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Einstein's approach to physics

Einstein felt that the fundamental structure of the universe must be simple and elegant. Of course the universe does not need to conform to anyone's preconceptions. But Einstein's physical intuition was profound and extraordinarily fertile.

There is no doubt that quantum mechanics has seized hold of a beautiful element of truth and that it will be a touchstone for a future theoretical basis in that it must be deducible as a limiting case from that basis, just as electrostatics is deducible from the Maxwell equations of the electromagnetic field or as thermodynamics7.10 is deducible from statistical mechanics.
I do not believe that quantum mechanics will be the starting point in the search for this basis, just as one cannot arrive at the foundations of mechanics from thermodynamics or statistical mechanics[20].

Einstein regarded quantum mechanics as a statistical theory that ignores the detailed mechanisms that generates those statistics just as thermodynamics ignores the details of mechanics. Thermodynamics is a statistical theory that describes the average behavior and global effects of large numbers of particles. Dynamics is the detailed theory that describes the behavior of individual particles. Derivations can only go from the mechanistic theory to the statistical theory and never the other way.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, near the end of his life Einstein came to suspect that this more complete theory lay in discrete as opposed to continuous structures. In a paper[21] so famous it is referred to by the initials of its authors (EPR for Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen) Einstein and his colleagues started a chain of argument that has led to a possible experimental path to the more complete theory Einstein felt must exist. Those experiments are discussed in Section 8.4.


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