This paper discusses a series of case studies on observations, experiments, and the theoretical interpretation between 1890 and 1960 of a shift of dark Fraunhofer lines in the solar spectrum. I argue for the use of flow charts to analyze interconnections and to identify sequences of research strategies. Also I advocate using a newly-developed tool called "block diagram" representation of experimental systems as an appropriate method to identify recurrent patterns in the interplay of instrumentation, experiment, and theory in research episodes.
Concepts, Experiments, History and Philosophy Daniel Greenberger, Klaus Hentschel, Friedel Weinert. 5. W. Hittorf, Ueber die Elektricit ̈atsleitung der Gase , Annalen der Physik 136, 1–31, 197–234 (1869); Engl. transl. On the Conduction of ...
An effort of proponents of relativity theory to find evidence for the so-called gravitational red-shift of spectral lines as one of the experimental consequences of Einstein's generalized theory of relativity is reconsidered with reference to hitherto unpublished documents. It is shown how much interest Albert Einstein in fact took, around 1920, in the data analysis of Leonhard Grebe and Albert Bachem, who tried to explain why most earlier efforts to find the gravitational red-shift had failed. They carefully measured the line (...) profiles of the spectral lines both in the sun's Fraunhofer lines and in pressure-independent laboratory comparison spectra. Then they rejected all lines with strong neighbouring lines which could cause apparent shifts of the line centres; the remaining seven well-isolated lines showed the gravitational red-shift with acceptable accuracy. Nevertheless, their claim to have successfully isolated the relativistic effect never convinced the astrophysicists of their day—the reasons for the scientific community's scepticism, contrasted against the enthusiastic group of Einstein sympathizers, are also discussed. (shrink)
Es wird die wechselseitige Beeinflussung Einsteins und Schlicks anhand ihrer ab 1915 erhaltenen Korrespondenz in vier Schwerpunkten untersucht. Schlicks Selbstverständnis als Philosoph wie auch einzelne Themata seines Denkens bildeten sich mit seiner Auseinandersetzung um die Relativitätstheorie Einsteins heraus, deren systematische Explikation durch Schlick auf Einsteins Beifall stieß. Als die Ursache für das Auseinanderdriften beider Denker nach 1925 werden fundamentale Differenzen im Wirklichkeitsverständnis und in der Interpretation des Kausalitätsprinzips aufgewiesen, die beide auch zu komplementären Formen der Wissenschaftsgeschichtsbetrachtung führten.Some topics in the (...) Einstein-Schlick correspondence are discussed and embedded in the historical and scientific context of the years 1915–1936.Different interpretations of the theory of relativity and their relation to Schlick's papers on relativity. It is shown that Einstein welcomed Schlick's interest in relativity because of Schlick's talent to popularize without simplifying, and that Schlick's self-assessment as a ‘Sinndeuter’ of results of science developed in the course of his studies in relativity.Simplificity as a central theme in Einstein's thought. It is demonstrated, that their exchange of thoughts intensified after Schlick adopted the motiv of simplicity; nevertheless, Schlick realized quite quickly that criteria of ‘simplicity’ have pragmatic and aesthetic components, while Einstein continued to believe in the logical unequivocality of simplicity.Different concepts of reality. An interesting phase in Einstein's philosophical development, a sort of ‘epistemological neutralism’ or ‘conventionalism’, is discussed in connection with Einstein's confrontation of different possible uses and meanings of reality.Newton and causality. Einstein's justification of Newton's introduction of the concept of the principle of causality, and their models for the progress of science, are presented. (shrink)
Die Korrespondenz der beiden Physiker und Wissenschaftshistoriker Ernst Mach und Pierre Duhem ist weitgehend, vielleicht mit Ausnahme nur eines Briefes, erhalten. Neben der Dokumentation dieser historischen Zeugnisse setzt sich der Autor in diesem Aufsatz zum Ziel, die jeweiligen Motive, die Mach resp. Duhem zur Beschäftigung mit Wissenschaftsgeschichte führten und die damit verbundenen Modelle der Wissenschaftsgeschichtsentwicklung beider gegeneinander abzugrenzen. Dazu wurden insb. die in der bisher vorliegenden Sekundärliteratur zu Mach und Duhem überhaupt nicht berücksichtigte Buchbesprechung der Machschen Mechanik durch Duhem sowie (...) die ergänzenden Bemerkungen zu Duhem in späteren Auflagen der Werke und in der Korrespondenz Machs herangezogen, die eine recht detaillierte wechselseitige Kritik ihrer Methodik beinhalten. Den Abschluß meiner Betrachtungen bildet der Versuch einer Sondierung dessen, was in Duhems resp. Machs historischen Betrachtungsweisen über die nicht in Frage stehende Bedeutung als Meilensteine der Wissenschaftsgeschichtsschreibung hinaus noch heute von Relevanz ist.The preserved part of the hitherto unpublished Duhem-Mach correspondence, kept in the Archives de l'Académie des Sciences, Paris, and in the Ernst Mach Institut of the Fraunhofer Society, Freiburg im Breisgau, is documented and commented upon. Biographical, methodological, and philosophical analogies and differences between the points of view of Pierre Duhem and Ernst Mach are discussed, and a critical evaluation is given of their impact as historians of science. (shrink)
This paper reconstructs what may have led the American professorof chemistry andnatural philosophy John William Draper to introduce a new kind ofradiation, whichhe dubbed `Tithonic rays''. After presenting his and earlierempirical findings onthe chemical action of light in Section 3, I analyze his pertinentpapers in Section 4with the aim of identifying the various types of argumentshe raised infavor of this new actinic entity (or more precisely, this newnatural kind of raybesides optical, thermal and perhaps also phosphorogenic rays).From a modernperspective, all (...) of these obviously belong within theelectromagnetic spectrum,but not so for many thinkers of the 19th century. I close withremarks about whyDraper''s interpretation was abandoned in the second half of the19th century (hehimself recanting only in 1872), and why I think such a naturalhistory ofargumentation (as one might call my approach in Section 4) may beuseful for acomparison-oriented history of science. (shrink)
This paper describes a now widely forgotten tradition in the nineteenth century which - to borrow a simile used or implied by the actors themselves - may be described as 'spectroscopic portraiture'. Quite unlike the later obsession with numerical precision in wavelength measurement, and also in stark contrast to the contemporary vogue of photographic mapping which presumptuously claimed 'mechanical objectivity', that is avoidance of any human intervention in the recorded data, there was among some spectroscopists a much greater preoccupation with (...) qualitative rather than quantitative aspects. The atlases of the solar spectrum by Cornu, Thollon, and Piazzi Smyth were supposed to convey the subjectively perceived Gestalt of the Fraunhofer lines, at the expense of precision. I shall argue that this was a systematic research programme addressed to a welldefined but small audience of specialists in the new subdiscipline of spectroscopy which was distinct from other practices such as spectrum analysis, which was directed mainly at chemists. Apart from this, the new tradition can also be identified by the dense net of cross-references in the publications of the various members, and by their critique of earlier work. This tradition of spectrum portraiture started with Kirchhoff's 1861-2 high-resolution chromolithographic plates of the solar spectrum, which were printed off a half-dozen different stones in order to render most faithfully the various line intensities. Focusing especially on the tension between representational goals and technical possibilities in the rapidly developing printing industry, I then trace the emerging tradition through its apogee to the close of the nineteenth century. (shrink)
The paper (given in the section on "Recent work in the History of Philosophy of Science) discusses the method and some of the results of the doctoral dissertation on philosophical interpretations of Einstein's special and general theories of relativity, submitted to the Dept. for History of Science, Univ. of Hamburg, in 1989, also published by Birkhauser, Basel, in 1990. It is claimed that many of the gross oversimplifications, misunderstandings and misinterpretations occurring in more than 2500 texts about the theories of (...) relativity written by scientists, philosophers, and laymen contemporary to Einstein can in fact serve as a clue to a better understanding of the general process by which philosophical interpretations are formed. Another very important source for answering the question of how misinterpretations are formed are hitherto unpublished documents in the estates of physicists and philosophers of that time, including apart from Einstein himself: Bergson, Bridgman, Carnap, Cassirer, Metz, Meyerson, Petzoldt, Reichenbach, Schlick and Vaihinger. (shrink)
For more than twenty years, Macedonio Melloni (1798â1854) experimented with radiant heat rays. Until 1841 he thought of them as ontologically different from light, but in 1842 he converted to the opposite view according to which they are similar in kind, but only differ in wavelength. In this article I analyze the arguments which induced him to change his interpretation of radiant heat and I describe the instruments with which he arrived at these insights.
Despite a renewed interest in the philosophical prehistory of logical empiricism, several texts by prominent figures such as, e.g., Moritz Schlick and Hans Reichenbach, published in non-standard journals, have escaped the notice of scholars. Here, a hitherto virtually unknown but significant review of Moritz Schlick's influential book Allgemeine Erkenntnislehre [1st ed. 1918] written by Hans Reichenbach in 1919/20 is reprinted together with comments about its background and the later development, relying on and citing from the unpublished correspondence between Schlick and (...) Reichenbach in 1920. Since they later became the leading figures in the so called Vienna and Berlin circles respectively, this episode marks an important stage in the gradual emancipation of scientific philosophy from its Kantian roots. (shrink)
The main features of a new online database of scientific illustrators are portrayed. We list illustrators of scientific publications of all genres (especially atlases, articles, textbooks) who were active between 1450 and 1950, thus excluding illuminators of medieval manuscripts as well as illustrators still active. Currently (Sept. 26, 2012), we already have more than 3,461 entries, with particular emphasis on anatomy, dermatology, botany, zoology, mineralogy, astronomy, and general natural history. Access to the database with its 20 search fields is free (...) and open to all interested users at www.uni-stu ttgart.de/hi/gnt/dsi/. (shrink)
The paper presents and discusses measurements of gravitational redshift made between 1959 and 1971 by Pound and Rebka, Schiffer and Marshall, Brault, Blamont and Roddier, and finally by Snider. It emphasizes the importance of new measurement techniques such as wavelength modulation, electronic amplification, and scattering of atomic beams to the emergence of new tests of Einstein's GRS prediction, which were perceived by the scientific community as the first ‘clean’ verifications of GRS. In particular, the race to be the first to (...) apply the Mössbauer effect to the GRS problem is described. As soon as the Mössbauer effect was stabilized, it was transformed into a measurement technology that in turn triggered new types of experimental tests of GRS. (shrink)
The growing need for standardized units of measure led to major metrological reforms in the mid-nineteenth century. This paper focusses on their implementation in the Kingdom of Hanover and the involvement of C.F. Gauss. His papers reveal how much the success of his precision measurements hinged on the skill of his mechanic M. Meyerstein. A discussion of the regional weights and measures and the standardization procedure is followed by a description of various precision balances and the weighing methods employed as (...) well as a review of the problems posed by reliable length calibration. The success of the enterprise rested not only on intellectual prestige and ministerial clout but also on the hands-on skill of the mechanical practitioner. (shrink)