The Foundations of Quantum Physics
Quantum mechanics is essentially a 20th century development that is based on a number of observations that defied classical explanations. While some of these experiments have semiclassical explanations, the triumph of quantum mechanics is that it gives precise verification for an overwhelming number of experimental observations. Its extensions into relativistic quantum mechanics through quantum electrodynamics (QED), electro-weak theory, and quantum chromodynamics (QCD) have led us to the Standard Model of today. While the number of unanswered questions remains approximately constant at each stage of development, the number of answered questions that relate theory with experiment continues to grow rapidly. In this chapter, some of the historical landmarks in the development of the
theory are noted. The resolution of the dilemmas presented by classical theory will be dealt with in later chapters, but these are listed to motivate the break from classical mechanics. Because of the apparently unphysical nature of the postulates upon which quantum mechanics is founded, we supply motivation and justification for this break. In the first part of this chapter, we will review some of the experiments that confounded classical theory, and then introduce a formalism that provides some rationale for the postulates upon which quantum mechanics is based. In the end, these postulates will stand on their own.