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John D. Norton [72]John Douglas Norton [1]
  1. John D. Norton (2003). A Material Theory of Induction. Philosophy of Science 70 (4):647-670.
    Contrary to formal theories of induction, I argue that there are no universal inductive inference schemas. The inductive inferences of science are grounded in matters of fact that hold only in particular domains, so that all inductive inference is local. Some are so localized as to defy familiar characterization. Since inductive inference schemas are underwritten by facts, we can assess and control the inductive risk taken in an induction by investigating the warrant for its underwriting facts. In learning more facts, (...)
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  2.  26
    John D. Norton (2011). Waiting for Landauer. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 42 (3):184-198.
    Landauer's Principle asserts that there is an unavoidable cost in thermodynamic entropy creation when data is erased. It is usually derived from incorrect assumptions, most notably, that erasure must compress the phase space of a memory device or that thermodynamic entropy arises from the probabilistic uncertainty of random data. Recent work seeks to prove Landauer’s Principle without using these assumptions. I show that the processes assumed in the proof, and in the thermodynamics of computation more generally, can be combined to (...)
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  3.  55
    John D. Norton (2012). Approximation and Idealization: Why the Difference Matters. Philosophy of Science 79 (2):207-232.
    It is proposed that we use the term “approximation” for inexact description of a target system and “idealization” for another system whose properties also provide an inexact description of the target system. Since systems generated by a limiting process can often have quite unexpected, even inconsistent properties, familiar limit systems used in statistical physics can fail to provide idealizations, but are merely approximations. A dominance argument suggests that the limiting idealizations of statistical physics should be demoted to approximations.
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  4.  50
    John D. Norton (2005). Eaters of the Lotus: Landauer's Principle and the Return of Maxwell's Demon. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 36 (2):375-411.
    Landauer’s principle is the loosely formulated notion that the erasure of n bits of information must always incur a cost of k ln n in thermodynamic entropy. It can be formulated as a precise result in statistical mechanics, but by erasure processes that use a thermodynamically irreversible phase space expansion, which is the real origin of the law’s entropy cost. General arguments that purport to establish the unconditional validity of the law (erasure maps many physical states to one; erasure compresses (...)
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  5.  35
    John D. Norton (2007). Causation as Folk Science. In Huw Price & Richard Corry (eds.), Philosophers' Imprint. Oxford University Press
    I deny that the world is fundamentally causal, deriving the skepticism on non-Humean grounds from our enduring failures to find a contingent, universal principle of causality that holds true of our science. I explain the prevalence and fertility of causal notions in science by arguing that a causal character for many sciences can be recovered, when they are restricted to appropriately hospitable domains. There they conform to a loose collection of causal notions that form a folk science of causation. This (...)
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  6.  31
    John D. Norton (2003). Causation as Folk Science. Philosophers' Imprint 3 (4):1-22.
    I deny that the world is fundamentally causal, deriving the skepticism on non-Humean grounds from our enduring failures to find a contingent, universal principle of causality that holds true of our science. I explain the prevalence and fertility of causal notions in science by arguing that a causal character for many sciences can be recovered, when they are restricted to appropriately hospitable domains. There they conform to loose and varying collections of causal notions that form folk sciences of causation. This (...)
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  7. John D. Norton (2004). Why Thought Experiments Do Not Transcend Empiricism. In Christopher Hitchcock (ed.), Contemporary Debates in the Philosophy of Science. Blackwell 44-66.
    Thought experiments are ordinary argumentation disguised in a vivid pictorial or narrative form. This account of their nature will allow me to show that empiricism has nothing to fear from thought experiments. They perform no epistemic magic. In so far as they tell us about the world, thought experiments draw upon what we already know of it, either explicitly or tacitly; they then transform that knowledge by disguised argumentation. They can do nothing more epistemically than can argumentation. I defend my (...)
     
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  8.  16
    John D. Norton (2007). Einstein, Nordstrom, and the Early Demise of Scalar, Lorentz Covariant Theories of Gravitation. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 250 (3).
    The advent of the special theory of relativity in 1905 brought many problems for the physics community. One, it seemed, would not be a great source of trouble. It was the problem of reconciling Newtonian gravitation theory with the new theory of space and time. Indeed it seemed that Newtonian theory could be rendered compatible with special relativity by any number of small modifications, each of which would be unlikely to lead to any significant deviations from the empirically testable (...)
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  9.  79
    John D. Norton (forthcoming). Must Evidence Underdetermine Theory. The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice:17--44.
    According to the underdetermination thesis, all evidence necessarily underdetermines any scientific theory. Thus it is often argued that our agreement on the content of mature scientific theories must be due to social and other factors. Drawing on a long standing tradition of criticism, I shall argue that the underdetermination thesis is little more than speculation based on an impoverished account of induction. A more careful look at accounts of induction does not support an assured underdetermination or the holism usually associated (...)
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  10.  14
    John D. Norton (2011). Observationally Indistinguishable Spacetimes: A Challenge for Any Inductivist. In Gregory J. Morgan (ed.), Philosophy of Science Matters: The Philosophy of Peter Achinstein. Oxford University Press 164.
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  11.  25
    John D. Norton (1993). General Covariance and the Foundations of General Relativity: Eight Decades of Dispute. Reports of Progress in Physics 56:791--861.
    iinstein oered the prin™iple of gener—l ™ov—ri—n™e —s the fund—ment—l physi™—l prin™iple of his gener—l theory of rel—tivityD —nd —s responsi˜le for extending the prin™iple of rel—tivity to —™™eler—ted motionF „his view w—s disputed —lmost immedi—tely with the ™ounterE™l—im th—t the prin™iple w—s no rel—tivity prin™iple —nd w—s physi™—lly v—™uousF „he dis—greeE ment persists tod—yF „his —rti™le reviews the development of iinstein9s thought on gener—l ™ov—ri—n™eD its rel—tion to the found—tions of gener—l rel—tivity —nd the evolution of the ™ontinuing de˜—te (...)
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  12.  44
    John D. Norton (2010). Cosmic Confusions: Not Supporting Versus Supporting Not. Philosophy of Science 77 (4):501-523.
    Bayesian probabilistic explication of inductive inference conflates neutrality of supporting evidence for some hypothesis H (“not supporting H”) with disfavoring evidence (“supporting not-H”). This expressive inadequacy leads to spurious results that are artifacts of a poor choice of inductive logic. I illustrate how such artifacts have arisen in simple inductive inferences in cosmology. In the inductive disjunctive fallacy, neutral support for many possibilities is spuriously converted into strong support for their disjunction. The Bayesian “doomsday argument” is shown to rely entirely (...)
  13.  47
    John Earman & John D. Norton (1998). Exorcist XIV: The Wrath of Maxwell's Demon. Part I. From Maxwell to Szilard. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 29 (4):435-471.
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  14. Oron Shagrir, John D. Norton, Holger Andreas, Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen, Aris Spanos, Eckhart Arnold, Elliott Sober, Peter Gildenhuys & Adela Helena Roszkowski (2010). 1. Marr on Computational-Level Theories Marr on Computational-Level Theories (Pp. 477-500). Philosophy of Science 77 (4).
     
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  15.  74
    John D. Norton (2004). On Thought Experiments: Is There More to the Argument? Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1139-1151.
    Thought experiments in science are merely picturesque argumentation. I support this view in various ways, including the claim that it follows from the fact that thought experiments can err but can still be used reliably. The view is defended against alternatives proposed by my cosymposiasts.
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  16.  72
    John D. Norton (2010). There Are No Universal Rules for Induction. Philosophy of Science 77 (5):765-777.
    In a material theory of induction, inductive inferences are warranted by facts that prevail locally. This approach, it is urged, is preferable to formal theories of induction in which the good inductive inferences are delineated as those conforming to some universal schema. An inductive inference problem concerning indeterministic, non-probabilistic systems in physics is posed and it is argued that Bayesians cannot responsibly analyze it, thereby demonstrating that the probability calculus is not the universal logic of induction.
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  17.  41
    John D. Norton (2006). Atoms, Entropy, Quanta: Einstein's Miraculous Argument of 1905. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 37 (1):71-100.
    In the sixth section of his light quantum paper of 1905, Einstein presented the miraculous argument, as I shall call it. Pointing out an analogy with ideal gases and dilute solutions, he showed that the macroscopic, thermodynamic properties of high frequency heat radiation carry a distinctive signature of finitely many, spatially localized, independent components and so inferred that it consists of quanta. I describe how Einstein’s other statistical papers of 1905 had already developed and exploited the idea that the ideal (...)
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  18.  13
    John D. Norton (2000). `Nature is the Realisation of the Simplest Conceivable Mathematical Ideas': Einstein and the Canon of Mathematical Simplicity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 31 (2):135-170.
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  19. John Earman & John D. Norton (1993). Forever is a Day: Supertasks in Pitowsky and Malament-Hogarth Spacetimes. Philosophy of Science 60 (1):22-42.
    The standard theory of computation excludes computations whose completion requires an infinite number of steps. Malament-Hogarth spacetimes admit observers whose pasts contain entire future-directed, timelike half-curves of infinite proper length. We investigate the physical properties of these spacetimes and ask whether they and other spacetimes allow the observer to know the outcome of a computation with infinitely many steps.
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  20.  7
    John D. Norton (forthcoming). The Burning Fuse Model of Unbecoming in Time. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.
    Please imagine a long fuse hanging down from the ceiling. It is a carefully woven tube of fabric that holds a core of gunpowder. We note that it is beautifully made, with brightly colored threads intertwined with the coarser bare cotton. It a masterpiece of the modern weaver's art.
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  21.  87
    John D. Norton, Einstein's Investigations of Galilean Covariant Electrodynamics Prior to 1905.
    Einstein learned from the magnet and conductor thought experiments how to use field transformation laws to extend the covariance to Maxwell’s electrodynamics. If he persisted in his use of this device, he would have found that the theory cleaves into two Galilean covariant parts, each with different field transformation laws. The tension between the two parts reflects a failure not mentioned by Einstein: that the relativity of motion manifested by observables in the magnet and conductor thought experiment does not extend (...)
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  22.  89
    John D. Norton (2013). Brownian Computation Is Thermodynamically Irreversible. Foundations of Physics 43 (11):1-27.
    Brownian computers are supposed to illustrate how logically reversible mathematical operations can be computed by physical processes that are thermodynamically reversible or nearly so. In fact, they are thermodynamically irreversible processes that are the analog of an uncontrolled expansion of a gas into a vacuum.
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  23.  23
    John D. Norton (2007). Disbelief as the Dual of Belief. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (3):231 – 252.
    The duality of truth and falsity in a Boolean algebra of propositions is used to generate a duality of belief and disbelief. To each additive probability measure that represents belief there corresponds a dual additive measure that represents disbelief. The dual measure has its own peculiar calculus, in which, for example, measures are added when propositions are combined under conjunction. A Venn diagram of the measure has the contradiction as its total space. While additive measures are not self-dual, the epistemic (...)
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  24.  44
    John D. Norton (2003). General Covariance, Gauge Theories and the Kretschmann Objection. In Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press 110--123.
    How can we reconcile two claims that are now both widely accepted: Kretschmann's claim that a requirement of general covariance is physically vacuous and the standard view that the general covariance of general relativity expresses the physically important diffeomorphism gauge freedom of general relativity? I urge that both claims can be held without contradiction if we attend to the context in which each is made.
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  25.  75
    John D. Norton (1995). Did Einstein Stumble? The Debate Over General Covariance. Erkenntnis 42 (2):223 - 245.
    The objection that Einstein's principle of general covariance is not a relativity principle and has no physical content is reviewed. The principal escapes offered for Einstein's viewpoint are evaluated.
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  26.  72
    John D. Norton, A Little Survey of Induction.
    My purpose in this chapter is to survey some of the principal approaches to inductive inference in the philosophy of science literature. My first concern will be the general principles that underlie the many accounts of induction in this literature. When these accounts are considered in isolation, as is more commonly the case, it is easy to overlook that virtually all accounts depend on one of very few basic principles and that the proliferation of accounts can be understood as efforts (...)
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  27.  44
    John D. Norton (2007). Probability Disassembled. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):141 - 171.
    While there is no universal logic of induction, the probability calculus succeeds as a logic of induction in many contexts through its use of several notions concerning inductive inference. They include Addition, through which low probabilities represent disbelief as opposed to ignorance; and Bayes property, which commits the calculus to a 'refute and rescale' dynamics for incorporating new evidence. These notions are independent and it is urged that they be employed selectively according to needs of the problem at hand. It (...)
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  28. John D. Norton (2006). How the Formal Equivalence of Grue and Green Defeats What is New in the New Riddle of Induction. Synthese 150 (2):185 - 207.
    That past patterns may continue in many different ways has long been identified as a problem for accounts of induction. The novelty of Goodman’s ”new riddle of induction” lies in a meta-argument that purports to show that no account of induction can discriminate between incompatible continuations. That meta-argument depends on the perfect symmetry of the definitions of grue/bleen and green/blue, so that any evidence that favors the ordinary continuation must equally favor the grue-ified continuation. I argue that this very dependence (...)
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  29.  4
    John D. Norton (2003). La causazione come scienza ingenua. Philosophers' Imprint 3 (4).
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  30.  42
    John D. Norton (2011). History of Science and the Material Theory of Induction: Einstein's Quanta, Mercury's Perihelion. [REVIEW] European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1 (1):3-27.
    The use of the material theory of induction to vindicate a scientist's claims of evidential warrant is illustrated with the cases of Einstein's thermodynamic argument for light quanta of 1905 and his recovery of the anomalous motion of Mercury from general relativity in 1915. In a survey of other accounts of inductive inference applied to these examples, I show that, if it is to succeed, each account must presume the same material facts as the material theory and, in addition, some (...)
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  31.  21
    John D. Norton (1993). The Determination of Theory by Evidence: The Case for Quantum Discontinuity, 1900–1915. Synthese 97 (1):1 - 31.
    The thesis that observation necessarily fails to determine theory is false in the sense that observation can provide overwhelming evidence for a particular theory or even a hypothesis within the theory. The saga of quantum discontinuity illustrates the power of evidence to determine theory and shows how that power can be underestimated by inadequate caricatures of the evidential case. That quantum discontinuity can save the phenomena of black body radiation is the widely known result, but it leaves open the possibilities (...)
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  32.  30
    John D. Norton (1995). The Force of Newtonian Cosmology: Acceleration is Relative. Philosophy of Science 62 (4):511-522.
  33.  79
    John D. Norton, Paradoxes of Sailing.
    Paradoxes have long been a driving force in philosophy. They compel us to think more clearly about what we otherwise take for granted. In Antiquity, Zeno insisted that a runner could never complete the course because he’d first need to go half way, and then half way again; and so on indefinitely. Zeno also argued that matter could not be infinitely divisible, else it would be made of parts of no size at all. Even infinitely many nothings combined still measure (...)
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  34.  2
    John D. Norton (2015). Replicability of Experiment. Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 30 (2):229-248.
    The replicability of experiment is routinely offered as the gold standard of evidence. I argue that it is not supported by a universal principle of replicability in inductive logic. A failure of replication may not impugn a credible experimental result; and a successful replication can fail to vindicate an incredible experimental result. Rather, employing a material approach to inductive inference, the evidential import of successful replication of an experiment is determined by the prevailing background facts. Commonly, these background facts do (...)
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  35. John D. Norton (2013). A Material Dissolution of the Problem of Induction. Synthese 191 (4):1-20.
    In a formal theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by universal schemas. In a material theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by facts. With this change in the conception of the nature of induction, I argue that the celebrated “problem of induction” can no longer be set up and is thereby dissolved. Attempts to recreate the problem in the material theory of induction fail. They require relations of inductive support to conform to an unsustainable, hierarchical empiricism.
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  36. John D. Norton, What Can We Learn About the Ontology of Space and Time From the Theory of Relativity?
    In the exuberance that followed Einstein’s discoveries, philosophers at one time or another have proposed that his theories support virtually every conceivable moral in ontology. I present an opinionated assessment, designed to avoid this overabundance. We learn from Einstein’s theories of novel entanglements of categories once held distinct: space with time; space and time with matter; and space and time with causality. We do not learn that all is relative, that time in the fourth dimension in any non-trivial sense, that (...)
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  37.  22
    John Earman & John D. Norton (1998). Comments on Laraudogoitia's 'Classical Particle Dynamics, Indeterminism and a Supertask'. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (1):123-133.
    We discuss two supertasks invented recently by Laraudogoitia [1996, 1997]. Both involve an infinite number of particle collisions within a finite amount of time and both compromise determinism. We point out that the sources of the indeterminism are rather different in the two cases—one involves unbounded particle velocities, the other involves particles with no lower bound to their sizes—and consequently that the implications for determinism are rather different—one form of indeterminism affects Newtonian but not relativistic physics, while the other form (...)
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  38.  94
    John D. Norton, Chasing the Light Einsteinʼs Most Famous Thought Experiment.
    At the age of sixteen, Einstein imagined chasing after a beam of light. He later recalled that the thought experiment had played a memorable role in his development of special relativity. Famous as it is, it has proven difficult to understand just how the thought experiment delivers its results. It fails to generate problems for an ether-based electrodynamics. I propose that Einstein’s canonical statement of the thought experiment from his 1946 “Autobiographical Notes,” makes most sense not as an argument against (...)
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  39.  5
    John D. Norton (2003). The N-Stein Family. In A. Ashtekar (ed.), Revisiting the Foundations of Relativistic Physics. 55--67.
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  40.  16
    John D. Norton, A Quantum Inductive Logic.
    The material theory of induction requires that good inductive inferences must be warranted by facts within their domain of application. In earlier chapters, we have seen many examples of individual inductive inferences warranted by specific facts. Marie Curie, for example, inferred the crystallographic system of all crystals of radium chloride from inspection of just a few specks of the substance. The inference was warranted by facts contained in crystallographic principles from the preceding century, not by some universal inductive inference schema.
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  41. John D. Norton (2009). How Hume and Mach Helped Einstein Find Special Relativity. In Michael Friedman, Mary Domski & Michael Dickson (eds.), Discourse on a New Method: Reinvigorating the Marriage of History and Philosophy of Science. Open Court 359--86.
    In recounting his discovery of special relativity, Einstein recalled a debt to the philosophical writings of Hume and Mach. I review the path Einstein took to special relativity and urge that, at a critical juncture, he was aided decisively not by any specific doctrine of space and time, but by a general account of concepts that Einstein found in Hume and Mach’s writings. That account required that concepts, used to represent the physical, must be properly grounded in experience. In so (...)
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  42.  10
    John D. Norton (1994). Science and Certainty. Synthese 99 (1):3 - 22.
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  43.  75
    John D. Norton (2011). Little Boxes: A Simple Implementation of the Greenberger, Horne, and Zeilinger Result for Spatial Degrees of Freedom. American Journal of Physics 79:182--188.
    A Greenberger, Horne and Zeilinger - type construction is realized in the position properties of three particles whose wave functions are distributed over three two - chambered boxes. The same system is modeled more realistically using three spatially separated, singly ionized hydrogen molecules.
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  44.  54
    John D. Norton (2014). The End of the Thermodynamics of Computation: A No-Go Result. Philosophy of Science 80 (5):1182-1192.
    The thermodynamics of computation assumes that computational processes at the molecular level can be brought arbitrarily close to thermodynamic reversibility and that thermodynamic entropy creation is unavoidable only in data erasure or the merging of computational paths, in accord with Landauer’s principle. The no-go result shows that fluctuations preclude completion of thermodynamically reversible processes. Completion can be achieved only by irreversible processes that create thermodynamic entropy in excess of the Landauer limit.
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  45.  95
    John D. Norton, The Formal Equivalence of Grue and Green and How It Undoes the New Riddle of Induction.
    The hidden strength of Goodman's ingenious "new riddle of induction" lies in the perfect symmetry of grue/bleen and green/blue. The very same sentence forms used to define grue/bleen in terms of green/blue can be used to define green/blue in terms of grue/bleen by permutation of terms. Therein lies its undoing. In the artificially restricted case in which there are no additional facts that can break the symmetry, grue/bleen and green/blue are merely notational variants of the same facts; or, if they (...)
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  46.  47
    John D. Norton, Philosophy in Einstein's Science.
    Albert Einstein read philosophy. It was not an affectation of a celebrity-physicist trying to show his adoring public that he was no mere technician, but a cultured thinker. It was an interest in evidence from the start. In 1902, Einstein was a poorly paid patent examiner in Bern seeking to make a few extra Francs by offering tutorials in physics. Maurice Solovine answered the advertisement. The tutorials quickly vanished when they discovered their common fascinations in reading and talking. They were (...)
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  47.  87
    John D. Norton, Discovering the Relativity of Simultaneity How Did Einstein Take "the Step"?
    It is routinely assumed that Einstein discovered the relativity of simultaneity by thinking about how clocks can be synchronized by light signals, much in accord with the analysis he gave in his 1905 special relativity paper. Yet that is just supposition. We have no real evidence that it actually happened this way. In later recollections, Einstein stressed the importance of several thought experiments in the thinking that led up to the final theory. They include his chasing a light beam thought (...)
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  48.  52
    John D. Norton, And the Return of Maxwell's Demon.
    Landauer’s principle is the loosely formulated notion that the erasure of n bits of information must always incur a cost of k ln n in thermodynamic entropy. It can be formulated as a precise result in statistical mechanics, but for a restricted class of erasure processes that use a thermodynamically irreversible phase space expansion, which is the real origin of the law’s entropy cost and whose necessity has not been demonstrated. General arguments that purport to establish the unconditional validity of (...)
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  49.  12
    John D. Norton (2010). Time Really Passes. Humana. Mente: Journal of Philosophical Studies 13:23-24.
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  50. John D. Norton, Einstein's Triumph Over the Spacetime Coordinate System:.
    Einstein insisted throughout his life that the signal achievement of his general theory of relativity was its general covariance. How are we to reconcile this with the now common view that general covariance merely expresses a definition, our freedom to label events with any set of numbers we like? There is, I believe, a natural reading for Einstein's claims that does make perfect sense. It requires us to adopt a physical interpretation of relativity theory that is now no longer popular, (...)
     
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