Physicists about stdQM

Scanned at the American Institute of Physics, Emilio Segre Visual Archives.

Dirac, Heisenberg and Schrödinger as Nobel Laureates in Stockholm 1933, with ladies. Notice Schrödinger’s elegant outfit.

Here is a collection of quotes about standard quantum mechanics stdQM by famous physicists all expressing that they do not understand their own core subject and that they are not at all happy with this state of affairs. It is important to understand this in order get motivation to open eyes to a new model:

  • I’m not as happy about quantum mechanics as I used to be, and not as dismissive of its critics. It’s a bad sign in particular that those physicists who are happy about quantum mechanics, and see nothing wrong with it, don’t agree with each other about what it means. (Steven Weinberg 2016)
  • Physics Is Wrong, From String Theory to Quantum Mechanics. (Sir Roger Penrose)
  • I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics. Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, ‘But how can it be like that?’ because you will go ’down the drain’ into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that. (Richard Feynman)
  • With 3, 4,or 5 electrons it is hopeless try to obtain exact solutions (to Schrödinger’s equation), and it is going to far to say that quantum mechanics has given a precise understanding of the periodic table.  It is possible, however,  even with a sloppy approximation — and some fixing — to understand, at least qualitatively, many chemical properties which show up in the periodic table. (Feynman Lecture Notes)
  • The more you see how strangely Nature behaves, the harder it is to make a model that explains how even the simplest phenomena actually work. So theoretical physics has given up on that. (Richard Feynman)
  • Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is – absurd. (Feynman)
  • With very few exceptions (such as Einstein and Laue) all the rest of the theoretical physicists were unadulterated asses and I was the only sane person left…The one great dilemma that ail us… day and night is the wave-particle dilemma… So unable is the good average physicist to believe that any sound person could refuse to accept the Copenhagen oracle. (Schrödinger in a letter to Synge 1959)
  • Niels Bohr brainwashed a whole generation of theorists into think- ing that the job (interpreting quantum theory) was done 50 years ago. (Murray Gell-Mann)
  • Quantum mechanics is that mysterious, confusing discipline, which none of us really understands but which we know how to use. It works perfectly, as far as we can tell, in describing physical reality, but it is a counter-intuitive discipline, as the social scientists would say. Quantum mechanics is not a theory, but rather a framework within which we believe any correct theory must fit. (Murray Gell-Mann)
  • To me it seems like ”quantum theory” is in a sense like a traditional herbal medicine used by ”witch doctors”. We don’t REALLY understand what is happening, what the ultimate truth really is, but we have a ”cook book” of procedures and rituals that can be used to obtain useful and practical calculations (independent of fundamental truth). (John Nash)
  • Niels Bohr brainwashed a whole generation of theorists into thinking that the job of interpreting quantum theory was done 50 years ago. (1969 Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann)
  • In general the many-electron wave function \psi (x_1, ..., x_N) for a system of N electrons is not a legitimate scientific concept when N is bigger than 10 (or 100).. (Walter Kohn Nobel Lecture 1998)
  • We never experiment with single electrons, atoms or small molecules…In thought experiments we assume we do. It always results in ridiculous consequences..(Schrödinger)
  • In the world of the very small, where particle and wave aspects of reality are equally significant, things do not behave in any way that we can understand from our experience of the everyday world…all pictures are false, and there is no physical analogy we can make to understand what goes on inside atoms. Atoms behave like atoms, nothing else. (John Gribbin, In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality)
  • The reigning doctrine rescues itself or us by having recourse to epistemology. We are told that no distinction is to be made between the state of a natural object and what I know about it, or perhaps better, what I can know about it if I go to some trouble. Actually – so they say – there is intrinsically only awareness, observation, measurement….Maxel (Born), you know I love you and nothing can change that. But I do need to give you once a thorough head washing. So stand still. The impudence with which you assert time and again that the Copenhagen interpretation is practically universally accepted, assert it without reservation, even before an audience of the laity – who are completely at your mercy – it’s at the limit of the estimable… Have you no anxiety about the verdict of history? Are you so convinced that the human race will succumb before long to your folly? (Schrödinger)
  • I am completely convinced that one should never be satisfied that in the elementary processes “probabilities” occur, therefore causality will be given up. It is an error that the younger generation easily falls into, that it should be content to find the philosopher’s stone. There will be enough for the younger generation to do. (Wien)
  • So although quantum mechanics is o en praised because all of its predictions have been con rmed, as far as I can determine from a survey of books and articles, the con rmation of its novel predictions played essentially no role in the rapid acceptance of quantum mechanics by researchers in atomic physics before 1929, and only a secondary role in its reception by the rest of the physics community from 1929 to 1935. (Stephen Brush in Making 20th Century Science, How Theories Became Knowledge)
  • You are the only person with whom I am actually willing to come to terms. Almost all the other fellows do not look from the facts to the theory but from the theory to the facts: they cannot extricate themselves from a once accepted conceptual net, but only flop about in it in a grotesque way. (Einstein to Schrödinger on the Copenhagen Interpretation 1935)