The Golden Age of Quantum Physics

The Fifth Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons (1927)

“The Most Intelligent Photograph Ever Taken”, as it is sometimes known, was captured during the Fifth Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons held in 1927 in Brussels, Belgium. The photograph is famous because it was captured in the middle what would later become known as the “debate of the century” over the non-deterministic nature of quantum physics. Present at the conference, famously, were many of the men instrumental in devising the theories which are now considered to be at the heart of modern physics.

Among those present, on one side of the debate were the originators of the newly introduced quantum mechanics -paradigm, including Werner Heisenberg himself, in addition to his collaborators Wolfgang Pauli, Max Born, Hendrik Kramers, Émile de Broglie, Niels Bohr and Paul Dirac. On the other side, also present, were supporters of the classical, deterministic paradigm, represented most prominently by Albert Einstein himself, but also Max Planck, Paul Ehrenfest and Erwin Schrödinger. Of the 29 attendees at the meeting, 17 had or would go onto win the Nobel Prize in physics or chemistry. Among them was also Marie Curie who had already won both. Continue reading