Über Quantenmechanik [On Quantum Mechanics]

“It was Born who coined the term ‘quantum mechanics’ in a 1924 paper [offered here], in which he dealt with the problematic translation of classical formulas into their quantum-theoretic analogues by means of the correspondence principle...” -Kragh, Quantum Generations


“An important paper by Born published in August 1924 took its starting point in the ‘considerable progress’ made with the BKS theory and Kramers’ use of it to explain the dispersion of light. Born’s paper, entitled ‘Über Quantenmechanik,’ merits attention not only because it introduced ‘quantum mechanics’ as the name for the quantum theory of the future, but also because it was a serious attempt to formulate the general structure of this still unborn theory” (Helge Kragh: Niels Bohr and the Quantum Atom).

“In June 1924, Born completed his paper ‘On quantum mechanics.’ In this article Born tried to establish a method by which the classical perturbation theory of multiple periodic non-degenerate systems could be applied to quantum phenomena which involve external periodic disturbances or internal couplings. So far, Born argued, theories of poly-electronic systems, such as the helium atom, which treated the electronic interactions along classical lines, had to fail since electrons affect each other with frequencies of the order of those of light, but the interaction between matter and light is evidently a ‘non-mechanical’ quantum process; one cannot expect, therefore, that the interactions between electrons can be treated along classical lines either. Born now suggested a solution of the problem by generalizing Kramers’ treatment of the interaction between radiation and electrons into a ‘quantum mechanics’ of interactions. In carrying out this program, Born showed that the transition from classical mechanics to what he called ‘quantum mechanics’ can be obtained in accordance with Bohr's correspondence principle if a certain differential is replaced by a corresponding difference …” (Jammer, Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, pp. 191-2).

Critically, “the central idea of ‘Quantenmechanik’” is the crucial quantization condition required by Born: “All elementary changes occurring in nature must be discontinuous, because the action variables may change by integer multiples of Planck’s constant only; the discrete behavior of action variables will affect all other variables as well” (Herbert Capellmann, The Development of Elementary Quantum Theory).

IN: Zeitschrift für Physik, Band 26, No. 6, pp. 379-395. Berlin: Julius Springer, 1924. Octavo, original printed wrappers; custom box. The complete issue offered. A touch of browning at wrapper edges, faint offsetting from newspaper clipping on first text page of issue (not affecting Born paper). A very good a copy, rare in original wrappers.

Price: $2,200 .

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