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Previous Physics Interest Group Topics

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.
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.
Gearhart, C. (2017). Introduction to phase transitions. Unpublished notes
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.
Background reading
Anderson, P. W. (1972). More is different. Science, 177(4047), 393–396.
Batterman, R. W. (2011). Emergence, singularities, and symmetry breaking. Foundations of Physics, 41(6), 1031–1050.
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.)
Background reading
Butterfield, J., & Bouatta, N. (2012). Emergence and reduction combined in phase transitions. AIP Conference Proceedings, 1446(1), 383–403.
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.
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
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.
March 31: Liu, C. (2004). Approximations, idealizations, and models in statistical mechanics. Erkenntnis, 60(2), 235–263.
Background reading
Norton, J. D. (2012). Approximation and idealization: Why the difference matters. Philosophy of Science, 79(2), 207–232.
April 21: Palacios, P. (draft paper) Phase transitions: A challenge for reductionism?

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).
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.
N. David Mermin, "Copenhagen computation." Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 34 (2003): 511–522
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
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
October 28: Uffink, J. and Lehner, C. (draft paper) "The Prehistory of Entanglement"
Background reading for those of you who read German and want to see Schrödinger's own words.
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.
December 9: Ryan Samaroo "There is No Conspiracy of Inertia", forthcoming in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

Spring 2016

PIG is taking a break this semester, no meetings until the Fall 2016 semester

Fall 2015

September 18: Mary Domski (University of New Mexico) will be visiting.
Domski, M. 2012. Newton and Proclus: Geometry, Imagination, and Knowing Space. The Southern Journal of Philosophy 50: 389-413.
October 2: Jos Uffink will speak on "The dispute between Ozawa and Busch, Lahti & Werner on the reading of Heisenberg's gamma-ray microscope"
Abstract: Heisenberg (1927) famously analyzed the gamma ray microscope in his argument leading him to the uncertainty principle. From his analysis, he concluded that at the instant the position of an electron is measured, it undergoes a discontinuous change in momentum, which precludes that it momentum can be known precisely at the same time. In this argument the two uncertainties appear in a very different role. The uncertainty in position is given through the resolving power of the microscope; the uncertainty in momentum, on the other hand appears as a discontinuous change (disturbance) of the electron. Nevertheless, subsequent developments that let to the Kennard (1927) and Robertson (1929) formulations of the uncertainty relations assumed symmetrical roles for the two uncertainties involved.
Recently, dispute his broken out about attempts to formalize Heisenberg's intuitions behind the gamma-ray experiment in the form of so called "error/disturbance" (or "noise/disturbance") relations, by Ozawa and by Busch, Lahti and Werner on the other hand. Ozawa claimed to have derived the formal counterpart of this asymmetrical uncertainty relation (only to show that it is not universally valid). Busch and Werner claim Ozawa is wrong and give a different formal approach to derive a relation that is universally valid.
The aim is to review this dispute and see the reasons for disagreement.
background: Uffink J.B. & Hilgevoord J. 2006. "The uncertainty principle" Stanford encyclopedia, sections 1 & 2. entries/qt-uncertainty/# HeiRoaUncRel
The current debate is commented on in proof-mooted-for-quantum- uncertainty-1.13270 publishing/journal-highlights/ proving-uncertainty-new- insight-old-problem
The core readings deserve a warning: this is hard-boiled mathematical physics and not easy to read. Yet I hope you will be able to digest the essentials.
M. Ozawa. 2003. Universally valid reformulation of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle on noise and disturbance in measurement. 0207121
P. Busch, P. Lahti & R. Werner. 2013. Proof of Heisenberg's error-disturbance relation. 1565.pdf
Perhaps the following two readings give a clearer sense of the controversy between Ozawa and Busch, Werner & Lahti I want to focus on:
P. Busch, P. Lahti & R. Werner. 2014. Measurement Uncertainty: Reply to Critics
M. Ozawa. 2013. Disproving Heisenberg's error disturbance relation
October 16: John Gustavson (Independent scholar, Duluth) will speak on “Arnold Sommerfeld's 1922–1923 Visit to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.”
Arnold Sommerfeld's stay at the University of Wisconsin-Madison beginning in the fall of 1923 and continuing through February of 1923 as the honorary Carl Schurz Professor, immediately followed by his extensive travels across the United States, were highly important to the development of quantum physics both in the United States and in Europe. In his travels, Sommerfeld brought United States physicists up to speed on German advances in atomic physics since 1914; in 1923 he communicated news of the Compton effect back to Europeans; and his favorable reception at United States institutions reopened doors that led to renewed visits between German and United States physicists.
The story of his journey from the perspective of Madison and the United States provides a penetrating view into the times and world events of 1922-23. The significance of his visit is still poorly known and underappreciated.
To become acquainted with the European perspective of Sommerfeld’s visit, read in advance Chapter 8 of Michael Eckert’s Arnold Sommerfeld: Science, Life and Turbulent Times 1868-1951, Springer, 2013.
October 30: Margaret Morrison (University of Toronto) will be visiting.
Friederich, S. 2013. "Gauge symmetry breaking in gauge theories—in search of clarification" Eur. J. Phil Sci. 3(2) 157–182. DOI: 10.1007/s13194-012-0061-y
November 13: John Bell, John von Neumann, and hidden variables
Much of the historical and philosophical literature on Bell's theorem assumes that von Neumann proved that hidden variable theories in quantum mechanics were impossible. It now appears that matters aren't quite so simple. There are four suggested readings: Dennis Dieks' slide show from HQ-4 in Spain last summer gives a good introduction; for a full account, see Jeffrey Bub's paper from 2010; for a fairly technical introduction to von Neumann, read the sections on von Neumann in the Duncan-Janssen paper. Finally, there is one chapter from Louise Gilder's popular book, The Age of Entanglement (2008)
Additional reading: Sections II and III of Mermin's article give an account of Bell's argument. Mermin, N.D. 1993. Hidden Variables and the Two Theorems of John Bell. Rev. Mod. Phys. 65(3) 803–815.
December 4: Boltzmann, Planck, and Quanta
Max Planck's 1900–1901 papers on black body radiation, which introduced finite "energy elements" to physics, relied on an 1877 paper by Ludwig Boltzmann. But their two derivations were substantially and surprisingly different. Clayton Gearhart will talk about a recent and as yet unpublished paper by Michael Nauenberg that shows how Planck could readily have extended Boltzmann's derivation for his own purposes. In the readings, concentrate on Boltzmann's 1877 paper, and Boltzmann's and Planck's derivations.

Spring 2015

January 23: Callender, C. and Wüthrich, C. "What becomes of a causal set" (2014)
Christian Wüthrich (UCSD) visiting
February 6: Rosaler, J. "Interpretation Neutrality in the Classical Domain of Quantum Theory."
February 20: The intertwined history of electricity, magnetism, and chemistry from Priestley to Joule (presenter: Amy Fisher)
Pancaldi, G. "On Hybrid Objects and their Trajectories: Beddoes, Davy and the Battery" Notes Rec. R. Soc. (2009) 63, 247–262 doi: 10.10998/rsnr.2009.0034
March 6: Woody, A.I. (2014) "Chemistry's Periodic Law: Rethinking Representation and Explanation After the Turn to Practice" in "Science after the Practice Turn in the Philosophy, History, and Social Studies of Science" (Routledge Studies in the Philosophy of Science) edited by Soler, E., Zwart, S., Lynch, M.,and Isrea-Jost, V .Chapter 4, pp. 123–150.
Andrea Woody (University of Washington) will be visiting.
March 20: No meeting Spring Break
April 3: Wald & Will on GR (Seven Pines readings)
Robert M. WALD
W. Israel, Dark Stars: The Evolution of an Idea, in 300 Years of Gravitation, ed. by S.W. Hawking and W. Israel, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 1987).
Wald, R.M., General Relativity, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, 1984) Chapter 12
Wald R.M., The Thermodynamics of Black Holes, Living Rev. Rel., 4, 6 (2001); arXiv:gr-qc/9912119
Clifford WILL
1. Was Einstein right? A centenary assessment
in General Relativity and Gravitation: A Centennial Perspective, eds. A. Ashtekar, B. Berger, J. Isenberg and M. A. H. MacCallum (Cambridge University Press), 2015, in press (
2. The Confrontation between General Relativity and Experiment
Living Reviews In Relativity 17, 4 (2014) ( 4)
3. The 1919 measurement of the deflection of light
Classical And Quantum Gravity, Focus issue on "Milestones of General Relativity", submitted (
Relativity at the centenary Physics World January 2005 27-32 The Confrontation Between General Relativity and Experiment Space Sci Rev 148: 3–13 DOI 10.1007/s11214-009-9541-62011) Finally, results from Gravity Probe B Physics 4, 43 DOI: 10.1103/Physics.4.43 Einstein's Relativity and Everyday Life APS Physics Central
April 17: Wald, R.M. 2001 The Thermodynamics of Black Holes Living Rev. Rel., 4, 6 arXiv:gr-qc/9912119 and other papers from the last meeting.
May 1: Clayton Gearhart will talk about "James Franck and the experimental discovery of metastable states," an account of the work of Franck and his collaborators at Fritz Haber's KWI for Physical Chemistry in 1919-1920. There is nothing special to read in advance, though if time in inclination permit, a quick review of the reading for the session last fall (17 October) on the Franck-Hertz experiments will help set the stage.

Fall 2014

September 5: Introductory meeting.
September 19: Discovering the expanding universe (presenter: Michel Janssen) Helge Kragh and Robert W. Smith, "Who discovered the expanding universe?" History of Science 41 (2003): 141–162.
October 3: QBism: Quantum mechanics and Bayesianism (presenters: Clayton Gearhart, Jos Uffink)
N. David Mermin, "Quantum mechanics: Fixing the shifty split." Physics Today 65(7) (2012): 8–9.
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(8) (2014): 749–754.
Reactions to Mermin's article about QBism and Mermin's response in Physics Today, December 2012.
October 17: Clayton Gearhart will talk about "How Franck and Hertz abandoned Thomson and came to love the Bohr atom"
October 31: Meet this week's colloquium speaker: Jeroen van Dongen (University of Amsterdam/Utrecht University)
Jeroen van Dongen, "Emil Rupp, Albert Einstein and the canal ray experiments on wave-particle duality: Scientific fraud and theoretical bias." Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences: Supplement 37 (2007): 73–120.
November 14: 19th-century electromagnetism (presenter: Cameron Lazaroff-Puck)
Chapter 11 from Martin Goldman's 1984 "The Demon in the Aether: The Story of James Clerk Maxwell" Bristol: Adam Hilger.
and Lazaroff-Puck, C. 2014. "Gearing up for Lagrangian Dynamics: The Flywheel Analogy in Maxwell's 1865 Paper on Electrodynamics"
December 5: GIBBS@PIG (presenter: Lara van Zuilen)
Jaynes, E.T. (1992). The Gibbs Paradox in Maximum Entropy and Bayesian Methods (edited by C.R. Smith, G.J. Erickson, & P.O. Neudorfere). Dordrecht, Holland: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 1–22.
Enric Perez Canals (2012). From identity to indistinguishability in The Circulation of Science and Technology: Proceedings of the 4th International Conference of the ESHS (edited by A. ROca-Rosell). Barcelona: SCHCT-IEC. pp. 792–798.

Spring 2014

January 31, 2014 Andreas Hütterman (University of Cologne) will be visiting
February 7, 2014 Spekkens, R. 2013. "The Paradigm of Kinematics and Dynamics Must Yield to Causal Structure" arXiv:1209.0023 (quant-ph)
Robert Spekkens (Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, Canada) will be visiting.
February 28, 2014 Clayton Gearhart (St John's University) will be presenting his work on the Franck–Hertz experiment. "Experimentalists in Search of a Theory: The Franck–Hertz Experiments, 1911–1914"
March 28, 2014 No meeting this week
April 11, 2014
Preparation for Seven Pines XVIII (History of Quantum Mechanics: Beyond the Formative Period).
Michael Eckert (2013) Arnold Sommerfeld Science, Life and Turbulent Times 1868–1951 (translated by Tom Artin) Chapters 9 and 14. New York: Springer
April 25, 2014 Preparation for Seven Pines XVIII (History of Quantum Mechanics: Beyond the Formative Period).
Tracy Lupher (2010) "Not Particles, Not Quite Fields: An Ontology for Quantum Field Theory" Humana Mente 13: 155–173.
Anthony Duncan and Michel Janssen (2008) "Pascual Jordan’s resolution of the conundrum of the wave-particle duality of light" Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39: 634– 666.
May 9, 2014 We will try to make some sense of the Aharonov-Bohm effect, one of the Seven Pines topics. There is a great deal in the reader. The articles by Healey and Wallace are probably the ones to look at first. Michel tells me (CAG) that in the past, he has found the latter more intelligible.
I am finding it prudent to do supplementary reading; for those in the same position, I attach an excerpt from David Griffith's QM textbook. All that is really necessary is the section on the Aharonov-Bohm effect, but the earlier stuff gives a very interesting context--I had not known about the Berry's phase/geometrical phase business. Other sources are the Feynman Lectures, ch 15; and the downloads page of Chapter 4, perhaps supplemented by chapter 3 and the appendix, gives a very nice tutorial.
Note that both Griffiths and Wittig treat the example of a charged particle constrained to follow a circular path. If one puts that path in a region where the magnetic field is zero but the vector potential is not, the degeneracy can be lifted. Wittig gives a nice illustration showing how the energy levels are (and aren't) shifted.
The central idea is that unlike the situation in classical e&m, the magnetic vector potential in QM has observable consequences, much to everyone's surprise. Some philosophers, and perhaps some physicists, claim the effect is another example of non-locality. Others, including Feynman, say that it is a purely local effect. Clayton Gearhart

Fall 2013

September 13, 2013 Michel Janssen will present a talk he prepared with Tony Duncan for a conference in Copenhagen this summer to mark the centenary of the Bohr atom. The title of the talk is: "Stark contrasts: the Stark effect in the old and the new quantum theory." If you want to read up on the topic ahead of time, you can do no better than read the introduction by Michael Eckert to the two papers with which Arnold Sommerfeld in effect laid the foundations for the old quantum theory. Skip the first part and read as much as you can stomach of pp. 25–60. (pdf)
September 27, 2013 Jos Uffink. Seven Pines talk on the theory of the history of entanglement.
October 11, 2013 William L. Harper (Western University, Ontario) will be visiting. Discussion will continue on Jos Uffink's Seven Pines talk on the theory of the history of entanglement.
Reading: F. Laloë 2008 "Do we really understand quantum mechanics?
Strange correlations, paradoxes and theorems" (pdf)
November 15, 2013 Femke Kuiling. Chapter 3 pp 59–88 of Bas C. van Fraassen's Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective Oxford: Oxford University Press (2008). ISBN-10: 0199278229. ISBN-13: 978-0199278220 (pdf)
December 6, 2013 Allan Franklin (U Colorado Boulder): What makes for a good experiment: the case of the Michelson-Morley experiment. (pdf)

Spring 2013

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: users/janss011/121130-arches- scaffoldings.pdf?ticket=t_ pYWlpMQA
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).
February 22: "Probability, Marxism, and Quantum Ensembles" by Alexei Kojevnikov
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
March 29: Topic: Sommerfeld and the old quantum theory.
Readings: Seven Pines readings from Suman Seth
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 .
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.

Fall 2012

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.
September 28: 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.
Jed Z. Buchwald and George E. Smith, "Thomas S. Kuhn, 1922–1996." Philosophy of Science 64 (1997): 361–376.
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.

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) 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)
November 9: philosophy of quantum mechanics (Brian Woodcock)
Boch, I. (1967) "Some Relativistic Oddities in the Quantum Theory of Observation" Phys. Rev. 156: 1377–1384.
Woodcock, B.A. (forthcoming) "Quantum State Collapse Along Light Cones: History and Objections"
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
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.

Spring 2012

January 27:
February 10: John Norton "Analogy"
March 2: 19th-century physics (in connection with the "Bruces" HST colloquium). From a message from Bruce Hunt: "As a starting point I'm attaching a very short piece on "The Function of Models" that G. F. FitzGeraldwrote in the 1880s (though it wasn't published until after his death). He draws a distinction between "analogies" and "likenesses" that I've always found useful."
Forbes, J.D. 1858 "Review of the Progress of Mathematical and Physical Sciences in More Recent Times and Particularly between the Years 1775 and 1850; being one of the dissertations prefixed to the Eighth Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica" Chapter 1
Whewell W. 1984 "Selected Writings on the History of Science" Book XI pp 203-217
Maxwell's 1870 address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, here reproduced from v. 2 of his collected Scientific Papers
March 30: Preparation for Seven Pines XVI (analogies and dualities in physics). Readings from Don Howard and Jeremy Butterfield
April 13: Preparation for Seven Pines XVI. Reading from Jeremy Butterfield

Fall 2011

September 16: We will use the first meeting to go over projects faculty and more advanced grad students are currently working on.
September 30: Two or (time permitting) three PIG members will present their current work.
1.Rebecca Slayton, visiting professor in the HSTM program, will talk about her book project"Arguments that Count: Physics, Computing, and Missile Defense, 1949-2009."
2.Charles Midwinter, HSTM grad student, will talk about perturbative techniques crossing fields and periods.
3. If there's time,Michel Janssen will talk aboutJordan's probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics (joint work with Tony Duncan) and his book project "Arches and Scaffoldings."

The last two meetings this fall and the first two in the spring will focus on a topic that should be of interest to both PIGgies and BIGgies, the use of statistical mechanics in population genetics.
October 21: This is the first of four PIG meetings devoted to statistical mechanics and population genetics. These sessions are in preparation of a colloquium by David Crawford (PhD student at Duke) on February 10 on this topic. David supplied two readings for this week.
Fisher, R.A. (1930 with footnotes added showing 1958 changes)The Genetic Theory of Natural Selection Oxford: Clarendon Press Preface, pp 1–21, appendix 1
Darwin, C. (1998, 2nd edition originally published 1883)The Variation of Animals and Plants under DomesticationVolume 2 Baltimore: John's Hopkins University Press
November 11: This is the second meeting devoted to statistical mechanics and population genetics.
Crawford, David Robert (draft) “Biological Evolution and Thermodynamics: Re-placing Fisher’s Statistics Analogy”Dissertation chapter
Crawford, David Robert (July 29, 2011) “Boltzmann and Fisher: The Role of Statistical Mechanical Theory in the Development of Mathematical Population Genetics” Slides of DC talk
Price, George (1972) “Fisher’s ‘fundamental theorem’ made clear” Ann. Hum. Genet., Lond, 36: 129
Additional reading:
Anilla, A. and Salthe, S. (2010) "Physical foundations of evolutionary theory" J. Non-Equilib. Thermodyn. 35: 301–321 DOI 10.1515/JNETDY.2010.19

Spring 2011

To get ready for this year's symposium, Seven Pines XV on the origins of life, PIG has been commuted for a semester to a history of science graduate seminar on the topic, co-taught by historian of biology Mark Borrello. We anticipate resuming our regular PIG meetings in Fall 2011.

Fall 2010

October 1: Please come prepared to tell us what you've been up to in the history and/or philosophy of modern physics. Suggestions as to what we're going to do this fall are also more than welcome.
October 15.
Discussion leader: Clayton Gearhart. Foundations of statistical mechanics. Our central text will be Jos Uffink's Stanford Encyclopedia article on Boltzmann:
October 29. Discussion leader: Clayton Gearhart. For the second session, we will read a draft paper by Massimiliano Badino of the Max Planck Institute for History of Science on Boltzmann's famous H-theorem (which is in part a response to a recent paper on the subject by Harvey Brown, Wayne Myrvold, and, again, Jos Uffink).
Harvey R. Brown, Wayne Myrvold, Jos Uffink "Boltzmann’s H-theorem, its discontents, and the birth of statistical mechanics" Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 40 (2009) 174–191
Massimiliano Badinoa "Mechanistic slumber vs. statistical insomnia: Boltzmann's road to the H-theorem (1866-1877)" preprint 2010.
November 12
Discussion leader: Brian Woodcock. Collapse interpretations of
quantum mechanics.
Readings: (1) Giancarlo Ghirardi's introduction to collapse theories from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
(2) The last chapter (Chapter 7) of David Albert's book Time and Chance (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2000), where Albert considers philosophical issues in the foundations of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics.  In that chapter he first introduces quantum mechanics and the quantum measurement problem (similar to his book Quantum Mechanics and Experience).  The second half of the chapter makes an interesting connection between the GRW theory of quantum state collapse and statistical mechanics.  This ties our foray into collapse theories nicely together with the theme of statistical mechanics that we've had going so far.  If one is already familiar with the quantum measurement problem, I recommend skipping (or skimming) ahead to p. 148 where Albert begins his discussion of the GRW collapse theory and the role it might play in the foundations of statistical mechanics.
December 3 Discussion leader and author: Joe Martin. Reductionism and emergence. "Reduction and Its Discontents: Fundamentality Debates and the Role of Philosophy in Solid State Physics, 1939-1993"

Spring 2010

January 29 first meeting of the semester
February 5
February 19
: 2nd half of Chapter 2 (pp. 60-114 but there's a lot in the first half that we didn't get to: in particular sec. 2.4.6 [pp. 44-49] on reduced density matrices).
March 5: Chapter 6 on experiments (after finishing up/reviewing Chapter 2)
March 12: No meeting
April 2: Chapter 6
April 16: The meeting will be held in 216 Lind Hall. Please note the change of location. Chapter 8 on decoherence and interpretation of QM
April 30: Chapter 9 more on interpretation issues and review in preparation of Seven Pines XIV, May 5-9 (the PIGlets will visit Thursday, May 6).

In preparation for this year's Seven Pines meeting we'll be reading Maximilian Schlosshauer's book on decoherence "Decoherence and the Quantum-to-Classical Transition (The Frontiers Collection)".
This folder also has a review article by Schlosshauer on decoherence and a famous 1991 Physics Today article by decoherence and einselection pioneer Wojchiek Zurek plus reactions to that piece (from, among others, David Albert).
You can find a number of reviews of the book on Schlosshauer's home page:
You may also want to check out the contribution of another SPXIV participant, Guido Bacciagaluppi, who wrote an article on "The Role of Decoherence in Quantum Mechanics" for the on-line Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Fall 2009

October 9: Physics pedagogy (1). In preparation for an HSS section on quantum textbooks in which Clayton Gearhart and Michel Janssen will give talks. Selections from David Kaiser (ed.), Pedagogy and the Practice of Science. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2005.

October 23: Paul Forman versus Joan Bromberg on the relation between physics research and the military (discussion leader: Maggie Hofius). The readings, Bromberg, Isis 97 (2006) 237-259 and Forman, HSPS 18 (1992) 149-229.

November 13: Physics pedagogy (2). Preview of HSS sessions on quantum textbooks, Phoenix, AR, Nov. 19-22 (discussion leaders: Clayton Gearhart and Michel Janssen)

December 11: Physics pedagogy (3). Post mortem of HSS sessions on quantum textbooks.

Next semester PIG will be devoted to the history and philosophy of decoherence in preparation for Seven Pines XIV, "Decoherence versus Entanglement." The central text we will be reading is:

Maximilian Schlosshauer, Decoherence and the Quantum-to-Classical Transition. The Frontiers Collection, Springer, Heidelberg/Berlin (2007, 4th reprint 2009).

See Schlosshauer's home page, for reviews of his book by Anton Zeilinger, Claus Kiefer (a confirmed speaker at SP XIV), and Klaas Landsman (in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics).

For more information: contact Janet McKernan ( or Michel Janssen (

Spring 2009

February 6: We will discuss the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Emergent Properties.

February 13: We will discuss Don Howard's paper "Reduction and Emergence in the Physical Sciences: Some Lessons from the Particle Physics–Condensed Matter Physics Debate".

February 20: We will discuss P. W. Anderson's paper "More Is Different" Science, New Series, Vol. 177, No. 4047. (Aug. 4, 1972), pp. 393-396 and maybe the ten-page article from the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online "Emergence In Physics" written by R. W. Batterman.

February 27: Thomas Nickles, "Two Concepts of Intertheoretic Reduction." If there is interest we will also continue our discussion of Anderson, "More is Different," paying particular attention to the technical side of his example.

March 6: Chapters 1 and 2 of Robert Batterman's book The Devil in the Details.

March 13: The article by Batterman on "Critical phenomena and breaking drops: Infinite idealizations in physics" Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (2005) 225–244.

March 27: Chapters 3 and 4 of The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction and Emergence by Robert W. Batterman, Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0195146476.

April 3: Chapter 5 of The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction and Emergence by Robert W. Batterman, Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0195146476.

April 10: Chapter 6 of The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction and Emergence by Robert W. Batterman, Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0195146476.

April 17: Chapter 8 of The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction and Emergence by Robert W. Batterman, Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0195146476. (Note that we're skipping chapter 7, for the time being at least, in the interest of getting to the end of the book by the end of the semester.)

April 24: Gordon Belot's review of Batterman's The Devil in the Details, and Batterman's reply to the review.The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction and Emergence by Robert W. Batterman, Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0195146476.

May 1: There are three papers for discussion this week. One is a general piece by Jaegwon Kim on emergence, the second is the paper on emergence and quantum entanglement by Hüttemann (cited by Batterman), and the third is by Sklar on the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics.

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