The Nonrelativistic Nature of the Present Quantum Mechanical Measurement Theory

  • E. P. Wigner
Part of the The Scientific Papers book series (WIGNER, volume A / 3)


I wish to recall first some problems of earlier theories of physics that are similar to the present ones of quantum mechanics. (These will be discussed later.) There was, after each great discovery in physics, some puzzlement and realization of incompleteness in the definition of some of the basic concepts in terms of which the “laws” were formulated. Let me begin with the first great discovery of Copernicus, Kepler, Tycho Brahe, and others, which took place about 450 years ago. Copernicus (1473–1543), afraid of the church’s disapproval, said that it is “easier to describe” the motion of the planets by assuming that the sun is at rest, while the planets, including the Earth, are moving. However, even then, it was not clear what “at rest” and what “moving” meant—it was only clear that the description of their relative positions was easier to describe in a coordinate system attached to the sun. Of course, the motion of the planets was communicated to us only by the light they reflected, and the basic properties of light were not described by the physics of that time.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

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  • E. P. Wigner

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