Tag Archives: physics

New paper: Minimal Models Make for Minimal Explanations

Williams – Minimal Models Make for Minimal Explanations

Abstract:

The ontic view of scientific explanation is that explanations are objectively in the world. Critics of the ontic view argue it fails to capture the importance of idealization as a critical component of scientific practice. Specifically, Robert Batterman argues that highly idealized mathematical models in physics are counter-examples to the ontic view or at least show why the ontic view is incomplete as an account of scientific explanation. My aim in this paper is to defend the ontic view of scientific explanation against Batterman’s objections.

Feedback welcome! This may or may not be turned in as my second qualifying paper at Wash U.

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Quote for the Day – Feynman on Religion: “The stage is too big for the drama.”

“It doesn’t seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil—which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.”

~Richard Feynman, quoted in Genius, by James Gleick

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Quote for the Day – Hermann Minkowski on the Radical Idea of Space-time

The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.

~ Hermann Minkowski, quoted in From Eternity to Here, by Sean Carroll

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Quote for the Day – Richard Feynman and the Power of Analogy: The Bombardier Metaphor of Antimatter

A bombardier watching a single road through the bomb-sight of a low flying plane suddenly sees three roads, the confusion only resolving itself when two of them move together and disappear and he realizes he has only passed over a long reverse switchback of a single road. The reversed section represents the positron in analogy, which is first created along with an electron and then moves about and annihilates another electron.

~ Richard Feynman, quoted in Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, by James Gleick

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Quote for the Day – Richard Feynman’s Strange View of the Electron

The electron does anything it likes. It just goes in any direction at any speed, forward or backward in time, however it likes, and then you add up the amplitudes and it gives you the wave function.

~ Richard Feynman, quoted in Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, by James Gleick

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