A comparison is made of the traditional Loschmidt (reversibility) and Zermelo (recurrence) objections to Boltzmann's H-theorem, and its simplified variant in the Ehrenfests' 1912 wind-tree model. The little-cited 1896 (pre-recurrence) objection of Zermelo (similar to an 1889 argument due to Poincare) is also analysed. Significant differences between the objections are highlighted, and several old and modern misconceptions concerning both them and the H-theorem are clarified. We give (...) particular emphasis to the radical nature of Poincare's and Zermelo's attack, and the importance of the shift in Boltzmann's thinking in response to the objections as a whole. (shrink)
It is argued that Minkowski space-time cannot serve as the deep structure within a ``constructive'' version of the special theory of relativity, contrary to widespread opinion in the philosophical community.
In a comparison of the principles of special relativity and of quantum mechanics, the former theory is marked by its relative economy and apparent explanatory simplicity. A number of theorists have thus been led to search for a small number of postulates - essentially information theoretic in nature - that would play the role in quantum mechanics that the relativity principle and the light postulate jointly play in Einstein's 1905 special relativity theory. The purpose of the present paper is to (...) resist this idea, at least in so far as it is supposed to reveal the fundamental form of the theory. It is argued that the methodology of Einstein's 1905 theory represents a victory of pragmatism over explanatory depth; and that its adoption only made sense in the context of the chaotic state state of physics at the start of the 20th century - as Einstein well knew. (shrink)
The quantum theory of de Broglie and Bohm solves the measurement problem, but the hypothetical corpuscles play no role in the argument. The solution finds a more natural home in the Everett interpretation.
In a recent paper in this journal, Kosso () discussed the observational status of continuous symmetries of physics. While we are in broad agreement with his approach, we disagree with his analysis. In the discussion of the status of gauge symmetry, a set of examples offered by 't Hooft () has influenced several philosophers, including Kosso; in all cases the interpretation of the examples is mistaken. In this paper, we present our preferred approach to the empirical significance of symmetries, re-analysing (...) the cases of gauge symmetry and general covariance. Direct and indirect empirical significance Global and local continuous symmetries Gauge symmetry 3.1 Local gauge symmetry 3.1.1 Discussion of the first claim 3.1.2 Discussion of the second claim 3.2 Global gauge symmetry Space-time symmetries Direct and indirect empirical significance again Conclusion. (shrink)
It is argued that awareness of the distinction between dynamical and variational symmetries is crucial to understanding the significance of Noether's 1918 work. Specific attention is paid, by way of a number of striking examples, to Noether's first theorem, which establishes a correlation between dynamical symmetries and conservation principles.
It is argued that an unheralded moment marking the beginnings of relativity theory occurred in 1889, when G. F. FitzGerald, no doubt with the puzzling 1887 Michelson-Morley experiment fresh in mind, wrote to Heaviside about the possible effects of motion on inter-molecular forces in bodies. Emphasis is placed on the difference between FitzGerald's and Lorentz's independent justifications of the shape distortion effect involved. Finally, the importance of the their `constructive' approach to kinematics---stripped of any commitment to the physicality of the (...) ether--- will be defended, in the spirit of Pauli, Swann and Bell. (shrink)
Internal global symmetries exist for the free non-relativistic Schrodinger particle, whose associated Noether charges---the space integrals of the wavefunction and the wavefunction multiplied by the spatial coordinate---are exhibited. Analogous symmetries in classical electromagnetism are also demonstrated.
The aim of this paper is to illustrate four properties of the non-relativistic limits of relativistic theories: (a) that a massless relativistic field may have a meaningful non-relativistic limit, (b) that a relativistic field may have more than one non-relativistic limit, (c) that coupled relativistic systems may be ''more relativistic'' than their uncoupled counterparts, and (d) that the properties of the non-relativistic limit of a dynamical equation may differ from those obtained when the limiting equation is based directly on exact (...) Galilean kinematics. These properties are demonstrated through an examination of the non-relativistic limit of the familiar equations of first-quantized QED, i.e., the Dirac and Maxwell equations. The conditions under which each set of equations admits non-relativistic limits are given, particular attention being given to a gauge-invariant formulation of the limiting process especially as it applies to the electromagnetic potentials. The difference between the properties of a limiting theory and an exactly Galilean covariant theory based on the same dynamical equation is demonstrated by examination of the Pauli equation. (shrink)
The implications for the substantivalist–relationalist controversy of Barbour and Bertotti's successful implementation of a Machian approach to dynamics are investigated. It is argued that in the context of Newtonian mechanics, the Machian framework provides a genuinely relational interpretation of dynamics and that it is more explanatory than the conventional, substantival interpretation. In a companion paper (Pooley [2002a]), the viability of the Machian framework as an interpretation of relativistic physics is explored. 1 Introduction 2 Newton versus Leibniz 3 Absolute space versus (...) an affine connection 4 Anti-relationalist arguments 5 Rehabilitating relationalism 6 Dynamics on the relative configuration space 7 Intrinsic particle dynamics 8 Conclusion. (shrink)
One of the widespread confusions concerning the history of the 1887 Michelson-Morley experiment has to do with the initial explanation of this celebrated null result due independently to FitzGerald and Lorentz. In neither case was a strict, longitudinal length contraction hypothesis invoked, as is commonly supposed. Lorentz postulated, particularly in 1895, any one of a certain family of possible deformation effects for rigid bodies in motion, including purely transverse alteration, and expansion as well as contraction; FitzGerald may well have had (...) the same family in mind. A careful analysis of the Michelson-Morley experiment (which reveals a number of serious inadequacies in many text-book treatments) indeed shows that strict contraction is not required. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the `Lorentzian Pedagogy' defended by J.S. Bell in his essay ``How to teach special relativity'', and to explore its consistency with Einstein's thinking from 1905 to 1952. Some remarks are also made in this context on Weyl's philosophy of relativity and his 1918 gauge theory. Finally, it is argued that the Lorentzian pedagogy---which stresses the important connection between kinematics and dynamics---clarifies the role of rods and clocks in general relativity.
The purpose of the paper is to explore different aspects of the covariance of (mostly) non-relativistic quantum mechanics. First, doubts are expressed concerning the claim that gauge fields can be 'generated' by way of imposition of (local) gauge covariance of the single-particle wave equation. Then a brief review is given of Galilean covariance in the general case of external fields, and the connection between Galilean boosts and gauge transformations. Under time-dependent translations (and hence non-instantaneous boosts) the geometric phase associated with (...) Schrödinger evolution is non-invariant, and the significance of this result is briefly analysed. The covariance properties of Schrödinger dynamics are then brought to bear on certain versions of the modal interpretation of quantum mechanics. The conclusion that it is only relational properties that can be considered coordinate- or gauge-independent elements of reality is reinforced by appeal to the theory of quantum reference frames due to Aharonov and Kauffher. (This paper appeared in "From Physics to Philosophy", J. Butterfield and C. Pagonis (eds.), Cambridge University Press (1999); pp. 45-70.). (shrink)
The existence of a definite tangent space structure (metric with Lorentzian signature) in the general theory of relativity is the consequence of a fundamental assumption concerning the local validity of special relativity. There is then at the heart of Einstein's theory of gravity an absolute element which depends essentially on a common feature of all the non-gravitational interactions in the world, and which has nothing to do with space-time curvature. Tentative implications of this point for the significance of the vacuum (...) solutions in general relativity, and for the issue of quantising gravity, are briefly examined. (shrink)
Abstract The historical evolution of the principle of relativity from Galileo to Einstein is briefly traced, and purported difficulties with Einstein's formulation of the principle are examined and dismissed. This formulation is then compared to a precise version formulated recently in the geometrical language of spacetime theories. We claim that the recent version is both logically puzzling and fails to capture a crucial physical insight contained in the earlier formulations. The implications of this claim for the modern treatment of general (...) dynamical symmetries are discussed. (shrink)
It is still perhaps not widely appreciated that in 1905 Einstein used his postulate concerning the ‘constancy’ of the light-speed in the ‘resting’ frame, in conjunction with the principle of relativity, to derive numerical light-speed invariance. Now a ‘weak’ version of the relativity principle (or, alternatively, appeal to the Michelson—Morley experiment) leads from Einstein's light postulate to a condition that we call universal light-speed constancy. which is weaker than light-speed invariance. It follows from earlier independent investigations (Robertson ; Steigler ; (...) Tzanakis and Kyritsis ) that this condition is none the less sufficient to derive the Lorentz transformations up to a scale factor, given the well-known kinematic principle of ‘reciprocity’. In this paper, we follow Robertson and explore the kinematics consistent with universal light-speed constancy without imposing reciprocity, and we recover the Lorentz transformations by further appeal only to the weak relativity principle and spatial isotropy. (shrink)
Considerable work within the modern 'space-time theory' approach to relativity physics has been devoted to clarifying the role and meaning of the principle of relativity. Two recent discussions of the principle within this approach, due to Arntzenius (1990) and Friedman (1983), are found to contain difficulties.
The vacuum is fast emerging as the central structure of modern physics. This collection brings together philosophically-minded specialists who engage these issues in the context of classical gravity, quantum electrodynamics, and the grand unification program. The vacuum emerges as the synthesis of concepts of space, time, and matter; in the context of relativity and the quantum this new synthesis represents a structure of the most intricate and novel complexity. This book is a work in modern metaphysics, in which the concepts (...) of substance and space interweave in the most intangible of forms, the background and context of our physical experience: vacuum, void, or nothingness. (shrink)
The kinematical principle of Equal Passage Times (EPT) was introduced by Winnie in his 1970 derivation of the relativistic coordinate transformations compatible with arbitrary synchrony conventions in one-dimensional space. In this paper, the claim by Winnie and later Giannoni that EPT is a direct consequence of the relativity principle is questioned. It is shown that EPT, given Einstein's 1905 postulates, is equivalent to the relativistic (synchrony independent) clock retardation principle, and that for standard synchrony it reduces to an isotropy condition (...) for contraction (and dilation) effects. (shrink)
Quantum field theory, one of the most rapidly developing areas of contemporary physics, is full of problems of great theoretical and philosophical interest. This collection of essays is the first systematic exploration of the nature and implications of quantum field theory. The contributors discuss quantum field theory from a wide variety of standpoints, exploring in detail its mathematical structure and metaphysical and methodological implications.