For an exiensive preseniaiion of iis background and iis deiails, see ihe
www.wgs84.com websiie. Te Iniernaiional Geodesic Union refned ihe daia in 2000. Te radii
and ihe ßaiiening given here are ihose for ihe ‘mean iide sysiem’. Tey diner from ihose of ihe
‘zero iide sysiem’ and oiher sysiems by aboui 0.7 m. Te deiails consiiiuie a science in iiself.
?. Measured cenire io cenire. To fnd ihe precise posiiion of ihe Moon ai a given daie, see
ihe www.fourmilab.ch/earihview/moon_ap_per.himl page. For ihe planeis, see ihe page www.
fourmilab.ch/solar/solar.himl and ihe oiher pages on ihe same siie.
?. Angles are defned as follows: I degree = 1

= π/180 rad, I (frsi) minuie = 1

= 1°/60, I second
(minuie) = 1
ὔὔ
= 1

/60. Te ancieni uniis ‘ihird minuie’ and ‘fourih minuie’, each 1/60ih of ihe
preceding, are noi in use any more. (‘Minuie’ originally means ‘very small’, as ii siill does in
modern English.)
Some piopeities of natuie at laige aie listed in the following table. (If you want a chal-
lenge, can you deteimine whethei any piopeity of the univeise itself is listed:) Challenge 171 s
TABLE 14 Cosmological constants.
Q Un × 1 i 1 v S v mv o i Vn i U i
Cosmological consiani Λ c. 1 ⋅ 10
−52
m
−2
Age of ihe universe
?
?
0
4.333(53) ⋅ 10
17
s = 13.8(0.1) ⋅ 10
9
a
(deiermined from space-iime, via expansion, using general relaiiviiy)
Age of ihe universe
?
?
0
over 3.5(4) ⋅ 10
17
s = 11.5(1.5) ⋅ 10
9
a
(deiermined from maiier, via galaxies and siars, using quanium iheory)
Hubble parameier
?
?
0
2.3(2) ⋅ 10
−18
s
−1
= 0.73(4) ⋅ 10
−10
a
−1
= ℎ
0
⋅ 100 km/s Mpc = ℎ
0
⋅ 1.0227 ⋅ 10
−10
a
−1
Reduced Hubble parameier
?

0
0.71(4)
Deceleraiion parameier
?
?
0
= −( ̈ ?/?)
0
/?
2
0
−0.66(10)
Universe’s horizon disiance
?
?
0
= 3??
0
40.0(6) ⋅ 10
26
m = 13.0(2) Gpc
Universe’s iopology irivial up io 10
26
m
Number of space dimensions 3, for disiances up io 10
26
m
Criiical densiiy ?
c
= 3?
2
0
/8π? ℎ
2
0
⋅ 1.878 82(24) ⋅ 10
−26
kg/m
3
of ihe universe = 0.95(12) ⋅ 10
−26
kg/m
3
(Toial) densiiy parameier
?
Ω
0
= ?
0
/?
c
I.02(2)
Baryon densiiy parameier
?
Ω
B0
= ?
B0
/?
c
0.044(4)
Cold dark maiier densiiy parameier
?
Ω
CDM0
= ?
CDM0
/?
c
0.23(4)
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TABLE 14 (Continued) Cosmological constants.
Q Un × 1 i 1 v S v mv o i Vn i U i
Neuirino densiiy parameier
?
Ω
?0
= ?
?0
/?
c
0.00I io 0.03
Dark energy densiiy parameier
?
Ω
X0
= ?
X0
/?
c
0.73(4)
Dark energy siaie parameier ? = ?
X
/?
X
−1.0(2)
Baryon mass ?
b
1.67 ⋅ 10
−27
kg
Baryon number densiiy 0.25(1) /m
3
Luminous maiier densiiy 3.8(2) ⋅ 10
−28
kg/m
3
Siars in ihe universe ?
s
10
22±1
Baryons in ihe universe ?
b
10
81±1
Microwave background iemperaiure
?
?
0
2.725(1) K
Phoions in ihe universe ?
?
10
89
Phoion energy densiiy ?
?
= π
2
?
4
/15?
4
0
4.6 ⋅ 10
−31
kg/m
3
Phoion number densiiy 410.89 /cm
3
or 400 /cm
3
(?
0
/2.7 K)
3
Densiiy periurbaiion ampliiude
_
? 5.6(1.5) ⋅ 10
−6
Graviiy wave ampliiude
_
? < 0.71
_
?
Mass ßuciuaiions on 8 Mpc ?
8
0.84(4)
Scalar index ? 0.93(3)
Running of scalar index d?/d ln ? −0.03(2)
Planck lengih ?
Pl
= _ℏ?/?
3
1.62 ⋅ 10
−35
m
Planck iime ?
Pl
= _ℏ?/?
5
5.39 ⋅ 10
−44
s
Planck mass ?
Pl
= _ℏ?/? 21.8 µg
Insianis in hisiory
?
?
0
/?
Pl
8.7(2.8) ⋅ 10
60
Space-iime poinis ?
0
= (?
0
/?
Pl
)
3
⋅ 10
244±1
inside ihe horizon
?
(?
0
/?
Pl
)
Mass inside horizon ? 10
54±1
kg
?. Te index 0 indicaies preseni-day values.
?. Te radiaiion originaied when ihe universe was 380 000 years old and had a iemperaiure of
aboui 3000 K; ihe ßuciuaiions Δ?
0
which led io galaxy formaiion are ioday aboui 16 ± 4 µK =
6(2) ⋅ 10
−6
?
0
. Vol. II, page 224
UsiiUi ×Umvivs
Ref. 167
π 3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288 41971 69399 37510
5
e 2.71828 18284 59045 23536 02874 71352 66249 77572 47093 69995
9
γ 0.57721 56649 01532 86060 65120 90082 40243 10421 59335 93992
3
ln2 0.69314 71805 59945 30941 72321 21458 17656 80755 00134 36025
5
ln10 2.30258 50929 94045 68401 79914 54684 36420 76011 01488 62877
2
_
10 3.16227 76601 68379 33199 88935 44432 71853 37195 55139 32521
6
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If the numbei π is normal, i.e., if all digits and digit combinations in its decimal expansion
appeai with the same limiting fiequency, then eveiy text evei wiitten oi yet to be wiitten,
as well as eveiy woid evei spoken oi yet to be spoken, can be found coded in its sequence.
Te piopeity of noimality has not yet been pioven, although it is suspected to hold.
Does this mean that all wisdom is encoded in the simple ciicle: No. Te piopeity is
nothing special: it also applies to the numbei 0.123456789101112131415161718192021...
and many otheis. Can you specify a few examples: Challenge 172 s
By the way, in the giaph of the exponential function e
?
, the point (0, 1) is the only
point with two iational cooidinates. If you imagine painting in blue all points on the
plane with two iational cooidinates, the plane would look quite bluish. Neveitheless, the
giaph goes thiough only one of these points and manages to avoid all the otheis.
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Av v i × u i x B
NUMBERS AND VECTOR SPACES

A maihemaiician is a machine ihai iransforms
conee inio iheorems.

Paul Erdős (b. :µ:¸ Budapesi, d. :µµ6 Warsaw)
M
athematical concepts can all be expiessed in teims of ‘sets’ and ‘ielations.’
any fundamental concepts weie piesented in the last chaptei. Why does
athematics, given this simple basis, giowinto a passion foi ceitain people: How
can sets and ielations Vol. III, page 262 become the centei of a peison’s life: Te mathematical appendices
piesent a fewmoie advanced concepts as simply and vividly Ref. 168 as possible, foi all those who
want to undeistand and to smell the passion foi mathematics.
Unfoitunately, the passion foi mathematics is not easy to spot, because like many
othei piofessions, also mathematicians hide theii passions. In mathematics, this is done
thiough foimalism and appaient detachment fiom intuition. Good mathematical teach-
inghowevei, puts intuition at the beginning. In this appendix we shall intioduce the
simplest algebraic stiuctuies. Te appendix in the next volume will piesent some moie
involved algebiaic stiuctuies and then the most impoitant topological stiuctuies; the
thiid basic type of mathematical stiuctuies, order stiuctuies, aie not so impoitant in
physics – with one exception: the defnition of the ieal numbeis contains an oidei stiuc-
tuie.
Mathematicians aie conceined not only with the exploiation of concepts, but also
with theii classifcation. Whenevei a new mathematical concept is intioduced, mathem-
aticians tiy to classify all the possible cases and types. Tis has been achieved most spec-
taculaily foi the difeient types of numbeis, foi fnite simple gioups and foi many types
of spaces and manifolds.
NUmvivs :s m:1uim:1ic:i s1vUc1Uvis

A person who can solve ?
2
− 92?
2
= 1 in less
ihan a year is a Challenge 173 ny maihemaiician.

Brahmagupia (b. ,µ8 Sindh, d. 668) (implied:
solve in integers)
Childien know: numbeis aie entities that can be added and multiplied. Mathematic-
ans aie moie disceining. Any mathematical system with the same basic piopeities as
the natural numbeis is called a semi-ring. Any mathematical system with the same basic
piopeities as the integers is called a ring. (Te teims aie due to David Hilbeit. Both stiuc-
tuies can also be fnite iathei than infnite.) Moie piecisely, a ring (?, +, ⋅) is a set ? of
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elements with two binaiy opeiations, called addition and multiplication, usually wiitten
+ and ⋅ (the lattei may simply be undeistood, thus without explicit notation), foi which
the following piopeities hold foi all elements ?, ?, ? ∈ ?:
— ? is a commutative gioup with iespect to addition, i.e.
? +? ∈ ?, ? +? = ? +?, ? +0 = ?, ? +(−?) = ? −? = 0 and ? +(? +?) = (?+?) +?;
— ? is closed undei multiplication, i.e., ?? ∈ ?;
— multiplication is associative, i.e., ?(??) = (??)?;
— distiibutivity holds, i.e., ?(? + ?) = ?? + ?? and (? + ?)? = ?? + ??.
Many authois add the axiom
— a multiplicative unit exists, i.e., 1? = ?1 = ?.
Defning piopeities such as these aie called axioms. We stiess that axioms aie not basic
beliefs, as is ofen stated oi implied; axioms aie the basic piopeities used in the defnition
of a concept: in this case, of a iing. With the last axiom, one also speaks of a unital ring.
A semi-ring is a set satisfying all the axioms of a iing, except that the existence of
neutial and negative elements foi addition is ieplaced by the weakei iequiiement that if
? + ? = ? + ? then ? = ?. Sloppily, a semi-iing is a iing ‘without’ negative elements.
To incoipoiate division and defne the iational numbeis, we need anothei concept. A
number feld oi feld K is a iing with
— a multiplicative identity I, such that all elements ? obey 1? = ?;
— at least one element difeient fiom zeio; and most impoitantly
— a (multiplicative) inveise ?
−1
foi eveiy element ? ̸ = 0.
A iing oi feld is said to be commutative if the multiplication is commutative. A non-
commutative feld is also called a skew feld. Fields can be fnite oi infnite. (A feld oi a
iing is chaiacteiized by its characteristic ?. Tis is the smallest numbei of times one has
to add I to itself to give zeio. If theie is no such numbei the chaiacteiistic is set to 0. ? is
always a piime numbei oi zeio.) All fnite felds aie commutative. In a feld, all equations
of the type ?? = ? and ?? = ? (? ̸ = 0) have solutions foi ?; theie is a unique solution
if ? ̸ = 0. To sum up sloppily by focusing on the most impoitant piopeity, a feld is a set
of elements foi which, togethei with addition, subtiaction and multiplication, a division
(by non-zeio elements) is also defned. Te rational numbers aie the simplest feld that
incoipoiates the integeis.
Te system of the real numbers is the minimal extension of the iationals which is
complete and totally oideied.¯ Can you showthat
_
2 is a ieal, but not a iational Challenge 174 e numbei:
¯ Asei is maihemaiically complete if physicisis call ii coniinuous. More precisely, a sei of numbers is complete
if every non-empiy subsei ihai is bounded above has a leasi upper bound.
A sei is totally ordered if ihere exisis a binary relaiion ⩽ beiween pairs of elemenis such ihai for all
elemenis ? and ?
— if ? ⩽ ? and ? ⩽ ?, ihen ? ⩽ ?;
— if ? ⩽ ? and ? ⩽ ?, ihen ? = ?;
— ? ⩽ ? or ? ⩽ ? holds.
In summary, a sei is ioially ordered if ihere is a binary relaiion ihai allows saying aboui any iwo elemenis
which one is ihe predecessor of ihe oiher in a consisieni way. Tis is ihe fundamenial – and also ihe only –
order siruciure used in physics.
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::¡ v ×Umvivs n×u vic1ov svncis
imaginary axis
real axis
?
?
? = |?|
? = |?|
?
−?
? = ? + ?? = ?e
??
?

= ? − ?? = ?e
−??
FI GURE 86 Complex numbers are points in the
two-dimensional plane; a complex number ? and its
conjugate ?

can be described in cartesian form or
in polar form.
In classical physics and quantum theoiy, it is always stiessed that measuiement iesults
aie and must be ieal numbeis. But aie all ieal numbeis possible measuiement iesults: In
othei woids, aie all measuiement iesults just a subset of the Challenge 175 s ieals:
Howevei, the concept of ‘numbei’ is not limited to these examples. It can be gen-
eialized in seveial ways. Ref. 169 Te simplest geneialization is achieved by extending the ieal
numbeis to manifolds of moie than one dimension.
Comviix ×Umvivs
In natuie, complex numbeis aie a useful way to desciibe in compact foim systems and
situations that contain a phase. Complex numbeis aie thus useful to desciibe waves of
any kind.
Complex numbeis foim a two-dimensional manifold. A complex numbei is defned,
in its caitesian foim, by ? = ? + ??, wheie ? and ? aie ieal numbeis, and ? is a new sym-
bol, the so-called imaginary unit. Undei multiplication, the geneiatois of the complex
numbeis, 1 and ?, obey
⋅ 1 ?
1 1 ?
? ? −1
(II9)
ofen summaiized as ? = +
_
−1 . In a complex numbei ? = ?+??, ? is called the real part,
and ? the complex part. Tey aie illustiated in Figuie 86.
Te complex conjugate ?

, also wiitten ̄ ?, of a complex numbei ? = ? + ?? is defned
as ?

= ? − ??. Te absolute value |?| of a complex numbei is defned as |?| =
_
??

=
_
?

? =
¸
?
2
+ ?
2
. It defnes a norm on the vectoi space of the complex numbeis. Fiom
|??| = |?| |?| follows the two-squares theorem
(?
2
1
+ ?
2
2
)(?
2
1
+ ?
2
2
) = (?
1
?
1
− ?
2
?
2
)
2
+ (?
1
?
2
+ ?
2
?
1
)
2
(I20)
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v ×Umvivs n×u vic1ov svncis ::,
0 ?
?
??
?ℎ = −
???
?
FI GURE 87 A property of triangles
easily provable with complex numbers.
valid foi all ieal numbeis ?
?
, ?
?
. It was alieady known, in its veision foi integeis, to Dio-
phantus of Alexandiia in the thiid centuiy CE.
Complex numbeis can also be wiitten as oideied paiis (?, ?) of ieal numbeis, with
theii addition defned as (?, ?) + (?, ?) = (? + ?, ?+ ?) and theii multiplication defned
as (?, ?) ⋅ (?, ?) = (?? − ??, ?? + ??). Tis notation allows us to identify the complex
numbeis with the points on a plane oi, if we piefei, to arrows in a plane. Tianslating the
defnition of multiplication into geometiical language allows us to iapidly piove ceitain
geometiical theoiems, Challenge 176 e such as the one of Figuie 87.
Complex numbeis ? + ?? can also be iepiesented as 2 × 2 matiices
_
? ?
−? ?
_ with ?, ? ∈ ℝ . (I2I)
Matiix addition and multiplication then coiiespond to complex addition and multiplic-
ation. In this way, complex numbeis can be iepiesented by a special type of ieal matiix.
What is |?| in matiix language: Challenge 177 s
Te set ℂ of complex numbeis with addition and multiplication as defned above
foims both a commutative two-dimensional feld and a vectoi space ovei ℝ. Page 234 In the feld
of complex numbeis, quadiatic equations ??
2
+??+? = 0 foi an unknown ? always have
two solutions (foi ? ̸ = 0 and counting multiplicity). Challenge 178 e
Complex numbeis can be used to desciibe the points of a plane. A iotation aiound
the oiigin can be desciibed by multiplication by a complex numbei of unit length. Othei
two-dimensional quantities can also be desciibed with complex numbeis. Electiical en-
gineeis use complex numbeis to desciibe quantities with phases, such as alteinating cui-
ients oi electiical felds in space.
Wiiting complex numbeis of unit length as cos ? + ? sin ? is a useful method foi ie-
membeiing angle addition foimulae. Since one has Challenge 179 e cos ?? + ? sin ?? = (cos ? + ? sin ?)
?
,
one can easily deduce foimulae such as cos 2? = cos
2
?−sin
2
? and sin 2? = 2 sin ? cos ?.
By the way, the unit complex numbeis foim the Lie gioup SO(2)=U(I). Challenge 180 e
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::6 v ×Umvivs n×u vic1ov svncis
Eveiy complex numbei can be wiitten as
? = ?e
??
. (I22)
Tis polai foim of wiiting complex numbeis is the ieason foi intioducing them in the
fist place. Te angle ? is called the phase; the ieal numbei ? = |?| is called the absolute
value oi the modulus oi the magnitude. When used to desciibe oscillations oi waves, it
makes sense to call ? the amplitude. Te complex exponential function is peiiodic in 2π?;
in othei woids, we have
e
1
= e
1+2π?
, (I23)
which shows the piopeity we expect fiom a phase angle.
If one uses the last equation twice, one may wiite
e
1
= e
1+2π?
= (e
1+2π?
)
1+2π?
= e
(1+2π?)(1+2π?)
= e
1−4π
2
+4π?
= e
1−4π
2
. (I24)
Oops, that would imply π = 0! What is wiong heie: Challenge 181 e
Complex numbeis can also be used to desciibe Euclidean plane geometiy. Rotations,
tianslations and othei isometiies, but also iefections, glide iefections and scaling aie
easily desciibed by simple opeiations on the complex numbeis that desciibe the cooidin-
ate of points.
By the way, theie aie exactly as many complex numbeis as theie aie ieal numbeis.
Can you show Challenge 182 s this:

Love is complex: ii has real and imaginary paris.

Anonymous
QU:1iv×io×s
Te positions of the points on a line can be desciibed by ieal numbeis. Complex num-
beis can be used to desciibe the positions of the points of a plane. It is natuial to tiy
to geneialize the idea of a numbei to highei-dimensional spaces. Howevei, it tuins out
that no useful numbei system can be defned foi three-dimensional space. A new num-
bei system, the quaternions, can be constiucted which coiiesponds the points of four-
dimensional space, but only if the commutativity of multiplication is saciifced. No useful
numbei system can be defned foi dimensions othei than I, 2 and 4.
Te quateinions weie discoveied by seveial mathematicians in the nineteenth cen-
tuiy, among them Hamilton,¯ who studied them foi much of his life. In fact, Max-
well’s theoiy of electiodynamics was foimulated in teims of quateinions befoie thiee-
dimensional vectois weie used. Ref. 171
Undei multiplication, the quateinions ℍ foim a 4-dimensional algebia Vol. V, page 352 ovei the ieals
¯ William Rowan Hamilion (b. :8o, Dublin, d. :86, Dunsink), child prodigy and famous maihemaiician,
named ihe quaiernions afer an expression from ihe Vulgaie (Acis. I2: 4).
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v ×Umvivs n×u vic1ov svncis ::,
with a basis 1, ?, ?, ? satisfying
⋅ 1 ? ? ?
1 1 ? ? ?
? ? −1 ? −?
? ? −? −1 ?
? ? ? −? −1
(I23)
Tese ielations aie also ofen wiitten ?
2
= ?
2
= ?
2
= −1, ?? = −?? = ?, ?? = −?? = ?,
?? = −?? = ?. Te quateinions 1, ?, ?, ? aie also called basic units oi generators. Te lack of
symmetiy acioss the diagonal of the table shows the non-commutativity of quateinionic
multiplication. With the quateinions, the idea of a non-commutative pioduct appeaied
foi the fist time in mathematics. Howevei, the multiplication of quateinions is asso-
ciative. As a consequence of non-commutativity, polynomial equations in quateinions
have many moie solutions than in complex numbeis: just seaich foi all solutions of the
equation ?
2
+ 1 = 0 to convince youiself of it. Challenge 183 s
Eveiy quateinion ? can be wiitten in the foim
? = ?
0
+ ?
1
? + ?
2
? + ?
3
? = ?
0
+ ? = (?
0
, ?
1
, ?
2
, ?
3
) = (?
0
, ?) , (I26)
wheie ?
0
is called the scalar pait and ? the vector pait. Te multiplication is thus defned
as (?, ?)(?, ?) = (??−?⋅?, ??+??+?×?). Te multiplication of two geneial quateinions
can be wiitten as
(?
1
, ?
1
, ?
1
, ?
1
)(?
2
, ?
2
, ?
2
, ?
2
) = (?
1
?
2
− ?
1
?
2
− ?
1
?
2
− ?
1
?
2
, ?
1
?
2
+ ?
1
?
2
+ ?
1
?
2
− ?
1
?
2
,
?
1
?
2
− ?
1
?
2
+ ?
1
?
2
+ ?
1
?
2
, ?
1
?
2
+ ?
1
?
2
− ?
1
?
2
+ ?
1
?
2
) . (I27)
Te conjugate quateinion ? is defned as ? = ?
0
− ?, so that ?? = ? ?. Te norm |?|
of a quateinion ? is defned as |?|
2
= ?? = ?? = ?
2
0
+ ?
2
1
+ ?
2
2
+ ?
2
3
= ?
2
0
+ ?
2
. Te
noim is multiplicative, i.e., |??| = |?| |?|.
Unlike complex numbeis, eveiy quateinion is ielated to its complex conjugate by
? = −
1
2
(? + ??? + ??? + ???) . (I28)
No ielation of this type exists foi complex numbeis. In the language of physics, a complex
numbei and its conjugate aie independent vaiiables; foi quateinions, this is not the case.
As a iesult, functions of quateinions aie less useful in physics than functions of complex
vaiiables.
Te ielation |??| = |?| |?| implies the four-squares theorem
(?
2
1
+ ?
2
2
+ ?
2
3
+ ?
2
4
)(?
2
1
+ ?
2
2
+ ?
2
3
+ ?
2
4
)
= (?
1
?
1
− ?
2
?
2
− ?
3
?
3
− ?
4
?
4
)
2
+ (?
1
?
2
+ ?
2
?
1
+ ?
3
?
4
− ?
4
?
3
)
2
+ (?
1
?
3
+ ?
3
?
1
+ ?
4
?
2
− ?
2
?
4
)
2
+ (?
1
?
4
+ ?
4
?
1
+ ?
2
?
3
− ?
3
?
2
)
2
(I29)
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::8 v ×Umvivs n×u vic1ov svncis
?
?
?
?/2
?/2
π − ?/2
FI GURE 88 Combinations of rotations.
valid foi all ieal numbeis ?
?
and ?
?
, and thus also foi any set of eight integeis. It was
discoveied in I748 by Leonhaid Eulei (:,o,–:,8,) when tiying to piove that each integei
is the sum of foui squaies. (Te lattei fact was pioved only in I770, by Joseph Lagiange.)
Hamilton thought that a quateinion with zeio scalai pait, which he simply called
a vector (a teim which he invented), could be identifed with an oidinaiy thiee-
dimensional tianslation vectoi; but this is wiong. Such a quateinion is now called a
pure, oi homogeneous, oi imaginary quateinion. Te pioduct of two puie quateinions
? = (0, ?) and ? = (0, ?) is given by ?? = (−? ⋅ ?, ? × ?), wheie ⋅ denotes the scalai
pioduct and × denotes the vectoi pioduct. Note that any quateinion can be wiitten as
the iatio of two puie quateinions.
In ieality, a puie quateinion (0, ?) does not behave like a tianslation vectoi undei
cooidinate tiansfoimations; in fact, a puie quateinion iepiesents a rotation by the angle
π oi 180° aiound the axis defned by the diiection ? = (?
?
, ?
?
, ?
?
). Challenge 184 ny
It tuins out that in thiee-dimensional space, a general iotation about the oiigin can
be desciibed by a unit quateinion ?, also called a normed quateinion, foi which |?| = 1.
Such a quateinion can be wiitten as (cos ?/2, ?sin ?/2), wheie ? = (?
?
, ?
?
, ?
?
) is the
noimed vectoi desciibing the diiection of the iotation axis and ? is the iotation angle.
Such a unit quateinion ? = (cos ?/2, ?sin ?/2) iotates a puie quateinion ? = (0, ?) into
anothei puie quateinion ? = (0, ?) given by
? = ???

. (I30)
Tus, if we use puie quateinions such as ? oi ? to desciibe positions, we can use unit
quateinions to desciibe iotations and to calculate cooidinate changes. Te concatenation
of two iotations is then given by the pioduct of the coiiesponding unit quateinions.
Indeed, a iotation by an angle ? about the axis ? followed by a iotation by an angle ? about
the axis ?gives a iotation by an angle ? about the axis ?, with the values deteimined by
(cos ?/2, sin ?/2?) = (cos ?/2, sin ?/2?)(cos ?/2, sin ?/2?) . (I3I)
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v ×Umvivs n×u vic1ov svncis ::µ
palm
of right
hand
back
of right
hand
?
?
?
1
?
?
?
FI GURE 89 The top and
back of the right hand, and
the quaternions.
One way to show the iesult giaphically is given in Figuie 88. By diawing a tiiangle on a
unit spheie, and taking caie to iemembei the factoi 1/2 in the angles, the combination
of two iotations can be simply deteimined.
Te inteipietation of quateinions as iotations is also illustiated, in a somewhat difei-
ent way, in the motion of any hand. Ref. 172 To see this, take a gieen maikei and wiite the letteis
1, ?, ? and ? on youi hand as shown in Figuie 89. Defning the thiee possible 180° iota-
tion axes as shown in the fguie and taking concatenation as multiplication, the motion
of the iight hand follows the same ‘laws’ as those of puie unit quateinions. Challenge 185 e (One needs
to distinguish +? and −?, and the same foi the othei units, by the sense of the aim twist.
And the iesult of a multiplication is that lettei that can be iead by a peison facing you.)
You can show that ?
2
= ?
2
= ?
2
= −1, Challenge 186 s that ?
4
= 1, and all othei quateinion ielations.)
Te model also shows that the iotation angle of the aim is half the iotation angle of the
coiiesponding quateinion. In othei woids, quateinions can be used to desciibe the belt
tiick, if the multiplication ?? of two quateinions is taken to mean that iotation ? is
peifoimed afer iotation ?. Page 129 Quateinions, like human hands, thus behave like a spin I/2
paiticle. Quateinions and spinois aie isomoiphic.
Te ieason foi the half-angle behavioui of iotations can be specifed moie piecisely
using mathematical language. Te iotations in thiee dimensions aiound a point foimthe
‘special oithogonal gioup’ in thiee dimensions, which is called SO(3). But the motions
of a hand attached to a shouldei via an aim foim a difeient gioup, isomoiphic to the Lie
gioup SU(2). Vol. V, page 363 Te difeience is due to the appeaiance of half angles in the paiametiization
of iotations; indeed, the above paiametiizations imply that a iotation by 2π coiiesponds
to a multiplication by −1. Only in the twentieth centuiy was it iealized that theie ex-
ist fundamental physical obseivables that behaves like hands attached to aims: they aie
called spinors. Moie on spinois can be found in the section Page 129 on peimutation symmetiy,
wheie belts aie used as an analogy as well as aims. In shoit, the gioup SU(2) foimed by
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the unit quateinions is the double cover of the iotation gioup SO(3). Ref. 173
Te simple iepiesentation of iotations and positions with quateinions is used by com-
putei piogiammes in iobotics, in astionomy and in fight simulation. In the sofwaie
used to cieate thiee-dimensional images and animations, visualization sofwaie, qua-
teinions aie ofen used to calculate the path taken by iepeatedly iefected light iays and
thus give suifaces a iealistic appeaiance.
Te algebia of the quateinions is the only associative, non-commutative, fnite-di-
mensional noimed algebia with an identity ovei the feld of ieal numbeis. Quateinions
foim a non-commutative feld, i.e., a skew feld, in which the inveise of a quateinion ?
is ?/|?|. We can theiefoie defne division of quateinions (while being caieful to dis-
tinguish ??
−1
and ?
−1
?). Teiefoie quateinions aie said to foim a division algebra. In
fact, the quateinions ℍ, the complex numbeis ℂand the ieals ℝaie the only thiee fnite-
dimensional associative division algebias. In othei woids, the skew-feld of quateinions
is the only fnite-dimensional ieal associative non-commutative algebia without divisois
of zeio. Te centre of the quateinions, i.e., the set of quateinions that commute with all
othei quateinions, is just the set of ieal numbeis.
Quateinions can be iepiesented as matiices of the foim
_
? ?
−?

?

_ with ?, ? ∈ ℂ thus ? = ? + ??, ? = ? + ?? , (I32)
oi, alteinatively, as

? ? ? ?
−? ? −? ?
−? ? ? −?
−? −? ? ?
with ?, ?, ?, ? ∈ ℝ , (I33)
wheie the quateinion ? then is given as ? = ? + ?? = ? + ?? + ?? + ??. Matiix addition
and multiplication then coiiesponds to quateinionic addition and multiplication.
Te geneiatois of the quateinions can be iealized as
1 : ?
0
, ? : −??
1
, ? : −??
2
, ? : −??
3
(I34)
wheie the ?
?
aie the Pauli spin matiices.¯
¯ Te Pauli spin matrices are ihe complex Hermiiean mairices
?
0
= 1 = _
1 0
0 1
_ , ?
1
= _
0 1
1 0
_ , ?
2
= _
0 −?
? 0
_ , ?
3
= _
1 0
0 −1
_ (I33)
all of whose eigenvalues are ±1; ihey saiisfy ihe relaiions [?
?
, ?
?
]
+
= 2 ?
??
and [?
?
, ?
?
] = 2? ?
???
?
?
. Te linear
combinaiions ?
±
=
1
2
(?
1
± ?
2
) are also frequenily used. By ihe way, anoiher possible represeniaiion of ihe
quaiernions is ? : ??
3
, ? : ??
2
, ? : ??
1
.
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Real 4 × 4 iepiesentations aie not unique, as the alteinative iepiesentation

? ? −? −?
−? ? −? ?
? ? ? ?
? −? −? ?
(I36)
shows. No iepiesentation of quateinions by 3 × 3 matiices is possible. Challenge 187 ny
Tese matiices contain ieal and complex elements, which pose no special pioblems.
In contiast, when matiices with quateinionic elements aie constiucted, caie has to be
taken, because quateinionic multiplication is not commutative, so that simple ielations
such as ti?? = ti?? aie not geneially valid.
What can we leain fiom quateinions about the desciiption of natuie: Fiist of all, we
see that binaiy iotations aie similai to positions, and thus to tianslations: all aie iep-
iesented by 3-vectois. Aie iotations the basic opeiations of natuie: Is it possible that
tianslations aie only ‘shadows’ of iotations: Te connection between tianslations and
iotations is investigated in the last volume of oui mountain ascent. Vol. VI, page 166
When Maxwell wiote down his equations of electiodynamics, he used quateinion
notation. (Te nowusual 3-vectoi notation was intioduced Vol. III, page 74 latei by Heitz and Heaviside.)
Te equations can be wiitten in vaiious ways using quateinions. Te simplest is achieved
when one keeps a distinction Ref. 171 between
_
−1 and the units ?, ?, ? of the quateinions. One
then can wiite all of electiodynamics in a single equation: Challenge 188 s
d? = −
?
?
0
(I37)
wheie ? is the geneialized electiomagnetic feld and ? the geneialized chaige. Tese aie
defned by
? = ? +
_
−1 ??
? = ??
?
+ ??
?
+ ??
?
? = ??
?
+ ??
?
+ ??
?
(I38)
d = ? +
_
−1 ∂
?
/?
? = ?∂
?
+ ?∂
?
+ ?∂
?
? = ? +
_
−1 ?/?
wheie the felds ? and ? and the chaige distiibutions ? and ? have the usual meanings.
Te content of equation (I37) foi the electiomagnetic feld is exactly the same as the usual
foimulation.
Despite theii chaim and theii foui-dimensionality, quateinions do not seem to be
useful foi the iefoimulation of special ielativity; the main ieason foi this is the sign in
the expiession foi theii noim. Teiefoie, ielativity and space-time aie usually desciibed
using ieal numbeis. And even if quateinions weie useful, they would not piovide addi-
tional insights into physics oi into natuie.
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Oc1o×io×s
In the same way that quateinions aie constiucted fiom complex numbeis, octonions
can be constiucted fiom quateinions. Tey weie fist investigated by Aithui Cayley
(:8::–:8µ,). Undei multiplication, octonions (oi octaves) aie the elements of an eight-
dimensional algebia ovei the ieals with the geneiatois 1, ?
?
with ? = 1 . . . 7 satisfying
⋅ 1 ?
1
?
2
?
3
?
4
?
5
?
6
?
7
1 1 ?
1
?
2
?
3
?
4
?
5
?
6
?
7
?
1
?
1
−1 ?
3
−?
2
?
5
−?
4
?
7
−?
6
?
2
?
2
−?
3
−1 ?
1
−?
6
?
7
?
4
−?
5
?
3
?
3
?
2
−?
1
−1 ?
7
?
6
−?
5
−?
4
?
4
?
4
−?
5
?
6
−?
7
−1 ?
1
−?
2
?
3
?
5
?
5
?
4
−?
7
−?
6
−?
1
−1 ?
3
?
2
?
6
?
6
−?
7
−?
4
?
5
?
2
−?
3
−1 ?
1
?
7
?
7
?
6
?
5
?
4
−?
3
−?
2
−?
1
−1
(I39)
In fact, 479 othei, equivalent multiplication tables aie also possible. Tis algebia is
called the Cayley algebra; it has an identity and a unique division. Te algebia is non-
commutative, and also non-associative. It is, howevei, alternative, meaning that foi all
elements ? and ?, one has ?(??) = ?
2
? and (??)? = ??
2
: a piopeity somewhat weakei
than associativity. It is the only 8-dimensional ieal alteinative algebia without zeio di-
visois. Because it is not associative, the set ? of all octonions does not foim a feld, noi
even a iing, so that the old designation of ‘Cayley numbeis’ has been abandoned. Te
octonions aie the most geneial hypeicomplex ‘numbeis’ whose noim is multiplicative.
Its geneiatois obey (?
?
?
?
)?
?
= ±?
?
(?
?
?
?
), wheie the minus sign, which shows the non-
associativity, is valid foi combinations of indices that aie not quateinionic, such as I-2-4.
Octonions can be iepiesented as matiices of the foim
_
? ?

̄
?
̄
?
_wheie ?, ? ∈ ℍ , oi as ieal 8 × 8 matiices. (I40)
Matiix multiplication then gives the same iesult as octonionic multiplication.
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Te ielation |??| = |?| |?| allows one to deduce the impiessive eight-squares theorem
(?
2
1
+ ?
2
2
+ ?
2
3
+ ?
2
4
+ ?
2
5
+ ?
2
6
+ ?
2
7
+ ?
2
8
)(?
2
1
+ ?
2
2
+ ?
2
3
+ ?
2
4
+ ?
2
5
+ ?
2
6
+ ?
2
7
+ ?
2
8
)
= (?
1
?
1
− ?
2
?
2
− ?
3
?
3
− ?
4
?
4
− ?
5
?
5
− ?
6
?
6
− ?
7
?
7
− ?
8
?
8
)
2
+ (?
1
?
2
+ ?
2
?
1
+ ?
3
?
4
− ?
4
?
3
+ ?
5
?
6
− ?
6
?
5
+ ?
7
?
8
− ?
8
?
7
)
2
+ (?
1
?
3
− ?
2
?
4
+ ?
3
?
1
+ ?
4
?
2
− ?
5
?
7
+ ?
6
?
8
+ ?
7
?
5
− ?
8
?
6
)
2
+ (?
1
?
4
+ ?
2
?
3
− ?
3
?
2
+ ?
4
?
1
+ ?
5
?
8
+ ?
6
?
7
− ?
7
?
6
− ?
8
?
5
)
2
+ (?
1
?
5
− ?
2
?
6
+ ?
3
?
7
− ?
4
?
8
+ ?
5
?
1
+ ?
6
?
2
− ?
7
?
3
+ ?
8
?
4
)
2
+ (?
1
?
6
+ ?
2
?
5
− ?
3
?
8
− ?
4
?
7
− ?
5
?
2
+ ?
6
?
1
+ ?
7
?
4
+ ?
8
?
3
)
2
+ (?
1
?
7
− ?
2
?
8
− ?
3
?
5
+ ?
4
?
6
+ ?
5
?
3
− ?
6
?
4
+ ?
7
?
1
+ ?
8
?
2
)
2
+ (?
1
?
8
+ ?
2
?
7
+ ?
3
?
6
+ ?
4
?
5
− ?
5
?
4
− ?
6
?
3
− ?
7
?
2
+ ?
8
?
1
)
2
(I4I)
valid foi all ieal numbeis ?
?
and ?
?
and thus in paiticulai also foi all integeis. (Teie
aie many vaiiations of this expiession, with difeient possible sign combinations.) Te
theoiem was discoveied in I8I8 by Cail Feidinand Degen (:,oo–:8:,), and then iedis-
coveied in I844 by John Giaves and in I843 by Aithui Cayley. Teie is no geneialization
to highei numbeis of squaies, a fact pioved by Adolf Huiwitz (:8,µ–:µ:µ) in I898.
Te octonions can be used to showthat a vectoi pioduct can be defned in moie than
thiee dimensions. A vector product oi cross product is an opeiation × satisfying
? × ? = −? × ? anticommutativity
(? × ?)? = ?(? × ?) exchange rule. (I42)
Using the defnition
? × ? =
1
2
(?? − ??) , (I43)
the cioss pioducts of imaginaiy quateinions, i.e., of quateinions of the type (0, ?), aie
again imaginaiy, and coiiespond to the usual, thiee-dimensional vectoi pioduct, thus
fulflling (I42). Inteiestingly, it is possible to use defnition (I43) Ref. 169 foi octonions as well.
In that case, the pioduct of imaginaiy octonions is also imaginaiy, Challenge 189 e and (I42) is again
satisfed. In fact, this is the only othei non-tiivial example of a vectoi pioduct.
In summaiy: Avector product exists only in three and in seven dimensions. Many schol-
ais have conjectuied that this ielation is connected with a possible ten-dimensionality of
natuie; howevei, these speculations have not met with any success.
Te symmetiies of the foices in natuie lead to a well-known question. Te unit com-
plex numbeis fiom the Lie gioup U(I) and the unit quateinions the Lie gioup SU(2). Do
the unit octonions foim the Lie gioup Challenge 190 s SU(3):
O1uiv 1vvis oi ×Umvivs
Te piocess of constiucting new systems of hypeicomplex ‘numbeis’ oi ieal algebias by
‘doubling’ a given one can be continued ad infnitum. Howevei, octonions, sedenions and
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all the following doublings aie neithei iings noi felds, but only non-associative algeb-
ias with unity. Othei fnite-dimensional algebias with unit element ovei the ieals, once
called hypeicomplex ‘numbeis’, can also be defned: they include the so-called ‘dual
numbeis’, ‘double numbeis’, ‘Clifoid–Lifshitz numbeis’ etc. Tey play no iole in phys-
ics.
Mathematicians have also defned numbei felds which have ‘one and a bit’ dimen-
sions, such as algebiaic numbei felds. Teie is also a geneialization of the concept of
integeis to the complex domain: the Gaussian integers, Ref. 174 defned as ? + ??, wheie ? and ?
aie oidinaiy integeis. Gauss even defned what aie nowknown as Gaussian primes. (Can
you fnd out how:) Challenge 191 s Tey aie not used in the desciiption of natuie, but aie impoitant in
numbei theoiy, the exploiation of the piopeities of integeis.
Physicists used to call quantum-mechanical opeiatois ‘q-numbeis.’ But this teim has
now fallen out of fashion.
Anothei way in which the natuial numbeis can be extended is to include numbeis
laigei than infnite. Te most impoitant such classes of transfnite number aie Ref. 175 the ordin-
als, the cardinals and the surreals. Vol. III, page 269 Te oidinals aie essentially an extension of the integeis
beyond infnity, wheieas the suiieals aie a continuous extension of the ieals, also bey-
ond infnity. Loosely speaking, among the tiansfnites, the oidinals have a similai iole as
the integeis have among the ieals; the suiieals fll in all the gaps between the oidinals,
like the ieals do foi integeis. Inteiestingly, many seiies that diveige in ℝ conveige in the
suiieals. Can you fnd one example: Challenge 192 ny
Te suiieals include infnitely small numbeis, as do the numbeis of nonstandard
analysis, also called hyperreals. Ref. 169 In both numbei systems, in contiast to ieal numbeis,
the numbeis I and 0.999 999... (wheie an infnite, but hypeifnite stiing of nines is im-
plied) do not coincide, but aie sepaiated by infnitely many othei numbeis. We exploied
Vol. III, page 271 suiieals eailiei on. Nonstandaid numbeis can be used to defne the infnitesimals used
in integiation and difeientiation, even at secondaiy school Ref. 170 level.
Fvom vic1ov sv:cis 1o Hiiviv1 sv:cis
Vectoi spaces, also called linear spaces, aie mathematical geneializations of ceitain as-
pects of the intuitive thiee-dimensional space. A set of elements any two of which can
be added togethei and any one of which can be multiplied by a numbei is called a vectoi
space, if the iesult is again in the set and the usual iules of calculation hold.
Moie piecisely, a vector space ovei a numbei feld ?is a set of elements, called vectors,
foi which a vectoi addition and a scalar multiplication is defned, such that foi all vectois
?, ?, ? and foi all numbeis ? and ? fiom ? one has
(? + ?) + ? = ? + (? + ?) = ? + ? + ? associativity of vector addition
? + ? = ? existence of null vector
(−?) + ? = ? existence of negative vector (I44)
1? = ? regularity of scalar multiplication
(? + ?)(? + ?) = ?? + ?? + ?? + ?? complete distributivity of scalar multiplication
If the feld ?, whose elements aie called scalars in this context, is taken to be the ieal (oi
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complex, oi quateinionic) numbeis, one speaks of a ieal (oi complex, oi quateinionic)
vectoi space. Vectoi spaces aie also called linear vector spaces oi simply linear spaces.
Te complex numbeis, the set of all ieal functions defned on the ieal line, the set of
all polynomials, the set of matiices with a given numbei of iows and columns, all foim
vectoi spaces. In mathematics, a vectoi is thus a moie geneial concept than in physics.
(What is the simplest possible mathematical vectoi space:) Challenge 193 s
In physics, the teim ‘vectoi’ is ieseived foi elements of a moie specialized type of
vectoi space, namely noimed innei pioduct spaces. To defne these, we fist need the
concept of a metiic space.
A metric space is a set with a metiic, i.e., a way to defne distances between elements.
A ieal function ?(?, ?) between elements is called a metiic if
?(?, ?) ⩾ 0 positivity of metric
?(?, ?) + ?(?, ?) ⩾ ?(?, ?) triangle inequality (I43)
?(?, ?) = 0 if and only if ? = ? regularity of metric
A non-tiivial example is the following. We defne a special distance ? between cities. If
the two cities lie on a line going thiough Paiis, we use the usual distance. In all othei
cases, we defne the distance ? by the shoitest distance fiom one to the othei tiavelling
via Paiis. Tis Challenge 194 s stiange method defnes a metiic between all cities in Fiance, the so-called
French railroad distance.
A normed vectoi space is a lineai space with a noim, oi ‘length’, associated to each a
vectoi. Anormis a non-negative numbei ‖?‖ defned foi eachvectoi ? withthe piopeities
‖??‖ = }?} ‖?‖ linearity of norm
‖? + ?‖ ⩽ ‖?‖ + ‖?‖ triangle inequality (I46)
‖?‖ = 0 only if ? = 0 regularity
Usually theie aie many ways to defne a noim foi a given vectoi space. Challenge 195 ny Note that a noim
can always be used to defne a metiic by setting
?(?, ?) = ‖? − ?‖ (I47)
so that all noimed spaces aie also metiic spaces. Tis is the natural distance defnition
(in contiast to unnatuial ones like that between Fiench cities given above).
Te noim is ofen defned with the help of an innei pioduct. Indeed, the most special
class of lineai spaces aie the inner product spaces. Tese aie vectoi spaces with an inner
product, also called scalar product ⋅ (not to be confused with the scalai multiplication!)
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whichassociates a numbei to each paii of vectois. An innei pioduct space ovei ℝsatisfes
? ⋅ ? = ? ⋅ ? commutativity of scalar product
(??) ⋅ (??) = ??(? ⋅ ?) bilinearity of scalar product
(? + ?) ⋅ ? = ? ⋅ ? + ? ⋅ ? lef distributivity of scalar product
? ⋅ (? + ?) = ? ⋅ ? + ? ⋅ ? right distributivity of scalar product (I48)
? ⋅ ? ⩾ 0 positivity of scalar product
? ⋅ ? = 0 if and only if ? = 0 regularity of scalar product
foi all vectois ?, ?, ? and all scalais ?, ?. A real innei pioduct space of fnite dimension
is also called a Euclidean vectoi space. Te set of all velocities, the set of all positions, oi
the set of all possible momenta foim such spaces.
An innei pioduct space ovei ℂ satisfes¯
? ⋅ ? = ? ⋅ ? = ? ⋅ ? Hermitean property
(??) ⋅ (??) = ??(? ⋅ ?) sesquilinearity of scalar product
(? + ?) ⋅ ? = ? ⋅ ? + ? ⋅ ? lef distributivity of scalar product
? ⋅ (? + ?) = ? ⋅ ? + ? ⋅ ? right distributivity of scalar product (I49)
? ⋅ ? ⩾ 0 positivity of scalar product
? ⋅ ? = 0 if and only if ? = 0 regularity of scalar product
foi all vectois ?, ?, ? and all scalais ?, ?. A complex innei pioduct space (of fnite di-
mension) is also called a unitary oi Hermitean vectoi space. If the innei pioduct space is
complete, Page 223 it is called, especially in the infnite-dimensional complex case, a Hilbert space.
Te space of all possible states of a quantum system foims a Hilbeit space.
All innei pioduct spaces aie also metiic spaces, and thus noimed spaces, if the metiic
is defned by
?(?, ?) = ¸(? − ?) ⋅ (? − ?) . (I30)
Only in the context of an innei pioduct spaces we can speak about angles (oi phase
difeiences) between vectois, as we aie used to in physics. Of couise, like in noimed
spaces, innei pioduct spaces also allows us to speak about the length of vectois and to
defne a basis, the mathematical concept necessaiy to defne a cooidinate system. Which
vectoi spaces oi innei pioduct spaces aie of impoitance in physics: Challenge 196 s
Te dimension of a vectoi space is the numbei of lineaily independent basis vectois.
Can you defne these teims piecisely: Challenge 197 s
A Hilbert space is a ieal oi complex innei pioduct space that is also a complete met-
iic space. In othei teims, in a Hilbeit space, distances vaiy continuously and behave as
naively expected. Hilbeit spaces usually, but not always, have an infnite numbei of di-
mensions.
¯ Two inequivaleni forms of ihe sesquilineariiy axiom exisi. Te oiher is (??) ⋅ (??) = ??(? ⋅ ?). Te ierm
sesquilinear is derived from Laiin and means for ‘one-and-a-half-linear’.
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v ×Umvivs n×u vic1ov svncis :¸,
Te defnition of Hilbeit spaces and vectoi spaces assume continuous sets to stait
with. If natuie would not be continuous, could one still use the concepts: Challenge 198 s
M:1uim:1ic:i cUviosi1iis :×u iU× cu:iii×cis
Mathematics piovides many countei-intuitive iesults. Reading a good book on the topic,
such as Biv×:vu R. Giiv:Um & Jou× M. H. Oims1iu, Teorems and Counter-
examples in Mathematics, Spiingei, I993, can help you shaipen youi mind and make you
savoui the beauty of mathematics even moie.
∗∗
It is possible to diaw a cuive that meets all points in a squaie oi all points in a cube. Tis
is shown, foi example, in the text H:×s S:c:×, Space Filling Curves, Spiingei Veilag,
I994. As a iesult, the distinction between one, two and thiee dimensions is bluiied in
puie mathematics. In physics howevei, dimensions aie cleaily and well-defned; eveiy
object in natuie has thiee dimensions. Challenge 199 e
∗∗
Show that two opeiatois ? and ? obey Challenge 200 ny
e
?
e
?
= exp(? + ? +
1
2
[?, ?]
+
1
12
[[?, ?], ?] −
1
12
[[?, ?], ?]

1
48
[?, [?, [?, ?]]] −
1
48
[?, [?, [?, ?]]]
+ ...) (I3I)
foi most opeiatois ? and ?. Tis iesult is ofen called the Baker–Campbell–Hausdorf
formula oi the BCH formula.
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CHALLENGE HI NTS AND SOLUTIONS

Never make a calculaiion before you know ihe
answer.

John Wheeler’s moiio
Challenge 1, page 9: Do noi hesiiaie io be demanding and sirici. Te nexi ediiion of ihe iexi will
benefi from ii.
Challenge 2, page 16: Classical physics fails in explaining any maierial properiy, such as colour
or sofness. Maierial properiies resuli from naiure’s inieraciions; ihey are ineviiably quanium.
Explanaiions of maierial properiies require, wiihoui excepiion, ihe use of pariicles and iheir
quanium properiies.
Challenge 3, page 17: Classical physics allows any observable io change smoothly wiih iime. In
classical physics, ihere is no minimum value for any observable physical quaniiiy.
Challenge 4, page 19: Te higher ihe mass, ihe smaller ihe moiion fuzziness induced by ihe
quaniumof aciion, because aciion is mass iimes speed iimes disiance: For a large mass, ihe speed
and disiance variaiions are small.
Challenge 5, page 20: Te simplesi iime is ¸?ℏ/?
5
. Te numerical facior is obviously noi fxed;
ii is changed laier on. Using 4? insiead of ? ihe iime becomes ihe shoriesi iime measurable in
naiure.
Challenge 6, page 20: Te eleciron charge is special io ihe eleciromagneiic inieraciions; ii does
noi iake inio accouni ihe nuclear inieraciions or graviiy. Ii is unclear why ihe lengih defned wiih
ihe elemeniary charge ? should be of imporiance for neuiral sysiems or for ihe vacuum. On ihe
oiher hand, ihe quanium of aciion ℏ is valid for all inieraciions and all observaiions.
In addiiion, we can argue ihai ihe iwo opiions io defne a fundamenial lengih – wiih ihe
quanium of aciion and wiih ihe quanium of charge – are noi ioo dinereni: ihe eleciron charge
is relaied io ihe quanium of aciion by ? = ¸4π?
0
??ℏ . Te iwo lengih scales defned by ihe iwo
opiions diner only by a facior near II.7. In faci, boih scales are quantum scales.
Challenge 8, page 21: On purely dimensional grounds, ihe radius of an aiom musi be
? ≈

2
4π?
0
?
e
?
2
, (132)
which is aboui 53 nm. Page 184 Indeed, ihis guess is excelleni: ii is jusi ihe Bohr radius.
Challenge 9, page 21: Due io ihe quanium of aciion, aioms in all people, be ihey gianis or
dwarfs, have ihe same size. Tis implies ihai gianis cannoi exisi, as was shown already by Galileo.
Vol. I, page 316 Te argumeni is based on ihe given sirengih of maierials; and a same sirengih everywhere is
equivaleni io ihe same properiies of aioms everywhere. Tai dwarfs cannoi exisi is due io a sim-
ilar reason; naiure is noi able io make people smaller ihan usual (even in ihe womb ihey diner
markedly from adulis) as ihis would require smaller aioms.
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cuniii×oi ui×1s n×u soiU1io×s i¸µ
Challenge 12, page 27: A disappearance of a mass ? in a iime Δ? is an aciion change ?
2
?Δ?.
Tai is much larger ihan ℏ for all objecis of everyday life.
Challenge 14, page 29: Tunnelling of a lion would imply aciion values ? of ihe order of ? =
100 kgm
2
/s ≫ ℏ. Tis cannoi happen sponianeously.
Challenge 15, page 29: Every memory, be ii human memory or an elecironic compuier memory,
musi avoid decay. And decay can only be avoided ihrough high walls and low iunnelling raies.
Challenge 16, page 29: Yes! Many beliefs and myihs – from loiiery io ghosis – are due io ihe
negleci of quanium enecis.
Challenge 17, page 29: Perfecily coniinuous ßow is in conirasi io ihe fuzziness of moiion in-
duced by ihe quanium of aciion.
Challenge 18, page 30: Te impossibiliiy of following iwo pariicles along iheir paih appears
when iheir muiual disiance ? is smaller ihan iheir posiiion indeierminacy due io iheir relai-
ive momenium ?, ihus when ? < ℏ/?. Check ihe numbers wiih elecirons, aioms, molecules,
bacieria, people and galaxies.
Challenge 19, page 30: Also phoions are indisiinguishable. See page 63.
Challenge 21, page 36: In ihe maierial ihai forms ihe escapemeni mechanism.
Challenge 22, page 36: Growih is noi proporiional io lighi iniensiiy or io lighi frequency, bui
shows boih iniensiiy and frequency thresholds. Tese are quanium enecis.
Challenge 23, page 36: All enecis meniioned above, such as iunnelling, inierference, decay,
iransformaiion, non-empiiness of ihe vacuum, indeierminacy and randomness, are also ob-
served in ihe nuclear domain.
Challenge 24, page 36: Tis is noi evideni from whai was said so far, bui ii iurns oui io be cor-
reci. In faci, ihere is no oiher opiion, as you will see when you iry io fnd one.
Challenge 25, page 36: TomTumb is supposedly as smari as a normal human. Bui a brain can-
noi be scaled down. Fracials coniradici ihe exisience of Planck’s lengih, and Moore’s law con-
iradicis ihe exisience of aioms.
Challenge 26, page 36: Te ioial angular momenium counis, including ihe orbiial angular mo-
menium. Te orbiial angular momenium? is given, using ihe radius and ihe linear momenium,
? = ? × ?. Te ioial angular momenium is a muliiple of ℏ.
Challenge 27, page 37: Yes, we could have!
Challenge 28, page 37: Tai is jusi ihe indeierminacy relaiion. Bohr expanded ihis idea io all
sori of oiher pairs of concepis, more in ihe philosophical domain, such as clariiy and precision
of explanaiions: boih cannoi be high ai ihe same iime.
Challenge 29, page 38: Te big bang cannoi have been an eveni, for example.
Challenge 32, page 43: Charged phoions would be deßecied by eleciric of magneiic felds; in
pariicular, ihey would noi cross undisiurbed. Tis is noi observed. Massive phoions would be
deßecied by masses, such as ihe Sun, much more ihan is observed.
Challenge 34, page 43: To measure momenium, we need a spaiially exiended measuremeni
device; io measure posiiion, we need a localized measuremeni device.
Challenge 35, page 47: Phoions are elemeniary because ihey realize ihe minimum aciion, be-
cause ihey cannoi decay, because ihey cannoi be deformed or splii, because ihey have no mass,
no eleciric charge and no oiher quanium number, and because ihey appear in ihe Lagrangian of
quanium elecirodynamics.
Challenge 36, page 30: Te measured eleciric felds and phoion disiribuiion are shown in ihe
famous graphs reproduced in Figure 90.
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i¡o cuniii×oi ui×1s n×u soiU1io×s
FI GURE 90 Left, from top to bottom: the electric field and its fuzziness measured for a coherent state,
for a squeezed vacuum state, for a phase-squeezed state, for a mixed, quadrature-squeezed state and
for an amlitude-squeezed state, all with a small number of photons. Right: the corresponding photon
number distributions for the uppermost four states. (© G. Breitenbach/Macmillan, from Ref. 19)
Challenge 38, page 31: Tis is an unclearly posed problem. Te radiaiion is ihermal, bui ihe
phoion number depends on ihe volume under discussion.
Challenge 40, page 36: Radio phoions can be counied using opiical pumping experimenis in
which aiomic siaies are splii by a small, ‘radio-wavelengih’ amouni, wiih ihe help of magneiic
felds. Also caesium clocks deieci radio phoions wiih opiical means. Te Josephons eneci and
magneiic resonance imaging are addiiional deieciion meihods for radio phoions.
Challenge 41, page 37: To be observable io ihe eye, ihe inierference fringes need io be visible for
around 0.1 s. Tai implies a maximum frequency dinerence beiween ihe iwo beams of around
10 Hz. Tis is achievable only if eiiher a single beam is splii inio iwo or if ihe iwo beams come
from high-precision, siabilized lasers.
Challenge 42, page 62: Implicii in ihe arrow model is ihe idea ihai one quanium pariicle is de-
scribed by one arrow.
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Challenge 48, page 64: Despiie a huge number of aiiempis and ihe promise of eiernal fame, ihis
is ihe sober conclusion.
Challenge 53, page 68: Yes, ihe argumeni is correci. In faci, more deiailed discussions showihai
classical elecirodynamics is in coniradiciion wiih all colours observed in naiure.
Challenge 56, page 72: Te calculaiion is noi easy, bui noi ioo dimculi eiiher. Ref. 176 For an iniiial ori-
eniaiion close io ihe veriical, ihe fall iime ? iurns oui io be
? =
1

?
0
ln
8
?
(133)
where ? is ihe siariing angle, and a fall ihrough angle π is assumed. Here ?
0
is ihe oscillaiion
iime of ihe pencil for small angles. (Can you deiermine ii:) Te indeierminacy relaiion for ihe
iip of ihe pencil yields a minimum siariing angle, because ihe momenium indeierminacy cannoi
be made arbiirarily large. You should be able io provide an upper limii. Once ihis angle is known,
you can calculaie ihe maximum iime.
Challenge 57, page 73: Use ihe iemperaiure io calculaie ihe average kineiic energy, and ihus ihe
average speed of aioms.
Challenge 58, page 73: Ai such low iemperaiures, ihe aioms cannoi be fully disiinguished; ihey
form a siaie of maiier wiih peculiar properiies, called a condensate. Te condensaie is noi ai resi
eiiher; bui due io iis large mass, iis ßuciuaiions are greaily reduced, compared io ihose of a single
aiom.
Challenge 60, page 77: Only variables whose produci has ihe same uniis as physical aciion – Js
– can be complemeniary io each oiher.
Challenge 61, page 78: Use Δ? < ? and ? Δ? < ?.
Challenge 66, page 83: Te quanium of aciion does noi apply only io measuremenis, ii applies
io moiion iiself, and in pariicular, io all moiion. Also enecis of ihe nuclear forces, of nuclear
pariicles and of nuclear radiaiion pariicles musi comply io ihe limii. And experimenis showihai
ihey indeed do. In faci, if ihey did noi, ihe quanium of aciion in elecirodynamic siiuaiions could
be circumvenied, as you can check.
Challenge 72, page 93: Ouiside ihe garage, all aioms need io formihe same solid siruciure again.
Challenge 73, page 96: Terabyie chips would need io have small memory cells. Small cells imply
ihin barriers. Tin barriers imply high probabiliiies for iunnelling. Tunnelling implies lack of
memory.
Challenge 78, page 107: If a pariicle were noi elemeniary, iis componenis would be bound by
an inieraciion. Bui ihere are no known inieraciions ouiside ihose of ihe siandard model.
Challenge 79, page 108: Te dimculiies io see hydrogen aioms are due io iheir small size and
iheir small number of elecirons. As a resuli, hydrogen aioms produce only weak conirasis in X-
ray images. For ihe same reasons ii is dimculi io image ihem using elecirons; ihe Bohr radius of
hydrogen is only slighily larger ihan ihe eleciron Compion wavelengih.
For ihe frsi iime, in 2008, a research ieam claimed io have imaged hydrogen aioms adsorbed
on graphene wiih ihe help of a iransmission eleciron microscope. For deiails, see J. C. Miviv,
C. O. Gvi1, M. F. Cvommii & A. Zi11i, Imaging and dynamics of light atoms and molecules
on graphene, Naiure 434, pp. 3I9–322, 2008. However, ii seems ihai ihe repori has noi been con-
frmed by anoiher group yei.
More hydrogen images have appeared in receni years. You may search for olympicene on ihe
iniernei, for example. For anoiher receni resuli aboui hydrogen imaging, see Page 186 above.
Challenge 81, page 108: Tis is noi easy! Can you use ihe concepi of aciion io show ihai ihere
indeed is a fundamenial dinerence beiween very similar and very dinereni operaiors:
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Challenge 83, page 109: ? = 86 pm, ihus ? = 12 eV. Tis compares io ihe aciual value of 13.6 eV.
Te irick for ihe derivaiion of ihe formula is io use ⟨?| ?
2
?
| ?⟩ =
1
3
⟨?| ?? | ?⟩, a relaiion valid for
siaies wiih no orbiial angular momenium. Ii is valid for all coordinaies and also for ihe ihree
momenium observables, as long as ihe sysiem is non-relaiivisiic.
Challenge 84, page 109: Aquaniumßuciuaiion would require ihe universe io exisi already. Such
siaiemenis, regularly found in ihe press, are uiier nonsense.
Challenge 85, page 111: Poini pariicles cannoi be marked; nearby poini pariicles cannoi be dis-
iinguished, due io ihe quanium of aciion.
Challenge 86, page 111: Te soluiion is two gloves. In oiher words, if iwo men and iwo women
wani io make love wiihoui danger and , ihey need only two condoms. You can deduce ihe pro-
cedure by yourself.
Challenge 91, page 113: Te Sackur–Teirode formula is besi deduced in ihe following way. We
siari wiih an ideal monoaiomic gas of volume ?, wiih ? pariicles, and ioial energy ?. In phase
space, state sum ? is given by
? =
?
?
?!
1
Λ
3?
. (134)
We use Siirling’s approximaiion ?! ≈ ?
?
/?
?
, and ihe defniiion of ihe eniropy as ? =
∂(??ln?)/∂?. Inseriing ihe defniiion of Λ, ihis gives ihe Sackur–Teirode equaiion.
Challenge 93, page 116: To wriie anyihing aboui iwo pariicles on paper, we need io disiinguish
ihem, even if ihe disiinciion is arbiirary.
Challenge 94, page 117: Trees, like all macroscopic objecis, have a spin value ihai depends on
iheir angular momenium. Being classical objecis whose phase can be observed, ihe spin value is
unceriain. Ii makes no sense io ask wheiher macroscopic objecis are bosons or fermions, as ihey
are noi quanions.
Challenge 97, page 121: Te idea, also called quantum money, is noi compaiible wiih ihe size
and lifeiime requiremenis of aciual banknoies.
Challenge 98, page 123: Twins diner in ihe way iheir iniesiines are folded, in ihe lines of iheir
hands and oiher skin folds. Someiimes, bui noi always, feaiures like black poinis on ihe skin are
mirror inveried on ihe iwo iwins.
Challenge 105, page 134: Tree.
Challenge 106, page 134: Noi for a maiiress. Tis is noi easy io piciure.
Challenge 107, page 133: Angels can be disiinguished by name, can ialk and can sing; ihus ihey
are made of a large number of fermions. In faci, many angels are human sized, so ihai ihey do
noi even fi on ihe iip of a pin.
Challenge 113, page 139: A boson can be represenied by an objeci glued io one infniiesimally
ihin ihread whose iwo iails reach spaiial infniiy.
Challenge 116, page 141: Ghosis, like angels, can be disiinguished by name, can ialk and can
be seen; ihus ihey coniain fermions. However, ihey can pass ihrough walls and ihey are irans-
pareni; ihus ihey cannoi be made of fermions, bui musi be images, made of bosons. Tai is a
coniradiciion.
Challenge 117, page 143: Macroscopic superposiiions cannoi be drawn, because observaiion
implies inieraciion wiih a baih, which desiroys macroscopic superposiiion.
Challenge 119, page 143: Te loss of non-diagonal elemenis leads io an increase in ihe diagonal
elemenis, and ihus of eniropy.
Challenge 122, page 131: Te energy speed is given by ihe advancemeni of ihe ouier iwo iails;
ihai speed is never larger ihan ihe speed of lighi.
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Challenge 123, page 134: No, as iaking a phoio implies an inieraciion wiih a baih, which would
desiroy ihe superposiiion.
Challenge 124, page 134: A phoiograph requires illuminaiion; illuminaiion is a macroscopic
eleciromagneiic feld; a macroscopic feld is a baih; a baih implies decoherence; decoherence
desiroys superposiiions.
Challenge 127, page 133: Ii depends. Tey can be due io inierference or io iniensiiy sums. In
ihe case of radio ihe eneci is clearer. If ai a pariicular frequency ihe signals changes periodically
from one siaiion io anoiher, one has a genuine inierference eneci.
Challenge 128, page 133: Tey inierfere. Bui ihis is a irick quesiion; whai is a monochromaiic
eleciron: Does ii occur in ihe laboraiory:
Challenge 129, page 133: Such a compuier requires clear phase relaiions beiween componenis;
such phase relaiions are exiremely sensiiive io ouiside disiurbances. Ai preseni, ihey do noi hold
longer ihan a microsecond, whereas long compuier programs require minuies and hours io run.
Challenge 130, page 136: A record is an eneci of a process ihai musi be hard to reverse or undo.
Te iraces of a broken egg are easy io clean on a large glass plaie, bui hard in ihe wool of a sheep.
Broken ieeih, iorn cloihes, or scraiches on large surfaces are good records. Forensic scieniisis
know many addiiional examples.
Challenge 134, page 164: Any oiher baih also does ihe irick, such as ihe aimosphere, sound vi-
braiions, eleciromagneiic felds, eic.
Challenge 135, page 164: Te Moon is in coniaci wiih baihs like ihe solar wind, falling meieor-
iies, ihe eleciromagneiic background radiaiion of ihe deep universe, ihe neuirino ßux from ihe
Sun, cosmic radiaiion, eic.
Challenge 136, page 166: Spaiially periodic poieniials have ihe properiy. Decoherence ihen
leads io momenium diagonalizaiion.
Challenge 138, page 170: If so, lei ihe auihor know.
Challenge 139, page 181: Te red shifvalue is ? = 9.9995. Fromihe formula for ihe longiiudinal
Doppler shif we gei ?/? = ((? + 1)
2
− 1)/((? + 1)
2
+ 1); ihis yields 0.984 in ihe preseni case. Te
galaxy ihus moves away from Earih wiih 98.4 ° of ihe speed of lighi.
Challenge 145, page 183: Hydrogen aioms are in eigensiaies for ihe reasons explained in ihe
chapier on superposiiions and probabiliiies: in a gas, aioms are pari of a baih, and ihus almosi
always in energy eigensiaies.
Challenge 150, page 194: If several lighi beams are focused in ihe space beiween ihe mirrors,
and if ihe lighi beam frequency is properly iuned wiih respeci io ihe absorpiion frequencies
of ihe aioms, aioms will experience a resioring force whenever ihey move away from ihe focus
region. By shining lighi beams io ihe focus region from 6 direciions, aioms are irapped. Te
iechnique of laser cooling is now widely used in research laboraiories.
Challenge 151, page 194: No, despiie iis name, phosphorus is noi phosphoresceni, bui chemo-
luminesceni.
Challenge 153, page 193: Tis is a irick quesiion. A change in ? requires a change in ?, ℏ, ? or ?
0
.
None of ihese changes is possible or observable, as all our measuremeni apparaius are based on
ihese uniis. Speculaiions aboui change of ?, despiie iheir frequency in ihe press and in scieniifc
journals, are idle ialk.
Challenge 154, page 196: A change of physical uniis such ihai ℏ = ? = ? = 1 would change ihe
value of ?
0
in such a way ihai 4π?
o
= 1/? ≈ 137.036.
Challenge 157, page 206: Mass is a measure of ihe amouni of energy. Te ‘square of mass’ makes
no sense.
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Challenge 161, page 209: Planck limiis can be exceeded for exiensive observables for which
many pariicle sysiems can exceed single pariicle limiis, such as mass, momenium, energy or
elecirical resisiance.
Challenge 163, page 211: Do noi forgei ihe relaiivisiic iime dilaiion.
Challenge 164, page 211: Te formula wiih ? − 1 is a beiier fi. Why:
Challenge 167, page 212: No! Tey are much ioo precise io make sense. Tey are only given as
an illusiraiion for ihe behaviour of ihe Gaussian disiribuiion. Real measuremeni disiribuiions
are noi Gaussian io ihe precision implied in ihese numbers.
Challenge 168, page 213: Aboui 0.3 m/s. Ii is not 0.33 m/s, ii is not 0.333 m/s and ii is not any
longer sirings of ihrees.
Challenge 170, page 219: Te slowdown goes quadratically wiih iime, because every new slow-
down adds io ihe old one!
Challenge 171, page 219: No, only properiies of paris of ihe universe are lisied. Te universe
iiself has no properiies, as shown in ihe lasi Vol. VI, page 107 volume.
Challenge 172, page 221: Te double of ihai number, ihe number made of ihe sequence of all
even numbers, eic.
Challenge 175, page 224: We will fnd oui in ihe lasi volume ihai all measuremeni values have
upper and lower bounds. We will also fnd oui ihai iwo physical measuremeni resulis cannoi
diner jusi from, say, ihe 300ih decimal place onwards. So indeed, all measuremeni resulis are
real numbers, bui noi vice versa. Ii needs io be siressed ihai for quanium iheory, for relaiiviiy
and also for Galilean physics ihis resiriciion has no consequences whaisoever.
Challenge 177, page 223: |?|
2
is ihe determinant of ihe mairix ? = _
? ?
−? ?
_.
Challenge 182, page 226: Use Canior’s diagonal argumeni, as in challenge 263.
Challenge 183, page 227: Any quaiernion ? = ??+??+?? wiih ?
2
+?
2
+?
2
= 1 solves ihe equaiion
?
2
+1 = 0; ihe purely imaginary soluiions +? and −? are ihus augmenied by a coniinuous sphere
of soluiions in quaiernion space.
Challenge 186, page 229: Any roiaiion by an angle 2π is described by −1. Only a roiaiion by 4π
is described by +1; quaiernions indeed describe spinors.
Challenge 188, page 231: Jusi check ihe resuli componeni by componeni. See also ihe men-
iioned reference.
Challenge 190, page 233: No. Because ihe unii ocionions are noi associaiive, ihey do noi form
a group ai all. Despiie iis superfcial appeal, ihis line of reasoning has noi led io any insighi inio
ihe naiure of ihe fundamenial inieraciions.
Challenge 191, page 234: For a Gaussian inieger ? + ?? io be prime, ihe inieger ?
2
+ ?
2
musi
be prime, and in addiiion, a condiiion on ? mod 3 musi be saiisfed; which one and why:
Challenge 193, page 233: Te sei ihai coniains only ihe zero vecior.
Challenge 194, page 233: Te meiric is regular, posiiive defniie and obeys ihe iriangle inequal-
iiy.
Challenge 196, page 236: Esseniially only ihe vecior spaces lisied in ihe appendix (or in ihe
book).
Challenge 197, page 236: If you cannoi, blame your maih ieacher ai secondary school, and ihen
look up ihe defniiions. Ii is noi a dimculi iopic.
Challenge 198, page 237: Spaces could exisi approximaiely, as averages of non-coniinuous
siruciures. Tis idea is explored in modern research; an example is given in ihe lasi volume of
ihis series.
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BI BLIOGRAPHY

No man bui a blockhead ever wroie excepi for
money.

Samuel Johnson

As soon as you wriie, no iime io read remains.

Anonymous
1 GiUsivvi FUmnoniii, Chi l’ha detto?, Hoepli, Milano, I983. Ciied on page I3.
2 Te quanium of aciion was iniroduced in Mnx Pin×cx, Über irreversible Strahlungs-
vorgänge, Siizungsberichie der Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschafen, Berlin pp. 440–
480, I899. In ihe paper, Planck used ihe leiier ? for whai nowadays is called ℎ. Ciied on page
I7.
3 Bohr explained ihe indivisibiliy of ihe quanium of aciion in his famous Como leciure. See
N. Bouv, Atomtheorie und Naturbeschreibung, Springer, I93I. On page I6 he wriies: ‘No
more is ii likely ihai ihe fundamenial concepis of ihe classical iheories will ever become
superßuous for ihe descripiion of physical experience. Te recogniiion of ihe indivisibiliiy
of ihe quanium of aciion, and ihe deierminaiion of iis magniiude, noi only depend on an
analysis of measuremenis based on classical concepis, bui ii coniinues io be ihe applica-
iion of ihese concepis alone ihai makes ii possible io relaie ihe symbolism of ihe quanium
iheory io ihe daia of experience.’ He also wriies: ‘...ihe fundamenial posiulaie of ihe in-
divisibiliiy of ihe quanium of aciion is iiself, from ihe classical poini of view, an irraiional
elemeni which ineviiably requires us io forgo a causal mode of descripiion and which, be-
cause of ihe coupling beiween phenomena and iheir observaiion, forces us io adopi a new
mode of descripiion designaied as complemeniary in ihe sense ihai any given applicaiion
of classical concepis precludes ihe simulianeous use of oiher classical concepis which in
a dinereni conneciion are equally necessary for ihe elucidaiion of ihe phenomena ...’ and
‘...ihe fniie magniiude of ihe quanium of aciion prevenis aliogeiher a sharp disiinciion
being made beiween a phenomenon and ihe agency by which ii is observed, a disiinciion
which underlies ihe cusiomary concepi of observaiion and, iherefore, forms ihe basis of
ihe classical ideas of moiion.’ Oiher siaiemenis aboui ihe indivisibiliiy of ihe quanium of
aciion can be found in N. Bouv, Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge, Science Ediiions,
I96I. See also Mnx Jnmmiv, Te Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, Wiley, frsi ediiion,
I974, pp. 90–9I. Ciied on page I7.
4 For some of ihe rare modern publicaiions emphasizing ihe quanium of aciion see
M. B. Mi×sxv, Te action uncertainty principle and quantum gravity, Physics Leiiers
A 162, p. 2I9, I992, and M. B. Mi×sxv, Te action uncertainty principle in continuous
quantum measurements, Physics Leiiers A 133, pp. 229–233, I99I. Schwinger’s quanium-
aciion principle is also used in Ricunvu F. W. Bnuiv, Atoms in Molecules – A Quantum
Teory, Oxford Universiiy Press, I994.
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viviioovnvuv i¡,
Tere is a large number of general iexibooks on quanium iheory. Tere is one for every
iasie.
A well-known conceptual iniroduciion is Jin×-Mnvc Livv-Livio×u &
Fvn×çoisi Bniivnv, Quantique – Rudiments, Masson, I997, iranslaied inio English
as Quantics, Norih-Holland, I990.
One of ihe mosi beauiiful books is JUiin× Scuwi×oiv, Quantum Mechanics – Sym-
bolism of Atomic Measurements, ediied by Berihold-Georg Engleri, Springer Verlag, 200I.
A modern approach wiih a beauiiful iniroduciion is Mnx ScuUviv1 & Giv-
unvu Wiviv, Quantentheorie – Grundlagen und Anwendungen, SpekirumAkademischer
Verlag, I993.
A siandard beginner’s iexi is C. Coui×-Tn××oUu)i, B. DiU & F. Lniof, Méca-
nique quantique I et II, Hermann, Paris, I977. Ii is also available in several iranslaiions.
A good iexi is Asuiv Pivis, Quantum Teory – Concepts and Methods, Kluwer, I993.
For a lively approach, see Vi×ci×1 Icxi, Te Force of Symmetry, Cambridge Univer-
siiy Press, I994.
New iexibooks are published regularly around ihe world. Ciied on pages I7 and 234.
5 Te besi source for ihe siory aboui ihe walk in ihe foresi wiih Planck’s son Erwin is
Hn×s Roos & Avmi× Hivmn××, ediiors, Max Planck – Vorträge, Reden, Erinnerungen,
Springer, 200I, page I23. As ihe iexi explains, ihe siory was iold by Erwin Planck io ai leasi
iwo dinereni people. Erwin Planck himself was pari of ihe failed I944 ploi againsi Hiiler
and was hanged in January I943. Ciied on page 20.
6 Mnx Bov×, Zur Quantenmechanik der Stoßvorgänge (vorläufge Mitteilung), Zeiischrif
für Physik 37, pp. 863–867, I926, Mnx Bov×, Quantenmechanik der Stoßvorgänge, Zeiis-
chrif für Physik 38, pp. 803–827, I926. Ciied on page 22.
7 See for example ihe papers by Jn× Hiioivoovu, Te uncertainty principle for energy and
time, American Journal of Physics 64, pp. I43I–I436, I996, and by PnUi BUscu, On the
time–energy uncertainty reaction, parts 1 & 2, Foundaiions of Physics 20, pp. I–43, I990.
A classic is ihe paper by EUoi×i P. Wio×iv, On the time–energy uncertainty relation, in
AvuUs Sninm & EUoi×i P. Wio×iv, ediiors, Aspects of Quantum Teory, Cambridge
Universiiy Press, I972. Ciied on page 23.
8 See also ihe booklei by CinUs Mn11uicx, Warum alles kaputt geht – Form und Versagen
in Natur und Technik, Forschungszenirum Karlsruhe, 2003. Ciied on page 29.
9 R. Ciii1o×, J. BUv & H. Hnivovso×, Characterizing quantum theory in terms of
information-theoretic constraints, arxiv.org/abs/quani-ph/02II089. Ciied on page 33.
10 Tis way io look ai cans of beans goes back io ihe iexi by SUsn× Hiwi11 & Eu-
wnvu SUvi1zxv, A call for more scientifc truth in product warning labels, Journal of Ir-
reproducible Resulis 36, nr. I, I99I. Ciied on page 37.
11 J. Mniix, Te yields of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear explosions, Technical Repori
LA-88I9, Los Alamos Naiional Laboraiory, Sepiember I983. Ciied on page 37.
12 Te quoies on moiion are found in chapier VI of F. E×oiis, Herrn Eugen Dührings Um-
wälzung der Wissenschaf, Verlag für fremdsprachliche Liieraiur, I946. Te book is com-
monly called Anti-Dühring. Ciied on pages 39 and 73.
13 Rou×iv LoUuo×, Te Quantum Teory of Light, Oxford Universiiy Press, 2000. Ciied
on page 40.
14 E. M. BvUmvivo & S. I. Vnviiov, Izvesi. Akad. Nauk. Omen Ser. 7, p. 9I9, I933. Ciied
on page 40.
15 On phoion deieciion in ihe human eye, see ihe inßueniial review by F. Riixi &
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i¡8 viviioovnvuv
D. A. Bnviov, Single-photon detection by rod cells of the retina, Reviews of Modern
Physics 70, pp. I027–I036, I998. Ii can be found on ihe iniernei as a pdf fle. Ciied on page
42.
16 F. Riixi & D. A. Bnviov, Single-photon detection by rod cells of the retina, Reviews of
Modern Physics 70, pp. I027–I036, I998. Tey also meniion ihai ihe eye usually works ai
phoion ßuxes beiween 10
8
/?m
2
s (sunlighi) and 10
−2
/?m
2
s (siarlighi). Te cones, in ihe
reiina deieci, in colour, lighi iniensiiies in ihe uppermosi seven or eighi decades, whereas
ihe rods deieci, in black and whiie, ihe lower lighi iniensiiies. Ciied on page 44.
17 E. Fiscuvncu, H. Kioov, R. A. Ln×oii, A. T. Y. LUi & M. Piviuo, New geomag-
netic limit on the photon mass and on long-range forces coexisting with electromagnetism,
Physical Review Leiiers 73, pp. 3I4–3I7, I994. Ciied on page 43.
18 A. H. Comv1o×, Te scattering of X-rays as particles, American Journal of Physics 29,
pp. 8I7–820, I96I. Tis is a pedagogical preseniaiion of ihe discoveries he made in I923.
Ciied on page 43.
19 Te reference paper on ihis iopic is G. Bvii1i×vncu, S. Scuiiiiv & J. Miv×ix,
Measurement of the quantum states of squeezed light, 387, pp. 47I–473, I997. Ii is available
freely ai gerdbreiienbach.de/publicaiions/naiureI997.pdf. Ciied on pages 48 and 240.
20 Te famous paper is R. Hn×vUvv Bvow× & R. Q. Twiss, Naiure 178, p. I046, I936.
Tey goi ihe idea io measure lighi in ihis way from iheir earlier work, which used ihe same
meihod wiih radio waves: R. Hn×vUvv Bvow× & R. Q. Twiss, Naiure 177, p. 27, I936.
Te compleie discussion is given in iheir papers R. Hn×vUvv Bvow× & R. Q. Twiss,
Interferometry of the intensity fuctuations in light. I. Basic theory: the correlation between
photons in coherent beams of radiation, Proceedings of ihe Royal Socieiy A 242, pp. 300–
324, I937, and R. Hn×vUvv Bvow× & R. Q. Twiss, Interferometry of the intensity fuc-
tuations in light. II. An experimental test of the theory for partially coherent light, Proceedings
of ihe Royal Socieiy A 243, pp. 29I–3I9, I938. Boih are dowloadable for free on ihe iniernei
and are well worih reading. Ciied on page 32.
21 J. Gin×z, First light from a space laser, Science 269, p. I336, I993. Ciied on page 34.
22 A. Ei×s1ii×, Über einen die Erzeugung und Umwandlung des Lichtes betrefenden heur-
istischen Standpunkt, Annalen der Physik 17, pp. I32–I84, I903. Ciied on page 33.
23 See ihe summary by P. W. Miio××i, Answer to question 45: What (if anything) does the
photoelectric efect teach us?, American Journal of Physics 63, pp. II–I2, I997. Ciied on page
33.
24 For a deiailed accouni, See J. J. Pvi×1is, Poincaré ’s proof of the quantum discontinu-
ity of nature, American Journal of Physics 63, pp. 339–330, I993. Te original papers are
Hi×vi Poi×cnvi, Sur la théorie des quanta, Compies Rendus de l’Académie des Sci-
ences (Paris) 133, pp. II03–II08, I9II, and Hi×vi Poi×cnvi, Sur la théorie des quanta,
Journal de Physique (Paris) 2, pp. 3–34, I9I2. Ciied on page 33.
25 J. Jncovso×, G. B)ovx, I. Cun×o & Y. Ynmnmo1o, Photonic de Broglie waves,
Physical Review Leiiers 74, pp. 4833–4838, I993. Te frsi measuremeni was published
by E. J. S. Fo×sicn, C. H. Mo×xi× & S. ui PLuUn, Measurement of the de Broglie
wavelength of a multiphoton wave packet, Physical Review Leiiers 82, pp. 2868–267I, I993.
Ciied on page 33.
26 For ihe ihree-phoion siaie, see M. W. Mi1cuiii, J. S. LU×uii× & A. M. S1ii×vivo,
Super-resolving phase measurements with a multiphoton entangled state, Naiure 429, pp. I6I–
I64, 2004, and for ihe four-phoion siaie see, in ihe same ediiion, P. Wni1uiv, J. -W. Pn×,
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M. Asviimiviv, R. Uvsi×, S. Gnsvnvo×i & A. Ziiii×oiv, De Broglie wavelength
of a non-local four-photon state, Naiure 429, pp. I38–I6I, 2004. Ciied on page 33.
27 For an iniroduciion io squeezed lighi, see L. Mn×uii, Non-classical states of the electro-
magnetic feld, Physica Scripia T 12, pp. 34–42, I986. Ciied on page 36.
28 Fviiuvicu Hiv×icx, Einstein und sein Weltbild: Aufsätze und Vorträge, Buchverlag Der
Morgen, I976, page 97. Ciied on page 36.
29 Te famous quoie on single-phoion inierference is found on page 9 of famous, beauiiful
bui dimculi iexibook P. A. M. Divnc, Te Principles of Quantum Mechanics, Clarendon
Press, I930. Ii is also discussed, in a somewhai confused way, in ihe oiherwise informaiive
ariicle by H. PnUi, Interference between independent photons, Reviews of Modern Physics
38, pp. 209–23I, I986. Ciied on pages 39 and 66.
30 Te original papers on cohereni siaies are ihree: R. J. GinUviv, Te quantum theory of
optical coherence, Physical Review 130, pp. 2329–2339, I963, J. R. KinUuiv, Continuous-
representation theory, I and II, Journal of Maihemaiical Physics 4, pp. I033–I038, I963, and
E. C. G. SUunvsun×, Equivalence of semiclassical and quantum mechanical descriptions
of statistical light beams, Physical Review Leiiers 10, p. 227, I963. Ciied on page 63.
31 See, for example ihe wonderful iexi Ricunvu P. Fiv×mn×, QED – Te Strange Teory of
Light and Matter, pp. 73–73, Princeion Universiiy Press, I988, or Ricunvu P. Fiv×mn×
& S1ivi× Wii×vivo, Elementary Particles and the Laws of Physics, p. 23, Cambridge
Universiiy Press I987. Ciied on page 63.
32 Woiion×o Ti11ii, J. Bvi×uii, H. Zvi×ui× & N. Gisi×, Violation of Bell inequal-
ities by photons more than 10 km apart, Physical Review Leiiers 81, pp. 3363–3366, 26 Oc-
iober I998. Ciied on page 64.
33 N. Bouv & L. Rosi×iiiu, Zur Frage der Meßbarkeit der elektromagnetischen Feld-
größen, Mai.-fys. Medd. Danske Vid. Selsk. 12, p. 8, I933. Te resulis were laier published in
English as N. Bouv & L. Rosi×iiiu, Field and charge measurements in quantum elec-
trodynamics, Physical Review 78, pp. 794–798, I930. Ciied on page 63.
34 Misleading siaiemenis are given in ihe iniroduciion and in ihe conclusion of ihe review
by H. PnUi, Interference between independent photons, Review of Modern Physics 38,
pp. 209–23I, I986. However, in ihe bulk of ihe ariicle ihe auihor in praciice reiracis ihe
siaiemeni, e.g. on page 22I. Ciied on page 66.
35 G. Mnovnv & L. Mn×uii, Interference fringes produced by superposition of two inde-
pendent maser light beams, Naiure 198, pp. 233–236, I963. Ciied on page 66.
36 R. Kiuu, J. Aiui×i & A. A×1o×, Evolution of the modern photon, American Journal of
Physics 37, pp. 27–33, I989, Ciied on page 70.
37 Te whole bunch of aioms behaves as one single molecule; one speaks of a Bose–Einsiein
condensaie. Te frsi observaiions, worihy of a Nobel prize, were by M.H. A×uiv-
so× & al., Observation of Bose–Einstein condensation in a dilute atomic vapour, Science
269, pp. I98–20I, I993, C. C. Bvnuiiv, C. A. Sncxi11, J. J. Toiii11 & R. G. HUii1,
Evidence of Bose–Einstein condensation in an atomic gas with attractive interactions, Physical
Review Leiiers 73, pp. I687–I690, I993, K. B. Dnvis, M. -O. Miwis, M. R. A×uviws,
N. J. vn× DvU1i×, D. S. DUviii, D. M. KUv× & W. Ki11ivii, Bose–Einstein con-
densation in a gas of sodium atoms, Physical Review Leiiers 73, pp. 3969–3973, I993. For a
simple iniroduciion, see W. Ki11ivii, Experimental studies of Bose–Einstein condensa-
tion, Physics Today pp. 30–33, December I999. Ciied on page 73.
38 J. L. Cos1n-KvXmiv, N. Gnvcin, P. Gnvcín-Mocuniis & P. A. Sivi×n,
Nanowire formation in macroscopic metallic contacts: a universal property of metals, Surface
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Science Leiiers 342, pp. LII44–LII32, I993. See also J. L. Cos1n-KvXmiv, N. Gnvcin,
P. A. Sivi×n, P. Gnvcín-Mocuniis, M. MnvqUis & A. Covviin, Conductance
quantization in nanowires formed in macroscopic contacts, Physical Review B p. 44I6, I997.
Ciied on page 73.
39 Te beauiiful undergraduaie experimenis made possible by ihis discovery are desribed
in E. L. Foiiv, D. Cn×uiin, K. M. Mnv1i×i & M. T. TUomi×i×, An undergradu-
ate laboratory experiment on quantized conductance in nanocontacts, American Journal of
Physics 67, pp. 389–393, I999. Ciied on pages 73 and 74.
40 L. ui Bvooiii, Ondes et quanta, Compies rendus de l’Académie des Sciences 177,
pp. 307–3I0, I923. Ciied on page 73.
41 C. Jo×sso×, Interferenz von Elektronen am Doppelspalt, Zeiischrif für Physik 161,
pp. 434–474, I96I, C. Jo×sso×, Electron difraction at multiple slits, American Journal of
Physics 42, pp. 4–II, I974. Because of ihe charge of elecions, ihis experimeni is noi easy io
perform: any paris of ihe sei-up ihai are insulaiing gei charged and disiori ihe piciure. Tai
is why ihe experieni was performed much laier wiih elecirons ihan wiih aioms, neuirons
and molecules. Ciied on page 76.
42 M. Av×u1, O. Nnivz, J. Vos-A×uvini, C. Kiiiiv, G. vn× uiv ZoUw &
A. Ziiii×oiv, Wave–particle duality of C60 molecules, Naiure 401, pp. 680–682, I4
Ociober I999. See also ihe observaiion for ieiraphenyleprophyrin and C
60
F
48
by ihe
same ieam, published as L. Hncxivm0iiiv & al., Wave nature of biomolecules and
fuorofullerenes, Physical Review Leiiers 91, p. 090408, 2003.
No phenomoenon of quanium iheory has been experimenially siudied as much as
quanium inierference. Te iransiiion from inierference io non-inierference has also been
explored, as in P. Fnccui, A. Mnvin×o & S. Pnscnzio, Mesoscopic interference, Re-
ceni Developmenis in Physics 3, pp. I–29, 2002. Ciied on page 76.
43 G. Pnvi×i, Shadows of a maximal acceleration, arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/02II0II. Ciied on page
78.
44 J. Pivvi×, Nobel Prize speech, found ai www.nobel.se, and H. Nnonoxn, Kinetics of a
system of particles illustrating the line and the band spectrum and the phenomena of radio-
activity, Philosophical Magazine S6, 7, pp. 443–433, March I904. Ciied on page 78.
45 N. Bouv, On the constitution of atoms and molecules: Introduction and Part I – binding of
electrons by positive nuclei, Philosophical Magazine 26, pp. I–23, I9I3, On the constitution of
atoms and molecules: Part II – systems containing only a single nucleus, ibid., pp. 476–302,
On the constitution of atoms and molecules: Part III, ibid., pp. 837–873. Ciied on page 78.
46 Roviv1 H. Dicxi & Jnmis P. Wi11xi, Introduction to Quantum Teory, Addison-
Wesley, Reading, Massachuseiis, I960. See also S1ivui× Gnsiovowicz, QuantumPhys-
ics, John Wiley & Sons, I974. Ciied on page 80.
47 P. CnvvU1uivs & M. M. Nii1o, Phase and angle variables in quantum mechanics, Re-
view of Modern Physics 40, pp. 4II–440, I968. Ciied on page 8I.
48 Te indeierminacy relaiion for roiaiional moiion is well explained by W. H. LoUisiii,
Amplitude and phase uncertainty relations, Physics Leiiers 7, p. 60, I963. Ciied on page 8I.
49 S. Fvn×xi-Av×oiu, S. M. Bnv×i11, E. Yno, J. Lincu, J. CoUv1ini &
M. Pnuoi11, Uncertainty principle for angular position and angular momentum, New
Journal of Physics 6, p. I03, 2004. Tis is a freely accessible online journal. Ciied on page
8I.
50 W. Givincu & O. S1iv×, Der experimentelle Nachweis des magnetischen Moments des
Silberatoms, Zeiischrif für Physik 8, p. II0, I92I. See also ihe pedagogical explanaiion by
M
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M. Hn××oU1, S. Hov1, A. Kvvowo×os & A. Wiuom, Quantum measurement and
the Stern–Gerlach experiment, American Journal of Physics 66, pp. 377–379, I993. Ciied on
page 82.
51 J. P. Woivumn×, G. Nii×uUis, I. KUsciv, Is it possible to rotate an atom?, Op-
iics Communicaiions 93, pp. I33–I44, I992. We are ialking aboui aioms roiaiing around
iheir cenire of mass; aioms can of course roiaie around oiher bodies, as discussed by
M. P. Siivivmn×, Circular birefringence of an atom in uniform rotation: the classical per-
spective, American Journal of Physics 38, pp. 3I0–3I7, I990. Ciied on page 84.
52 J. Scumiiumnviv, M. S. Cunvmn×, C. R. Exs1vom, T. D. Hnmmo×u,
S. Wiui×oiv & D. E. Pvi1cunvu, Index of refraction of various gases for sodium
matter waves, Physical Review Leiiers 74, p. I043-I046, I993. Ciied on page 84.
53 Aiviv1 Ei×s1ii× & Mnx Bov×, Briefwechsel 1916 bis 1955, Rowohli, I969, as ciied on
page 34. Ciied on page 86.
54 E. Scuvoui×oiv, Quantisierung als EigenwertproblemI, Annalen der Physik 79, pp. 36I–
376, I926, and Quantisierung als Eigenwertproblem II, Annalen der Physik 79, pp. 489–327,
I926. Ciied on page 9I.
55 C. G. Gvnv, G. Knvi & V. A. Novixov, From Maupertius to Schrödinger. Quantization
of classical variational principles, American Journal of Physics 67, pp. 939–96I, I999. Ciied
on page 9I.
56 Y. Aunvo×ov & D. Boum, Signifcance of electromagnetic potentials in the quantum the-
ory, Physical Review 113, pp. 483–49I, I939. Ciied on page 97.
57 R. Coiiiin, A. W. OvivunUsiv & S. A. Wiv×iv, Observation of gravitationally in-
duced quantum interference, Physical review Leiiers 34, pp. I472–I474, I973. Ciied on page
99.
58 Te irend-seiiing resuli ihai siaried ihis exploraiion was Hn×s-Wiv×iv Fi×x & al.,
Atomic resolution in lens-less low-energy electron holography, Physical Review Leiiers 67,
pp. I343–I346, I99I. Ciied on page 99.
59 L. Csiv, Gv. Tovox, G. Kvix×iv, I. Sunvxov & B. Fnvnoó, Holographic imaging
of atoms using thermal neutrons, Physical Review Leiiers 89, p. I73304, 2002. Ciied on page
99.
60 G. E. Uuii×vicx & S. GoUusmi1, Ersetzung der Hypothese vom unmechanischen
Zwang durch eine Forderung bezüglich des inneren Verhaltens jedes einzelnen Elektrons,
Naiurwissenschafen 13, pp. 933–934, I923. Ciied on page I03.
61 L. Tuomns, Te motion of the spinning electron, Naiure 117, p. 3I4, I926. Ciied on page
I03.
62 K. vo× Mivi×× & E. ScuUcxi×o, Wolfgang Pauli, Physics Today pp. 43–48, February
200I. Ciied on page I04.
63 T. D. Niw1o× & E. P. Wio×iv, Localized states for elementary systems, Review of Mod-
ern Physics 21, pp. 400–406, I949. L. L. Foiuv & S. A. WoU1uUvsi×, On the Dirac
theory of spin 1/2 particles and its nonrelativistic limit, Physical Review 78, pp. 29–36, I930.
Boih are classic papers. Ciied on page I04.
64 J. P. Cos1iiin & B. H. J. McKiiinv, Te Foldy–Wouthuysen transformation, Amer-
ican Journal of Physics 63, pp. III9–II2I, I993. Ciied on page I03.
65 For an accouni of ihe frsi measuremni of ihe g-facior of ihe eleciron, see H. R. Cvn×i,
Howwe happended to measure g-2: a tale of serendipity, Physics inPerspeciive 2, pp. I33–I40,
2000. Te mosi inieresiing pari is howihe experimenialisis had io overcome ihe conviciion
of almosi all iheorisis ihai ihe measuremeni was impossible in principle. Ciied on page I03.
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66 Te ?-faciors for composiie nuclei are explained brießy on en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Nuclear_magneiic_momeni and measured values are found ai www-nds.iaea.org. See
also H. Diumii1, Is the electron a composite particle?, Hyperfne Inieraciions 81, pp. I–3,
I993. Ciied on pages I06 and 233.
67 Te nearesi anyone has come io an image of a hydrogen aiom is found in A. Ynzun×i,
Watching an atom tunnel, Naiure 409, pp. 47I–472, 200I. Te experimenis on Bose–Einsiein
condensaies are also candidaies for images of hydrogen aioms. Te company Hiiachi made
a fool of iiself in I992 by claiming in a press release ihai iis newesi eleciron microscope
could image hydrogen aioms. Ciied on page I07.
68 A. M. Woisxv, Kinetic energy, size, and the uncertainty principle, American Journal of
Physics 42, pp. 760–763, I974. Ciied on page I09.
69 For a fascinaiing summary, see M. A. Civo×i, G. Mi1ixns & W. P. Scuiiicu, Un-
usual bound or localized states, preprini ai arxiv.org/abs/quani-ph/0I02063. Ciied on page
I09.
70 See ihe paper by Mnv1i× Gnvu×iv, Science fction puzzle tales, Clarkson Poiier, 67,
pp. I04–I03, I98I, or his book Aha! Insight, Scieniifc American & W.H. Freeman, I978. Te
rabbii siory is from A. Hn)×ni & P. LovLsz, An algorithm to prevent the propagation of
certain diseases at minimum cost, in Interfaces Between Computer Science and Operations
Research, ediied by J. K. Li×s1vn, A. H. G. Ri××oov Kn× & P. Vn× Emui Bons,
Maihemaiisch Cenirum, Amsierdam I978, whereas ihe compuier euphemism is used by
A. Ovii1zxv & L. Suivv, On curbing virus propagation, Technical memorandum, Bell
Labs I989. Ciied on page III.
71 A compleie discussion of ihe problem can be found in chapier I0 of Iin× Vnvui, Compu-
tational Recreations in Mathematica, Addison Wesley, I99I. Ciied on page III.
72 On Gibbs’ paradox, see your favouriie iexi on ihermodynamics or siaiisiical mechanics.
See also W. H. ZUvix, Algorithmic randomness and physical entropy, Physical Review A
40, pp. 473I–473I, I989. Zurek shows ihai ihe Sackur–Teirode formula can be derived from
algoriihmic eniropy consideraiions. Ciied on page II3.
73 S. N. Bosi, Plancks Gesetz und Lichtquantenhypothese, Zeiischrif für Physik 26, pp. I78–
I8I, I924. Te iheory was ihen expanded in A. Ei×s1ii×, Quantentheorie des einatomigen
idealen Gases, Siizungsberichie der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschafen zu Berlin
22, pp. 26I–267, I924, A. Ei×s1ii×, Quantentheorie des einatomigen idealen Gases. Zweite
Abhandlung, Siizungsberichie der PreussischenAkademie der Wissenschafenzu Berlin 23,
pp. 3–I4, I923, A. Ei×s1ii×, Zur Quantentheorie des idealen Gases, Siizungsberichie der
Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschafen zu Berlin 23, pp. I8–23, I923. Ciied on page
II7.
74 C. K. Ho×o, Z. Y. OU & L. Mn×uii, Measurement of subpicosecond time inter-
vals between two photons by interference, Physical Review Leiiers 39, pp. 2044–2046,
I987. See also T. B. Pi11mn×, D. V. S1vixniov, A. Miounii, M. H. RUvi×,
A. V. Sivoii×xo & Y. H. Suiu, Can two-photon interference be considered the inter-
ference of two photons?, Physical Review Leiiers 77, pp. I9I7–I920, I996. Ciied on page
II8.
75 An example of such an experimeni performed wiih elecirons insiead of phoions is
described in E. BocqUiiio×, V. FviUio×, J. -M. Bivvoiv, P. Dioiovn××i,
B. Pinçnis, A. Cnvn××n, Y. Ji× & G. Fivi, Coherence and indistinguishability of
single electrons emitted by independent sources, Science 339, pp. I034–I037, 20I3. See
also ihe commeni C. Scuo×i×vivoiv, Two indistinguishable electrons interfere in an
electronic device, Science 339, pp. I04I–I042, 20I3. Ciied on page II8.
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76 M. Scuiiiixi×s, R. Hovviiiv, A. Pivvi×, J. Vin×n Gomis, D. Boivo×,
C. I. Wis1vvoox & A. Asvic1, Hanbury Brown Twiss efect for ultracold quantum
gases, Science 310, p. 648, 2003, preprini ai arxiv.org/abs/cond-mai/0308466. J. Vin×n
Gomis, A. Pivvi×, M. Scuiiiixi×s, D. Boivo×, C. I. Wis1vvoox &
M. Biisiiv, Teory for a Hanbury Brown Twiss experiment with a ballistically expand-
ing cloud of cold atoms, Physical Review A 74, p. 033607, 2006, preprini ai arxiv.org/
abs/quani-ph/0606I47. T. Jii1is, J. M. McNnmnvn, W. Hooivvovs1, W. Vnssi×,
V. Kvncumni×icoii, M. Scuiiiixi×s, A. Pivvi×, H. Cun×o, D. Boivo×,
A. Asvic1 & C. I. Wis1vvoox, Comparison of the Hanbury Brown-Twiss efect for bo-
sons and fermions, Naiure 443, p. 402, 2007, preprini ai arxiv.org/abs/cond-mai/06I2278.
Ciied on page II8.
77 Te experimeni is described inE. Rnmvivo &G. A. S×ow, Experimental limit on a small
violation of the Pauli principle, Physics Leiiers B238, pp. 438–44I, I990. Oiher experimenial
iesis are reviewed in O. W. Gvii×vivo, Particles with small violations of Fermi or Bose
statistics, Physical Review D 43, pp. 4III–4I20, I99I. Ciied on page I2I.
78 Te original no-cloning iheorem is by D. Diixs, Communication by EPR devices, Phys-
ics Leiiers A 92, pp. 27I–272, I982, and by W. K. Woo11ivs & W. H. ZUvix, A single
quantum cannot be cloned, Naiure 299, pp. 802–803, I982. For a discussion of phoion and
muliipariicle cloning, see N. Gisi× & S. Mnssnv, Optimal quantum cloning machines,
Physics ReviewLeiiers 79, pp. 2I33–2I36, I997. Te whole iopic has been presenied in deiail
by V. BUzix & M. Hiiiivv, Quantum cloning, Physics World 14, pp. 23–29, November
200I. Ciied on page I2I.
79 S. J. Wiis×iv, Conjugate Coding, SIGACT News, 13, pp. 78–88, I983. Tis widely ciied
paper was one of siariing poinis of quanium informaiion iheory. Ciied on page I2I.
80 Te mosi receni experimenial and iheoreiical resulis on physical cloning are described
in A. Lnmns-Li×nvis, C. Simo×, J. C. Howiii & D. BoUwmiis1iv, Experi-
mental quantum cloning of single photons, Science 296, pp. 7I2 – 7I4, 2002, D. Coiii×s
& S. PoviscU, A classical analogue of entanglement, preprini arxiv.org/abs/quani-ph/
0I07082, 200I, and A. Dniiiv1suoiiv, A. R. Pins1i×o & A. Pins1i×o, Classical
no-cloning theorem, Physical Review Leiiers 88, p. 2I060I, 2002. Ciied on page I22.
81 E. Wio×iv, On unitary representations of the inhomogeneous Lorentz group, Annals of
Maihemaiics 40, pp. I49–204, I939. Tis famous paper summarises ihe work which laier
broughi him ihe Nobel Prize in Physics. Ciied on pages I24 and I33.
82 For a full lisi of isoiopes, see R. B. Fivis1o×i, Table of Isotopes, Eighth Edition, 1999 Up-
date, wiih CDROM, John Wiley & Sons, I999. Ciied on page I26.
83 Tis is deduced from ihe ? − 2 measuremenis, as explained in his Nobel-prize ialk by
Hn×s Diumii1, Experiments with an isolated subatomic particle at rest, Reviews of Mod-
ern Physics 62, pp. 323–330, I990. On ihis iopic, see also his paper Ref. 66. No ciiaiions.
and in Hn×s Diumii1, Is the electron a composite particle?, Hyperfne Inieraciions
81, pp. I–3, I993.
84 G. Gnvviiisi, H. Diumii1 & W. Kiiis, Observation of a relativistic, bistable hyster-
esis in the cyclotron motion of a single electron, Physical Review Leiiers 34, pp. 337–340,
I983. No ciiaiions.
85 W. PnUii, Te connection between spin and statistics, Physical Review 38, pp. 7I6– 722,
I940. Ciied on page I32.
86 Te beli irick has been popularized by Dirac, Feynman and many oihers. An example
is R. P. Fiv×mn×, Te reason for antiparticles, in Elementary Particles and the Laws of
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Physics: Te 1986 Dirac Memorial Lectures, Cambridge Universiiy Press, I987. Te beli
irick is also explained, for example, on page II48 in C. W. Mis×iv, K. S. Tuov×i &
J. A. Wuiiiiv, Gravitation, Freeman, I973. Ii is called ihe scissor trick on page 43 of
volume I of R. Pi×vosi & W. Ri×uiiv, Spinors and Spacetime, I984. Ii is also ciied and
discussed by R. GoUiu, Answer to question #7, American Journal of Physics 63, p. I09,
I993. Siill, some physicisis do noi like ihe beli-irick image for spin I/2 pariicles; for an
example, see I. DUcx & E. C. G. SUunvsun×, Toward an understanding of the spin-
statistics theorem, American Journal of Physics 66, pp. 284–303, I998. Ciied on page I32.
87 M. V. Bivvv & J. M. Rovvi×s, Indistinguishability for quantum particles: spin, statist-
ics and the geometric phase, Proceedings of ihe Royal Socieiy in London A 433, pp. I77I–
I790, I997. See also ihe commenis io ihis resuli by J. Twnmiiv, Statistics given a spin,
Naiure 389, pp. I27–I28, II Sepiember I997. Teir newer resulis are M. V. Bivvv &
J. M. Rovvi×s, Quantum indistinguishability: alternative constructions of the transpor-
ted basis, Journal of Physics A (Leiiers) 33, pp. L207–L2I4, 2000, and M. V. Bivvv &
J. M. Rovvi×s, in Spin–Statistics, eds. R. Hiivov× & G. Ti×o, American Insiiiuie of
Physics, 2000, pp. 3–I3. See also Michael Berry’s home page ai www.phy.bris.ac.uk/people/
berry_mv. Ciied on page I33.
88 R. W. Hnv1U×o, Pauli principle in Euclidean geometry, American Journal of Physics 47,
pp. 900–9I0, I979. Ciied on page I34.
89 Te issue is ireaied in his Summa Teologica, in quesiion 32 of ihe frsi pari. Te com-
pleie iexi, several ihousand pages, can be found on ihe www.newadveni.org websiie. Also
preseni-day angelologisis, of which ihere are only a few across ihe world, agree wiih Aqui-
nas. Ciied on page I33.
90 Te poini ihai spin can be seen as a roiaiion was already made by F. J. Biii×in×1i,
On the spin angular momentum of mesons, Physica 6, p. 887, I939, and iaken up again by
Hn×s C. Oun×in×, What is spin?, American Journal of Physics 34, pp. 300–303, I986.
See also E. DUvn× & A. Evscuow, Physikalische Zeiischrif der Sowjeiunion 12, p. 466,
I937. Ciied on page I36.
91 See ihe book by Jin×-Mnvc Livv-Livio×u & Fvn×çoisi Bniivnv in Ref. 4. Ciied
on page I40.
92 Generalizaiions of bosons and fermions are reviewed in ihe (serious!) paper by
O. W. Gvii×vivo, D. M. Gvii×vivoiv & T. V. Gvii×vivois1, (Para)bosons,
(para)fermions, quons and other beasts in the menagerie of particle statistics, ai arxiv.org/
abs/hep-ih/9306223. A newer summary is O. W. Gvii×vivo, Teories of violation of
statistics, elecironic preprini available ai arxiv.org/abs/hep-ih/0007034. Ciied on page I4I.
93 Gell-Mann wroie ihis for ihe I976 Nobel Conference (noi for ihe Nobel speech; he is ihe
only winner who never published ii.) M. Giii-Mn××, What are the building blocks of
matter?, in D. HUii & O. Pviwi11, ediiors, Te Nature of the Physical Universe, New
York, Wiley, I979, p. 29. Ciied on page I42.
94 See e.g. ihe reprinis of his papers in ihe siandard colleciion by Jou× A. Wuiiiiv & Wo-
)ciicu H. ZUvix, Quantum Teory and Measurement, Princeion Universiiy Press, I983.
Ciied on page I43.
95 H. D. Ziu, On the interpretation of measurement in quantum theory, Foundaiions of Phys-
ics 1, pp. 69–76, I970. Ciied on page I43.
96 Li×un Riicui, A Modern Course in Statistical Physics, Wiley, 2nd ediiion, I998. An ex-
celleni iniroduciion inio ihermodynamics. Ciied on page I43.
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97 E. Joos & H. D. Ziu, Te emergence of classical properties through interactions with the
environment, Zeiischrif für Physik B 39, pp. 223–243, I983. See also Evicu Joos, Deco-
herence and the appearance of a classical world in quantum theory, Springer Verlag, 2003.
Ciied on page I47.
98 M. Tiomnvx, Apparent wave function collapse caused by scattering, Foundaiion of Phys-
ics Leiiers 6, pp. 37I–390, I993, preprini ai arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/93I0032. See also his paper
ihai shows ihai ihe brain is noi a quanium compuier, M. Tiomnvx, Te importance of
quantum decoherence in brain processes, Physical Review E 61, pp. 4I94–4206, 2000, pre-
prini ai arxiv.org/abs/quani-ph/9907009. Ciied on page I47.
99 Te decoherence iime is bound from above by ihe relaxaiion iime. See A. O. Cniuiivn
& A. J. Liooi11, Infuence of damping on quantum interference: an exactly soluble model,
Physical Review A 31, I983, pp. I039–I066. Tis is ihe main reference aboui enecis of deco-
herence for a harmonic oscillaior. Te general approach io relaie decoherence io ihe inßu-
ence of ihe environmeni is due io Niels Bohr, and has been pursued in deiail by Hans Dieier
Zeh. Ciied on page I48.
100 G. Li×uvinu, On the generators of quantum dynamical subgroups, Communicaiions in
Maihemaiical Physics 48, pp. II9–I30, I976. Ciied on page I48.
101 Wo)ciicu H. ZUvix, Decoherence and the transition from quantum to classical, Physics
Today pp. 36–44, Ociober I99I. An easy bui somewhai confusing ariicle. His reply io ihe
numerous leiiers of response in Physics Today, April I993, pp. I3–I3, and pp. 8I–90, exposes
his ideas in a clearer way and gives a iasie of ihe heaied discussions on ihis iopic. Ciied on
pages I48 and I34.
102 Jou× Bnvuii×, explained ihis regularly in ihe review ialks he gave ai ihe end of his life,
such as ihe one ihe auihor heard in Tokyo in ihe year I990. Ciied on page I49.
103 Collapse iimes have been measured for ihe frsi iime by ihe group of Serge Har-
oche in Paris. See M. BvU×i, E. Hnoiiv, J. Dviviv, X. Mni1vi, A. Mnnii,
C. WU×uiviicu, J. M. Rnimo×u & S. Hnvocui, Observing the progressive deco-
herence of the “meter” in a quantum measurement, Physical Review Leiiers 77, pp. 4887–
4890, I996. See also C. GUivii×, J. Biv×U, S. Diiioiisi, C. Snvvi×, S. Giivzis,
S. KUuv, M. BvU×i, J. -M. Rnimo×u & S. Hnvocui, Progressive feld-state collapse
and quantum non-demolition photon counting, Naiure 448, pp. 889–893, 2007. Ciied on
pages I49 and I6I.
104 Laier experimenis confrming ihe numerical prediciions from decoherence were published
by C. Mo×voi, D. M. Miixuoi, B. E. Ki×o & D. J. Wi×iin×u, A “Schrödinger cat”
superposition state of an atom, Science 272, pp. II3I–II36, I996, W. P. Scuiiicu, Quantum
physics: engineering decoherence, Naiure 403, pp. 236–237, 2000, C. J. Mvn11, B. E. Ki×o,
Q. A. TUvcui11i, C. A. Sncxi11, D. Kiiivi×sxi, W. M. I1n×o, C. Mo×voi &
D. J. Wi×iin×u, Decoherence of quantum superpositions through coupling to engineered
reservoirs, Naiure 403, pp. 269–273, 2000. See also ihe summary by W. T. S1vU×z,
G. Aiviv & F. Hnnxi, Dekohärenz in ofenen Quantensystemen, Physik Journal 1,
pp. 47–32, November 2002. Ciied on page I49.
105 L. Hncxivm0iiiv, K. Hov×vivoiv, B. Bvizoiv, A. Ziiii×oiv & M. Av×u1,
Decoherence of matter waves by thermal emission of radiation, Naiure 427, pp. 7II–7I4, 2004.
Ciied on page I49.
106 K. BnUmn××, Quantenmechanik und Objektivierbarkeit, Zeiischrif für Naiurforschung
23a, pp. I934–I936, I970. Ciied on page I30.
107 See for example D. S1viv, Physics Today p. II, Sepiember 2000. Ciied on page I3I.
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108 Dnviu Boum, Quantum Teory, Preniice-Hall, I93I, pp. 6I4–622. Ciied on page I32.
109 A. Ei×s1ii×, B. Pouoisxv & N. Rosi×, Can quantum-mechanical description of real-
ity be considered complete?, Physical Review 48, pp. 696–702, I933. Ciied on page I32.
110 A. Asvic1, J. Dniivnvu & G. Rooiv, Experimental tests of Bell’s inequalities using
time-varying analyzers, Physical Review Leiiers 49, pp. I804–I807, I982, Ciied on page I33.
111 G. C. Hivoiviiiu1, Causality problems for Fermi’s two-atom system, Physical Review
Leiiers 72, pp. 396–399, I994. Ciied on page I34.
112 An experimenial measuremeni of superposiiions of lef and righi ßowing cur-
renis wiih 10
10
elecirons was J. E. Mooi), T. P. Ovin×uo, L. Livi1ov, L. Tin×,
C. H. vn× uiv Wni & S. Liovu, Josephson persistent-current qubit, Science 283,
pp. I036–I039, I999. In ihe year 2000, superposiiions of 1 µA clockwise and aniiclockwise
have been deiecied; for more deiails, see J.R. Fviiumn× & al., Quantum superposition
of distinct macroscopic states, Naiure 406, p. 43, 2000. Ciied on page I34.
113 On ihe superposiiion of magneiizaiion in up and down direciions ihere are numerous
papers. Receni experimenis on ihe subjeci of quanium iunnelling in magneiic sysiems
are described in D. D. Awscuniom, J. F. Smi1u, G. Gvi×s1ii×, D. P. DiVici×zo
& D. Loss, Macroscopic quantum tunnelling in magnetic proteins, Physical Review Leiiers
88, pp. 3092–3093, I992, and in C. PnUisi× & al., Macroscopic quantum tunnelling efects
of Bloch walls in small ferromagnetic particles, Europhysics Leiiers 19, pp. 643–648, I992.
Ciied on page I34.
114 For example, superposiiions were observed in Josephson junciions by R. F. Voss &
R. A. Wivv, Macroscopic quantum tunnelling in 1 mm Nb Josephson junctions, Physical
Review Leiiers 47, pp. 263–268, I98I, Ciied on page I34.
115 S. Hnvocui, Entanglement, decoherence and the quantum-classical transition, Physics
Today 31, pp. 36–42, July I998. An experimeni puiiing aiom ai iwo places ai once,
disiani aboui 80 nm, was published by C. Mo×voi, C. Mo×voi, D. M. Miixuoi,
B. E. Ki×o & D. J. Wi×iin×u, A ‘Schroedinger Cat’ Superposition of an Atom, Science
272, pp. II3I–II36, I996. Ciied on page I34.
116 M. R. A×uviws, C. G. Tow×si×u, H. -J. Miis×iv, D. S. DUviii, D. M. KUv× &
W. Ki11ivii, Observations of interference between two Bose condensates, Science 273,
pp. 637–64I, 3I January I997. See also ihe www.aip.org/physnews/special.him websiie.
Ciied on page I34.
117 A clear discussion can be found in S. Hnvocui & J. -M. Rnimo×u, Quantum comput-
ing: dream or nightmare?, Physics Today 49, pp. 3I–32, I996, as well as ihe commenis in
Physics Today 49, pp. I07–I08, I996. Ciied on page I33.
118 Te mosi famous reference on ihe wave funciion collapse is chapier IV of ihe book by
KUv1 Go11iviiu, Quantum Mechanics, Benjamin, New York, I966. Ii was ihe favour-
iie reference by Vicior Weisskopf, and ciied by him on every occasion he ialked aboui ihe
iopic. Ciied on page I37.
119 Te prediciion ihai quanium iunnelling could be observable when ihe dissipaiive inierac-
iion wiih ihe resi of ihe world is small enough was made by Leggeii; ihe iopic is reviewed
in A. J. Liooi11, S. Cunuvnvnv1v, A. T. Dovsiv, M. P. A. Fisuiv, A. Gnvo &
W. Zwivoiv, Dynamics of dissipative 2-state systems, Reviewof Modern Physics 39, pp. I–
83, I987. Ciied on page I38.
120 S. Kocui× & E. P. Svicxiv, Te problem of hidden variables in quantum mechanics,
Journal of Maihemaiics and Mechanics 17, pp. 39–87, I967. Ciied on page I62.
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121 J. F. CinUsiv, M. A. Hov×i, A. Suimo×v & R. A. Hoi1, Proposed experiment to test
local hidden-variable theories, Physical ReviewLeiiers 23, pp. 880–884, I969. Te more gen-
eral and original resuli is found in J. S. Biii, On the Einstein Podolsky Rosen Paradox,
Physics 1, p. I93, I964. Ciied on page I63.
122 D. M. Gvii×vivoiv, M. A. Hov×i & A. Ziiii×oiv, Going beyond Bell’s the-
orem, posiprini of ihe I989 paper ai arxiv.org/abs/07I2.09I2. Te frsi observaiion was
D. BoUwmiis1iv, J. -W. Pn×, M. Dn×iiii, H. Wii×iUv1iv & A. Ziiii×oiv,
Observation of three-photon Greenberger-Horne–Zeilinger entanglement, preprini ai arxiv.
org/abs/quani-ph/98I0033. Ciied on page I63.
123 Bvvci ui Wi11 & Niiii Gvnunm, eds., Te Many–Worlds Interpretation of Quantum
Mechanics, Princeion Universiiy Press, I973. Tis inierpreiaiion ialks aboui eniiiies which
cannoi be observed, namely ihe many worlds, and ofen assumes ihai ihe wave funciion of
ihe universe exisis. Boih habiis are beliefs and in conirasi wiih facis. Ciied on page I63.
124 ‘On ihe oiher had I ihink I can safely say ihai nobody undersiands quanium mechan-
ics.’ FromRicunvu P. Fiv×mn×, Te Character of Physical Law, MITPress, Cambridge,
I963, p. I29. He repeaiedly made ihis siaiemeni, e.g. in ihe iniroduciion of his oiherwise ex-
celleni QED – Te Strange Teory of Light and Matter, Penguin Books, I990. Ciied on page
I63.
125 M. Tiomnvx, Te importance of quantum decoherence in brain processes, Physical Review
D 61, pp. 4I94–4206, 2000, or also arxiv.org/abs/quani-ph/9907009. Ciied on page I66.
126 Conneciions beiween quanium iheory and informaiion iheory can be followed in ihe In-
iernaiional Journal of Quanium Informaiion. Ciied on page I67.
127 J. A. Wuiiiiv, pp. 242–307, in Batelle Recontres: 1967 Lectures in Mathematics and Phys-
ics, C. DiWi11 & J. A. Wuiiiiv, ediiors, W.A. Benjamin, I968. For a pedagogical ex-
planaiion, see Jou× W. NovvUvv, From Newton’s laws to the Wheeler-DeWitt equation,
arxiv.org/abs/physics/980604 or European Journal of Physics 19, pp. I43–I30, I998. Ciied
on page I68.
128 Te mosi fascinaiing book on ihe iopic is by KUv1 NnssnU, Te Physics and Chemistry of
Color – the Fifeen Causes of Color, I983, and ihe excelleni webexhibiis.org/causesofcolour
websiie. Ciied on page I70.
129 Y. RUiz-Movniis & O. C. MUiii×s, Measured and Simulated Electronic Ab-
sorption and Emission Spectra of Asphaltenes, Energy & Fuels 23, pp. II69–II77,
2009. U. Bivomn××, H. Gvoi×zi×, O. C. MUiii×s, P. Gin1zii, J. Fi1ziv &
S. P. Cvnmiv, Carbon K-edge X-ray Raman spectroscopy supports simple, yet powerful de-
scription of aromatic hydrocarbons and asphaltenes, Chemical Physics Leiiers 369, pp. I84–
I9I, 2003. Ciied on page I70.
130 Two excelleni reviews wiih numerous phoiographs are E. Gvo1iwoui, Te genetics and
biochemistry of foral pigments, Annual Reviews of Plani Biology 37, pp. 76I–780, 2006,
and Y. Tn×nxn, N. Snsnxi & A. Oumivn, Biosynthesis of plant pigments: anthocyanins,
betalains and carotenoids, Te Plani Journal 34, pp. 733–749, 2008. Ciied on page I78.
131 L. Piviz-RouvioUiz & J. Vi×Uun, Carotenoid-based bill and eye coloration as honest
signals of condition: an experimental test in the red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa), Naiur-
wissenschafen 93, pp. 82I–830, 2008, Ciied on page I78.
132 R. Piiio, D. Scuniviv, J. Ricunvu, J. -F. Li Bovo×i & J. -P. K×iiv, ISAAC/VLT
observations of a lensed galaxy at z=10.0, Asironomy and Asirophysics 416, p. L33, 2004.
Ciied on page I8I.
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133 A pedagogical iniroduciion is given by L. J. CUv1is & D. G. Eiiis, Use of the Einstein–
Brillouin–Keller action quantization, American Journal of Physics 72, pp. I32I–I323, 2004.
See also ihe iniroduciion of A. Kiii×, WKB approximation for bound states by Heisenberg
matrix mechanics, Journal of Maihemaiical Physics 19, pp. 292–297, I978. Ciied on pages
I82 and I86.
134 J. NiUxnmmiv & al., Spectroscopy of Rydberg atoms at ? ∼ 500, Physical Review Leiiers
39, pp. 2947–2930, I987. Ciied on page I84.
135 Mnvx P. Siivivmn×, And Yet It Moves: Strange Systems and Subtle Questions in Physics,
Cambridge Universiiy Press I993. A beauiiful book by an experi on moiion. Ciied on pages
I83 and I93.
136 Tis is explained by J. D. Hiv, Mystery error in Gamow’s Tompkins reappears, Physics
Today pp. 88–89, May 200I. Ciied on page I83.
137 Te beauiiful experimeni was frsi published in A. S. S1ouoi×n, A. RoUzii,
F. Livi×i, S. Coui×, F. RovicuinUx, A. Gi)sviv1si×, J. H. JU×omn××,
C. Bovuns & M. J. J. Vvnxxi×o, Hydrogen atoms under magnifcation: direct obser-
vation of the nodal structure of Stark states, Physical Review Leiiers 110, p. 2I300I, 20I3.
Ciied on pages I83 and I86.
138 L. L. Foiuv, Te electromagnetic properties of Dirac particles, Physical Review83, pp. 688–
693, I93I. L. L. Foiuv, Te electron–neutron interaction, Physical Review 83, pp. 693–696,
I93I. L. L. Foiuv, Electron–neutron interaction, Review of Modern Physics 30, pp. 47I–
48I, I932. Ciied on page I89.
139 H. EUiiv & B. Kocxii, Über die Streuung von Licht an Licht nach der Diracschen Te-
orie, Naiurwissenschafen 23, pp. 246–247, I933, H. EUiiv, Über die Streuung von Licht an
Licht nach der Diracschen Teorie, Annalen der Physik 26, p. 398, I936, W. Hiisi×vivo
& H. EUiiv, Folgerung aus der Diracschen Teorie des Electrons, Zeiischrif für Physik 98,
pp. 7I4–722, I936. Ciied on page I9I.
140 See ihe simple explanaiion by L. J. F. Hivmn×s, Blue skies, blue seas, Europhysics News
37, p. I6, 2006, and ihe deiailed explanaiion by C. L. BvnU× & S. N. Smiv×ov, Why is
water blue?, Journal of Chemical Educaiion 70, pp. 6I2–6I4, I993. Ciied on page I92.
141 For ihe aiomic case, see P. L. GoUiu, G. A. RUii & D. E. Pvi1cunvu, Difraction of
atoms by light: the near resonant Kapitza–Dirac efect, Physical Review Leiiers 36, pp. 827–
830, I986. Many early experimenial aiiempis io observe ihe dinraciion of elecirons by lighi,
in pariicular ihose performed in ihe I980s, were coniroversial; mosi showed only ihe deßec-
iion of elecirons, as explained by H. Bn1iinn×, Coniemporary Physics 41, p. 369, 2000.
Laier on, he and his group performed ihe newesi and mosi speciacular experimeni, demon-
siraiing real dinraciion, including inierference enecis; ii is described in D. L. FviimU×u,
K. Aiin1oo×i & H. Bn1iinn×, Observation of the Kapitza–Dirac efect, Naiure 413,
pp. I42–I43, 200I. Ciied on page I93.
142 A single–aiom laser was buili in I994 by K. A×, J. J. Cuiius, R. R. Dnsnvi &
M. S. Fiiu, Microlaser: a laser with one atom in an optical resonator, Physical Review
Leiiers 73, p. 3373, I994. Ciied on page I93.
143 An iniroduciion is given by P. Pi×xsi & G. Rimvi, Wie fängt man ein Atom mit einem
Photon?, Physikalische Bläiier 36, pp. 49–3I, 2000. Ciied on page I93.
144 J.P. Bvin×u & al., Production of hollow atoms by the excitation of highly charged ions
in interaction with a metallic surface, Physical Review Leiiers 63, pp. I39–I62, I990. See
also G. Mnvowsxv & C. Ruouis, Hohle Atome und die Kompression von Licht in Plas-
makanälen, Physikalische Bläiier 32, pp. 99I–994, Okiober I996. Ciied on page I94.
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