David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 32 (1):53-75 (2001)
I reappraise in detail Hertz's cathode ray experiments. I show that, contrary to Buchwald's (1995) evaluation, the core experiment establishing the electrostatic properties of the rays was successfully replicated by Perrin (probably) and Thomson (certainly). Buchwald's discussion of 'current purification' is shown to be a red herring. My investigation of the origin of Buchwald's misinterpretation of this episode reveals that he was led astray by a focus on what Hertz 'could do'-his experimental resources. I argue that one should focus instead on what Hertz wanted to achieve-his experimental goals. Focusing on these goals, I find that his explicit and implicit requirements for a successful investigation of the rays' properties are met by Perrin and Thomson. Thus, even by Hertz's standards, they did indeed replicate his experiment.
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