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Philosophy of Physical Science

Edited by Hans Halvorson (Princeton University)
Assistant editor: Joshua Luczak (University of Western Ontario)
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  1. added 2014-12-18
    Haichao Li, Guoqin Ge, Lingmin Liao & Shunbin Feng (forthcoming). Electromagnetically Induced Transparency and Autler–Townes Splitting in a Superconducting Quantum Circuit with a Four-Level V-Type Energy Spectrum. Foundations of Physics:1-13.
    We investigate electromagnetically induced transparency and Autler–Townes splitting in a superconducting quantum circuit with a four-level V-type energy spectrum constructed by two coupled superconducting charge qubits. We show that it is possible for this four-level superconducting system to exhibit multiple dips in the absorption spectrum of a probe field, with at most three dips resulting from a combination of two ATS subsystems, which indicates the breakdown of the traditional correspondence between a \\) -level system and \ dips. It is also (...)
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  2. added 2014-12-17
    M. Gadella (forthcoming). A Discussion on the Properties of Gamow States. Foundations of Physics:1-21.
    Gamow states are vector states for the pure decaying part of a quantum resonance. We review and analyze the properties of Gamow vectors in different representations. In particular, we discuss the controversial problem of assigning a mean value of the energy for a Gamow state from several points of view. The question on whether a Gamow state is a pure state or not is also analyzed here, as has relevance on the assignation of a non-zero value for the entropy for (...)
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  3. added 2014-12-15
    Louis Vervoort, Macroscopic Oil Droplets Mimicking Quantum Behavior: How Far Can We Push an Analogy?
    We describe here a series of experimental analogies between fluid mechanics and quantum mechanics recently discovered by a team of physicists. We argue that these experimental facts put ancient theoretical work by Madelung on the analogy between fluid and quantum mechanics into new light. We place these analogies in their historic and philosophical context, relating them to the de Broglie-Bohm interpretation of quantum mechanics. Finally we point out several advantages of the ‘fluid-mechanical’ interpretation of quantum mechanics over the Bohm interpretation.
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  4. added 2014-12-14
    S. R. Vatsya (forthcoming). Formulation of Spinors in Terms of Gauge Fields. Foundations of Physics:1-16.
    It is shown in the present paper that the transformation relating a parallel transported vector in a Weyl space to the original one is the product of a multiplicative gauge transformation and a proper orthochronous Lorentz transformation. Such a Lorentz transformation admits a spinor representation, which is obtained and used to deduce the transportation properties of a Weyl spinor, which are then expressed in terms of a composite gauge group defined as the product of a multiplicative gauge group and the (...)
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  5. added 2014-12-14
    Joffrey K. Peters, Jingyun Fan, Alan L. Migdall & Sergey V. Polyakov (forthcoming). Experimental Bounds on Classical Random Field Theories. Foundations of Physics:1-9.
    Alternative theories to quantum mechanics motivate important fundamental tests of our understanding and descriptions of the smallest physical systems. Here, using spontaneous parametric downconversion as a heralded single-photon source, we place experimental limits on a class of alternative theories, consisting of classical field theories which result in power-dependent normalized correlation functions. In addition, we compare our results with standard quantum mechanical interpretations of our spontaneous parametric downconversion source over an order of magnitude in intensity. Our data match the quantum mechanical (...)
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  6. added 2014-12-12
    Nicholas Maxwell (forthcoming). Can Scientific Method Help Us Create a Wiser World? In N. Dalal, A. Intezari & M. Heitz (eds.), Practical Wisdom in the Age of Technology: Insights, Issues and Questions for a New Millennium. Ashgate.
    Two great problems of learning confront humanity: (1) learning about the universe, and about ourselves as a part of the universe, and (2) learning how to make progress towards as good a world as possible. We solved the first problem when we created modern science in the 17th century, but we have not yet solved the second problem. This puts us in a situation of unprecedented danger. Modern science and technology enormously increase our power to act, but not our power (...)
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  7. added 2014-12-10
    Helge Kragh (2014). The Science of the Universe: Cosmology and Science Education. In Michael R. Matthews (ed.), International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching. Springer. 643-665.
    Cosmology differs in some respects significantly from other sciences, primarily because of its intimate association with issues of a conceptual and philosophical nature. Because cosmology in the broader sense relates to the students’ world views, it provides a means for bridging the gap between the teaching of science and the teaching of humanistic subjects. Students should of course learn to distinguish between what is right and wrong about the science of the universe. No less importantly, they should learn to recognize (...)
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  8. added 2014-12-09
    Ramandeep S. Johal, Renuka Rai & Günter Mahler (forthcoming). Reversible Heat Engines: Bounds on Estimated Efficiency From Inference. Foundations of Physics:1-13.
    We consider work extraction from two finite reservoirs with constant heat capacity, when the thermodynamic coordinates of the process are not fully specified, i.e., are described by probabilities only. Incomplete information refers to both the specific value of the temperature as well as the label of the reservoir to which it is assigned. Based on the concept of inference, we characterize the reduced performance resulting from this lack of control. Indeed, the estimates for the average efficiency reveal that uncertainty regarding (...)
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  9. added 2014-12-02
    Peter Garik, Luciana Garbayo, Yann Benétreau-Dupin, Charles Winrich, Andrew Duffy, Nicholas Gross & Manher Jariwala (forthcoming). Teaching the Conceptual History of Physics to Physics Teachers. Science and Education.
    For nearly a decade we have taught the history and philosophy of science as part of courses aimed at the professional development of physics teachers. The focus of the history of science instruction is on the stages in the development of the concepts and theories of physics. For this instruction, we designed activities to help the teachers organize their understanding of this historical development. The activities include scientific modeling using archaic theories. We conducted surveys to gauge the impact on the (...)
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  10. added 2014-11-27
    Lee Smolin (forthcoming). Unification of the State with the Dynamical Law. Foundations of Physics:1-10.
    We address the question of why particular laws were selected for the universe, by proposing a mechanism for laws to evolve. Normally in physical theories, timeless laws act on time-evolving states. We propose that this is an approximation, good on time scales shorter than cosmological scales, beyond which laws and states are merged into a single entity that evolves in time. Furthermore the approximate distinction between laws and states, when it does emerge, is dependent on the initial conditions. These ideas (...)
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  11. added 2014-11-19
    G. F. Dell’Antonio (forthcoming). On Tracks in a Cloud Chamber. Foundations of Physics:1-11.
    It is an experimental fact that \ -decays produce in a cloud chamber at most one track and that this track points in a random direction. This seems to contradict the description of decay in Quantum Mechanics: according to Gamow a spherical wave is produced and moves radially according to Schrödinger’s equation. It is as if the interaction with the supersaturated vapor turned the wave into a particle. The aim of this note is to place this effect in the context (...)
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  12. added 2014-11-19
    Peter Holland (forthcoming). Quantum Potential Energy as Concealed Motion. Foundations of Physics:1-8.
    It is known that the Schrödinger equation may be derived from a hydrodynamic model in which the Lagrangian position coordinates of a continuum of particles represent the quantum state. Using Routh’s method of ignorable coordinates it is shown that the quantum potential energy of particle interaction that represents quantum effects in this model may be regarded as the kinetic energy of additional ‘concealed’ freedoms. The method brings an alternative perspective to Planck’s constant, which plays the role of a hidden variable, (...)
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  13. added 2014-11-19
    N. C. A. Da Costa & C. De Ronde (2014). Non-Reflexive Logical Foundation for Quantum Mechanics. Foundations of Physics 44 (12):1369-1380.
    On the one hand, non-reflexive logics are logics in which the principle of identity does not hold in general. On the other hand, quantum mechanics has difficulties regarding the interpretation of ‘particles’ and their identity, also known in the literature as ‘the problem of indistinguishable particles’. In this article, we will argue that non-reflexive logics can be a useful tool to account for such quantum indistinguishability. In particular, we will provide a particular non-reflexive logic that can help us to analyze (...)
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  14. added 2014-11-18
    Maurizio Consoli (forthcoming). Probing the Vacuum of Particle Physics with Precise Laser Interferometry. Foundations of Physics:1-22.
    The discovery of the Higgs boson at LHC confirms that what we experience as empty space should actually be thought as a condensate of elementary quanta. This condensate characterizes the physically realized form of relativity and could play the role of preferred reference frame in a modern Lorentzian approach. This observation suggests a new interpretative scheme to understand the unexplained residuals in the old ether-drift experiments where light was still propagating in gaseous systems. Differently from present vacuum experiments, where anyhow (...)
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  15. added 2014-11-18
    Carsten Held (forthcoming). Einstein’s Boxes: Incompleteness of Quantum Mechanics Without a Separation Principle. Foundations of Physics:1-17.
    Einstein made several attempts to argue for the incompleteness of quantum mechanics , not all of them using a separation principle. One unpublished example, the box parable, has received increased attention in the recent literature. Though the example is tailor-made for applying a separation principle and Einstein indeed applies one, he begins his discussion without it. An analysis of this first part of the parable naturally leads to an argument for incompleteness not involving a separation principle. I discuss the argument (...)
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  16. added 2014-11-18
    Elise M. Crull (forthcoming). Less Interpretation and More Decoherence in Quantum Gravity and Inflationary Cosmology. Foundations of Physics:1-27.
    I argue that quantum decoherence—understood as a dynamical process entailed by the standard formalism alone—carries us beyond conceptual aspects of non-relativistic quantum mechanics deemed insurmountable by many contributors to the recent quantum gravity and cosmology literature. These aspects include various incarnations of the measurement problem and of the quantum-to-classical puzzle. Not only can such problems be largely bypassed or dissolved without default to a particular interpretation, but theoretical work in relativistic arenas stands to gain substantial physical and philosophical insight by (...)
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  17. added 2014-11-18
    Andrei Khrennikov (forthcoming). CHSH Inequality: Quantum Probabilities as Classical Conditional Probabilities. Foundations of Physics:1-15.
    In this note we demonstrate that the results of observations in the EPR–Bohm–Bell experiment can be described within the classical probabilistic framework. However, the “quantum probabilities” have to be interpreted as conditional probabilities, where conditioning is with respect to fixed experimental settings. Our approach is based on the complete account of randomness involved in the experiment. The crucial point is that randomness of selections of experimental settings has to be taken into account within one consistent framework covering all events related (...)
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  18. added 2014-11-18
    Dennis Dieks, Décio Krause & Christian de Ronde (2014). Preface Special Issue Foundations of Physics. Foundations of Physics 44 (12):1245-1245.
    The foundations of quantum mechanics are attracting new and significant interest in the scientific community due to the recent striking experimental and technical progress in the fields of quantum computation, quantum teleportation and quantum information processing. However, at a more fundamental level the understanding and manipulation of these novel phenomena require not only new laboratory techniques but also new understanding, development and interpretation of the formalism of quantum mechanics itself, a mathematical structure whose connection to what happens in physical reality (...)
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  19. added 2014-11-18
    Mark Zelcer (2014). Review of E. Brian Davies, Why Beliefs Matter: Reflections on the Nature of Science. [REVIEW] Science, Religion and Culture 1 (3):141-143.
  20. added 2014-11-18
    J. Mei-Hia (2011). La Religion Cosmique: La Voie de l'Harmonie Universelle: Tomes I, Ii Et Iii. L'Arbre Fleuri.
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  21. added 2014-11-18
    Geert Keil (2011). Quine. Reclam.
    Den Spuren des amerikanischen Philosophen Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) begegnet man in der theoretischen Philosophie der Gegenwart auf Schritt und Tritt. Dies zeigt schon die lange Liste der Thesen und Stichworte, die mit seinem Namen verbunden sind: Kritik der Analytisch-synthetisch-Unterscheidung, Duhem-Quine-These des wissenschaftstheoretischen Holismus, die Dogmen des Empirismus, radikale Übersetzung, Unbestimmtheit der Übersetzung, ontologische Relativität, Flucht vor den Intensionen, Naturalisierung der Erkenntnistheorie. -/- Quine verstand die Philosophie als ein wissenschaftliches oder wissenschaftsbegleitendes Unternehmen. Sein Werk lässt sich den Disziplinen Erkenntnistheorie, (...)
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  22. added 2014-11-15
    Anna Marmodoro & David Yates (eds.) (forthcoming). The Metaphysics of Relations. OUP.
    A collection of papers on ancient and contemporary approaches to the nature and ontological status of relations. Forthcoming in 2015. -/- Contributors: Theodore Scaltsas, Jeffrey Brower, Sydney Penner, Maureen Donnelly, Jonathan Lowe, Peter Simons, John Heil, David Yates, Nora Berenstain, James Ladyman, Sebastian Briceno, Stephen Mumford, Michael Esfeld, Mauro Dorato.
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  23. added 2014-11-13
    William C. Lane (2006). The Best of Possible Worlds: A Testable Claim of Choice. Theology and Science 4 (3):261-278.
    Leibniz said that the universe, if God-created, would exist at a unique, conjoint, physical maximum: Of all possible worlds, it would be richest in phenomena, but its richness would arise from the simplest physical laws and initial conditions. Using concepts of ‘‘variety’’ and algorithmic informational complexity, Leibniz’ claim can be reframed as a testable theory. This theory predicts that the laws and conditions of the actual universe should be simpler, and the universe richer in phenomena, than the presence of observers (...)
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  24. added 2014-11-11
    Mauro Dorato & Michael Esfeld (forthcoming). The Metaphysics of Laws: Dispositionalism Vs. Primitivism. In T. Bigaj & C. Wutrich (eds.), Metaphysics and Science (tentative title). Poznan Studies.
    The paper compares dispositionalism about laws of nature with primitivism. It argues that while the distinction between these two positions can be drawn in a clear-cut manner in classical mechanics, it is less clear in quantum mechanics, due to quantum non-locality. Nonetheless, the paper points out advantages for dispositionalism in comparison to primitivism also in the area of quantum mechanics, and of contemporary physics in general.
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  25. added 2014-11-05
    Giuliano Torrengo (2014). Il caso Tridim. In Elena Casetta & Valeria Giardino (eds.), Mettere a fuoco il mondo. © ISONOMIA – Epistemologica, University of Urbino. 86-94.
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  26. added 2014-11-04
    Vladislav Terekhovich, The Metaphysics of the Principle of Least Action.
    This paper investigates a metaphysical content of the principle of least action (PLA) of analytic mechanics. The PLA says that an actual path of a physical system differs from all other possible paths that its action is minimal. The main issue is how a system can “know”, in advance, which path will minimize the action. In addition to the old teleological question, I continue the recent discussion regarding the modal involvement of the PLA and its relations with the Humean view (...)
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  27. added 2014-11-04
    Vladislav Terekhovich (2013). Philosophical and Methodological Problems of the Principle of Least Action. Dissertation, St. Petersburg State University, Russia
    Twenty extremal principles of the natural sciences are reformulated to the general ontological scheme. The hypothesis is substantiated that the unique role of the principle of least action is based on its probabilistic interpretation. It is shown how most of the variational principles can be reduced to the principle of maximal probability, which is based on a realistic interpretation of Feynman’s path integral method.
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  28. added 2014-11-03
    Isabella Tassani, Gino Tarozzi, Alessandro Afriat, Gennaro Auletta, Stefano Bordoni, Marco Buzzoni, Claudio Calosi, Vincenzo Fano, Alberto Cappi, Giovanni Macchia, Fabio Minazzi & Arcangelo Rossi (eds.) (2013). Oltre la fisica normale. Interpretazioni alternative e teorie non standard nella fisica moderna. ISONOMIA - Epistemologica.
    Nella sua straordinaria opera scientifica, Franco Selleri si è sempre opposto alla rinuncia alla comprensione della struttura della realtà e della natura degli oggetti fisici, che egli considera come l’elemento caratterizzante delle principali teorie della fisica del Novecento e che è stata stigmatizzata da Karl Popper come tesi della “fine della strada in fisica”. Sin dalla fine degli anni ’60, egli ha sviluppato quella riflessione critica nei confronti delle teorie fondamentali della fisica moderna, in particolar modo della teoria delle particelle (...)
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  29. added 2014-10-29
    Samson Abramsky & Lucien Hardy (2012). Logical Bell Inequalities. Physical Review A 85:062114-1 - 062114-11.
    Bell inequalities play a central role in the study of quantum nonlocality and entanglement, with many applications in quantum information. Despite the huge literature on Bell inequalities, it is not easy to find a clear conceptual answer to what a Bell inequality is, or a clear guiding principle as to how they may be derived. In this paper, we introduce a notion of logical Bell inequality which can be used to systematically derive testable inequalities for a very wide variety of (...)
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  30. added 2014-10-28
    Marius Stan (forthcoming). Euler, Newton, and Foundations for Mechanics. In Chris Smeenk & Eric Schliesser (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Newton. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter looks at Euler’s relation to Newton, and at his role in the rise of ‘Newtonian’ mechanics. It aims to give a sense of Newton’s complicated legacy for Enlightenment science, and to raise awareness that some key ‘Newtonian’ results are really due to Euler.
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  31. added 2014-10-18
    Gabriel Vacariu (2006). THE EPISTEMOLOGICALLY DIFFERENT WORLDS PERSPECTIVE AND SOME PSEUDO-NOTIONS FROM QUANTUM MECHANICS. Analele Universitatii Bucuresti:127-138.
    In this paper, I argue that the wrong notion of the “world” (I called it the “unicorn-world”) has to be replaced by the “epistemologically different worlds” (EDWs). Working in the unicorn-world in the last century, the physicists have tried to solve some pseudo-problems of quantum mechanics like non-locality and entanglement with pseudo-alternatives like multiverse approach and decoherence. EDWs perspective clarifies many notions from quantum theory, in particular, and physics, in general.
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  32. added 2014-10-16
    David Ellerman, Why Delayed Choice Experiments Do NOT Imply Retrocausality.
    There is a fallacy that is often involved in the interpretation of quantum experiments involving a certain type of separation such as the: double-slit experiments, which-way interferometer experiments, polarization analyzer experiments, Stern-Gerlach experiments, and quantum eraser experiments. The fallacy leads not only to flawed textbook accounts of these experiments but to flawed inferences about retrocausality in the context of delayed choice versions of separation experiments.
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  33. added 2014-10-16
    David Ellerman, Partitions and Objective Indefiniteness.
    Classical physics and quantum physics suggest two meta-physical types of reality: the classical notion of a objectively definite reality with properties "all the way down," and the quantum notion of an objectively indefinite type of reality. The problem of interpreting quantum mechanics (QM) is essentially the problem of making sense out of an objectively indefinite reality. These two types of reality can be respectively associated with the two mathematical concepts of subsets and quotient sets (or partitions) which are category-theoretically dual (...)
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  34. added 2014-10-16
    Gabriel Vacariu, About Ionicioiu's Presentation on Quantum Mechanics Delayed Choice Experiments at Department of Philosophy, (University of Bucharest, Romania) on 15.10.2014.
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  35. added 2014-10-16
    David Ellerman, On Classical Finite Probability Theory as a Quantum Probability Calculus.
    This paper shows how the classical finite probability theory (with equiprobable outcomes) can be reinterpreted and recast as the quantum probability calculus of a pedagogical or "toy" model of quantum mechanics over sets (QM/sets). There are two parts. The notion of an "event" is reinterpreted from being an epistemological state of indefiniteness to being an objective state of indefiniteness. And the mathematical framework of finite probability theory is recast as the quantum probability calculus for QM/sets. The point is not to (...)
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  36. added 2014-10-13
    Rinat M. Nugayev (2014). Maxwellian Scientific Revolution: A Case Study in Kantian Epistemology. Logos and Episteme 5 (2):183-207.
    It is exhibited that maxwellian electrodynamics grew out of the old pre-maxwellian programmes reconciliation: the electrodynamics of Ampere-Weber, the wave theory of Young-Fresnel and Faraday’s scientific research programme. The programmes’ meeting led to construction of the whole hierarchy of theoretical objects starting from the genuine crossbreeds (the displacement current) and up to usual mongrels. After the displacement current invention the interpenetration of the pre-maxwellian programmes began that marked the beginning of theoretical schemes of optics and electromagnetism real unification. Maxwell’s programme (...)
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  37. added 2014-10-07
    Antonio Vassallo (forthcoming). General Covariance, Diffeomorphism Invariance, and Background Independence in 5 Dimensions. In Tomasz Bigaj & Christian Wüthrich (eds.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Rodopi.
    The paper considers the "GR-desideratum", that is, the way general relativity implements general covariance, diffeomorphism invariance, and background independence. Two cases are discussed where 5-dimensional generalizations of general relativity run into interpretational troubles when the GR-desideratum is forced upon them. It is shown how the conceptual problems dissolve when such a desideratum is relaxed. In the end, it is suggested that a similar strategy might mitigate some major issues such as the problem of time or the embedding of quantum non-locality (...)
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  38. added 2014-10-04
    Rinat M. Nugayev (2013). The Ptolemy-Copernicus Transition. Almagest 4:96-119.
    The model of scientific revolution genesis and structure, extracted from Einstein’s revolution and described in author’s previous publications, is applied to the Copernican one . In the case of Einstein’s revolution I had argued that its cause consisted in the clash between the main classical physics scientific programmes: newtonian mechanics, maxwellian electrodynamics, classical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Analogously in the present paper it is argued that the Copernican revolution took place due to realization of the dualism between mathematical astronomy and (...)
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  39. added 2014-09-21
    Amit Hagar, Ed Fredkin and the Physics of Information - An Inside Story of an Outsider Scientist.
    This article tells the story of Ed Fredkin, a pilot, programmer, engineer, hardware designer and entrepreneur, whose work inside and outside academia has influenced major developments in computer science and in the foundations of theoretical physics for the past fifty years.
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