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Helgoland by Carlo Rovelli – read an exclusive extract

April 16, 2021

Helgoland by Carlo Rovelli – read an exclusive extract

In June 1925, twenty-three-year-old Werner Heisenberg, suffering from hay fever, retreated to a treeless, wind-battered island in the North Sea called Helgoland. There, on the island, he found the idea that made it possible to account for all recalcitrant facts, to build the mathematical structure of quantum mechanics, ‘quantum theory’. Engineers, astrophysicists, cosmologists, chemists and biologists all use it daily; the rudiments of the theory are included in high-school curricula. The visionary force of a rebellious, critical spirit, capable of modifying its own conceptual basis, capable of redesigning our world from scratch. We discussed and re-discussed the experiment on the path through the coastal jungle leading to the shore, and then here, by the sea. A century later, this theory has given us modern technology and nuclear energy but remains disconcerting, enigmatic and fiercely debated. It has destroyed the image of reality as made up of particles that move along defined trajectories – without, however, clarifying how we should think of the world instead.

Article from RTE.ie.