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Three Puzzles about Bohr's Correspondence Principle

Bokulich, Alisa (2009) Three Puzzles about Bohr's Correspondence Principle. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Niels Bohr’s “correspondence principle” is typically believed to be the requirement that in the limit of large quantum numbers (n→∞) there is a statistical agreement between the quantum and classical frequencies. A closer reading of Bohr’s writings on the correspondence principle, however, reveals that this interpretation is mistaken. Specifically, Bohr makes the following three puzzling claims: First, he claims that the correspondence principle applies to small quantum numbers as well as large (while the statistical agreement of frequencies is only for large n); second, he claims that the correspondence principle is a law of quantum theory; and third, Bohr argues that formal apparatus of matrix mechanics (the new quantum theory) can be thought of as a precise formulation of the correspondence principle. With further textual evidence, I offer an alternative interpretation of the correspondence principle in terms of what I call Bohr’s selection rule. I conclude by showing how this new interpretation of the correspondence principle readily makes sense of Bohr’s three puzzling claims.


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Item Type: Preprint
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Bokulich, Alisa
Keywords: Niels Bohr, classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, old quantum theory, selection rule, atom
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Alisa Bokulich
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2009
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:18
Item ID: 4826
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/4826

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