An Animated Introduction to the Forgotten Pioneer in Quantum Theory, Grete Hermann

From Aeon Video comes a short, vivid­ly-ani­mat­ed trib­ute to Grete Her­mann (1901–1984), the Ger­man math­e­mati­cian and philoso­pher who made impor­tant, but often for­got­ten, con­tri­bu­tions to quan­tum mechan­ics. Aeon intro­duces the video with these words:

In the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, New­ton­ian physics was upend­ed by exper­i­ments that revealed a bizarre sub­atom­ic uni­verse rid­dled with pecu­liar­i­ties and incon­sis­ten­cies. Why do pho­tons and elec­trons behave as both par­ti­cles and waves? Why should the act of obser­va­tion affect the behav­iour of phys­i­cal sys­tems? More than just a puz­zle for sci­en­tists to sort out, this quan­tum strange­ness had unset­tling impli­ca­tions for our under­stand­ing of real­i­ty, includ­ing the very con­cept of truth.

The Ger­man math­e­mati­cian and philoso­pher Grete Her­mann offered some intrigu­ing and orig­i­nal answers to these puz­zles. In a quan­tum uni­verse, she argued, the notion of absolute truth must be aban­doned in favour of a frag­ment­ed view – one in which the way we mea­sure the world affects the slice of it that we can see. She referred to this idea as the ‘split­ting of truth’, and believed it extend­ed far beyond the lab­o­ra­to­ry walls and into every­day life. With a strik­ing visu­al style inspired by the mod­ern art of Hermann’s era, this Aeon Orig­i­nal video explores one of Hermann’s pro­found but under­val­ued con­tri­bu­tions to quan­tum the­o­ry – as well as her own split life as an anti-Nazi activist, social jus­tice reformer and edu­ca­tor.

The short was direct­ed and ani­mat­ed by Julie Gratz and Ivo Stoop, and pro­duced by Kellen Quinn.

via Aeon

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