The World of Actions

Werner Heisenberg was, from a technical point of view, the principal founder of quantum theory. He discovered in 1925 the completely amazing and wholly unprecedented solution to the puzzle: the quantities that classical physical theory was based upon, and which were thought to be numbers, must be treated not as numbers but as actions! Ordinary numbers, such as 2 and 3, have the property that the product of any two of them does not depend on the order of the factors: 2 times 3 is the same as 3 times 2. But Heisenberg discovered that one could get the correct answers out of the old classical laws if one decreed that certain of the numbers that are used in classical physics to describe the physical properties of a material system are not ordinary numbers. Rather, they are actions having the property that the order in which they act matters!
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