Quantum Physics Made Relatively Simple

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In 1999, legendary theoretical physicist Hans Bethe delivered three lectures on quantum theory to his neighbors at the Kendal of Ithaca retirement community (near Cornell University). Given by Professor Bethe at age 93, the lectures are presented here as QuickTime videos synchronized with slides of his talking points.

Intended for an audience of Professor Bethe's neighbors at Kendal, the lectures hold appeal for experts and non-experts alike. The presentation makes use of limited mathematics while focusing on the personal and historical perspectives of one of the principal architects of quantum theory whose career in physics spans 75 years.

A video introduction and appreciation are provided by Professor Silvan S. Schweber, the physicist and science historian - who is Professor Bethe's biographer, and Edwin E. Salpeter, the I G. White Distinguished Professor of Physical Sdence Emeritus at Cornell, who was a post-doctoral student of Professor Bethe.

See also the archived copy of the original website for this collection. Please use the eCommons collection to access content.


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Now showing 1 - 6 of 6
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    Introduction to the Bethe Lectures
    Schweber, Silvan S.; Salpeter, Edwin E. (Internet-First University Press, 2004)
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    Lecture 1
    Bethe, Hans (Internet-First University Press, 1999-05-06)
    Hans Bethe introduces quantum theory as "the most important discovery of the twentieth century" and shows that quantum theory gave us "understanding and technology." He cites computers as a dramatic realization of applied quantum physics. Professor Bethe begins his personal recollections of the development of quantum theory in Lecture 1. While not following the historical chronology rigidly, he covers the period of the "old quantum theory," from Planck's first idea in 1900 to work on the Bohr atomic model in 1914.
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    Lecture 2
    Bethe, Hans (Internet-First University Press, 1999-05-13)
    By the 1920s, physicists were driving to synthesize early quantum ideas into a consistent theory. In Lecture 2, Professor Bethe relates the exciting theoretical and experimental breakthroughs that led to modern quantum mechanics. Professor Bethe offers personal anecdotes about many of the famous names commonly associated with quantum physics, including Bohr, Heisenberg, Born, Pauli, de Broglie, Schrödinger, and Dirac.
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    Lecture 3
    Bethe, Hans (Internet-First University Press, 1999-05-20)
    Formalized during a burst of intellectual activity during the 1920s, quantum theory had immediate success explaining experimental results in atomic and nuclear physics. However, physicists were aware that much work remained to clarify the conceptual foundations of the theory. In Lecture 3, Professor Bethe recalls work on the interpretation of the wave function, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and the Pauli Exclusion Principle. He shows how quantum theory forced discussion of issues such as determinism, physical observables, and action-at-a-distance.
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    Appreciation of Hans Bethe
    Schweber, Silvan S.; Salpeter, Edwin E. (Internet-First University Press, 2004)