Arches and Scaffoldings. Continuity and Discontinuity in the Genesis of Special Relativity, General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics

August 4, 2014 - August 8, 2014
Forum Scientiarum, Karl-Eberhards Universität Tübingen, Karl-Eberhards Universität Tübingen

Doblerstraße 33
Tuebingen 72074

Main speakers:

Michel Janssen
University of Minnesota


Giovanelli Marco
Karl-Eberhards Universität Tübingen

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In five lectures Michel Janssen will present five case studies illustrating a metaphor for theory change in modern physics. In principle, new theoretical structures in physics, unlike arches and other architectural structures, could be erected without any scaffolding. After all, that is essentially how the four-dimensional formalism of special relativity, the curved space-times of general relativity, and the Hilbert space formalism of quantum mechanics are introduced in modern textbooks. Historically, however, such structures, like arches, were first erected on top of elaborate scaffolding provided by the structures they eventually either partially or completely replaced. After briefly discussing prospects and limitations of the metaphor, I will examine five examples of arches and scaffoldings in the history of relativity and quantum theory, drawing heavily on my earlier work 

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June 19, 2014, 6:00am CET

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