Über quantentheoretische Umdeutung kinematischer und mechanischer Beziehungen

"Über quantentheoretische Umdeutung kinematischer und mechanischer Beziehungen" (English "Quantum theoretical re-interpretation of kinematic and mechanical relations") was a breakthrough paper in quantum mechanics written by Werner Heisenberg, which appeared in Zeitschrift für Physik in September 1925.

Heisenberg worked on the paper while recovering from hay fever on the island of Heligoland, corresponding with Wolfgang Pauli on the subject. When asked for his opinion of the manuscript, Pauli responded favorably, but Heisenberg said he was still "very uncertain about it". In July 1925, he sent the paper to Max Born to review and decide whether to submit it for publication.[1]

In the paper, Heisenberg tried to explain the energy levels of a one-dimensional anharmonic oscillator, avoiding the concrete but unobservable representations of electron orbits by using observable parameters such as transition probabilities for quantum jumps, which necessitated using two indexes corresponding to the initial and final states.[2]

Also included was the Heisenberg commutator, his law of multiplication needed to describe certain properties of atoms, whereby the product of two physical quantities did not commute. Therefore, PQ would differ from QP where, for example, ‘P’ was an electron's momentum and ‘Q’ its position. Paul Dirac, who had received a proof copy in August 1925, realized that the commutative law had not been fully developed and would produce an algebraic formulation to express the same results in more logical form.[3]


Historical contextEdit

The paper laid the groundwork for matrix mechanics, later developed further by Born and Pascual Jordan. When Born read the paper, he recognized the formulation as one which could be transcribed and extended to the systematic language of matrices. Born, with the help of his assistant and former student Pascual Jordan, began immediately to make the transcription and extension, and they submitted their results for publication; the paper was received for publication just 60 days after Heisenberg’s paper.[4] A follow-on paper by all three authors extending the theory to multiple dimensions was submitted for publication before the end of the year.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jagdish Mehra and Helmut Rechenberg (1982). The Formulation of Matrix Mechanics and its Modifications 1925-1926. The Historical Development of Quantum Theory. Springer. ISBN 0-387-90675-4.
  2. ^ Emilio Segrè, From X-Rays to Quarks: Modern Physicists and their Discoveries (W. H. Freeman and Company, 1980) ISBN 0-7167-1147-8, pp 153 - 157.
  3. ^ H. Kragh, ‘Dirac, Paul Adrien Maurice (1902–1984)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  4. ^ M. Born and P. Jordan, Zur Quantenmechanik, Zeitschrift für Physik, 34, 858-888, 1925 (received September 27, 1925). [English translation in: B. L. van der Waerden, editor, Sources of Quantum Mechanics (Dover Publications, 1968) ISBN 0-486-61881-1]
  5. ^ M. Born, W. Heisenberg, and P. Jordan, Zur Quantenmechanik II, Zeitschrift für Physik, 35, 557-615, 1925 (received November 16, 1925). [English translation in: B. L. van der Waerden, editor, Sources of Quantum Mechanics (Dover Publications, 1968) ISBN 0-486-61881-1]

Further readingEdit

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