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Autograph Manuscript entitled Entwicklung der Theorie der Elementarteilche, a working manuscript with autograph deletions and insertions. [Badenweiler, 1964]. with autograph title and subtitles ("...I. Der Formenreichtum der Welt der E.T... II. Was bedeutet eine einheitliche Feldtheorie der E.T?... III. Was ist mit der inheitl. Feldtheorie gewonnen?..."), written in a telegraphic style in blue ink, with a number of revisions, alterations, additions and cancellations.
[Badenweiler: 1964]. A remarkable, wide-ranging and apparently unpublished manuscript by the great German physicist and Nobel laureate Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976), creator of quantum mechanics and formulator of the uncertainty principle, providing a broad conspectus of the development of the theory of elementary particles. Heisenberg references Plato, Newton, Bohr and Einstein, and concludes by propounding a 'Platonic' vision of particles as 'mathematical forms.' Of particular interest are his references to Einstein's attempts at a unified field theory and his closing philosophical observations and prognostications for the future of his field. The lecture was delivered on March 5, 1964 on the occasion of the presentation to Heisenberg of an honorary doctorate by the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. In part: "Einstein's Versuche einer einheitlichen Feldtheorie. Argumente:..Elekt., Gravitat., aber doch nicht völlig getrennt. Zurück zu Newton. Kritik: geht nicht ohne Quantumtheorie. Jetzt sehr viele Felder. Aber Vereinheitlichung notwendig. Spektrum d. E.F. Einheitl. "Feldtheorie" = einheitl. Teilchentheorie = einh. Krafttheorie etc...Beispiele aus der Mathematik: Arithmatik, Geomatrie, Analysis u.s.w....Begriff der abgeschlossenen Theorie. Newtons Physik konnte nicht verbessert werden...Schluss. Philosophische Interpretation. Wandlung der Bilder, die sich die Physiker machen...Die kleinsten Teile sind "mathematischen Formen". Bei Plato ... In unserer Zeit: Einbeziehung der Zeit in die Symmetrien. Aber entscheidend: solche Fragen, die 2500 Jahre alt sind, werden heute wirklich entschieden. Schon in wenigen Jahren werden wir wissen, wie die Struktur der Welt im Keinsten ist. Ich vermute, dass sie sehr platonisch ist ..." In free translation: "Einstein's attempts at a unified field theory. Arguments: Electricity, gravitation, but not completely separated. Back to Newton. Criticism: does not go without quantum theory. Now a lot of fields. But unification is necessary ... Particle theory = Unified theory of force, etc. Examples from mathematics: Arithmetic, geometry, analysis, etc. Conception of the theory. Newton's physics could not be improved. Philosophical interpretation. Transformation of the images made by the physicists ... The smallest parts are "mathematical forms" after Plato ... In our time: Incorporating time into the symmetries. But decidedly: such questions that are 2500 years old shall now actually be settled. Within a few years we will understand the structure of the world in the smallest parts ... that will be settled by experimental physicists." A full English translation is available. "Faced with his own mortality and the likelihood that he would never regain the stature he had once enjoyed, Heisenberg now increasingly attempted to place his life's work in a permanent intellectual tradition. His fiftieth, fifty-fifth, and sixtieth birthdays brought him renewed concerns about his advancing age and his ability to continue first-rate physics. Under the influence of his long-time friend and colleague Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, his preferred intellectual tradition derived from ancient Greek philosophy. One former student recalled that Weizsäcker and Heisenberg began every lecture course, no matter what the subject, with a reference to Greek philosophy. "By the winter of 1955-1956, when Heisenberg delivered the Gifford Lectures on physics and philosophy at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, he had already distinguished contemporary elementary particle physics from nineteenth-century atomism. For him, the latter was a form of repugnant mechanistic materialism derived from the atomic theories of Democritus and Leucippus; the former held closest affinity to the work of the sagacious Aristotle. The underlying matter field of Heisenberg's unified field theory bore similarities to the notion of substance in Aristotelianism, an intermediate type of reality. Measuring the properties of elementary particles seemed closest to the Aristotelian notion of potentia, since the particle comes into being only in the act of measurement. "By the 1960s, particle qualities had succumbed to the symmetry properties of field equations, and Aristotle had succumbed to Plato. The Platonic atoms of his remembered youth were now fundamental. "The particles of modern physics are representations of symmetry groups and to that extent they resemble the symmetrical bodies of Plato's philosophy," he declared in one of his last publications. In his 1969 memoirs, written as a Platonic dialogue, he claimed that Platonism had dominated his thinking throughout his career. Toward the end of the memoir he wrote of his happy days in the old Urfeld cottage during the 1960s when ... "we could once again meditate peacefully about the great questions Plato had once asked, questions that had perhaps found their answer in the contemporary physics of elementary particles," a physics that found its meaning in the ancient idealism and transcendent philosophy of Plato" (Cassidy, Uncertainty, pp. 543-4). Heisenberg's optimism that "within a few years we will understand the structure of the world in the smallest parts" has proved to be unfounded. The nature of dark matter and dark energy is still uncertain, and it is still unknown whether supersymmetric particles exist. In Heisenberg's time these questions could not even be posed, let alone answered: the work of the "experimental physicists" revealed questions which neither Heisenberg nor anyone else could have anticipated. 2 1/2 pages, 4to.
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