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Physics Interest Group

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Meeting time: Fridays 1:30–3:00 pm
Meeting place: 127 Shepherd Labs

The physics interest group (PIG) reads and discusses works of mutual interest in the history and philosophy of physics. We select readings for a variety of reasons: to keep up on the most exciting developments in the field, to help participants scrutinize literature relevant to their research projects (faculty or graduate student research), to provide feedback on works in progress being written by participants (graduate students, faculty, and Center visitors), to revisit classic articles in the literature, and sometimes just to have fun discussing a topic related to physics. For more information please contact Jos Uffink, or Michel Janssen. If you wold like to be added to the PIG email list please send a request to

Fall 2017

September 8: An extract from Olival Freire’s book, The Quantum Dissidents: Rebuilding the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (1950-1990), Preface vii–xii, Chapter 1 1–16, Chapter 9 339–34 (pdf). It and related material might be an interesting topic for this semester—we can talk about it on Friday. Other related readings might include Louisa Gilder's The Age of Entanglement, David Kaiser’s How the Hippies Saved Physics, and a good bit more. Kaiser will be one of our speakers this fall. In addition, time permitting, Michel will give a preview of a talk he his giving at Mankato later this fall on Bub’s Bananaworld.

September 22: Freire, Chapter 2, Challenging the Monocracy of the Copenhagen School (pp. 17–74). Presenter: Jos Uffink
Freire, Chapter 3, The Origin of the Everettian Heresy (pp. 75–139).

October 6: Visit by David Kaiser who will talk about his book How the Hippies Saved Physics, Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (New York: Norton, 2011).

October 20: Freire, Chapter 4, The Monocracy is Broken: Orthodoxy, Heterodoxy, and Wigner’s Case (pp. 141–174). Presenter: Femke Kuiling
Freire, Chapter 5, The Tausk Controversy on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics: Physics, Philosophy, and Politics (pp. 175–195). Presenter: Michel Janssen

Relevant primary sources:

November 10: Freire, Chapter 6, “From the Streets into Academia”: Political Activism and the Reconfiguration of Physics Around 1970 (pp. 197–233).
Freire, Chapter 7, Philosophy Enters the Optics Laboratory: Bell’s Theorem and Its First Experimental Tests (1965–1982) (pp. 235–286).

November 17: Gilder, details TBA

December 8: Freire, Chapter 8, The 1980s and Early 1990s, Research on Foundations Takes Off (pp. 287–338).
Reread Freire, Chapter 9, Coda: Quantum Dissidents - A Collective Biographical Profile (pp. 339–349).

Previous PIG discussion topics

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