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Bohr's Complementarity and Yinyang The Mystery of Bohr's Coat of Arms

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In 1947, Niels Bohr supervised the design of his own coat of arms depicting the Chinese yinyang symbol and the motto 'Opposites are Complementary' in Latin. This fact, as well as some of his statements where the Chinese culture is explicitly mentioned, seems to show that Bohr believed in at least some similarity between his own conception of complementarity, which arose within the framework of quantum physics, and the yinyang complementarity, which arose within the framework of the Chinese civilization, greatly admired by Bohr. This paper aims at evaluating the correctness of Bohr's belief. How similar and how different are both conceptions? First we analyse Bohr's complementarity with its two mutually opposing and empirically independent aspects. Then we analyse yinyang complementarity with its two mutually opposing but interconnected and interchangeable aspects. Finally, we pinpoint the differences and similarities between both conceptions and we arrive at the conclusion that the former largely outnumber the latter.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2015

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  • QUANTUM MATTER is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal consolidating research activities in all theoretical, experimental and technological aspects dealing with fundamental structure of matter from cosmology to materials science.
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