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)
Contemporary physics, especially quantum theory, has raised profound questions about the relationship between the methods of science and the reality these methods seek to investigate. D'Espagnat investigates these questions as well as how we should answer them. Part I examines the practices of contemporary physicists and addresses the criticism philosophers of science have made of these practices. The doctrine of physical realism, adopted by most physicists and many philosophers of science, comprises Part II. Part III explores the consequences of physical (...) realism for our understanding of what science can seek to know of reality, and concludes by outlining the position contemporary physics indicates we should take. (shrink)
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)
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)
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.
This volume introduces some of the basic philosophical and conceptual questions underlying the formulation of quantum mechanics, one of the most baffling and far-reaching aspects of modern physics. The book consists of articles by leading thinkers in this field, who have been inspired by the profound work of the late John Bell. Some of the deepest issues concerning the nature of physical reality are debated, including the theory of physical measurements, how to test quantum mechanics, and how classical and quantum (...) physics are related. This book will be of interest to students with a background in quantum physics, who wish to explore in more detail its philosophical aspects, practising scientists who are not content with blindly applying the rules of quantum mechanics, and anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the philosophy of physics. (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.
Recent developments in quantum theory have focused attention on fundamental questions, in particular on whether it might be necessary to modify quantum mechanics to reconcile quantum gravity and general relativity. This book is based on a conference held in Oxford in the spring of 1984 to discuss quantum gravity. It brings together contributors who examine different aspects of the problem, including the experimental support for quantum mechanics, its strange and apparently paradoxical features, its underlying philosophy, and possible modifications to the (...) theory. (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.
By exploring principles found in psychology, math, physics, and shamanism, it becomes possible to link a cosmic perspective with ordinary life. This comprehensive work ventures into that challenging junction, journeying through the universe on paths of reason and magic, math and myth, bringing together humanity's traditional wisdom and shamanism with contemporary science.
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)
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" (The New York Times Book Review), "an extraordinary biography of an extraordinary man" (Christian Science Monitor), and "a fine book" (Scientific American). 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)
Peg Rawes examines a "minor tradition" of aesthetic geometries in ontological philosophy. Developed through Kant’s aesthetic subject she explores a trajectory of geometric thinking and geometric figurations--reflective subjects, folds, passages, plenums, envelopes and horizons--in ancient Greek, post-Cartesian and twentieth-century Continental philosophies, through which productive understandings of space and embodies subjectivities are constructed. Six chapters, explore the construction of these aesthetic geometric methods and figures in a series of "geometric" texts by Kant, Plato, Proclus, Spinoza, Leibniz, Bergson, Husserl and Deleuze. In (...) each text, geometry is expressed as a uniquely embodies aesthetic activity because each respective geometric method and figure is imbued with aesthetic sensibility and geometric sense (rather than as disembodies scientific methods). An ontology of aesthetic geometric methods and figures is therefore traced from Kant’s Critical writings, back to Plato and Proclus Greek philosophy, Spinoza and Leibniz’s post-Cartesian philosophies, and forwards to Bergson’s "duration" and Husserl’s "horizons" towards Deleuze’s philosophy of sense. (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)
"Clear and coherent ... One of the most exciting aspects of the book is the author's account of how the consequences and implications of the breakthroughs in quantum mechanics challenged the mechanistic, deterministic philosophy fostered by classical science."-- The Science Teacher . Written by a respected Harvard physicist, this introductory account of the evolution of quantum physics also explores the subject's philosophical implications. The opening chapters trace the development of physics from antiquity onward, chronicling the origins of (...) class='Hi'>quantum mechanics and the ways in which quantum theory was used to address previously unsolved problems and to interpret observable atomic phenomena. Succeeding chapters are devoted to matters at the forefront of research pertaining to elementary particles, and the text concludes with a look at the old and new concepts of physical science and their relationship to issues of philosophy and religion--including considerations of causality, determinism, and free will. 1968 ed. 36 black-and-white figures. 12 halftones. (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 twilight of certainty -- Einstein and light -- The Bohr atom and old quantum theory -- Uncertain synthesis -- Dualities -- Elements of physical reality -- Creation and annihilation -- Quantum mechanics goes to work -- Symmetries and resonances -- "The most profound discovery of science" -- Bits, qubits, and the ultimate computer -- Unfinished. business.
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)
In a tour de force of scholarship and vision, Ken Wilber traces the course of evolution from matter to life to mind. In each case evolution has a "direction," a tendency to produce more highly organized patterns. The "spirit of evolution" lies in its directionality: order out of chaos. After arriving at the emergence of mind, Wilber traces the evolution of human consciousness through its major stages of development, pointing out that at each stage there is the "dialectic of progress"--every (...) increase in consciousness is bought at a price: new freedom also means new license to choose destruction. He particularly focuses on the rise of modernity and post-modernity--what they mean, how they relate to gender issues, to psychotherapy, to ecological concerns, and to various liberation movements. Most important, he asks: Can spiritual concerns be integrated with massive developments of the modern world? This edition is updated and includes a new introduction placing it in the context of the Collected Works. (shrink)
With over 150 alphabetically arranged entries about key scientists, concepts, discoveries, technological innovations, and learned institutions, the Oxford Guide to Physics and Astronomy traces the history of physics and astronomy from the Renaissance to the present. For students, teachers, historians, scientists, and readers of popular science books such as Galileo's Daughter, this guide deciphers the methods and philosophies of physics and astronomy as well as the historical periods from which they emerged. Meant to serve the lay reader and the professional (...) alike, this book can be turned to for the answer to how scientists learned to measure the speed of light, or consulted for neat, careful summaries of topics as complicated as quantum field theory and as vast as the universe. The entries, each written by a noted scholar and edited by J. L. Heilbron, Professor of History and Vice Chancellor, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, reflect the most up-to-date research and discuss the applications of the scientific disciplines to the wider world of religion, law, war, art and literature. No other source on these two branches of science is as informative or as inviting. Thoroughly cross-referenced and accented by dozens of black and white illustrations, the Oxford Guide to Physics and Astronomy is the source to turn to for anyone looking for a quick explanation of alchemy, x-rays and any type of matter or energy in between. (shrink)
Strong claims have been made for emergence as a new paradigm for understanding science, consciousness, and religion. Tracing the past history and current definitions of the concept, Clayton assesses the case for emergent phenomena in the natural world and their significance for philosophy and theology. Complex emergent phenomena require irreducible levels of explanation in physics, chemistry and biology. This pattern of emergence suggests a new approach to the problem of consciousness, which is neither reducible to brain states nor proof of (...) a mental substance or soul. Although emergence does not entail classical theism, it is compatible with a variety of religious positions. Clayton concludes with a defence of emergentist panentheism and a Christian constructive theology consistent with the new sciences of emergence. (shrink)
Cosmology has undergone a revolution in recent years. The exciting interplay between astronomy and fundamental physics has led to dramatic revelations, including the existence of the dark matter and the dark energy that appear to dominate our cosmos. But these discoveries only reveal themselves through small effects in noisy experimental data. Dealing with such observations requires the careful application of probability and statistics. But it is not only in the arcane world of fundamental physics that probability theory plays such an (...) important role. It has an impact in many aspects of our everyday life, from the law courts to the lottery. Why then do so few people understand probability? And why do so few people understand why it is so important for science? Why do so many people think that science is about absolute certainty when, at its core, it is actually dominated by uncertainty? This book attempts to explain the basics of probability theory, and illustrate their application across the entire spectrum of science. (shrink)
INTRODUCTION In Einstein's theory of gravitation matter and its dynamical interaction are based on the notion of an intrinsic geometric structure of the space -time continuum. The ideal aspiration, the ultimate aim, of the theory is not more and ...
Space and time are the most fundamental features of our experience of the world, and yet they are also the most perplexing. Does time really flow, or is that simply an illusion? Did time have a beginning? What does it mean to say that time has a direction? Does space have boundaries, or is it infinite? Is change really possible? Could space and time exist in the absence of any objects or events? What, in the end, are space and time? (...) Do they really exist, or are they simply the constructions of our minds? Robin Le Poidevin provides a clear, witty, and stimulating introduction to these deep questions and many other mind-boggling puzzles and paradoxes. He gives a vivid sense of the difficulties raised by our ordinary ideas about space and time, but he also gives us the basis to think about these problems independently, avoiding large amounts of jargon and technicality. His book is an invitation to think philosophically rather than a sustained argument for particular conclusions, but Le Poidevin does advance and defend a number of controversial views. He argues, for example, that time does not actually flow, that it is possible for space and time to be both finite and yet be without boundaries, and that causation is the key to an understanding of one of the deepest mysteries of time: its direction. Drawing on a variety of vivid examples from science, history, and literature, Travels in Four Dimensions brings to life some of the most profound questions imaginable. (shrink)
Robert Batterman examines a form of scientific reasoning called asymptotic reasoning, arguing that it has important consequences for our understanding of the scientific process as a whole. He maintains that asymptotic reasoning is essential for explaining what physicists call universal behavior. With clarity and rigor, he simplifies complex questions about universal behavior, demonstrating a profound understanding of the underlying structures that ground them. This book introduces a valuable new method that is certain to fill explanatory gaps across disciplines.
After introducing the empiricist point of view in philosophy of science, and the concepts and methods of the semantic approach to scientific theories, van Fraassen discusses quantum theory in three stages. He first examines the question of whether and how empirical phenomena require a non-classical theory, and what sort of theory they require. He then discusses the mathematical foundations of quantum theory with special reference to developments in the modelling of interaction, composite systems, and measurement. Finally, the author broaches the (...) main questions of interpretation. After offering a critique of earlier interpretations, he develops a new one--the modal interpretation--which attempts to stay close to the original Copenhagen ideas without implying a radical incompleteness in quantum theory. He again gives special attention to the character of composite, many-body systems and especially to the peculiar character of assemblies of identical particles in quantum statistics. (shrink)
Murdoch describes the historical background of the physics from which Bohr's ideas grew; he traces the origins of his idea of complementarity and discusses its meaning and significance. Special emphasis is placed on the contrasting views of Einstein, and the great debate between Bohr and Einstein is thoroughly examined. Bohr's philosophy is revealed as being much more subtle, and more interesting than is generally acknowledged.
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.
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)
The nature of concepts -- Generalizations as hierarchical -- Perceiving first-level causal connections -- Conceptualizing first-level causal connections -- The structure of inductive reasoning -- Galileo's kinematics -- Newton's optics -- The methods of difference and agreement -- Induction as inherent in conceptualization -- The birth of celestial physics -- Mathematics and causality -- The power of mathematics -- Proof of Kepler's theory -- The development of dynamics -- The discovery of universal gravitation -- Discovery is proof -- Chemical elements (...) and atoms -- The kinetic theory of gases -- The unification of chemistry -- The method of proof -- Misapplying the inductive method -- Abandoning the inductive method -- Physics as inherently mathematical -- The science of philosophy -- An end-and a new beginning. (shrink)
Throughout the history of the Western world, science has possessed an extraordinary amount of authority and prestige. And while its pedestal has been jostled by numerous evolutions and revolutions, science has always managed to maintain its stronghold as the knowing enterprise that explains how the natural world works: we treat such legendary scientists as Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein with admiration and reverence because they offer profound and sustaining insight into the meaning of the universe. In The Intelligibility of Nature (...) , Peter Dear considers how science as such has evolved and how it has marshaled itself to make sense of the world. His intellectual journey begins with a crucial observation: that the enterprise of science is, and has been, directed toward two distinct but frequently conflated ends—doing and knowing. The ancient Greeks developed this distinction of value between craft on the one hand and understanding on the other, and according to Dear, that distinction has survived to shape attitudes toward science ever since. Teasing out this tension between doing and knowing during key episodes in the history of science—mechanical philosophy and Newtonian gravitation, elective affinities and the chemical revolution, enlightened natural history and taxonomy, evolutionary biology, the dynamical theory of electromagnetism, and quantum theory—Dear reveals how the two principles became formalized into a single enterprise, science, that would be carried out by a new kind of person, the scientist. Finely nuanced and elegantly conceived, The Intelligibility of Nature will be essential reading for aficionados and historians of science alike. (shrink)