Theory construction in high-energy particle physics

Dissertation, University of Western Ontario (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Science is a process, through which theoretical frameworks are developed, new phenomena defined and discovered, and properties of entities tested. The goal of this dissertation is to illustrate how high-energy physics exemplified the process of theory construction from the 1950s to 1970s, and the promising ways in which it can continue to do so today. The lessons learned from the case studies examined here can inform future physics, and may provide methodological clues as to the best way forward today. I examine the discovery of parity nonconservation in weak interactions, the emergence of Yang-Mills theories as the foundation of the standard model, and contemporary precision testing of quantum electrodynamics. In each of these cases, I examine the details of the physicists’ practice to draw conclusions regarding the epistemology behind successful episodes of theory construction. I reconstruct the methodology of each episode in order to find generalizable lessons to apply to contemporary issues at the frontiers of the search for a theory of quantum gravity. In order to understand the many moving parts in each case study, I introduce a new terminology to distinguish the “parts” of a scientific discipline, inspired by the literature on scientific modelling. These terms—theoretical framework, dynamical model, phenomenological model, experiment, and mathematical tools—are meant to aid in investigating other quantitative scientific disciplines beyond high-energy physics. Ultimately, high-energy physics is at its best when various avenues of theoretical ideas are being pursued, spurring the development of new mathematical techniques to use as tools, and new ideas are quickly and vigorously tested experimentally. Proliferation of new ideas in response to theoretical developments is characteristic of the era of construction of the standard model, and is still ongoing in precision testing of quantum electrodynamics today.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,148

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Ontological Commitment in Quantum Field Theory.Andrew Zachary Wayne - 1994 - Dissertation, University of California, San Diego
Models as a Tool for Theory Construction: Some Strategies of Preliminary Physics.Stephan Hartmann - 1995 - In William Herfel, Władysław Krajewski, Ilkka Niiniluoto & Ryszard Wójcicki (eds.), Theories and Models in Scientific Processes. Rodopi. pp. 49-67.
The Case of the Composite Higgs: The Model as a “Rosetta Stone” in Contemporary High-Energy Physics.Arianna Borrelli - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 43 (3):195-214.
What Can Be Tested in Quantum Electrodynamics?K. Ringhofer & H. Salecker - 1980 - Foundations of Physics 10 (3-4):185-196.
Reduction, Unity and the Nature of Science: Kant's Legacy?Margaret Morrison - 2008 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 63:37-62.
Reduction, Unity and the Nature of Science: Kant's Legacy?Margaret Morrison - 2008 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 63:37-62.

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-10-19

Downloads
24 (#476,530)

6 months
1 (#413,740)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Adam Koberinski
University of Pittsburgh

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Philosophy of Cosmology.Chris Smeenk - 2013 - In Robert Batterman (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Physics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 607-652.
The Higgs Mechanism and Superconductivity: A Case Study of Formal Analogies.Doreen Fraser & Adam Koberinski - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 55:72-91.
Problems with the Cosmological Constant Problem.Adam Koberinski - 2021 - In Christian Wüthrich, Baptiste Le Bihan & Nick Huggett (eds.), Philosophy Beyond Spacetime. Oxford University Press.

View all 6 references / Add more references