The Impossibility Theorem

  • David Wick


“Nothing takes place without a sufficient reason,” wrote the German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz in the 18th century; “that is to say, nothing occurs for which one having sufficient knowledge might not give a reason ... why it is as it is and not otherwise.” When 19th-century physicists invoked chance in their statistical theories of matter, it cast no cloud over the principle of sufficient reason; probability is useful, but causal determinism rules the universe. So it was most surprising when in 1932, a young Hungarian mathematician announced a mathematical proof that determinism is dead.


Quantum Mechanic Hide Variable Sufficient Reason Impossibility Theorem Quantum Apparatus 
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  1. I profited from Steven J. Heims’ John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death (1980)Google Scholar
  2. Bell’s example is in his first paper “On the problem of hidden variables in quantum theory,” Rev. Mod. Phys. 38 (1966)Google Scholar
  3. Other “Impossibility theorems” are those of Gleason, J. Math. & Mech. 6,885 (1957);MathSciNetMATHGoogle Scholar
  4. Jauch and Piron, Helv. Phys. Acta. 36, 827 (1963)MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  5. Kochen and Specker, J. Math. & Mech. 17, 59 (1967)MathSciNetMATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Boston 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Wick
    • 1
  1. 1.SeattleUSA

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