The Greatest? The EPR Paper

By cjohnson | January 9, 2006 1:45 am

See here for the voting procedure, and background.

A. Einstein, B. Podolsky and N. Rosen, Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete? Phys Rev 47, 777 (1935).

Another strong modern entry that might stand on the highest bit of the podium at the end of the day if the crowd gets entangled with excitement about it. This is the begining of the “maturing” of quantum mechanics, and forms the conceptual foundations of how we have (and will) come to increasingly appreciate and develop “macroscopic” applications of quantum mechanics in science and technology. The quantum computer starts here, for example. This looks -at a glance- like a decent Wikipedia article on it.

Make one comment, which will be your vote. (Any other comments from you on this thread will be deleted.) Feel free to tell the world what this paper means to you…. and why you voted for it over the others….. Or you can just make a comment that registers your vote, making whatever noise you want!

Voting ends 9:00pm, Jan 15th Pacific Standard Time.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Entertainment, Science
  • wolfgang

    Very important paper and got Bohr et al. to think through the Copenhagen interpretation once again.

  • Kasper Olsen

    Surely one of the most important papers to date – and also beautifully written!
    Kasper 😉

  • Annie

    I like this one because confused & terrified undergrads can go, “Okay, so this stuff doesn’t have to make sense to me if it didn’t make sense to EINSTEIN.”

  • fh

    I guess the argument has to go along the lines of why not Newton? Or the others for that matter.

    Newton found that he could create mathematics and cast the laws of nature in their form. In essence his laws stood uncontested for centuries. Here classical theoretical physics begins. (though hardly all of modernity as some claim, that claim would rest better with those who established the experimental method).

    Einstein, who had come, not to destroy the law but to fulfill it, cast Newtons laws in their ultimate form, as they stand in Einstein Maxwell theory classical mechanics has found it’s sollutions, the final word has been spoken. Radical changes were neccessary, and many concepts had to be stripped of Newtons original principals, but in GR the Newtonian revolution is completed.

    Noether showed that as Newton found the language, that language has in it’s depths secrets and beauty the shine upon physics and reality. In the realisation of the central concept of symmetries and in finding physics in mathematics this anticipitates 20th century physics.

    In Diracs brilliance what is anticipitated in Noethers work is fully born out. Mathematical reasoning at it’s finest peels back natures veil.

    So in all that company why EPR? Because it’s wrong. Because it shows (combined with Bell and experiment) that despite the brilliance of all those minds peeling away all is not known. That nature is ultimately stranger and more incomprehensible then any philosopher could have dreamt up over the millenia. Because, in the words of Camus, “It teaches that all is not, has not been, exhausted.”
    Because this is the question that remains open, despite the efforts of the greates minds over a century of inquiry, because it is a hint that there is a thing deeper yet, stranger yet, more unfamiliar yet. Because it shows the field in all it’s blindness and brilliance as I have found it to be, I vote this to be the greatest physics paper.

  • agm

    Principia — Newton was not the only person to invent calculus, and his notation is fairly widely decried. Neither was he the only person to come up with a system of classical mechanics nor the only person to take what had been done before, think long and hard about it, and run with the ball.

    Symmertry — Emmy Noerther. Female. Physicist. Clearly a top-notch thinker. Reggie Bush-level performance, when the game calls for Vince Young style.

    GR — The fact that there’s an experimentally (statistically?) observed phenomenon which allows for one of the fundamental postulates of relativity, as marketed to the masses, to be violated…

    The electron — Toughest competition in my book, exactly for the reasons mentioned by Clifford and the commenters. Intellectually stimulating theory, with applications and import beyond the world of physics.

    The choice of paper is, for all of us, heavily influenced by interests, preference for experiment, observation, or theory, and what we think physics is, was, and should be. My choice stems largely from my view of balancing the creation of new ideas and the synthesis of old.

  • Steinn Sigurdsson

    I nominated it, so I feel obliged to vote for it
    Principia is not a “paper”, but I could have voted for Noether or GR without blinking

  • Paul Valletta

    What is really amazing about this paper in its original form, is its formal structure and presentation, must have been like a ‘dangling-carrot’ to Bohr and the rest of the quantum mechanic team. The whole exercise is how one can NEVER treat any system as a perfect, “in-isolation” and seperate quantity?

    In the title the words “COMPLETE” is a metaphor for “whole”, and thus isolation.

    Within the abstract, Einstein et-al,makes the statement of “wave-particle/dual-realities”?

    If one turns around the particle-wavefunction, and assumes that the Quantum, can and will, locate a particle of greater size ,it is with certainty that micro entities locate macro entities, by default of size?

    A miniscule Quantum can locate big targets easier than, a Macro particle can locate a Quantum, if one can actually locate a Quantum in order to send it on its way towards a defined target?

    For two quantums sent in opposite directions during entanglement, the beam splitter acts as the “target”, and this, observational experiment, surely can only be maintained if there is never any other interaction whatsoever?

    Any entangled system, must be classed as being in “isolation” and seperate, anything in between the Quantums (and this goes for the presumed particles that are sent to either ends of the Universe), cannot have a single fragment of matter somewhere “in-between” the two entangled products.

    In quantum mechanics, if two particles are deemed to be in communication “commuting with respect to each other” at opposites end of the Universe, then its a very..very small Universe, that has no products inside it other than two-entangled quantums, as QM states any other product collapses the wavefunction, and therefore the Universe, on a Cosmological Scale can NEVER exist.

    Which leads to the simple conclusion of the EPR thought experiment, there is a limit of isolation of all systems.

    The perfect example of its simplicity, the less you have in isolation, the more energy needed to balance the “missing” Universe, I cite the Quark Isolation problem for verifyable confirmation.

    I am sure I read an Einstien quote something like:If there are two particles in communication at either ends of the Universe, where is the rest of the Universe and its conserved energy?

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