NBA History of Science Seminar: Guido Bacciagaluppi

Guido Bacciagaluppi (Utrecht University), “Better than Bohr? Grete Hermann and the 'Copenhagen interpretation'”

Guido Bacciagaluppi
Guido Bacciagaluppi, Utrecht University.

Within the foundations of quantum mechanics, Grete Hermann is best known for her analysis of causality in quantum mechanics, and for her critique of von Neumann’s impossibility proof against the completion of quantum mechanics through hidden variables. I submit further that Grete Hermann is a central figure in understanding the complex of ideas loosely shared between Bohr, Heisenberg and others in the 1930s, and was partly instrumental in their very crystallisation. She was both a critic to whom especially Heisenberg and Weizsäcker responded (the latter also on behalf of Bohr), and the most systematic and articulate exponent of that complex of ideas. A “Copenhagen interpretation” as generally understood from the 1950s onwards may have been largely Heisenberg’s creation, but a systematic view along those lines was arguably formulated already in the 1930s by Grete Hermann.

Guido Bacciagaluppi is Associate Professor at the Freudenthal Institute at Utrecht University and Principal Investigator on the ERC Advanced Grant project "BOHR21: Niels Bohr for the 21st Century" (2023–2028).