Einstein’s Contributions to Quantum Revolution –A Summary by Dhananjay P. Mehendale of Sir Parashurambhau College, Pune, India

PJOP: Everyone knows the famous Einstein quote, “God doesn’t play dice with the universe”. This makes it sound like Einstein was hostile to quantum mechanics all along. Can you summarize Einstein’s contributions to quantum mechanics so as to set the record straight?

Sure. Einstein’s contribution to the quantum mechanics revolution can be divided into two time spans: the period before 1925 and the period after 1925. Einstein was pro to quantum ideas (the so called old quantum theory) that were developed before 1925 and contributed positively towards their development. Applying the ideas developed by Planck in 1900 he offered satisfactory explanations of the photoelectric effect, the specific heat of solids, and the phenomenon of spontaneous and stimulated emission and contributed to the development of Bose-Einstein statistics. After 1925 the quantum ideas were put in the form of a totally new theory based on a radically new philosophy (the so called quantum mechanics). Einstein very much opposed and never believed in quantum mechanics and always thought about it as an incomplete theory. Einstein developed many arguments and thought experiments for demonstrating that there was some kind of fallacy in the new theory. The EPR paradox marks one such significant attempt. But, here also, Einstein’s criticism definitely promoted a better understanding of these new quantum ideas and also significantly promoted the development of modern ideas in quantum physics, like, quantum information theory, quantum computing, quantum teleportation, quantum cryptography etc.

PJOP: Thank you Professor Mehendale. I know you can go into detail regarding each of these points. Maybe if our readers request it, we can go into each of them later. Thanks again for such a short summary.

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