HPS 2626
Phil 2626
Topics in Recent Philosophy of Physics Fall 2013

Back to course documents.


Week Date Subject Warm
1 Aug 29 Introduction   Norton
    The Three Principal Problems of Philosophy of Modern Physics   Norton
2 Sep 5

Entropy and Information: Basic Readings

Leo Szilard (1929) "On the Decrease of Entropy in a Thermodynamic System by the Intervention of Intelligent Beings," Translation of Zeitschrift fur Physik 53: 840–856.

Landauer, R., 1961, “Irreversibility and heat generation in the computing process”, IBM Journal of Research and Development, 5: 183–191.

Bennett, C.H., 1982, “The thermodynamics of computation—a review”, International Journal of Theoretical Physics, 21(12): 905–940.

Background reading: Wayne C. Myrvold, (2011) "Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics: A Maxwellian View."
Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 42, Issue 4, November 2011, pp 237–243.
[Preprint] http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/8638/

I Norton
3 Sep 12

Entropy and Information: A Skeptical Critique

John D. Norton, "All Shook Up: Fluctuations, Maxwell's Demon and the Thermodynamics of Computation," Prepared for the journal, Entropy.

John D. Norton, "Brownian Computation is Thermodynamically Irreversible."

Smoluchowski, Marian von (1912). “Experimentell nachweisbare, der üblichen Thermodynamik widersprechende Molekularphänomene,” Physikalische Zeitschrift, 13, pp.1069-1080.

More, including Powerpoints:
Rotman Institute of Philosophy Summer School Foundations of Statistical Mechanics
John D. Norton, "When a Good Theory Meets a Bad Idealization: The Failure of the Thermodynamics of Computation." Goodies.

II Norton
Powerpoint 1
Powerpoint 2
4 Sep 19

Time in Quantum theory

Jan Hilgevoord "Time in Quantum Mechanics: A History of Confusion,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 36 (2005), pp.29–60.

P. Busch, “The Time-Energy Uncertainty Relation,” http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0105049 Read 3.1-3.2 and 3.5 - 3.6.1.

Tom Pashby, "Time and Quantum Theory: A History and A Prospectus."

III Tom Pashby
5 Sep 26

Well-Posed Theories

John D. Norton, "The Dome: An Unexpectedly Simple Failure of Determinism" Philosophy of Science, 75, No. 5, (2008). pp. 786-98

or the short version in
John D. Norton, “The Dome: A Simple Violation of Determinism in Newtonian Mechanics,” In Goodies.
Also the appendix to "Approximation and Idealization" for the case of systems with infinitely many degrees of freedom.

IV Norton (30 min)
    Balazs Gyenis, " "Determinism, physical possibility, and laws of nature"," manuscript.   Balazs Gyenis
6 Oct 3

Curie's Principle

Pierre Curie (1894) "On symmetry in physical phenomena, symmetry of an electric field and of a magnetic field"

V Tyler Ahlstrom (15 min)
    Jenan Ismael (1997), "Curie's Principle," Synthese 110, pp.167–190.   George Borg (30 min)
    Roberts, Bryan W. (2012) The simple failure of Curie's Principle. [Preprint] http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/9862/   Michael Miller (45 min)
    Background: A. F. Chalmers (1970), "Curie's Principle," British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 21, pp.133-48.    
7 Oct 10

Reality of the Quantum State

Framework for PBR defined in:
Nicholas Harrigan, Robert W. Spekkens, "Einstein, incompleteness, and the epistemic view of quantum states," http://arxiv.org/abs/0706.2661v1

  Norton (45 min)
    Matthew F. Pusey, Jonathan Barrett, Terry Rudolph, “On the reality of the quantum state,” http://arxiv.org/abs/1111.3328   George Borg (45 min)

Further reading:

Matt Leifer, “Can the Quantum State be Interpreted Statistically.” Blog at http://mattleifer.info/2011/11/20/can-the-quantum-state-be-interpreted-statistically/

Maximilian Schlosshauer and Arthur Fine, “Is the Pusey–Barrett–Rudolph Theorem Compatible with Quantum Nonseparability?” http://arxiv.org/abs/1306.5805

8 Oct 17 Discovery Exercise presentations   All
9 Oct 24

A primer in modern cosmology.

Andrew R Liddle, "An introduction to cosmological inflation" http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/9901124

Scott Watson, "An Exposition on Inflationary Cosmology" http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0005003

Cosmology 001
de Sitter spacetime
    The observed history of the universe   Nora Boyd (10 min)

G. F. R. Ellis, "On the Philosophy of Cosmology," Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 2013
J.-Ch. Hamilton "What have we learned from observational cosmology" http://arxiv.org/pdf/1304.4446.pdf

10 Oct 31 Observational Cosmology and Dark Matter/Energy

Andreas Albrecht et al. Report of the Dark Energy Task Force. 2006. http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0609591
    Sections I-IV. Summary and recommendations   Tyler Ahlstrom(30 min)
    Sections VI-VII. Dark Energy Primer, DETF Model   Mike Miller (30 min)
    Section VIII. Staging Stage IV   George Borg (30 min)
    Sections IX-X Performance Projections, Dark Energy Projects   Nora Boyd (30 min)
11 Nov 7


M. Barnard, A. Abrahamse, A. Albrecht B. Bozek, M. Yashar "Exploring Parameter Constraints on Quintessential Dark Energy: The Albrecht-Skordis Model" arXiv:0712.2875, Phys. Rev. D 77, 103502 (2008)

M. Barnard, A. Abrahamse, A. Albrecht B. Bozek, M. Yashar "A measure of the impact of future dark energy experiments based on discriminating power among quintessence models" arXiv:0804.0413 Phys.Rev.D78:043528 (2008).

VI Nora Boyd
12 Nov 14 No seminar meeting    
  Nov 14 Term paper proposals due    
  Friday Nov 15 Special meeting with Andreas Albrecht. 9:30am. G28CL.    
13 Nov 21 Epistemic Access to Other Worlds? The Inductive Problem

Eric Hatleback, "Cosmological Induction: A Familiar Philosophical Foe."

  Eric Hatleback
    Probability Across Worlds

Gibbons, G. W.; Hawkings, S. W. and Stewart, J. M. 1987. “A Natural Measure on the Set of All Universes.” Nuclear Physics B281: 736-51.

Gibbons, G. W. and Turok, Neil. 2008) “Measure Problem in Cosmology,” Physical Review, D77, pp. 063516-1-12.

Hawking, S. W. and Page, Don N. 1988 “How Probable is Inflation?” Nuclear Physics B298: 789-809.

  Mike Miller
  Nov 28 Thanksgiving Recess    
14 Dec 5

Probabilities in Statistical Mechanics

Roman Frigg, 'Probability in Boltzmannian Statistical Mechanics', in Gerhard Ernst and Andreas Hüttemann (eds.): Time, Chance and Reduction. Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, 92-118. http://www.romanfrigg.org/writings/Probability_in_Boltzmannian_SM.pdf

  Tyler Ahlstrom (30 min)
    Myrvold, Wayne C. (2012) “Probabilities in Statistical Mechanics: What are they?” http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/9236/   Norton (briefly)
Roman Frigg, ‘What is Statistical Mechanics?', forthcoming in Carlos Galles, Pablo Lorenzano, Eduardo Ortiz, and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (eds.): History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems Volume 4, Isle of Man: Eolss. http://www.romanfrigg.org/writings/What_is_SM.pdf
    General discussion   All
  Fri, Dec 13 Term papers due