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 Michel Janssen. If you wold like to be added to the PIG email list please send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In preparation for the Seven Pines Symposium in May, the discussion topic will be the history of quantum physics.
February 8: Michel Janssen will be presenting a revised version of part of his
Kuhnfest lecture last semester: "Arches and scaffoldings: the quantum
cases." See pp. 50-88 of the slides posted on Michel's home page:
This part of the talk is based on the following two papers that Michel Janssen wrote with Tony Duncan. If you want to (re)read these papers in preparation for this session of PIG focus on the pages listed in parentheses:
“On the Verge of Umdeutung in Minnesota: Van Vleck and the Correspondence Principle.” 2 Pts. With Anthony Duncan. Archive for History of Exact Sciences 61 (2007): 553–624, 625–671. (Focus on part one, sec. 1 [pp. 554-560] and sec. 3 [pp. 571-597]; and the conclusion of part two, sec. 8 [pp. 664-668]).
“(Never) Mind your p’s and q’s: Von Neumann versus Jordan on the Foundations of Quantum Theory.” The European Physical Journal—Historical Perspectives on Contemporary Physics. (Focus on the [lengthy] introduction [pp. 1-24]; if you can stomach more, focus on the early pages of the remaining sections and don't worry about the more technical later parts). (pdf (zip file))
February 22: "Probability, Marxism, and Quantum Ensembles" by Alexei Kojevnikov (pdf)
Alexei Kojevnikov (U British Columbia) will be visiting the group
March 8: Hoddeson, L.H. and Baym, G. (1980) "The Development of the Quantum Mechanical Electron Theory of Metals: 1900–28" Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A 371: 8–23 (pdf)
March 29: Topic: Sommerfeld and the old quantum theory.
Readings: Seven Pines readings from Suman Seth (pdf).
Eckert, Michael (1987) Propaganda in Science: Sommerfeld and the Spread of the Electron Theory of Metals Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, 17(20):191–233 (pdf)
Discussion leader: Clayton Gearhart
April 19: NO MEETING
May 3: Topic: Foundations of quantum mechanics in historical perspective
(EPR, Bohm, Everett).
Readings: Seven Pines readings from Guido Bacciagaluppi and Olival Freire (pdf).
Discussion leader: Arthur Cunningham.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions the group will take two weeks during the semester to explore how Kuhn’s ideas apply to different eras and areas of interest to the Physics Interest Group.
Kuhnfest event "Kuhn's later philosophy"
Jed Z. Buchwald and George E. Smith, "Incommensurability and the discontinuity of evidence." Perspectives on Sciences 9 (2001): 463–498. (pdf)
Jed Z. Buchwald and George E. Smith, "Thomas S. Kuhn, 1922–1996." Philosophy of Science 64 (1997): 361–376. (pdf)
Thomas S. Kuhn, "Second Thoughts on Paradigms." In: Frederick Suppe (ed.), The Structure of Scientific Theories. 2nd ed. (pp. 459–482 plus "Discussion" on pp. 500–517) Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977 (1st. ed.: 1974). Proceedings of a 1969 symposium. Referred to as "Second Thoughts" in the 1969 "Postcript" to Kuhn's Structure. Focus on sec. V on identifying waterfowl, which is being referenced on p. 371 of the Kuhn eloge of Jed Buchwald and George Smith. (pdf)
October 5: Kuhnfest event "Kuhn and the crisis of the old quantum theory"
"Kuhn and the crisis of the old quantum theory." We'll discuss a 13-page unpublished manuscript by Kuhn entitled "The Crisis of the Old Quantum Theory, 1922–1925 " (a pdf will be made available soon). This was written in connection with a talk on this topic for the American Philosophical Society in 1966. We'll watch a video of a reprise of this talk in 1980 at Harvard (see Michel Janssen's informal review of this video (pdf)) and we'll talk about Kuhn's work for the Archive for History of Quantum Physics (a copy of which is available at Walter Library), especially his masterful interviews with surviving contributors to the quantum revolution of the mid-1920s.
October 26: spectroscopy in the old quantum theory (Clayton Gearhart & Michel Janssen)
philosophy of quantum mechanics (Brian Woodcock)
Boch, I. (1967) "Some Relativistic Oddities in the Quantum Theory of Observation" Phys. Rev. 156: 1377–1384. (pdf)
Woodcock, B.A. (forthcoming) "Quantum State Collapse Along Light Cones: History and Objections" (pdf)
This meeting has been moved from December 7
December 14: Maxwell (Cameron Lazaroff-Puck)
Maxwell J.C. (1865) "A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field" Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 155, pp. 459–512. (pdf) http://www.jstor.org/stable/108892.
Maxwell, J.C. (1891) Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism 3rd edition p228. (pdf)
Goldman, M. (1983) The Demon in the Aether: The Story of James Clerk Maxwell Edinburgh: Paul Harris Publishing Ch 11, pp. 134–165. (pdf)