Max Planck’s famous lecture of 1900 expressed quantum theory in its essential form, but his statement was just the beginning. This volume features seventeen early papers that developed quantum theory into its modern form. These papers appeared from 1917 to 1926 and were written by the leading physicists of the early twentieth century.
The collection begins with Einstein’s “On the Quantum Theory of Radiation,” an illuminating derivation of Planck’s Law. Other important early papers by Ehrenfest, Bohr, Born, Van Vleck, Kuhn, and others prepared the way for the “turning point” in quantum mechanics. This crucial step is taken in Heisenberg’s paper “Quantum-Theoretical Re-Interpretation of Kinematic and Mechanical Relations.” Additional papers by Born, Dirac, Pauli, and Jordan develop the theory in full. Eleven of these seventeen papers are reproduced unabridged; all are in English.
A 59-page historical introduction by the editor, Professor B. L. van der Waerden, provides connective commentary. Quoting from relevant correspondence, noting the thinking behind each discovery, and evaluating the extent of each individual’s contribution, it re-creates the era’s intellectual foment and excitement.