From October 1 to 5, 1962, the physics department of Xavier University hosted a Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics. The Conference was sponsored jointly by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Office of Naval Research and the Judge Robert S. Marx Foundation and represents one of the most ambitious academic projects ever undertaken by Xavier. The principal participants were 6 eminent physicists, including 2 Nobel Prize winners, who were joined by 16 other specially invited physicists from around the world. Participants came from such prestigious institutions as Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, Princeton, Harvard, MIT, Yale, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. The correspondence pertaining to the Conference contains letters from a number of distinguished physicists including at least 4 Nobel Prize winners.
The purpose of the Conference was to bring together interested physicists for several days of uninterrupted private discussion on unresolved issues pertaining to the foundations of Quantum Mechanics. A summary of the Conference was written by Dr. Werner and published in Physics Today.
The idea and inspiration for the Conference was the work of Dr. Boris Podolsky, a Xavier professor of physics at the time. He had been an associate of Albert Einstein at Princeton University and it was Podolsky’s name and reputation that brought such distinguished scientists to Xavier. When Podolsky came to the University of Cincinnati in 1935, Einstein wrote a letter of recommendation for him, a copy of which is in this collection. Podolsky joined the Xavier faculty in 1961.
All the events of the Conference were recorded on magnetic tapes which Dr. Frederick Werner, the Assistant Chairman of the Conference, transcribed and distributed to the participants in mimeographed form. This transcription, corrected and emended by some of the speakers, is now in the archival collection. Unfortunately, only 6 of the original magnetic tapes remain.
In 2002, a commemorative CD disk entitled “Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics: Commemorating the 40th Anniversary 1962-2002” was produced. It contains the master copy of Werner’s transcription including the “edits” of various participants, though it does not indicate whether all the participants submitted corrections.Finding Aid
The materials in this digital collection come from the John B. Hart Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Collection held by Xavier University Archives. A finding aid describing the contents of the collection is available through the UASC Finding Aid Repository. The collection is open for researcher access. To make an appointment, contact the University Archivist.Provenance
These materials were donated to Xavier University's Department of Physics by Verna Gibson, widow of former physics professor John Hart, in 2014. They were transferred to Xavier University Archives in 2015.Photo of Attendees (above)
Top Row: Jack Rivers, Harold Glaser, Eugen Merzbacher, John B. Hart, Jack A. Soules, Eugene Guth, Abner Shimony, Robert Podolsky, Austin Towle Middle Row: William Band, Gideon Carmi, Solomon L. Schwebel, Dieter Brill, O.von Roos, Michael M. Yanase, S.J. Bottom Row: Eugene P. Wigner, Nathan Rosen, P.A.M. Dirac, Boris Podolsky, Yakir Aharonov, Wendell H. Furry Not Pictured: Frederick G. Werner and Kaiser S. Kunz
Boris Podolsky, John B. Hart, and Frederick G. Werner
Audio recording of talk by P. A. M. (Paul Adrien Maurice) Dirac, 1902-1984.
Wendell H. Furry
Eugene P. Wigner