Einstein against Quantum theory

In summary, the discussion between Einstein and Bohr at the Solvay Conference in 1930 revolved around Einstein's contraption that aimed to refute the uncertainty principle for energy and time. However, Bohr pointed out a flaw in the experiment, where the displacement of the box when being weighed would generate an uncertainty in the determination of the mass and energy of the photon. This was due to the time dilation caused by the gravitational field, ultimately leading to the time-energy uncertainty relation. Bohr's description of the discussion is less adversarial and it is suggested to refer to the illustration from his book to better understand the concept.
  • #1
Waveparticle
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Im currently reading Entanglement by Amir D. Aczel. It explains the arguments for and against quantum theory at the Solvay Conference in 1930. At the conference Einstein told Bohr that he could refute the uncertainty principle for energy and time. Einstein said he designed a box with an opening in one of its walls, where a door is placed, controlled by a clock inside the box. The box is filled with radiation and weighed. The door is opened for a split second, allowing one photon to escape. The box is weighed again, from the weight difference, one can deduce the energy of the photon and thus can determine the photons energy and the time of its passage(refuting the uncertainty principle). The way Bohr found a flaw was to say that Einstein failed to account for the fact that weighing the box amounts to observing its displacement within the gravitational field. The imprecision in the displacement of the box generates an uncertainty in the determination of the mass-and hence the energy-of the photon. When the box is displaced, so is the clock inside it. It now ticks in a gravitational field that is slightly different from before. Can someone please help me understand Bohrs answer because I am having a hard time understanding why Einsteins contraption couldn't work? Why is the box displaced when you weigh it the second time?
 
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  • #2
On a historic aside, I believe the principal source of this anecdote is Bohr's book "Discussions with Einstein ...", where Bohr's description of the discussion is less adversarial, noting "Einstein himself contributed effectively" to resolving the challenge. If your book doesn't have an illustration, it might help to look at the one from Bohr's book, http://www.informationphilosopher.com/solutions/scientists/bohr/images/Bohr-Einstein-8.jpg".

So you have this box on a scale, and to measure its mass, you're measuring its displacement on this scale. The idea is that due to the clock, you can know exactly when the photon left the box. The crux is that this will accelerate the box in the gravitational field, which due to GR, will dilate the time of the clock. When you put this time-dilation together with the momentum-position uncertainty and E=mc^2, you get back the time-energy uncertainty relation.
 
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  • #3
Is it time that is accelerating the box in the gravitational field or is it the fact that you are trying to measure this time itself. I hope this makes sense.
 

Related to Einstein against Quantum theory

1. What was Einstein's main criticism of quantum theory?

Einstein's main criticism of quantum theory was that it could not fully explain the behavior of particles at the subatomic level. He believed that there must be hidden variables that determine the precise location and momentum of particles, rather than the randomness described by quantum mechanics.

2. Did Einstein reject quantum theory completely?

No, Einstein did not reject quantum theory completely. He acknowledged that it was a successful theory in describing many phenomena, but he believed that it was incomplete and there must be underlying principles that could explain the apparent randomness of quantum events.

3. How did Einstein's views on quantum theory differ from those of his contemporaries?

Einstein's views on quantum theory differed from his contemporaries in that he held onto the idea of determinism, while most scientists at the time accepted the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics. He also believed in the existence of hidden variables, which was not a widely accepted concept among other physicists.

4. Did Einstein's criticisms of quantum theory have an impact on the development of the theory?

Yes, Einstein's criticisms of quantum theory had a significant impact on the development of the theory. His thought experiments and debates with other physicists, such as Niels Bohr, led to the development of new interpretations of quantum mechanics, such as the Copenhagen interpretation.

5. How does Einstein's theory of relativity relate to his views on quantum theory?

Einstein's theory of relativity and his views on quantum theory were not directly related. However, some physicists have attempted to reconcile the two theories, such as the development of quantum field theory, which incorporates elements of both relativity and quantum mechanics.

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