Surprised by a Nanowire: Simulation, Control, and Understanding

Philosophy of Science 73 (5):605-616 (2006)
This paper starts by looking at the coincidence of surprising behavior on the nanolevel in both matter and simulation. It uses this coincidence to argue that the simulation approach opens up a pragmatic mode of understanding oriented toward design rules and based on a new instrumental access to complex models. Calculations, and their variation by means of explorative numerical experimentation and visualization, can give a feeling for a model's behavior and the ability to control phenomena, even if the model itself remains epistemically opaque. Thus, the investigation of simulation in nanoscience provides a good example of how science is adapting to a new instrument: computer simulation.
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Paul Humphreys (2006). Self‐Assembling Systems. Philosophy of Science 73 (5):595-604.
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