En el anterior post, vimos la recepción favorable de la conferencia de Schrödinger. Por un lado, exponía su método, con un buen caso de aplicación, el átomo de hidrógeno, quedando explicado de una forma más elegante que con la mecánica cuántica matricial. Por otro lado, expuso su interpretación, a la que se opuso firmemente Heisenberg, sin conseguir mayor apoyo.
And so I went home rather sadly. It must have been that same evening that I wrote to Niels Bohr about the unhappy outcome of the discussion. Perhaps it was as a result of this letter that he invited Schrodinger to spend part of September in Copenhagen. Schrodinger agreed, and I, too, sped back to Denmark.
Conocía del viaje de Schrödinger. No sabía que Heisenberg también estuvo en esos momentos
Bohr's discussions with Schrodinger began at the railway station and were continued daily from early morning until late at night. Schrodinger stayed in Bohr's house so that nothing would interrupt the conversations. And although Bohr was normally most considerate and friendly in his dealings with people, he now struck me as an almost remorseless fanatic, one who was not prepared to make the least concession or grant that he could ever be mistaken. It is hardly possible to convey just how passionate the discussions were, just how deeply rooted the convictions of each, a fact that marked their every utterance. All I can hope to do here is to produce a very pale copy of conversations in which two men were fighting for their particular interpretation of the new mathematical scheme with all the powers at their command.
Estos son los recuerdos de Heisenberg:
Schrodinger: "Surely you realize that the whole idea of quantum jumps is bound to end in nonsense. You claim first of all that if an atom is in a stationary state, the electron revolves periodically but does not emit light, when, according to Maxwell's theory, it must. Next, the electron is said to jump from one orbit to the next and to emit radiation. Is this jump supposed to be gradual or sudden? If it is gradual, the orbital frequency and energy of the electron must change gradually as well. But in that case, how do you explain the persistence of fine spectral lines? On the other hand, if the jump is sudden, Einstein's idea of light quanta will admittedly lead us to the right wave number, but then we must ask ourselves how precisely the electron behaves during the jump. Why does it not emit a continuous spectrum, as electromagnetic theory demands? And what laws govern its motion during the jump? In other words, the whole idea of quantum jumps is sheer fantasy."
El tema en discusión son los saltos cuánticos. Schrödinger no los admitía. Es interesante esta transcripción de Heisenberg, porque va a más detalle que otros resúmenes de divulgación.
Bohr: "What you say is absolutely correct. But it does not prove that there are no quantum jumps. It only proves that we cannot imagine them, that the representational concepts with which we describe events in daily life and experiments in classical physics are inadequate when it comes to describing quantum jumps. Nor should we be surprised to find it so, seeing that the processes involved are not the objects of direct experience."
Schrodinger: "I don't wish to enter into long arguments about the formation of concepts; I prefer to leave that to the philosophers. I wish only to know what happens inside an atom. I don't really mind what language you choose to discuss it. If there are electrons in the atom, and if these are particles-as all of us believe-then they must surely move in some way. Right now I am not concerned with a precise description of this motion, but it ought to be possible to determine in principle how they behave in the stationary state or during the transition from one state to the next. But from the mathematical form of wave or quantum mechanics alone it is clear that we cannot expect reasonable answers to these questions. The moment, however, that we change the picture and say that there are no discrete electrons, only electron waves or waves of matter, then everything looks quite different. We no longer wonder about the fine lines. The emission of light is as easily explained as the transmission of radio waves through the aerial of the transmitter, and what seemed to be insoluble contradictions have suddenly disappeared. "
Bohr: "I beg to disagree. The contradictions do not disappear; they are simply pushed to one side. You speak of the emission of light by the atom or more generally of the interaction between the atom and the surrounding radiation field, and you think that all the problems are solved once we assume that there are mate- rial waves but no quantum jumps. But just take the case of thermodynamic equilibrium between the atom and the radiation field-remember, for instance, the Einsteinian derivation of Planck's radiation law. This derivation demands that the energy of the atom should assume discrete values and change discontinuously from time to time; discrete values for the frequencies cannot help us here. You can't seriously be trying to cast doubt on the whole basis of quantum theoryl"
Schrodinger: "I don't for a moment claim that all these relationships have been fully explained. But then you, too, have so far failed to discover a satisfactory physical interpretation of quantum mechanics. There is no reason why the application of thermodynamics to the theory of material waves should not yield a satisfactory explanation of Planck's formula as well-an explanation that will admittedly look somewhat different from all previous ones."
Bohr: "No, there is no hope of that at all. We have known what Planck's formula means for the past twenty-five years. And, quite apart from that, we can see the inconstancies, the sudden jumps in atomic phenomena quite directly, for instance when we watch sudden flashes of light on a scintillation screen or the sudden rush of an electron through a cloud chamber. You cannot simply ignore these observations and behave as if they did not exist at al1."
Schrodinger: "If all this damned quantum jumping were really here to stay, I should be sorry I ever got involved with quantum theory."
Bohr: "But the rest of us are extremely grateful that you did; your wave mechanics has contributed so much to mathematical clarity and simplicity that it represents a gigantic advance over all previous forms of quantum mechanics."
Y acá algo que también conocía, pero parece que es Heisenberg la principal fuente que tenemos: Schrödinger cae enfermo, y Bohr sigue atosigándolo:
And so the discussions continued day and night. After a few days Schrodinger fell ill, perhaps as a result of his enormous effort; in any case, he was forced to keep to his bed wi th a feverish cold. While Mrs. Bohr nursed him and brought in tea and cake, Niels Bohr kept sitting on the edge of the bed talking at Schrodinger: "But you must surely admit that . . ." No real understanding could be expected since, at the time, neither side was able to offer a complete and coherent interpretation of quantum mechanics. For all that, we in Copenhagen felt convinced toward the end of Schrodinger's visit that we were on the right track, though we fully realized how difficult it would be to convince even leading physicists that they must abandon all attempts to construct perceptual models of atomic processes.
Angel "Java" Lopez