University of Colorado, USA
Academic Year, 2013-14
What Makes a Good Experiment?
Allan Franklin is Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado. His research is on the history and philosophy of science, with particular emphasis on the role of experiment in physics. He has done historical studies on parity conconservation, CP-violation, and Millikan's oil drop experiment. On the philosophical side, he has worked on the Duhem-Quine problem, the question of how one can localize support or refutation, and on confirmation theory, using a Bayesian approach. He has also discussed an epistemology of experiment, a set of strategies that provide rational belief in experimental results. These strategies distinguish between a valid experimental result and an artifact created by the experimental apparatus. More recently he has worked on the fallibility and corrigibility of experimental results and the resolution of discordant results. He has also completed studies of the interaction of theory and experiment in the development of the theory of weak interactions from Fermi to V-A, a history of atomic parity violation experiments and their relation to the Weinberg- Salam unified theory of electroweak interactions. He has also worked on the history of the "Fifth Force" in gravity and a review of the history of the proposed 17-keV neutrino. He has written a history of the neutrino, from its proposal in 1931 to the present and a recent book Selectivity and Discord: Two Problems of Experiment deals with the issues of experimenter bias and of the resolution of discordant experimental results. His most recent book, "Ending the Mendel-Fisher Controversy," is on the history of genetics. His book, Shifting Standards: Experiments in Particle Physics in the Twentieth Century will be published this year by the University of Pittsburgh Press. At the Center he will be working on “Ehat Makes a Good Experiment?”
He is an avid cyclist. Among his cycling trips are a 2004 ride following the route of Lewis and Clark from Wood River, Illinois to Astoria, Oregon by a very circuitous 3000 mile route. He is looking forward to cycling from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. along the Great Allegheny Passage and the C and O Trail.
- The Neglect of Experiment, (Cambridge University Press, 1986).
- "Experiment, Theory, Choice and the Duhem-Quine Problem" in Theory and Experiment, D. Batens and J.P. van Dendegem (eds.), D. Reidel Publishing Co. (1988).
- Experiment, Right or Wrong (Cambridge University Press, 1990).
- "The Appearance and Disappearance of the 17-keV Neutrino," Reviews of Modern Physics (1995).
- The Rise and Fall of Fifth Force (New York: American Institute of Physics, 1993).
- Can That Be Right? Essays on Experiment, Evidence, and Science. (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers (1999).
- Are There Really Neutrinos? An Evidential History (Perseus Books, 2000).
- Selectivity and Discord: Two Problems of Experiment (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002).
- “The Role of Experiments in the Natural Sciences: Examples from Physics and Biology.” General Philosophy of Science: Focal Issues. T. A. F. Kuipers, Amsterdam: Elsevier.
- Franklin, A., A. W. F. Edwards, D. J. Fairbanks, et al. (2008) Ending the Mendel-Fisher Controversy. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.