HPS 2523 History of Quantum Mechanics Fall 2012

Back to course documents.


Quantum History Project at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science


This website gives links to the lastest scholarship in history of quantum theory, as represented by the conference series HQ0, HQ1, HQ2, HQ3 and HQ4. Exploring in the site will lead to many preprints of papers.

Note that the project's publication page does NOT list all the preprints linked from the site. Explore!

Center for History of Physics, Niels Bohr Archive, American Institute of Physics (College Park, MD)

The Center has a huge array of material including the Emilio Segrè Visual Archives and also a rich collection of transcriptions of interviews ("oral histories").

Archives for the History of Quantum Physics (AHQP) (on microfilm)

The University of Pittsburgh Library holds a microfilm copy of this archive (link). A finding aid, Sources for History of Quantum Physics, is available online.

Michel Janssen's Website (Papers with Tony Duncan, Charles Midminter)


Anthony Duncan and Michel Janssen, "On the Verge of Umdeutung: John Van Vleck and the Correspondence Principle." Preprint. Part One; Part Two. Published: Archive for History of Exact Sciences 61 (2007): 553–624, 625–671.

Anthony Duncan and Michel Janssen, "Pascual Jordan’s Resolution of the Conundrum of the Wave-Particle Duality of Light." Preprint. Published: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (2008): 634-666.

Anthony Duncan and Michel Janssen, "From Canonical Transformations to Transformation Theory, 1926–1927: The Road to Jordan's Neue Begründung." Preprint. Published: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 40 (2009): 352-362.

Michel Janssen and Charles Midwinter, "Kuhn Losses Regained: Van Vleck from Spectra to Susceptibilities." To appear in: Massimiliano Badino and Jaume Navarro (eds.), Research and Pedagogy: A History of Early Quantum Physics through its Textbooks . Berlin: Edition Open Access.

Anthony Duncan and Michel Janssen, "(Never) Mind your p 's and q 's: Von Neumann versus Jordan on the Foundations of Quantum Theory." Submitted to European Physical Journal–H.

Collections of Original Papers

B. L. van der Waerden, Sources of Quantum Mechanics. Dover, 1968. (Assigned text for this class.)

W. R. Hindmarsh, Atomic Spectra. Pergamon, 1967.
G. Ludwig, Wave Mechanics. Pergamon, 1968.
A. I , Miller, Early Quantum Electrodynamics: A Source Book. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994.
D. ter Haar, The Old Quantum Theory. Pergamon, 1967.
Wheeler, J. and Zurek, W. Quantum Theory and Measurement. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1983.


E. Segre, From X-Rays to Quarks: Modern Physicists and Their Discoveries. San Francisco: Freeman, 1980. A good introductory survey.
A. Hermann, The Genesis of the Quantum Theory (1899-1913) MIT Press, 1971. Short, but to the point.
F. Hund, The History of Quantum Theory. Harper and Row, 1974. Short, but to the point.
M. Jammer, Conceptual Development of Quantum Mechanics. McGraw-Hill, 1966. A standard survey. Synoptic but telegraphic.
E. T. Whittaker, A History of Theories of Aether and Electricity. New York Harper, 1960. An old standard.
O. Darrigol, From c-Numbers to q-Numbers: The Classical Analogy in History of Quantum Theory. Univ. of CA Press, 1992. Highly recommended.
P. Stehle, Order, Chaos, Order: The Transition from Classical to Quantum Physics. Oxford Univ. Press, 1994. Pitt author!
C. Jungnickel and R. McCormmach, Intellectual Mastery of Nature. Vol. II: The Now Mighty Theoretical Physics 1870-1925. Univ. of Chicago. Attempt to merge internal and external history.
J. Mehra and H. Rechenberg, The Historical Development of Quantum Theory. Springer. Multivolume attempt to say everything.

Useful Textbooks

Herzberg, Gerhard Atomic Spectra & Atomic Structure. Prentice-Halll, 1937; Dover Publications, 1944.
Silberstein, Ludwig Report on the Quantum Theory of Spectra. London: Adam Hilger, 1920.
Sommerfeld, Arnold Atomic Structure and Spectral Lines. (Translation of Atombau und Spektrallinien, 3rd ed. 1922). Methuen & Co. Ltd. 1923