Friday, February 29, 2008

Old sacred texts influenced 3 Nobel Prize laureates in physics

Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) was a celebrated German physicist and Nobel laureate, one of the founders of quantum mechanics and acknowledged to be one of the most important physicists of the twentieth century.

Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961) was an Austrian - Irish physicist who achieved fame for his contributions to quantum mechanics, especially the Schrödinger equation, for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1933.

Niels Henrik David Bohr (1885-1962) was a Danish physicist who made fundamental contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922.

In his book, The Tao of Physics, the physicist Fritjof Capra later discussed his ideas with Werner Heisenberg in 1972:

I had several discussions with Heisenberg. I lived in England then [circa 1972], and I visited him several times in Munich and showed him the whole manuscript chapter by chapter. He was very interested and very open, and he told me something that I think is not known publicly because he never published it. He said that he was well aware of these parallels. While he was working on quantum theory he went to India to lecture and was a guest of Tagore. He talked a lot with Tagore about Indian philosophy. Heisenberg told me that these talks had helped him a lot with his work in physics, because they showed him that all these new ideas in quantum physics were in fact not all that crazy. He realized there was, in fact, a whole culture that subscribed to very similar ideas. Heisenberg said that this was a great help for him. Niels Bohr had a similar experience when he went to China. – Fritjof Capra, interviewed by Renee Weber in the book The Holographic Paradigm (page 217–218)

Also, As a result of those influences, Niels Bohr adopted the yin yang symbol as part of his family coat of arms when he was knighted in 1947.

According to Dr. C. P. Girija Vallabhan from the International School of Photonics, Cochin :

" One key idea that was utilized by Erwin Schrodinger in arriving at his wave equation was the wave nature of matter. The concept of matter waves was proposed by Louis de Broglie in 1923. He understood the universal duality of wave and particle. He was able to show that a particle with momentum p will possess a wavelength given by h/p where h is the Planck's constant. Experimental confirmation soon followed. Scientist began to accept the wave particle duality of matter. Thus it may be said that world is based on the wave phenomena, while particles are mere epiphenomena. This idea was to serve as a major theme in the development of wave mechanics as far as history of physics is concerned. However this does not tell us about the philosophical background with which Schrodinger approached the problem. Schrodinger read widely and thought deeply about the techniques of ancient Hindu scriptures and reworked them into his own words and eventually came to believe in them. This was evident from many of his writings.

In August 1918 he wrote 'The stages of human development are to strive for (1) Besitz (2) Wissen (3)Können (4)Sein" ie. Poseesion, knowledge, ability and being. It is obvious to an Indian mind that this is nothing other than the quadruplet Dharma, Ardha, Kama and Moksha of Upanishdic vision. Schrodinger wrote that he was under the very strong influence of Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) who immersed himself in eastern Budhist culture.

It is evident that these thoughts recurred to Erwin Schrodinger when he devised his wave equation leading to discovery of wave mechanics. He found the reality of physics in wave motions and he also based this reality on an underlying unity of mind. Schrodinger was well versed in the techniques of Bhagavat Gita and he knew that he was a "Jnanayogi.". His intellect showed him the way, and throughout his life he expressed in graceful essays his belief in Vedanta but he remained what the Indians called a Mahavit, a person who knows that theory but has failed to achieve a practical realization of it in his own life. He knew from Chandogya Upanishad "I am Mahavit, a knower of the world and not an Atmavit, a knower of the atman" "

The Upanishads are texts that contain elaborations in prose and verse of the Vedas, the most ancient Hindu sacred literature. The Sanskrit term upanishad implies sitting at the feet of the teacher. The Upanishads, of which approximately 108 are known, record the views of a succession of Hindu teachers and sages who were active as early as 1000 BC.

1 comment:

atomick said...

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