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What does this quote from Einstein mean?

  1. Apr 24, 2015 #1
    Einstein wrote in a letter to Max Born that he feels that QM is not the true Jacob, quote:

    "Quantum mechanics demands serious attention. But an inner voice tells me that this is not the true Jacob. The theory accomplishes a lot, but it does not bring us closer to the secrets of the Old One. In any case, I am convinced that He does not play dice."

    So who is the Jacob he is referring to, is it the biblical Jacob who tricked his father into blessing him instead of his brother Esau? But then the saying should be: "But an inner voice tells me that this is not the true Esau" because the Father thought that Jacob is Esau and not the other way around.

    Hope someone can tell, Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 24, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    I think it's related to the story as the science community adopted and accepted QM as a true description of nature whereas Einstein believed there is something fundamentally wrong with its description of reality, hence QM acts like Jacob and the science community acts like Isaac and give QM the blessing of acceptance.
  4. Apr 27, 2015 #3


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    Is this thread about quantum physics, or about holy books?
  5. Apr 27, 2015 #4
    I would say the former, but could be wrong.
  6. Apr 27, 2015 #5


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    It's about quantum physics, and the saying "it's not the true Jacob" is just a literal translation from German, meaning, thant QT doesn't lead to a full description of what's going on in the microscopic world of particles, atoms, etc. Einstein did not like the idea of an irreducibly probabilistic description, which QT in fact is. In his opinion, shared also by some other great scientists like Schrödinger, who abhorred his own groundbreaking achievement of wavemechanics because of the probabilistic interpretation by Born. Born and Einstein were very close friends, quarreling about the meaning/interpretation of quantum theory and over the question, whether it's a "complete" theory/description of nature on a fundamental level or not. This discussion went on from the early beginnings of modern quantum theory (since Born came up with his probability interperation in his famous paper on scattering theory, where it is a footnote, earning him a nobel prize nearly 30 years later) until Einstein's death in 1955. There's a good English translation of the correspondence between Einstein and Born, which is very worth reading. Of course, it doesn't only deal with quantum theory but also on personal matters.
  7. Apr 27, 2015 #6


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    Maybe you should ask this question in the bible forums? ;-)
  8. Apr 27, 2015 #7


    Staff: Mentor

    Okay, I guess its time to close this thread.

    Thank you all.
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