It is argued that Minkowski space-time cannot serve as the deep structure within a ``constructive'' version of the special theory of relativity, contrary to widespread opinion in the philosophical community.
In a recent paper in this journal, Kosso () discussed the observational status of continuous symmetries of physics. While we are in broad agreement with his approach, we disagree with his analysis. In the discussion of the status of gauge symmetry, a set of examples offered by 't Hooft () has influenced several philosophers, including Kosso; in all cases the interpretation of the examples is mistaken. In this paper, we present our preferred approach to the empirical significance of symmetries, re-analysing (...) the cases of gauge symmetry and general covariance. Direct and indirect empirical significance Global and local continuous symmetries Gauge symmetry 3.1 Local gauge symmetry 3.1.1 Discussion of the first claim 3.1.2 Discussion of the second claim 3.2 Global gauge symmetry Space-time symmetries Direct and indirect empirical significance again Conclusion. (shrink)
The implications for the substantivalist–relationalist controversy of Barbour and Bertotti's successful implementation of a Machian approach to dynamics are investigated. It is argued that in the context of Newtonian mechanics, the Machian framework provides a genuinely relational interpretation of dynamics and that it is more explanatory than the conventional, substantival interpretation. In a companion paper (Pooley [2002a]), the viability of the Machian framework as an interpretation of relativistic physics is explored. 1 Introduction 2 Newton versus Leibniz 3 Absolute space versus (...) an affine connection 4 Anti-relationalist arguments 5 Rehabilitating relationalism 6 Dynamics on the relative configuration space 7 Intrinsic particle dynamics 8 Conclusion. (shrink)
Abstract The historical evolution of the principle of relativity from Galileo to Einstein is briefly traced, and purported difficulties with Einstein's formulation of the principle are examined and dismissed. This formulation is then compared to a precise version formulated recently in the geometrical language of spacetime theories. We claim that the recent version is both logically puzzling and fails to capture a crucial physical insight contained in the earlier formulations. The implications of this claim for the modern treatment of general (...) dynamical symmetries are discussed. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the `Lorentzian Pedagogy' defended by J.S. Bell in his essay ``How to teach special relativity'', and to explore its consistency with Einstein's thinking from 1905 to 1952. Some remarks are also made in this context on Weyl's philosophy of relativity and his 1918 gauge theory. Finally, it is argued that the Lorentzian pedagogy---which stresses the important connection between kinematics and dynamics---clarifies the role of rods and clocks in general relativity.
We discuss what we take to be three possible misconceptions in the foundations of general relativity, relating to: the interpretation of the weak equivalence principle and the relationship between gravity and inertia; the connection between gravitational redshift results and spacetime curvature; and the Einstein equivalence principle and the ability to ``transform away" gravity in local inertial coordinate systems.
The action-reaction principle (AR) is examined in three contexts: (1) the inertial-gravitational interaction between a particle and space-time geometry, (2) protective observation of an extended wave function of a single particle, and (3) the causal-stochastic or Bohm interpretation of quantum mechanics. A new criterion of reality is formulated using the AR principle. This criterion implies that the wave function of a single particle is real and justifies in the Bohm interpretation the dual ontology of the particle and its associated wave (...) function. But it is concluded that the Bohm theory is not dynamically complete because the particle and its associated wave function do not satisfy the AR principle. (shrink)
Quantum field theory, one of the most rapidly developing areas of contemporary physics, is full of problems of great theoretical and philosophical interest. This collection of essays is the first systematic exploration of the nature and implications of quantum field theory. The contributors discuss quantum field theory from a wide variety of standpoints, exploring in detail its mathematical structure and metaphysical and methodological implications.
It is argued that awareness of the distinction between dynamical and variational symmetries is crucial to understanding the significance of Noether's 1918 work. Specific attention is paid, by way of a number of striking examples, to Noether's first theorem, which establishes a correlation between dynamical symmetries and conservation principles.
The existence of a definite tangent space structure (metric with Lorentzian signature) in the general theory of relativity is the consequence of a fundamental assumption concerning the local validity of special relativity. There is then at the heart of Einstein's theory of gravity an absolute element which depends essentially on a common feature of all the non-gravitational interactions in the world, and which has nothing to do with space-time curvature. Tentative implications of this point for the significance of the vacuum (...) solutions in general relativity, and for the issue of quantising gravity, are briefly examined. (shrink)
Modern insolubility proofs of the measurement problem in quantum mechanics not only differ in their complexity and degree of generality, but also reveal a lack of agreement concerning the fundamental question of what constitutes such a proof. A systematic reworking of the (incomplete) 1970 Fine theorem is presented, which is intended to go some way toward clarifying the issue.
The kinematical principle of Equal Passage Times (EPT) was introduced by Winnie in his 1970 derivation of the relativistic coordinate transformations compatible with arbitrary synchrony conventions in one-dimensional space. In this paper, the claim by Winnie and later Giannoni that EPT is a direct consequence of the relativity principle is questioned. It is shown that EPT, given Einstein's 1905 postulates, is equivalent to the relativistic (synchrony independent) clock retardation principle, and that for standard synchrony it reduces to an isotropy condition (...) for contraction (and dilation) effects. (shrink)
One of the widespread confusions concerning the history of the 1887 Michelson-Morley experiment has to do with the initial explanation of this celebrated null result due independently to FitzGerald and Lorentz. In neither case was a strict, longitudinal length contraction hypothesis invoked, as is commonly supposed. Lorentz postulated, particularly in 1895, any one of a certain family of possible deformation effects for rigid bodies in motion, including purely transverse alteration, and expansion as well as contraction; FitzGerald may well have had (...) the same family in mind. A careful analysis of the Michelson-Morley experiment (which reveals a number of serious inadequacies in many text-book treatments) indeed shows that strict contraction is not required. (shrink)
It is argued that an unheralded moment marking the beginnings of relativity theory occurred in 1889, when G. F. FitzGerald, no doubt with the puzzling 1887 Michelson-Morley experiment fresh in mind, wrote to Heaviside about the possible effects of motion on inter-molecular forces in bodies. Emphasis is placed on the difference between FitzGerald's and Lorentz's independent justifications of the shape distortion effect involved. Finally, the importance of the their `constructive' approach to kinematics---stripped of any commitment to the physicality of the (...) ether--- will be defended, in the spirit of Pauli, Swann and Bell. (shrink)
Between 1964 and 1990, the notion of nonlocality in Bell's papers underwent a profound change as his nonlocality theorem gradually became detached from quantum mechanics, and referred to wider probabilistic theories involving correlations between separated beables. The proposition that standard quantum mechanics is itself nonlocal became divorced from the Bell theorem per se from 1976 on, although this important point is widely overlooked in the literature. In 1990, the year of his death, Bell would express serious misgivings about the mathematical (...) form of the local causality condition, and leave ill-defined the issue of the consistency between special relativity and violation of the Bell-type inequality. In our view, the significance of the Bell theorem, both in its deterministic and stochastic forms, can only be fully understood by taking into account the fact that a fully Lorentz-covariant version of quantum theory, free of action-at-a-distance, can be articulated in the Everett interpretation. (shrink)
We highlight and resolve what we take to be three common misconceptions in general relativity, relating to the interpretation of the weak equivalence principle and the relationship between gravity and inertia; the connection between gravitational redshift results and spacetime curvature; and the strong equivalence principle and the local recovery of special relativity in curved, dynamical spacetime.
In a comparison of the principles of special relativity and of quantum mechanics, the former theory is marked by its relative economy and apparent explanatory simplicity. A number of theorists have thus been led to search for a small number of postulates - essentially information theoretic in nature - that would play the role in quantum mechanics that the relativity principle and the light postulate jointly play in Einstein's 1905 special relativity theory. The purpose of the present paper is to (...) resist this idea, at least in so far as it is supposed to reveal the fundamental form of the theory. It is argued that the methodology of Einstein's 1905 theory represents a victory of pragmatism over explanatory depth; and that its adoption only made sense in the context of the chaotic state state of physics at the start of the 20th century - as Einstein well knew. (shrink)
The ability of trees to suck water from roots to leaves, sometimes to heights of over a hundred meters, is remarkable given the absence of any mechanical pump. This study deals with a number of issues, of both an historical and conceptual nature, in the orthodox ``Cohesion-Tension'' theory of the ascent of sap in trees. The theory relies chiefly on the exceptional cohesive and adhesive properties of water, the structural properties of trees, and the role of evaporation from leaves. But (...) it is not the whole story. Plant scientists have been aware since the inception of the theory in the late 19th century that further processes are at work in order to “prime” the trees, the main such process -- growth itself -- being so obvious to them that it is often omitted from the story. Other factors depend largely on the type of tree, and are not always fully understood. For physicists, in particular, it may be helpful to see the fuller picture, which is what this study attempts to provide in non-technical terms. (shrink)
It is still perhaps not widely appreciated that in 1905 Einstein used his postulate concerning the ‘constancy’ of the light-speed in the ‘resting’ frame, in conjunction with the principle of relativity, to derive numerical light-speed invariance. Now a ‘weak’ version of the relativity principle (or, alternatively, appeal to the Michelson—Morley experiment) leads from Einstein's light postulate to a condition that we call universal light-speed constancy. which is weaker than light-speed invariance. It follows from earlier independent investigations (Robertson ; Steigler ; (...) Tzanakis and Kyritsis ) that this condition is none the less sufficient to derive the Lorentz transformations up to a scale factor, given the well-known kinematic principle of ‘reciprocity’. In this paper, we follow Robertson and explore the kinematics consistent with universal light-speed constancy without imposing reciprocity, and we recover the Lorentz transformations by further appeal only to the weak relativity principle and spatial isotropy. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to illustrate four properties of the non-relativistic limits of relativistic theories: (a) that a massless relativistic field may have a meaningful non-relativistic limit, (b) that a relativistic field may have more than one non-relativistic limit, (c) that coupled relativistic systems may be ''more relativistic'' than their uncoupled counterparts, and (d) that the properties of the non-relativistic limit of a dynamical equation may differ from those obtained when the limiting equation is based directly on exact (...) Galilean kinematics. These properties are demonstrated through an examination of the non-relativistic limit of the familiar equations of first-quantized QED, i.e., the Dirac and Maxwell equations. The conditions under which each set of equations admits non-relativistic limits are given, particular attention being given to a gauge-invariant formulation of the limiting process especially as it applies to the electromagnetic potentials. The difference between the properties of a limiting theory and an exactly Galilean covariant theory based on the same dynamical equation is demonstrated by examination of the Pauli equation. (shrink)
Three claims about what makes a theory “physically complete” are (1) Shimony's assertion that a complete theory says “all there is to say” about nature; (2) EPR's requirement that a complete theory describe all “elements of reality”; and (3) Ballentine and Jarrett's claim that a “predictively complete” theory must obey a condition used in Bell deviations. After introducing “statistical completeness” as a partial formalization of (1), we explore the logical and motivational relationships connecting these completeness conditions. We find that statistical (...) completeness motivates but does not imply Jarrett's completeness condition, because Jarrett's condition encodes further intuitions about locality and causality. We also dispute Ballentine and Jarrett's claim that EPR-completeness implies Jarrett's completeness condition. (shrink)
Heisenberg'sgendanken experiments in quantum mechanics have given rise to a widespread belief that the indeterminacy relations holding for the variables of a quantal system can be explained quasiclassically in terms of a disturbance suffered by the system in interaction with a quantal measurement, or state preparation, agent. There are a number of criticisms of this doctrine in the literature, which are critically examined in this article and found to be ininconclusive, the chief error being the conflation of this disturbance with (...) the projection postulate. We present a critique of the disturbance theory based on the fact that the required disturbance will in general depend on the interaction time of the system and state-preparer. This point is exploited in the construction of a spin-interaction model which acts as a counterexample to the disturbance doctrine, while remaining faithful to the spirit of Heisenberg'sgedanken experiments. Several consequences of this result are discussed. (shrink)
The vacuum is fast emerging as the central structure of modern physics. This collection brings together philosophically-minded specialists who engage these issues in the context of classical gravity, quantum electrodynamics, and the grand unification program. The vacuum emerges as the synthesis of concepts of space, time, and matter; in the context of relativity and the quantum this new synthesis represents a structure of the most intricate and novel complexity. This book is a work in modern metaphysics, in which the concepts (...) of substance and space interweave in the most intangible of forms, the background and context of our physical experience: vacuum, void, or nothingness. (shrink)
Internal global symmetries exist for the free non-relativistic Schrodinger particle, whose associated Noether charges---the space integrals of the wavefunction and the wavefunction multiplied by the spatial coordinate---are exhibited. Analogous symmetries in classical electromagnetism are also demonstrated.
'Correlations without correlata' is an influential way of thinking of quantum entanglement as a form primitive correlation which nonetheless maintains locality of quantum theory. A number of arguments have sought to suggest that such a view leads either to internal inconsistency or to conflict with the empirical predictions of quantum mechanics. Here wew explicate and provide a partial defence of the notion, arguing that these objections import unwarranted conceptions of correlation properties as hidden variables. A more plausible account sees the (...) properties in terms of Everettian relative states. The ontological robustness of entanglement is also defended from recent objections. (shrink)
A comparison is made of the traditional Loschmidt and Zermelo objections to Boltzmann's H-theorem, and its simplified variant in the Ehrenfests' 1912 wind-tree model. The little-cited 1896 objection of Zermelo is also analysed. Significant differences between the objections are highlighted, and several old and modern misconceptions concerning both them and the H-theorem are clarified. We give particular emphasis to the radical nature of Poincare's and Zermelo's attack, and the importance of the shift in Boltzmann's thinking in response to the objections (...) as a whole. (shrink)
From its first significant appearance in physics, the notion of probability has been linked in the minds of physicists with the notion of uncertainty. But the link may prove to be tenuous, if quantum mechanics, construed in terms of the Everett interpretation, is anything to go by.
Considerable work within the modern 'space-time theory' approach to relativity physics has been devoted to clarifying the role and meaning of the principle of relativity. Two recent discussions of the principle within this approach, due to Arntzenius (1990) and Friedman (1983), are found to contain difficulties.
Since the 1909 work of Carathéodory, formulations of thermodynamics have gained ground which highlight the role of the the binary relation of adiabatic accessibility between equilibrium states. A feature of Carathéodory's system is that the version therein of the second law contains an ambiguity about the nature of irreversible adiabatic processes, making it weaker than the traditional Kelvin-Planck statement of the law. This paper attempts first to clarify the nature of this ambiguity, by defining the arrow of time in thermodynamics (...) by way of the Equilibrium Principle. It then argues that the ambiguity reappears in the important 1999 axiomatisation due to Lieb and Yngvason. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to illustrate four properties of the non-relativistic limits of relativistic theories: that a massless relativistic field may have a meaningful non-relativistic limt, that a relativistic field may have more than one non-relativistic limit, that coupled relativistic systems may be "more relativistic" than their uncoupled counterparts, and that the properties of the non-relativistic limit of a dynamical equation may differ from those obtained when the limiting equation is based directly on exact Galilean kinematics. These properties (...) are demonstrated through an examination of the non-relativistic limit of the familiar equations of first-quantized QED, i.e., the Dirac and Maxwell equations. The conditions under which each set of equations admits non-relativistic limits are given, particular attention being given to a gauge-invariant formulation of the limiting process especially as it applied to the electromagnetic potentials. The difference between the properties of a limiting theory and an exactly Galilean covariant theory based on the same dynamical equation is demonstrated by examination of the Pauli equation. (shrink)