Quantum Gravity 317.8: Max Born, Physicist-Mathematician

From Osher Doctorow

Max Born won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1954, having been delayed
from the 1933 or earlier awards by the need to flee Nazi Germany in
1933 because, although he was a Lutheran, his ancestry was partly
Jewish and the Nazis classified him as a result as Jewish.

The Born-Infeld Theory, which has been used in an important paper
which I discussed in this Section 317, is an illustration of the
incredible Genius of Max Born whose relationship to Quantum Mechanics
was similar to the relationship of Ricci and Levi-Civita to General
Relativity and other versions of Macroscopic physics and also similar
to the relationship of Paul Dirac to Quantum Theory - the Ingenious
use of Mathematics and Mathematical Insight combined with Physical

Albert Einstein did not know what mathematics to use for his General
Theory of Relativity, and his friend Marcel Grossmann of Gottingen or
Heidelberg recommended to use the Tensor Analysis ("Absolute
Differential Calculus") of Ricci and (later) Levi-Civita. This made
a critical difference.

Similarly, Max Born introduced matrices and probability at a very
fundamental level into Quantum Theory although some people had done
some specialized important work in them before. His student
Heisenberg, as well as Schrodinger and Heisenberg and Einstein,
benefitted from matrices and/or probability, and Born's use of
Probability in Quantum Theory (in the somewhat misnamed "Statistical
Interpretation" of the wave function) earned him the Nobel Prize in
1954 (belatedly) as well as allowing the other physicists mentioned to
continue their research earlier when they were stumped. Technically,
Born's use of Probability should be called the "Probability
Interpretation," but Einstein and others confused somewhat the
Probability and Statistics part.

Readers will find 303 papers in arXiv under the keywords "Born-
Infeld", which have been increasing in number more or less for the
last few years (4 in 2009, which is only beginning, and an apparent
all-time yearly maximum of 27 in 2008), and 465 papers under the
keyword "Born" in arXiv.

Osher Doctorow

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