From c-Numbers to q-Numbers: The Classical Analogy in the History of Quantum Theory (California Studies in the History of Science)

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9780520078222: From c-Numbers to q-Numbers: The Classical Analogy in the History of Quantum Theory (California Studies in the History of Science)

The history of quantum theory is a maze of conceptual problems, through which Olivier Darrigol provides a lucid and learned guide, tracking the role of formal analogies between classical and quantum theory. From Planck's first introduction of the quantum of action to Dirac's formulation of quantum mechanics, Darrigol illuminates not only the history of quantum theory but also the role of analogies in scientific thinking and theory change.

Unlike previous works, which have tended to focus on qualitative, global arguments, Darrigol's study follows the lines of mathematical reasoning and symbolizing and so is able to show the motivations of early quantum theorists more precisely—and provocatively—than ever before. Erudite and original, From c-Numbers to q-Numbers sets a new standard as a philosophically perceptive and mathematically precise history of quantum mechanics. For years to come it will influence historical and philosophical discussions of twentieth-century physics.

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About the Author:

A physicist and historian of physics, Olivier Darrigol is a chargé de recherches at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris and a lecturer in history of physics at the Ecole Normale Supérieure.

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