Guido Bacciagaluppi and Antony Valentini

Quantum theory at the crossroads

The 1927 Solvay conference was a vital event in the development of modern physics. In Quantum Theory at the Crossroads: Reconsidering the 1927 Solvay Conference Guido Bacciagaluppi and Antony Valentini put the conference into context as well as including the papers given there.

The book is much more than simply an account of what went on in 1927 though. The authors point out that much of what has been claimed since doesn't reflect the reality of the time. In the years leading up to the conference de Broglie's pilot wave theory was a strong contender to be the quantum theory, rather than just a rewriting of Schrödinger's equation. Einstein, far from being a quantum outsider, had been worried about quantum nonlocality for decades beforehand. Neither Einstein nor Bohr presented a paper, so the idea that this conference was the culmination of the battle between them is something of a myth.

The book is in three parts, the last one containing the conference papers. As for parts I and II, well What the authors could have used one to present their argument and one for background material, or maybe part I could have been a layman's summary and part II a more technical account. As it is they are both fairly technical, and I feel that this is likely to mean that the book has a smaller readership than their arguments deserve. In any case the book is a valuable resource for those wanting to get the facts straight about the early development of quantum theory.

Note: This book can be read online at arxiv:quant-ph/0609184

Product Description
The 1927 Solvay conference was perhaps the most important in the history of quantum theory. Contrary to popular belief, questions of interpretation were not settled at this conference. Instead, a range of sharply conflicting views were extensively discussed, including de Broglie's pilot-wave theory (which de Broglie presented for a many-body system), Born and Heisenberg's 'quantum mechanics' (which apparently lacked wave function collapse or fundamental time evolution), and Schrödinger's wave mechanics. Today, there is no longer a dominant interpretation of quantum theory, so it is important to re-evaluate the historical sources and keep the debate open. This book contains a complete translation of the original proceedings, with essays on the three main interpretations presented, and a detailed analysis of the lectures and discussions in the light of current research. This book will be of interest to graduate students and researchers in physics and in the history and philosophy of quantum theory.