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Physics Interest Group

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

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, Michel Janssen or Sam Fletcher. If you wold like to be added to the PIG email list please send a request to mcps@umn.edu.

Spring 2017

Background reading for Spring 2017: MartinJ.D. (2017) Resource Letter HCMP-1: History of Condensed Matter Physics Am. J. Phys. 85, 87; doi: 10.1119/1.4967844 (pdf)

January 27: Tobochnik, J. (2001). Resource letter CPPPT-1: Critical point phenomena and phase transitions. American Journal of Physics, 69(3), 255–263. (pdf)
Kadanoff, L. P. (2009). More is the Same; Phase Transitions and Mean Field
Theories. Journal of Statistical Physics, 137, 777–797. (Sections 1 and 2 are the most important.)
Background reading
Batterman, R. W. (2016). Philosophical Implications of Kadanoff’s Work on the
Renormalization Group. Journal of Statistical Physics, DOI 10.1007/s10955-016-1659-9. (pdf)
Gearhart, C. (2017). Introduction to phase transitions. Unpublished notes (pdf)

February 10: Batterman, R. W. (2005). Critical phenomena and breaking drops: Infinite idealizations in physics. Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies In History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 36(2), 225–244. (pdf)
Background reading
Anderson, P. W. (1972). More is different. Science, 177(4047), 393–396. (pdf)
Batterman, R. W. (2011). Emergence, singularities, and symmetry breaking. Foundations of Physics, 41(6), 1031–1050. (pdf)

February 24: Butterfield, J. (2011). Less is different: emergence and reduction reconciled. Foundations of Physics, 41(6), 1065–1135. (Read only sections 1, 2, and 7.) (pdf)
Background reading
Butterfield, J., & Bouatta, N. (2012). Emergence and reduction combined in phase transitions. AIP Conference Proceedings, 1446(1), 383–403. (pdf)
Landsman, N. P. (2013). Spontaneous symmetry breaking in quantum systems: Emergence or reduction? Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 44(4), 379–394. (pdf)
Also:
see background reading for Spring 2017 semester Martin J.D. (2017) Resource Letter HCMP-1: History of Condensed Matter Physics Am. J. Phys. 85, 87; doi: 10.1119/1.4967844 (pdf)

March 10: No meeting

March 17: No meeting

March 24: Menon, T., & Callender, C. (2013). Turn and face the strange... ch-ch-changes: Philosophical questions raised by phase transitions. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Physics. Edited by Robert Batterman. Oxford: OUP, 189–223. (pdf)

March 31: Liu, C. (2004). Approximations, idealizations, and models in statistical mechanics. Erkenntnis, 60(2), 235–263. (pdf)
Background reading
Norton, J. D. (2012). Approximation and idealization: Why the difference matters. Philosophy of Science, 79(2), 207–232. (pdf)

April 21: Palacios, P. (draft paper) Phase transitions: A challenge for reductionism? (pdf)

May 5: No meeting

Fall 2016

September 16:
"Welcome to Bananaworld." Michel Janssen will introduce Jeffrey Bub's, Bananaworld. Quantum Mechanics for Primates (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). The presentation will be accessible to a broad audience. Yet, although this will not be necessary to follow the presentation, participants may want to start reading the book ahead of time, as several PIG meetings this semester will be devoted to it. A good way to get started in Bananaworld is to read the following passages:

Front matter (foreword by Popescu, preface, TOC)
Ch. 1, secs. 1.1–1.3, pp. 1–14 (SKIP the rest of Ch. 1, which is about special relativity)
SKIP Ch. 2 (the presentation in the PIG session will cover the key notion of an entangled two-particle state)
Ch. 3, secs. 3.1–3.3, pp. 43–71 (not exactly easy going) & sec. 3.5.3 (pp. 78–83) on Boolean algebras (which is something we'll get back to later)
Ch. 4, sec. 4.1, pp. 87–91 (the presentation in the PIG session will cover the key notion of a correlation array).
Combined readings in one pdf.

Updated Slides from Michel's presentation.

September 30:
Jeffrey Bub, Bananaworld. Quantum Mechanics for Primates (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), sections 4.2-4.3, 5, and 6.1-6.3.
Background reading:
N. David Mermin, "From Cbits to Qbits: Teaching computer scientists quantum mechanics." American Journal of Physics 71 (2003): 23–30 (Mermin 2003c.pdf)
N. David Mermin, "Copenhagen computation." Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 34 (2003): 511–522 (Mermin 2003b.pdf)
Christopher A. Fuchs, N. David Mermin, and Rüdiger Schack, "An introduction to QBism with an application to the locality of quantum mechanics." American Journal of Physics 82 (2014): 749–754 (Mermin et al 2014.pdf)

October 14: Jeffrey Bub, Bananaworld. Quantum Mechanics for Primates (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), sections 7.1–7.3, 8.1–8.3.

Excerpts about measurement from email exchange of Michel Janssen with Jeffrey Bub about Bananaworlds

On October 19, in the big hall of the McNamara Alumni Center, John Preskill (Caltech) will be giving the 11th annual Misel Family Lecture on "Quantum Computing & the Entanglement Frontier"
http://www.ftpi.umn.edu/misel/index.html

October 28: Uffink, J. and Lehner, C. (draft paper) "The Prehistory of Entanglement" (pdf)
Background reading for those of you who read German and want to see Schrödinger's own words. (pdf)

November 18: Jeffrey Bub, Bananaworld. Quantum Mechanics for Primates (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), Ch. 9, intro, secs. 9.1–9.2, pp. 181–193; Ch. 10 (in its entirety); Ch. 3, sec. 5.3, pp. 78–83 (Boolean algebras, revisit from September 16). Updated version of Michel Janssen's correspondence with Jeffrey Bub. The new bit is pp. 14–23. (pdf)
Jeffrey Bub, Bananaworld. Quantum Mechanics for Primates (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016) is now available as an ebook via the University of Minnesota Libraries (Login required).

December 9: Ryan Samaroo "There is No Conspiracy of Inertia", forthcoming in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

Previous PIG discussion topics

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