The Everett Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics: Collected Works 1955-1980 with Commentary [NOOK Book]

Overview

Hugh Everett III was an American physicist best known for his many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which formed the basis of his PhD thesis at Princeton University in 1957. Although counterintuitive, Everett's revolutionary formulation of quantum mechanics offers the most direct solution to the infamous quantum measurement problem--that is, how and why the singular world of our experience emerges from the multiplicities of alternatives available in the quantum world. The many-worlds interpretation ...

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The Everett Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics: Collected Works 1955-1980 with Commentary

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Overview

Hugh Everett III was an American physicist best known for his many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which formed the basis of his PhD thesis at Princeton University in 1957. Although counterintuitive, Everett's revolutionary formulation of quantum mechanics offers the most direct solution to the infamous quantum measurement problem--that is, how and why the singular world of our experience emerges from the multiplicities of alternatives available in the quantum world. The many-worlds interpretation postulates the existence of multiple universes. Whenever a measurement-like interaction occurs, the universe branches into relative states, one for each possible outcome of the measurement, and the world in which we find ourselves is but one of these many, but equally real, possibilities. Everett's challenge to the orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics was met with scorn from Niels Bohr and other leading physicists, and Everett subsequently abandoned academia to conduct military operations research. Today, however, Everett's formulation of quantum mechanics is widely recognized as one of the most controversial but promising physical theories of the last century.

In this book, Jeffrey Barrett and Peter Byrne present the long and short versions of Everett's thesis along with a collection of his explanatory writings and correspondence. These primary source documents, many of them newly discovered and most unpublished until now, reveal how Everett's thinking evolved from his days as a graduate student to his untimely death in 1982. This definitive volume also features Barrett and Byrne's introductory essays, notes, and commentary that put Everett's extraordinary theory into historical and scientific perspective and discuss the puzzles that still remain.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"What can be said without dispute is that the present editors have done an excellent job in presenting the available material. Their book can be highly recommended to physicists in each of the two parallel branches of the mental universe!"—Peter J. Bussey, Contemporary Physics

"This book will be very useful for historians as well any philosophers working on the development of interpretations of quantum theory."—K.-E. Hellwig, Zentralblatt MATH

"[T]he book is a mandatory read for anyone interested in the history of the philosophy of quantum mechanics. The editors have skillfully grouped the material according to both chronological order and topical concern, and have added a fair amount of useful annotation, assisting the reader without being overly intrusive. Short but expertly written introductions provide necessary context on the biographical and conceptual dimensions. The book is also a fascinating and rewarding read."—Tilman Sauer, British Journal for the History of Science

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400842742
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 5/20/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Core Textbook
  • Pages: 392
  • File size: 17 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Jeffrey A. Barrett is professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California, Irvine. Peter Byrne is an award-winning investigative reporter and science writer.
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Table of Contents

PREFACE xi

PART I INTRODUCTION 1

CHAPTER 1: General Introduction 3
Everett and His Project 3
Everett’s Target: The Measurement Problem 5

CHAPTER 2: Biographical Introduction 9
Basement Treasure 9
Life of Everett: The Short Story 10
Origins of the Theory 11
To Split or Not To Split 17
Operations Research 19
The Theory Matures 21

CHAPTER 3: Conceptual Introduction 26
The Quantum Measurement Problem 27
Everett’s Proposed Resolution 34
Interpretations of Everett 37
On the Faithful Interpretation of Everett 50

PART II THE EVOLUTION OF THE THESIS 55

CHAPTER 4: Minipaper: Objective versus Subjective Probability (1955) 57

CHAPTER 5: Minipaper: Quantitative Measure of Correlation (1955) 61
CHAPTER 6: Minipaper: Probability in Wave Mechanics (1955) 64
CHAPTER 7: Correspondence: Wheeler to Everett (1955) 71

CHAPTER 8: Long Thesis: Theory of the Universal Wave Function (1956) 72
Introduction 72
Probability, Information, and Correlation 80
Quantum Mechanics 95
Observation 117
Supplementary Topics 133
Discussion 151
Appendix I 159
Appendix II: Remarks on the Role of Theoretical Physics 168

CHAPTER 9: Short Thesis: "Relative State" Formulation of Quantum Mechanics (1957) 173
Introduction 175
Realm of Applicability of the Conventional or "External Observation"
Formulation of Quantum Mechanics 175
Quantum Mechanics Internal to an Isolated System 178
Concept of Relative State 179
Observation 183
Discussion 196

CHAPTER 10: Wheeler Article: Assessment of Everett’s “Relative State” Formulation of Quantum Theory (1957) 197

PART III THE COPENHAGEN DEBATE 203
CHAPTER 11: Correspondence: Wheeler and Everett (1956) 205
Wheeler to Everett, May 22, 1956 205
Wheeler Notes on Conversation with Petersen, May 3, 1956 207
Wheeler to Everett, May 26, 1956 211
Wheeler to Everett, September 17, 1956 212

CHAPTER 12: Correspondence: Wheeler, Everett, and Stern (1956) 214
Stern to Wheeler, May 20, 1956 215
Wheeler to Stern, May 25, 1956 219
Wheeler to Everett, May 25, 1956 223

CHAPTER 13: Correspondence: Groenewold to Everett (1957) 225
Groenewold to Everett and Wheeler, April 11, 1957 226

CHAPTER 14: Correspondence: Everett and Wiener (1957) 231
Wiener to Wheeler, April 9, 1957 231
Everett to Wiener, May 31, 1957 234

CHAPTER 15: Correspondence: Everett and Petersen (1957) 236
Petersen to Everett, April 24, 1957 236
Everett to Petersen, May 31, 1957 238

CHAPTER 16: Correspondence: Everett and DeWitt (1957) 241
DeWitt to Wheeler, May 7, 1957 242
Everett to DeWitt, May 31, 1957 252

CHAPTER 17: Correspondence: Everett and Frank (1957) 257
Everett to Frank, May 31, 1957 257
Frank to Everett, August 3, 1957 259

CHAPTER 18
Correspondence: Everett and Jaynes (1957) 261
Everett to Jaynes, June 11, 1957 262
PART IV POST-THESIS CORRESPONDENCE AND NOTES 265

CHAPTER 19: Transcript: Conference at Xavier University (1959) 267
CHAPTER 20: Notes: Everett on DeWitt (1970) 280
CHAPTER 21: Notes: Everett on Bell (1971) 283
CHAPTER 22: Correspondence: Jammer, Wheeler, and Everett (1972) 291
Jammer to Wheeler, January 11, 1972 291
Wheeler to Jammer, March 19, 1972 292
Jammer to Everett, August 28, 1973 293
Everett to Jammer, September 19, 1973 294
CHAPTER 23: Transcript: Everett and Misner (1977) 299

CHAPTER 24: Correspondence: Everett and Lévy-Leblond (1977) 311
Lévy-Leblond to Everett, August 17, 1977 311
Everett to Lévy-Leblond, November 15, 1977 313

CHAPTER 25: Correspondence: Everett and Raub (1980) 315
Everett to Raub, April 7, 1980 315

PART V APPENDIXES 317
Appendix A: Everett’s Notes on Possible Thesis Titles 319
Appendix B: Early Draft Outline for Long Thesis 321
Appendix C: Universal Wave Function Note 324
Appendix D: Handwritten Draft Introduction to the Long Thesis 326
Appendix E: Handwritten Draft Conclusion to the Long Thesis 348
Appendix F: Handwritten Revisions to the Long Thesis for Inclusion in DeWitt and Graham (1973) 355
Appendix G: Handwritten Notes on Everett’s Copy of DeWitt and Graham (1973) 364

CONCLUDING NOTES 367
BIBLIOGRAPHY 369
INDEX 375

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