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Bacon, Locke, Berkeley, Hume believed that their task was to analyze experience and to evaluate the validity of our inferences about nature. The empiricists' philosophical antagonists, the apriorists, such as Descartes or Leibnitz, also partook in the scientific revolution, both as mathematicians and as philosophers attempting to create their own systems of thought and to establish the place of science in the totality of human experience. This new interaction between physics and philosophy continued well into the end of the nineteenth century with Kant, Hegel or Nietzsche on the apriorist side, and such empiricists as Mill, Russell and many outstanding scientists on the other.

Like the development of science in that period, this interaction was a relatively peaceful process, and like science, after two hundred years of complacency, philosophy was significantly transformed by the advent of new physics. This transformation, however, not only paralleled the changes in science; it went further and united the two fields in an even stronger bind than the first revolution, for the new developments in physics suggested that without the recourse to philosophy no further significant progress in physics was possible.

The philosophy of any period has always been interwoven with science and influenced by its development, but the new physical findings suggested that science depends on philosophy in a more profound way:. This unprecedented impact of philosophy on the course of physics resulted from the peculiar characteristics of the scientific developments in the early twentieth century. The changes of new physics, according to Jeans , "are of a distinctly philosophical hue; a direct questioning of nature by experiment has shown the philosophical background hitherto assumed by physics to have been faulty" Physics 2.

The faulty philosophical background indicated by Jeans was the mechanistic attitude of nineteenth-century science. Classical physics ascribed to a corpuscular-kinetic view of nature in which the universe "was regarded as an enormous aggregate of bits of homogeneous material whose quantity remained constant while the spatial distribution was continuously changing according to the immutable laws of mechanics" Capek 6. This corpuscular-kinetic scheme was based on the predominance of two of the human senses, those of sight and touch.

Tactile sensations were believed to provide man with a direct insight into the mechanical properties of matter, its solidity and permanence, while visual sensations gave him knowledge of geometrical and kinematic properties, that is, of the arrangement and motion of the particles of matter.

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All the remaining properties of objects and the corresponding human senses such as color, flavor, sound or scent were denied objective existence. They were relegated to the realm of man's private mental reactions and their presence or absence was said to be irrelevant to the scheme of the physical world. The senses of touch and sight, on the other hand, were believed to verify the existence of an objective reality and they had served as a basis for the classical definitions of space, time, matter and motion Capek Classical science viewed space as a homogeneous medium which had an objective existence and was independent of its physical content.

In Newton 's words: "Absolute space, in its own nature, without relation to anything external, remains always similar and immovable" 6.

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This absolute theory of space was criticised by a number of Newton's contemporaries including Leibnitz, Huygens and Berkeley Capek Leibnitz, for example, claimed that space is no more than a set of relations between the bodies contained therein and he found the idea of space with no bodies in it absurd Whitehead , Science and Philosophy The notion of matter independent from space, however, was quite compatible with the mechanistic spirit of modern science, and the absoluteness of space remained a firmly established principle for two hundred years. It was reinforced by the parallel notion of absolute time to which classical physics also ascribed.

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To quote Newton again: "Absolute, true and mathematical time, of itself and by its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external" 6. Time and space, thus conceived, were distinctly separate entities, although a close analogy could be observed between them since space was said to be occupied by matter just as time was occupied by motions or changes Capek Matter was believed to possess impenetrability and temporal permanence. Because of persistence through time, a particle of matter could detach itself from a given position in space and move to another.

Thus the independence of matter from space and time served as a basis for the classical concept of motion Capek This mechanistic view of nature was introduced in the course of the seventeenth-century Scientific Revolution and was solidified with the development of modern science in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The revolutionary change in twentieth-century physics involved a disintegration of this mechanistic scheme and a gradual formulation of a new mode of understanding reality.

This disintegration, as we have already observed, was a direct result of technological progress. Constant improvement in obtaining information about regions of the universe removed from the realm of everyday experience gradually showed the inadequacy of a system based on human sensuous perception.

In both particle physics and astronomy new data were obtained which directly challenged the classical notions of space, time, matter and motion, and eventually led to their profound transformation.


  • INTRODUCTION;
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In the light of new physical findings, matter lost both its solidity and permanence. The fusion of mass and energy proposed in the special theory of relativity removed the essential distinction between a material body and its surrounding space by showing that the mass of a group of particles depends not only on the sum of its components but also on the energy of the binding between them Capek The general theory reinforced that view by interpreting "particles" of matter as mere points of extreme density of the timespace continuum.

In Einstein's words:. These inferences from the relativity theory were soon reinforced by new data from particle physics. Quantum mechanics challenged the solidity of matter by renouncing the very idea of the subatomic particle as a minute equivalent of other particles in physics.

Bohr's model of the atom as a minuscule planetary system was the last attempt to interpret the nature of particles in terms of familiar mechanistic concepts. Further development of quantum mechanics showed the futility of such endeavors, for the subatomic reality displayed properties incompatible with classical mechanics. The indeterminacy principle of Heisenberg also implied the loss of solidity in the subatomic realm. The principle negated the solidity of matter by precluding our direct experience of a subatomic particle. To observe such a particle would mean to find simultaneously the momentum and position of the particle and that, according to quantum mechanics, we cannot do because such a conjunction of momentum and position does not exist in nature.

The loss of distinction between matter and its enveloping space also challenged the traditional concept of motion. In classical physics motion was conceived as a displacement of material particle in space. A particle, being essentially distinct from its surrounding medium, was believed to travel in space by detaching itself from one position and moving to another. The relativistic fusion of matter and space rendered this explanation inadequate.

By removing the qualitative difference between space and matter, the relativity theory showed that the particle cannot be "detached" from its position in any meaningful way. The theory suggested that instead of viewing motion as a displacement of a solid body in space we should conceive of it as a pair of events in which the distortion of the spatiotemporal medium decreases in one area while it increases in the neighboring region.

This new idea of motion was formulated as early as Philosopher Hans Reichenbach wrote:. The physical notion of time underwent an equally profound transformation as those of space, matter and motion. The special theory of relativity, as we have pointed out, described the effect of motion on time measurement. More specifically, it predicted time dilatation in all systems moving uniformly in relation to the given frame of reference. An important aspect of that time transformation was its admittedly apparent character.

The lengthening of time intervals and the accompanying directional contraction of matter were believed to involve a subjective change in perception rather than intrinsic transformation of nature. In Max Born 's words, these transformations are "a consequence of our way of regarding things and. In Duration and Simultaneity Bergson compared this relativistic dilatation of time to the optical effect of perspective in painting.

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The diminishing size of more distant objects in a painting is never taken to indicate their actual size but rather conveys the idea of distance between the objects and the artist. Similarly, the temporal dilatation does not involve an actual lengthening of time but rather expresses the contrast of velocities between the two frames of reference Bergson extended this apparent character of time dilatation to the general theory of relativity, but he is now believed to have been wrong in that respect.

According to the current interpretation of the general theory, "the course of time itself is lengthened by the action of the gravitational field or, what is the same, by the curvature of space-time" Capek The time dilatation, which in the special theory was no more than a perspective-like distortion, is considered a genuine modification in the general theory. It results in a plurality of local times whose rhythms depend on the intensity of the gravitational fields in their respective regions. These multiple times, according to Bergson, do not negate the unity of real time; on the contrary, they even "imply and uphold" it Capek Local times are all one in the sense that each of them joins the same identical sequence of causally connected events.

The measured time interval between two such events may vary depending on the frame of reference, but the actual stretch of duration between them must be the same for both measurements since in each case it is bounded by the same identical events. It is not the separation of the events that is affected, but the time units: their dilatation in different gravitational fields results in the variety of local times Capek The new concepts of time, space, matter and motion which emerged as a new paradigm of physics were characterized by a closer interdependence than their classical equivalents.

Time and space were shown to be inextricably bound to form a fourdimensional continuum, while matter and motion were reduced to a quantitative transformation of the spatio-temporal medium. Such new understanding of the basic physical concepts implied the existence of an intrinsic unity in nature extending beyond the relationships admitted and analyzed by classical science.

With matter resolved into the intensity of spatio-temporal field it became clear that any event involving a subatomic particle is in essence a transformation of a portion of the field which cannot be sharply delineated from its wider context. Thus, the individual event lost its independence and had to be regarded as a transformation of a considerable part of the universe. Physics explained this new emphasis on the unity of nature in terms of wave mechanics. Jeans 's exposition of this aspect of new physics is most lucid and worth quoting in full:.

Thus the universe has to be regarded not as an agglomeration of particles but rather as an organism whose inter-connectedness is so intricate that no part of it can be clearly delineated from the whole. Jeans further speculates that the unity in nature could possibly extend from objects to perceiving minds. If so, our individual consciousnesses would also merge beyond timespace into "a single continuous stream of life" in a way resembling objective idealism such as that of Hegel The interconnectedness of nature exposed by new physics soon found its reflectcion in the current philosophical thought.

One of the most ardent supporters of the notion was Alfred North Whitehead. His insistence on the unity of being is an essential aspect of the "organic philosophy of nature" which he developed in his later period. Its affinity to the revelations of physics is obvious. According to Whitehead ,. The unity of the world was conceived philosophically as a network joining not only the elements of alike nature, but also those which in the classical scheme belonged to clearly separate categories.

Objects were now believed to interact with abstract notions; animate matter with the inanimate. The emphasis on the unity of all being was not an original notion of new physics. A similar tendency had characterized early Greek physics and, in a modified form, medieval physics. It was perhaps best expressed in the writings of Aristotle, who opposed the atomists by stressing the wholeness of organisms and by ascribing to inanimate matter the notions of purpose and potency Bronowski , Common Sense These and other non-metrical properties had been removed from the scientific scheme by the seventeenth-century revolution.

Newtonian physics had renounced subjective and non-metrical knowledge as irrelevant to the objectively existing universe. New physics restored this type of knowledge to prominence by suggesting that subjective, mental aspect of existence may in fact be more real than the world of objects. This shocking assertion of new physics followed from the abstract character of the relativistic and quantum phenomena. In both relativity and quantum mechanics, physicists worked with abstract concepts which lacked a parallel in the world of the senses. The phenomena of new physics were expressed verbally but only with a stipulation that the verbal model or picture is merely an approximation of their actual nature.

The true reality was said to reside only in the appropriate mathematical formulae. Attempts to go beyond the mathematical expression might assist in understanding the concepts, but they had to be recognized as leading away rather than towards reality Jeans , Mysterious Universe This idea of reality as a purely mental construct has been pointed out repeatedly by physicists and philosophers.

The great revolutions of the Twentieth Century

Albert Einstein , for example, claimed that "the concepts which arise in our thought and in our linguistic expressions are all--when viewed logically--the free creations of human thought which cannot inductively be gained from sense experiences" Ideas The non-material nature of reality, just like its organic unity, could be explained in terms of wave mechanics.

The probability waves of quantum physics were said to describe not matter itself but only a potential for matter to come into existence and they could not achieve the status of matter without the participation of the human mind. The matter waves, according to Jeans , cannot have any material or real existence:.

Again, this non-material nature of reality was not an original concept of new physics. Like the notion of the organic unity of nature, it could be traced to the early Greek times as an essential feature of philosophical idealism. In modern times it found its most ardent supporter in the person of George Berkeley, a subjective idealist whose views on the nature of physical reality strikingly resemble the inferences of new physics.

Furthermore, there is a mechanism for interaction between these universes that somehow permits all states to be accessible in some way and for all possible states to be affected in some manner. Stephen Hawking and the late Richard Feynman are among the scientists who have expressed a preference for the many-worlds theory. Although scientists throughout the past century have balked at the implications of quantum theory - Planck and Einstein among them - the theory's principles have repeatedly been supported by experimentation, even when the scientists were trying to disprove them.

Quantum theory and Einstein's theory of relativity form the basis for modern physics. The principles of quantum physics are being applied in an increasing number of areas, including quantum optics, quantum chemistry, quantum computing , and quantum cryptography. Please check the box if you want to proceed. A data protection impact assessment DPIA is a process designed to help organizations determine how data processing systems, A compliance audit is a comprehensive review of an organization's adherence to regulatory guidelines.

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This was last updated in January Related Terms biotechnology biotech Biotechnology is the use of biological processes, organisms, or systems to manufacture products intended to improve the quality Login Forgot your password? Forgot your password? No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password. Your password has been sent to:. Please create a username to comment. I'm doing a report on this and it was really helpful But Einstein was never actually alive, was he?

I am sorry but I think he was a fake guy: :! You have a good point both of you but in quantum theory there is a universe for both. Correction Ender Albert Einstein. Check yourself before talking about others.

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And AnonymousUser: yes, Einstein is real.. Google him. He's real, alright. The guy who thinks Einstein wasn't real is hilarious. Was he the Robin Hood of the science world? Quantum mechanics QM -- also known as quantum physics, or quantum theory is a branch of physics which deals with physical phenomena at nanoscopic scales where the action is on the order of the Planck constant.


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It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the quantum realm of atomic and subatomic length scales. Quantum mechanics provides a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. Quantum mechanics provides a substantially useful framework for many features of the modern periodic table of elements including the behavior of atoms during chemical bonding and has played a significant role in the development of many modern technologies. In advanced topics of quantum mechanics, some of these behaviors are macroscopic see macroscopic quantum phenomena and emerge at only extreme i.

For example, the angular momentum of an electron bound to an atom or molecule is quantized. In contrast, the angular momentum of an unbound electron is not quantized. In the context of quantum mechanics, the wave--particle duality of energy and matter and the uncertainty principle provide a unified view of the behavior of photons, electrons, and other atomic-scale objects.

The mathematical formulations of quantum mechanics are abstract. A mathematical function, the wavefunction, provides information about the probability amplitude of position, momentum, and other physical properties of a particle.