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John B. Hart Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Collection

 Collection
Identifier: XUA-90

Scope and Content

This collection documents the Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, which the Xavier University Department of Physics hosted from October 1 to 5 in 1962. Materials include conference planning documentation, correspondence, publicity, and photographs. The collection contains sound recordings of public lectures and transcripts of the conference proceedings. In addition, there is also a small amount of papers and lectures on other physics-related topics.

Series I, Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, 1961-2003, contains conference proposals, grant materials, financial records, correspondence, invitations, registrations, event schedules, publicity, and photographs. Included is a photograph album documenting conference events, most of which took place in Alter Hall or Logan Hall on the campus of Xavier University. There were six main participants: Boris Podolsky, Xavier University; P. A. M. Dirac, Cambridge University (England); Nathan Rosen, Technion (Haifa, Israel), W. H. Furry, Harvard University; Eugene Wigner, Princeton University; and Yakir Aharonov, Yeshiva University. The series contains correspondence from these six and the sixteen other participants including Eugene Merzbacher, William Band, Oldwig von Roos, Solomon Schwebel, Abner Shimony, and Kaiser Kunz. The series also contains sound recordings of public lectures by Dirac, Furry, Wignar, and Aharonov and transcripts of the conference proceedings. While the conference proceedings were not formally published, Dirac's lecture, "The Evolution of the Physicist's Picture of Nature," delivered on the second evening of the conference, was published in Scientific American (May 1963). Frederick Werner published a summary of the conference in Physics Today (January 1964). Both articles are in the collection.

Series II, Physics Publications and Lecture, 1964-2005, contains CDs of a sound recording of a lecture titled, "Projective Geometry: Origin of Quantum Equations" given by Dirac at Boston University on October 30, 1972. The series also includes two papers by Solomon Schwebel that were sent to John B. Hart in 1964.

Scope and Contents Series I, Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, 1961-2003, contains conference proposals, grant materials, financial records, correspondence, invitations, registrations, event schedules, publicity, and photographs. Included is a photograph album documenting conference events, most of which took place in Alter Hall or Logan Hall on the campus of Xavier University. There were six main participants: Boris Podolsky, Xavier University; P. A. M. Dirac, Cambridge University (England); Nathan Rosen, Technion (Haifa, Israel), W. H. Furry, Harvard University; Eugene Wigner, Princeton University; and Yakir Aharonov, Yeshiva University. The series contains correspondence from these six and the sixteen other participants including Eugene Merzbacher, William Band, Oldwig von Roos, Solomon Schwebel, Abner Shimony, and Kaiser Kunz. The series also contains sound recordings of public lectures by Dirac, Furry, Wignar, and Aharonov and transcripts of the conference proceedings. While the conference proceedings were not formally published, Dirac's lecture, "The Evolution of the Physicist's Picture of Nature," delivered on the second evening of the conference, was published in Scientific American (May 1963). Frederick Werner published a summary of the conference in Physics Today (January 1964). Both articles are in the collection.

Series II, Physics Publications and Lecture, 1964-2005, contains CDs of a sound recording of a lecture titled, "Projective Geometry: Origin of Quantum Equations" given by Dirac at Boston University on October 30, 1972. The series also includes two papers by Solomon Schwebel that were sent to John B. Hart in 1964.

Dates

  • 1961-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1961-1964

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research. Due to preservation concerns, original audio reel-to-reel tapes and CDs cannot be used. Contact archives staff for access to digital access copies.

Restrictions on Use

This collection is the physical property of Xavier University. Copyright law of the United States governs the reproduction of copyrighted material. The User assumes full responsibility for the fair use of materials requested in total compliance with the copyright law of the United States that may arise through the use of any requested materials.

Biography of John B. Hart and History of the Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics

John B. Hart (1924-2007) was a professor in the physics department at Xavier University from 1951-1999. Prior to that, he was a graduate assistant and assistant instructor in the department. Hart often chaired the department from 1957-1971 and served as chair again in 1982-1983. Hart was an officer in the United States Navy in World War II and then continued with the United States Navy Reserves for twenty-six years. He earned his bachelor's degree (1944) and master's degree (1950) from Xavier University.

One of Hart's notable accomplishments was being the conference manager for the Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics held at Xavier University in October 1962. Boris Podolsky served as conference chair and Frederick Werner as the assistant chair. The conference was the idea of Podolsky, who had been an associate of Albert Einstein at Princeton University and had joined the Xavier physics department in 1961 after teaching at the University of Cincinnati. The purpose of the conference was to examine some of the fundamental issues in the foundations of quantum mechanics, including the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Effect, the quantum measurement problem, and to what extent had relative theory and quantum theory been united consistently. The conference had six main participants, two of whom were Nobel Prize winners (P. A. M. Dirac and Eugene Wigner), plus a limited-attendance group of sixteen physicists who met in private sessions. Some conference events on the first two days were open to the general public. Hart also participated in the 40th anniversary commemoration of the conference in 2002.

Extent

2.5 linear feet (6 manuscript boxes and 10.16 GB)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Collection documents the Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, which the Xavier University Department of Physics hosted from October 1-5, 1962. The conference, jointly sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Office of Naval Research, and the Judge Robert S. Marx Foundation, was chaired by physics professor Boris Podolsky. John B. Hart served as conference manager. The principal participants were six eminent physicists, including two Nobel Prize winners, who were joined by sixteen other specially invited physicists from around the world. The collection contains conference planning documentation, grant materials, financial records, correspondence, reports, publicity, and photographs. It includes sound recordings of public lectures and transcripts of the conference proceedings. The collection also includes a small amount of papers and lectures on other physics-related topics.

Statement of Arrangement

This collection is arranged into two series: Series I: Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics and Series II: Physics Publications and Lectures.

Custodial History

Donated by Verna Gibson Hart, widow of John Hart, in 2014 to the Xavier University Department of Physics and transferred to University Archives in 2015 (XUA2016-02). Materials most likely belonged to the Department of Physics but were kept by John B. Hart.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Verna Gibson Hart, 2014 (XUA2016-02)

Related Material

XUA-66, Xavier University Department of Physics records, Xavier University Archives, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio

Publication note

Conference lecture and summary published in:
  • Dirac, P. A. M. "The Evolution of the Physicist's Picture of Nature." Scientific American, May 1963.
  • Werner, Frederick. "The Foundations of Quantum Mechanics: A Conference Report." Physics Today, January 1964.

Processing Information

Reel-to-reel tapes of conference lectures were converted to digital files in 2016. Multiple tracks of individual lectures were combined during this process. CD contents were migrated to University Archives electronic storage in 2017.
Title
John B. Hart Conference on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Collection
Status
Edited Full Draft
Author
Thomas Kennealy, SJ
Date
2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Special Collections, Xavier University Library Repository

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