This collection of essays explores different perceptions of space, taking the reader on a journey from the inner space of the mind to the vacuum beyond Earth. Eight leading researchers span a broad range of fields, from the arts and humanities to the natural sciences. They consider topics ranging from human consciousness to virtual reality, architecture and politics. The essays are written in an accessible style for a general audience.
The strangeness of modern physics has sparked several popular books--such as The Tao of Physics--that explore its affinity with Eastern mysticism. But the founders of quantum mechanics were educated in the classical traditions of Western civilization and Western philosophy. In Nature Loves to Hide, physicist Shimon Malin takes readers on a fascinating tour of quantum theory--one that turns to Western philosophical thought to clarify this strange yet inescapable explanation of reality. Malin translates quantum mechanics into plain English, explaining its origins (...) and workings against the backdrop of the famous debate between Niels Bohr and the skeptical Albert Einstein. Then he moves on to build a philosophical framework that can account for the quantum nature of reality. He shows, for instance, how Platonic and Neoplatonic thought resonates with quantum theory. He draws out the linkage between the concepts of Neoplatonism and the more recent process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. The universe, Whitehead wrote, is an organic whole, composed not of lifeless objects, but "elementary experiences." Beginning with Whitehead's insight, Malin shows how this concept of "throbs of experience" expresses quantum reality, with its subatomic uncertainties, its constituents that are waves and also particles, its emphasis on acts of measurement. Once any educated person could explain the universe as a vast Newtonian web of cause and effect, but since quantum theory, reality again appears to be richer and more mysterious than we had thought. Writing with broad humanistic insight and deep knowledge of science, and using delightful conversations with fictional astronauts Peter and Julie to explain more difficult concepts, Shimon Malin offers a profound new understanding of the nature of reality--one that shows a deep continuity with aspects of our Western philosophical tradition going back 2500 years, and that feels more deeply satisfying, and truer, than the clockwork universe of Newton. (shrink)
Underpinning all the other branches of science, physics affects the way we live our lives, and ultimately how life itself functions. Recent scientific advances have led to dramatic reassessment of our understanding of the world around us, and made a significant impact on our lifestyle. In this book, leading international experts, including Nobel prize winners, explore the frontiers of modern physics, from the particles inside an atom to the stars that make up a galaxy, from nano-engineering and brain research to (...) high-speed data networks. Revealing how physics plays a vital role in what we see around us, this book will fascinate scientists of all disciplines, and anyone wanting to know more about the world of physics today. (shrink)
"By combining recent advances in the physical sciences with some of the novel ideas, techniques, and data of modern biology, this book attempts to achieve a new and different kind of evolutionary synthesis. I found it to be challenging, fascinating, infuriating, and provocative, but certainly not dull."--James H, Brown, University of New Mexico "This book is unquestionably mandatory reading not only for every living biologist but for generations of biologists to come."--Jack P. Hailman, Animal Behaviour , review of the first (...) edition "An important contribution to modern evolutionary thinking. It fortifies the place of Evolutionary Theory among the other well-established natural laws."--R.Gessink, TAXON. (shrink)
Quantum field theory (QFT) combines quantum mechanics with Einstein's special theory of relativity and underlies elementary particle physics. This book presents a philosophical analysis of QFT. It is the first treatise in which the philosophies of space-time, quantum phenomena, and particle interactions are encompassed in a unified framework. Describing the physics in nontechnical terms, and schematically illustrating complex ideas, the book also serves as an introduction to fundamental physical theories. The philosophical interpretation both upholds the reality of the quantum world (...) and acknowledges the irreducible cognitive elements in its representation. The interpretation is based on an analysis of our ways of thinking as the are embedded in the logical structure of QFT. The author argues that philosophical categories are significant only if they play active and essential roles in our knowledge and hence constitute part of the theories in actual use. Thus she regards physical theories as primary, extracts their categorical structure, and uses it to rethink key philosophical questions. Among the questions this book tries to answer are: What are the quantum properties independent of measurements? How do we refer to individual things in a continuous field? How do theories relate to objects? What are the general conditions of the world and of our ways of thinking that make possible our knowledge of the microscopic realm, which is so intangible and counterintuitive? As a penetrating analysis of vital themes in contemporary science, the book will engage the interest of students and professionals in physics and philosophy alike. (shrink)
In this book, Hodgson presents a clear and compelling case against today's orthodox mechanistic view of the brain-mind, and in favor of the view that "the mind matters." In the course of the argument he ranges over such topics as consciousness, informal reasoning, computers, evolution, and quantum indeterminancy and non-locality. Although written from a philosophical viewpoint, the book has important implications for the sciences concerned with the brain-mind problem. At the same time, it is largely non-technical, and thus accessible to (...) the non-specialist reader. (shrink)
That space and time should be integrated into a single entity, spacetime, is the great insight of Einstein's special theory of relativity, and leads us to regard spacetime as a fundamental context in which to make sense of the world around us. But it is not the only one. Causality is equally important and at least as far as the special theory goes, it cannot be subsumed under a fundamentally geometrical form of explanation. In fact, the agent of propagation of (...) causal influence is electromagnetic radiation. In this examination, the authors find support for a rationalist approach to physics, never neglecting experimentation, but rejecting a simple empiricist or positivist view of science. (shrink)
One of the first books to address what has come to be known as the philosophy of cosmology, Universes asks, "Why does the universe exist?", arguing that the universe is "fine tuned for producing life." For example, if the universe's early expansion speed had been smaller by one part in a million, then it would have recollapsed rapidly; with an equivalently tiny speed increase, no galaxies would have formed. Either way, this universe would have been lifeless.
Statistical mechanics is one of the crucial fundamental theories of physics, and in his new book Lawrence Sklar, one of the pre-eminent philosophers of physics, offers a comprehensive, non-technical introduction to that theory and to attempts to understand its foundational elements. Among the topics treated in detail are: probability and statistical explanation, the basic issues in both equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, the role of cosmology, the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics, and the alleged foundation of the very notion (...) of time asymmetry in the entropic asymmetry of systems in time. The book emphasises the interaction of scientific and philosophical modes of reasoning, and in this way will interest all philosophers of science as well as those in physics and chemistry concerned with philosophical questions. The book could also be read by an informed general reader interested in the foundations of modern science. (shrink)
Isaac Newton wrote the manuscript Questiones quaedam philosophicae at the very beginning of his scientific career. This small notebook thus affords rare insight into the beginnings of Newton's thought and the foundations of his subsequent intellectual development. The Questiones contains a series of entries in Newton's hand that range over many topics in science, philosophy, psychology, theology, and the foundations of mathematics. These notes, written in English, provide a very detailed picture of Newton's early interests, and record his critical appraisal (...) of contemporary issues in natural philosophy. Written predominantly in 1664-5, they give a significant perspective on Newton's thought just prior to his annus mirabilis, 1666. This volume provides a complete transcription of the Questiones, together with an 'expansion' into modern English, and a full editorial commentary on the content and significance of the notebook in the development of Newton's thought. It will be essential reading for all those interested in Newton and the intellectual foundations of science. (shrink)
Carl G. Hempel exerted greater influence upon philosophers of science than any other figure during the 20th century. In this far-reaching collection, distinguished philosophers contribute valuable studies that illuminate and clarify the central problems to which Hempel was devoted. The essays enhance our understanding of the development of logical empiricism as the major intellectual influence for scientifically-oriented philosophers and philosophically-minded scientists of the 20th century.
The book is drawn from the Tarner lectures, delivered in Cambridge in 1993. It is concerned with the ultimate nature of reality, and how this is revealed by modern physical theories such as relativity and quantum theory. The objectivity and rationality of science are defended against the views of relativists and social constructionists. It is claimed that modern physics gives us a tentative and fallible, but nevertheless rational, approach to the nature of physical reality. The role of subjectivity in science (...) is examined in the fields of relativity theory, statistical mechanics and quantum theory, and recent claims of an essential role for human consciousness in physics is rejected. Prospects for a 'Theory of Everything' are considered, and the related question of how to assess scientific progress is carefully examined. (shrink)
What do we really know? What are we in relation to the world around us? Here, the acclaimed playwright and novelist takes on the great questions of his career—and of our lives Humankind, scientists agree, is an insignificant speck in the impersonal vastness of the universe. But what would that universe be like if we were not here to say something about it? Would there be numbers if there were no one to count them? Would the universe even be vast, (...) without the fact of our smallness to give it scale? With wit, charm, and brilliance, this epic work of philosophy sets out to make sense of our place in the scheme of things. Our contact with the world around us, Michael Frayn shows, is always fleeting and indeterminate, yet we have nevertheless had to fashion a comprehensible universe in which action is possible. But how do we distinguish our subjective experience from what is objectively true and knowable? Surveying the spectrum of philosophical concerns from the existence of space and time to relativity and language, Frayn attempts to resolve what he calls “the oldest mystery”: the world is what we make of it. In which case, though, what are we? All of Frayn’s novels and plays have grappled with these essential questions; in this book he confronts them head-on. (shrink)
Bewildering features of modern physics, such as relativistic space-time structure and the peculiarities of so-called quantum statistics, challenge traditional ways of conceiving of objects in space and time. Interpreting Bodies brings together essays by leading philosophers and scientists to provide a unique overview of the implications of such physical theories for questions about the nature of objects. The collection combines classic articles by Max Born, Werner Heisenberg, Hans Reichenbach, and Erwin Schrodinger with recent contributions, including several papers that have never (...) before been published. -/- The book focuses on the microphysical objects that are at the heart of quantum physics and addresses issues central to both the "foundational" and the philosophical debates about objects. Contributors explore three subjects in particular: how to identify a physical object as an individual, the notion of invariance with respect to determining what objects are or could be, and how to relate objective and measurable properties to a physical entity. The papers cover traditional philosophical topics, common-sense questions, and technical matters in a consistently clear and rigorous fashion, illuminating some of the most perplexing problems in modern physics and the philosophy of science. (shrink)
Abraham Pais's Subtle Is the Lord was a publishing phenomenon: a mathematically sophisticated exposition of the science and the life of Albert Einstein that reached a huge audience and won an American Book Award. Reviewers hailed the book as "a monument to sound scholarship and graceful style", "an extraordinary biography of an extraordinary man", and "a fine book". In this groundbreaking new volume, Pais undertakes a history of the physics of matter and of physical forces since the discovery of x-rays. (...) The book attempts to relate not only what has happened over the last hundred years but why it happened the way it did, what it was like for those scientists involved, and how what at the time may have seemed a series of bizarre or unrelated events, now with hindsight emerges as a logical sequence of events. Pais, a noted physicist, was personally involved in many of the developments he describes, and thus Inward Bound, like his earlier book, is filled with unique insights into the world of big and small physics. Between 1895 and 1983, the period he covers, the smallest distances explored have shrunk a hundred millionfold, Pais notes. Along this incompletely traveled "road inward," scientists have established markers that later generations will rank among the principal monuments of the twentieth century. In alternating technical and nontechnical sections, this magisterial survey richly conveys what has been discovered about the constituents of matter, the laws to which they are subject, and the forces that act on them. But the advances have certainly not come smoothly. The book shows that these have been times of progress and stagnation, of order and chaos, of clarity and confusion, of belief and incredulity, of the conventional and the bizarre; also of revolutionaries and conservatives, of science by individuals and by consortia, of little gadgets and big machines, and of modest funds and big money. About the Author: Abraham Pais is Detlev W. Bronk Professor of Physics at the Rockefeller University. The author of the prizewinning biography of Einstein now undertakes a history of modern physics. (shrink)
This book is about how to understand quantum mechanics by means of a modal interpretation. Modal interpretations provide a general framework within which quantum mechanics can be considered as a theory that describes reality in terms of physical systems possessing definite properties. Quantum mechanics is standardly understood to be a theory about probabilities with which measurements have outcomes. Modal interpretations are relatively new attempts to present quantum mechanics as a theory which, like other physical theories, describes an observer-independent reality. In (...) this book, Pieter Vermaas summarises the results of this work. The book will be of great value to undergraduates, graduate students and researchers in philosophy of science, and physics departments with an interest in learning about modal interpretations of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
Is Science Neurotic? sets out to show that science suffers from a damaging but rarely noticed methodological disease — “rationalistic neurosis.” Assumptions concerning metaphysics, human value and politics, implicit in the aims of science, are repressed, and the malaise has spread to affect the whole academic enterprise, with the potential for extraordinarily damaging long-term consequences. The book begins with a discussion of the aims and methods of natural science, and moves on to discuss social science, philosophy, education, psychoanalytic theory and (...) academic inquiry as a whole. It makes an original and compelling contribution to the current debate between those for and those against science, arguing that science would be of greater human value if it were more rigorous — we suffer not from too much scientific rationality, but too little. The author discusses the need for a revolution in the aims of science and academic inquiry in general and, in a lively and accessible style, spells out a thesis with profound importance for the long-term future of humanity. (shrink)
Welcome to the world of cutting-edge math, physics, and neuroscience, where the search for the ultimate vacuum, the point of nothingness, ground zero of theory, has rendered the universe deep, rich, and juicy. "Modern physics has animated the void," says K. C. Cole in her entrancing journey into the heart of Nothing. Every time scientists and mathematicians think they have reached the ultimate void, new stuff appears: a black hole, an undulating string, an additional dimension of space or time, repulsive (...) anti-gravity, universes that breed like bunnies. Cole's exploration at the edge of everything is as animated and exciting as the void itself. Take Cole's hand on this adventure into the unknown, and you'll come back informed, amused, and excited. (shrink)
David Bohm is one of the foremost scientific thinkers of today and one of the most distinguished scientists of his generation. His challenge to the conventional understanding of quantum theory has led scientists to reexamine what it is they are going and his ideas have been an inspiration across a wide range of disciplines. Quantum Implications is a collection of original contributions by many of the world' s leading scholars and is dedicated to David Bohm, his (...) work and the issues raised by his ideas. The contributors range across physics, philosophy, biology, art, psychology, and include some of the most distinguished scientists of the day. There is an excellent introduction by the editors, putting Bohm's work in context and setting right some of the misconceptions that have persisted about the work of David Bohm. (shrink)
Why is the future so different from the past? Why does the past affect the future and not the other way around? What does quantum mechanics really tell us about the world? In this important and accessible book, Huw Price throws fascinating new light on some of the great mysteries of modern physics, and connects them in a wholly original way. Price begins with the mystery of the arrow of time. Why, for example, does disorder always increase, as required by (...) the second law of thermodynamics? Price shows that, for over a century, most physicists have thought about these problems the wrong way. Misled by the human perspective from within time, which distorts and exaggerates the differences between past and future, they have fallen victim to what Price calls the "double standard fallacy": proposed explanations of the difference between the past and the future turn out to rely on a difference which has been slipped in at the beginning, when the physicists themselves treat the past and future in different ways. To avoid this fallacy, Price argues, we need to overcome our natural tendency to think about the past and the future differently. We need to imagine a point outside time -- an Archimedean "view from nowhen" -- from which to observe time in an unbiased way. Offering a lively criticism of many major modern physicists, including Richard Feynman and Stephen Hawking, Price shows that this fallacy remains common in physics today -- for example, when contemporary cosmologists theorize about the eventual fate of the universe. The "big bang" theory normally assumes that the beginning and end of the universe will be very different. But if we are to avoid the double standard fallacy, we need to consider time symmetrically, and take seriously the possibility that the arrow of time may reverse when the universe recollapses into a "big crunch." Price then turns to the greatest mystery of modern physics, the meaning of quantum theory. He argues that in missing the Archimedean viewpoint, modern physics has missed a radical and attractive solution to many of the apparent paradoxes of quantum physics. Many consequences of quantum theory appear counterintuitive, such as Schrodinger's Cat, whose condition seems undetermined until observed, and Bell's Theorem, which suggests a spooky "nonlocality," where events happening simultaneously in different places seem to affect each other directly. Price shows that these paradoxes can be avoided by allowing that at the quantum level the future does, indeed, affect the past. This demystifies nonlocality, and supports Einstein's unpopular intuition that quantum theory describes an objective world, existing independently of human observers: the Cat is alive or dead, even when nobody looks. So interpreted, Price argues, quantum mechanics is simply the kind of theory we ought to have expected in microphysics -- from the symmetric standpoint. Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point presents an innovative and controversial view of time and contemporary physics. In this exciting book, Price urges physicists, philosophers, and anyone who has ever pondered the mysteries of time to look at the world from the fresh perspective of Archimedes' Point and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, the universe around us, and our own place in time. (shrink)
The final work of a distinguished physicist, this remarkable volume examines the emotive significance of time, the time order of mechanics, the time direction of thermodynamics and microstatistics, the time direction of macrostatistics, and the time of quantum physics. Coherent discussions include accounts of analytic methods of scientific philosophy in the investigation of probability, quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity, and causality. "[Reichenbach’s] best by a good deal."—Physics Today. 1971 ed.
Furley's study presents a clear picture of the opposing views of the natural world and its contents as seen by philosophers and scientists in classical antiquity. On one side were the materialists whose world was mechanistic, evolutionary, and unbounded, lacking the focus of a natural center. The other side included teleologists, whose world was purposive, non-evolutionary, finite, and centrifocal. This volume takes the reader up to the criticisms of Plato and Aristotle. The second volume will examine Plato and Aristotle's own (...) cosmology and follow the debate to the sixth century. Professor Furley has produced a history of the early views of the physical world whose scope makes this book of major importance. (shrink)
In this new edition, Arthur Fine looks at Einstein's philosophy of science and develops his own views on realism. A new Afterword discusses the reaction to Fine's own theory. "What really led Einstein . . . to renounce the new quantum order? For those interested in this question, this book is compulsory reading."--Harvey R. Brown, American Journal of Physics "Fine has successfully combined a historical account of Einstein's philosophical views on quantum mechanics and a discussion of some of the philosophical (...) problems associated with the interpretation of quantum theory with a discussion of some of the contemporary questions concerning realism and antirealism. . . . Clear, thoughtful, [and] well-written."--Allan Franklin, Annals of Science "Attempts, from Einstein's published works and unpublished correspondence, to piece together a coherent picture of 'Einstein realism.' Especially illuminating are the letters between Einstein and fellow realist Schrodinger, as the latter was composing his famous 'Schrodinger-Cat' paper."--Nick Herbert, New Scientist "Beautifully clear. . . . Fine's analysis is penetrating, his own results original and important. . . . The book is a splendid combination of new ways to think about quantum mechanics, about realism, and about Einstein's views of both."--Nancy Cartwright, Isis. (shrink)
Appearance and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics addresses quantum mechanics and relativity and their philosophical implications, focusing on whether these theories of modern physics can help us know nature as it really is, or only as it appears to us. The author clearly explains the foundational concepts and principles of both quantum mechanics and relativity and then uses them to argue that we can know more than mere appearances, and that we can know to some extent the (...) way things really are. He argues that modern physics gives us reason to believe that we can know some things about the objective, real world, but he also acknowledges that we cannot know everything, which results in a position he calls realistic realism. This book is not a survey of possible philosophical interpretations of modern physics, nor does it leap from a caricature of the physics to some wildly alarming metaphysics. Instead, it is careful with the physics and true to the evidence in arriving at its own realistic conclusions. It presents the physics without mathematics, and makes extensive use of diagrams and analogies to explain important ideas. Engaging and accessible, Appearance and Reality serves as an ideal introduction for anyone interested in the intersection of philosophy and physics, including students in philosophy of physics and philosophy of science courses. (shrink)
Using an original approach, Mauro Dardo recounts the major achievements of twentieth-century physics--including relativity, quantum mechanics, atomic and nuclear physics, the invention of the transistor and the laser, superconductivity, binary pulsars, and the Bose-Einstein condensate--as each emerged. His year-by-year chronicle, biographies and revealing personal anecdotes help bring to life the main events since the first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901. The work of the most famous physicists of the twentieth century--including the Curies, Bohr, Heisenberg, Einstein, Fermi, Feynman, Gell-Mann, Rutherford, (...) and Schrödinger--is presented, often in the words and imagery of the prize-winners themselves. Mauro Dardo is Professor of Experimental Physics at Amedeo Avogadro University. He has served as Dean of the new Faculty of Sciences at the University of Turin in Alessandria, Piedmont, and has also served as Director of the university's new department of Sciences and Advanced Technologies. (shrink)