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Quantum Dialogue: The Making of a Revolution Paperback – May 17 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 365 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (May 17 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226041824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226041827
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,089,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Inside Flap

Winner of the Morris D. Forkosch Prize of the Journal of the History of Ideas for Best Book on Intellectual History, 1999

"Science is rooted in conversations," wrote Werner Heisenberg, one of the twentieth century's great physicists; Quantum Dialogue shows us how often science is rooted not just in conversation but in disagreement, a culture that fuels scientific creativity. Using original correspondence, notebooks, and drafts of talks and published papers, Beller reveals how world-famous scientists promoted their views by dismissing their opponents as "unreasonable" and championing their own not-always-coherent positions as "inevitable." Quantum Dialogue provides a revision of the accepted history of the quantum revolution, proposes a new approach to the history and philosophy of science, and will surely fascinate anyone interested in how "scientific revolutions" are constructed and "scientific consensus" is achieved.

About the Author

Mara Beller is the Barbara Druss Dibner Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hakob Barseghyan on Nov. 12 2008
Format: Paperback
Quantum Dialogue pertains both to the history of science and to historiography. On the one hand, it contains a detailed historical analysis of the development of quantum ideas. On the other hand, it is a deep historiographical study, the main outcome of which is the so-called dialogical approach or, simply, dialogism. Scientific practice, according to this approach, is an ongoing conversation among scientists. The result of this conversation is a "flux of ideas", which is characterized by numerous interesting features.

One such feature is that scientific dialogue does not presuppose any fundamental theoretical framework. Contrary to the view commonly held in the post-Kuhnian philosophy of science, the author reckons that the founding fathers of quantum mechanics were not committed to any particular philosophy. Thus, in her analysis of early days of quantum mechanics, she claims that it would be a mistake to portray the early debates as an opposition of particle and wave ontologies (chapter 2). The same goes for Heisenberg's alleged commitment in positivism and Born's supposed belief in indeterminism (chapter 3). Moreover, the author argues, the very end product of the quantum revolution - the orthodox quantum theory (i.e. the theory in its Copenhagen interpretation) - contains no coherent ontology but, rather a mix of diverse ideas arisen from the dialogical nature of scientific activity (chapter 3).

Not only is the scientific discovery possible without conceptual schemes, its results cannot be forced into a fixed conceptual framework even after discovery. The author opposes the received view that a published scientific paper should contain a coherent solution. One striking example of such an incoherence and internal tension is Heisenberg's uncertainty paper (chapter 5).
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21 2000
Format: Hardcover
Mara Beller has written an exciting and very valuable portrait of physicists engaged in making a scientific revolution--the quantum revolution. Beller lets us see Niels Bohr and his colleagues as they worked to win general acceptance of the Copenhagen formulation of quantum physics through ongoing dialogues, in print, correspondence, and talks, with fellow scientists. She argues that Bohr et alia prevailed, not because their view is scientifically more robust but because they were more skillful in what amounts to public relations within the scientific community--they were more effective in selling their views. Beller recreates the controversies surrounding the development of quantum theory and the acceptance of the Copenhagen formulation as "the" established view in great detail. She supports her arguments with a mass of gracefully employed archival and published documentation, including some real gems--that one of Bohr's major papers was published with two pages reversed, and nobody noticed, for example. This book is a delight to read, and an important and absorbing book, for everyone interested in how scientists develop, advocate, debate, and come to accept a new theory. I have been skeptical about work in history and philosophy of science, but this book convinces me that the Science Wars are way off base--Beller clearly is knowledgeable about the physics, and about the scientific community too. Read this book especially if you are a scientist, and see if you don't recognize yourself and some of your colleages!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Muzaffer Muctehitzade on June 19 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the book to read all about the development of Quantum Theory day by day with quotations from individuals, excerpts from theor correspondances. It is shocking to read those geniousess vacciliatting on some concepts. I trust the author is providing actual data but most interesting was to read that Bohr was thinking about the factor on his Energy states factor and his decision to make it one half to match zero state energy. Mr. Heisenberg through out concepts not knowing what he was saying. This is the impression I got from the readings.Author has ceratinly knows a lot about the theory itself and makes clarifications to the arguments that they were shooting to each other.This book is a gem. This book is not for someone who does not know at least a littel about the theory itself otherwise you miss the story behind the correspondances.Recommend to all who is interested in the development of modern physics.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A paradigm shift in the making--terrific! April 21 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Mara Beller has written an exciting and very valuable portrait of physicists engaged in making a scientific revolution--the quantum revolution. Beller lets us see Niels Bohr and his colleagues as they worked to win general acceptance of the Copenhagen formulation of quantum physics through ongoing dialogues, in print, correspondence, and talks, with fellow scientists. She argues that Bohr et alia prevailed, not because their view is scientifically more robust but because they were more skillful in what amounts to public relations within the scientific community--they were more effective in selling their views. Beller recreates the controversies surrounding the development of quantum theory and the acceptance of the Copenhagen formulation as "the" established view in great detail. She supports her arguments with a mass of gracefully employed archival and published documentation, including some real gems--that one of Bohr's major papers was published with two pages reversed, and nobody noticed, for example. This book is a delight to read, and an important and absorbing book, for everyone interested in how scientists develop, advocate, debate, and come to accept a new theory. I have been skeptical about work in history and philosophy of science, but this book convinces me that the Science Wars are way off base--Beller clearly is knowledgeable about the physics, and about the scientific community too. Read this book especially if you are a scientist, and see if you don't recognize yourself and some of your colleages!
a mountain or a molehill July 5 2013
By Alexander T. Gafford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this book, Mara Beller takes aim at the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and its seeming acceptence as normative following the tumultous events of 1925 to 1927. What she establishes beyond much doubt is that the interpretation was constructed ex post facto to support Bohr, Heisenberg, Pauli, and Born against the interpretations of Schrodinger and Einstein which were seen as competing. By close textual analysis of the original papers and various letters she makes clear that the Copenhagen-Gottingen group constructed their view of quantum mechanics as part of a dialogical process involving competing,complementary and contradictory views between themselves and with their professional competitors. Under the powerful personality of Bohr, who combined mathematical inadequacy and explantory obscurity with a strong vision of reality (Beller's picture), the Copenhagen interpretation became an orthodox dogma founded on a questionable philosphical foundation which Beller relentlessly exposes.

At the end of the book, Beller takes a well aimed, and in my view quite justified, shot at the Thomas Kuhn work Stucture of Scientific Revolution which used the development of quantum mechanics as an expample to create the paradigm shift view of revolutionary change in scientific progress.

Finally, Beller proposes a dialogical philosophy and historiography of science which emphasis the communication of multiple individuals creating a synthesis by cooperation and conflict.

Yet at the end of the day, I found myself thinking - why did I read 325 pages of dense, though not unclear, academic prose to make what seems like a simple enough point that I would have believed from a much shorter essay? The answer is that this book was written in dialogue with other professionals in the history and philosophy of science and every reference had to be cited, every blind alley followed, and so on. Assuming that the professionals in this field do not go to Amazon to read reviews of a 14 year old book, I have to rate this book for the average layperson with an interest in science and some knowledge of what quantum mechanics is and how it developed. So the three stars means you may or may not really want to read this all the way through as I did but it does have a point of view that really should be carefully and thoughtfully considered especially since that view is not fully consistent with much of popular history on the subject.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A revolution June 26 2006
By Ma Refugio Luna Sandoval - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A major sociological question is: how can we make a revolution?.

This question is adressed by Mara Beller in "Quantum Dialogue", which can be seen as a new way to look at the problem of social change beyond Kuhn's "Structure". Indeed, it is well written, informative and, sometimes, technical. But I believe technicalities are at the heart of physics, so, it is necessary to grasp them.

I recommend this reading for all physicists, sociologists and anarchists.
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A must read book on history of Quantum Physics June 19 2001
By Muzaffer Muctehitzade - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the book to read all about the development of Quantum Theory day by day with quotations from individuals, excerpts from theor correspondances. It is shocking to read those geniousess vacciliatting on some concepts. I trust the author is providing actual data but most interesting was to read that Bohr was thinking about the factor on his Energy states factor and his decision to make it one half to match zero state energy. Mr. Heisenberg through out concepts not knowing what he was saying. This is the impression I got from the readings.Author has ceratinly knows a lot about the theory itself and makes clarifications to the arguments that they were shooting to each other.This book is a gem. This book is not for someone who does not know at least a littel about the theory itself otherwise you miss the story behind the correspondances.Recommend to all who is interested in the development of modern physics.


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