Einstein and Eisenburg(I think)

Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2004 08:56 pm
I've heard snips and bits of a story. apparently there was a scientific conference of sorts in Venice. Eisenburg presented a new theory, Einstein jumped up, slammed his fist on the table and replied in anger.

Does anyone know the complete story?
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Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2004 09:18 pm
I think you must mean Heisenberg whose Uncertainty Principle is fundamental to Quantum Theory and Physics. I don't know the particular incident you are referring to, but Einstein's various theories are diametrically opposed to those in Quantum Theory. Relativity works extremely well when describing the macroscopic universe, but fails when applied to the sub-atomic universe where Heisenberg rules supreme. Quantum Theory doesn't seem to apply to the macroscopic, but works exceedingly well on very small scales ... like the Plank Scale of things. A large part of the problem of devising a Unified Field Theory, a Theory that Describes Everything, is in reconciling those two opposing descriptions of the physical universe. In recent times there have been several promising advances, though no one has yet suggested a means of empirically testing the math involved. We must be patient and the matter is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.

Back during the time of your anecdote, probably sometime during the 1920's, the two leading theorists of the 20th century would have had a hard time agreeing on almost anything. This may have been the occasion on which Einstein said, "God does not play at dice", which would have been very apropos in re. the Uncertainty Principle. I don't think Einstein returned to Europe after moving to Princeton, and I'm unsure of when exactly Heisenberg died.

Hope that helped.
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Child of the Light
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2004 10:15 pm
I knew you would reply to this one, and I am glad that you did. It helped tons, thanks.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2004 03:59 am
There are some other anecdotes, one could as well be connected to your question:

In November 1919, shortly after Albert Einstein's theory of relativity was confirmed by observations made from the island of Principe during an eclipse (light was shown to have been bent by gravity as Einstein had predicted), Sir Arthur Eddington, an early advocate of relativity, was approached by Ludwig Silberstein at a joint meeting of the Royal Society and the Royal Astronomical Society.
"Professor Eddington," Silberstein declared, "you must be one of three persons in the world who understands general relativity." When Eddington demurred, Silberstein continued: "Don't be modest, Eddington."

"On the contrary," Eddington replied. "I am trying to think who the third person is!"

[Eddington was once asked how many people could really understand his theory of the expanding universe. He paused for a moment before replying: "Perhaps seven."]

Though Werner Heisenberg was awarded a Nobel Prize for his elucidation of the "uncertainty principle" (in 1932), Albert Einstein never accepted it; its stipulation that the more carefully one measures the position of a given particle, the less certain its momentum becomes (and vice-versa) threatened to wreak havoc with the strict determinism in which he believed.
"God," he often declared, "does not play dice with the universe."

["Who are you," Niels Bohr once retorted, "to tell God what to do?" Years later Stephen Hawking also entered the fray: "God not only plays dice," he declared, "but sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen."]

[Trivia: "Everything is determined," Einstein once declared, "by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust - we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper."]

[Sources: letter to Max Born, 1926; Nature, 1975; Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929]

Source for all above: anecdotage.com
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