Books & Special Journal Issues

Monographs

The Einstein Paradox - The Debate on Nonlocality and Incompleteness in 1935

The famously controversial 1935 paper by Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen (EPR) took aim at the heart of the flourishing field of quantum mechanics. The paper provoked responses from the leading theoretical physicists of the day, and brought entanglement and nonlocality to the forefront of discussion. This book looks back at the seminal year in which the EPR paper was published and explores the intense debate it unleashed. These conversations in print and in private correspondence offer significant insight into the minds of pioneering quantum physicists including Niels Bohr, Erwin Schrödinger and Albert Einstein himself. Offering the most complete collection of sources to date – many published or translated here for the first time – this text brings a rich new context to this pivotal moment in physics history. Both researchers and students in the history and philosophy of science, and enthusiasts alike, will find this book illuminating.

Guido Bacciagaluppi & Elise Crull [forthcoming June 2024]

Philosophy of Physical Magnitudes

Dimensional quantities such as length, mass and charge, i.e., numbers combined with a conventional unit, are essential components of theories in the sciences, especially physics, chemistry and biology. Do they represent a world with absolute physical magnitudes, or are they merely magnitude ratios in disguise? Would we notice a difference if all the distances or charges in the world suddenly doubled? These central questions of this Element are illustrated by imagining how one would convey the meaning of a kilogram to aliens if one were only allowed to communicate via Morse code.

Niels C.M. Martens [2024]

The International Astronomical Union - Uniting the Community for 100 Years

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) was founded in 1919, in the wake of the First World War, together with its sister Unions in related natural sciences. It will thus turn 100 years in 2019. Written by a mixed team of insiders and outsiders, this book presents the IAU in the changing context of the historical, scientific and technological development of astronomy during the past 100 years.

While much important scientific progress took place already before 1945, the book naturally focuses on the accelerating evolution during the second half of the century. In the past few decades, the previously narrow IAU focus on organising professional astronomy has broadened to include societally relevant activities such as addressing the hazard of asteroid impacts, the planetary status of Pluto in the Solar System, and the hugely successful International Year of Astronomy. Most recently, it is spearheading a combination of science literacy and public outreach.

The book will be of interest to professional astronomers as well as an astronomically interested general audience. The book features live personal interviews with as many of the key actors as still possible.

Johannes Andersen, David Baneke, Claus Madsen [2019]

Transcendental Curves in the Leibnizian Calculus

Transcendental Curves in the Leibnizian Calculus analyzes a mathematical and philosophical conflict between classical and early modern mathematics. In the late 17th century, mathematics was at the brink of an identity crisis. For millennia, mathematical meaning and ontology had been anchored in geometrical constructions, as epitomized by Euclid's ruler and compass.

As late as 1637, Descartes had placed himself squarely in this tradition when he justified his new technique of identifying curves with equations by means of certain curve-tracing instruments, thereby bringing together the ancient constructive tradition and modern algebraic methods in a satisfying marriage. But rapid advances in the new fields of infinitesimal calculus and mathematical mechanics soon ruined his grand synthesis.

Descartes's scheme left out transcendental curves, i.e. curves with no polynomial equation, but in the course of these subsequent developments such curves emerged as indispensable. It was becoming harder and harder to juggle cutting-edge mathematics and ancient conceptions of its foundations at the same time, yet leading mathematicians, such as Leibniz felt compelled to do precisely this. The new mathematics fit more naturally an analytical conception of curves than a construction-based one, yet no one wanted to betray the latter, as this was seen as virtually tantamount to stop doing mathematics altogether. The credibility and authority of mathematics depended on it.

Viktor Blåsjö [2017]

De ontdekkers van de hemel - de Nederlandse sterrenkunde in de twintigste eeuw

Er is iets bijzonders aan de hand met de sterrenkunde in Nederland. Ondanks zijn bewolkte klimaat en dichte bebouwing is Nederland op astronomisch gebied al een eeuw lang een grootmacht, met kopstukken als Kapteyn, Minnaert en Oort. Hoe komt dat? Wie waren die mensen? En waarom werd juist de Nederlandse sterrenkunde zo succesvol?

In De ontdekkers van de hemel analyseert David Baneke de ontwikkeling van de sterrenkunde in Nederland vanaf de negentiende eeuw tot nu. Hij beschrijft wat er in verschillende periodes van wetenschap werd verwacht, wat de dromen en ambities waren, en welke rol de overheid speelde. Het verhaal van de sterrenkunde is verweven met de politieke, economische en culturele geschiedenis. Wereldoorlogen, wederopbouw en de Koude Oorlog speelden een rol, net als het idealisme van de jaren zeventig, het marktdenken van de jaren tachtig, en de internationale opstelling van Nederland als ambitieus maar klein land. Uiteindelijk probeert De ontdekkers van de hemel een antwoord te geven op de vraag waarom we überhaupt aan sterrenkunde doen, de mooiste wetenschap maar ook één met ogenschijnlijk weinig praktische toepassingen.

David Baneke [2015]

Isaac Newton en het ware weten

Het bekende verhaal over Isaac Newton en de vallende appel klopt. Nog als student kwam hij in de boomgaard van zijn moeder tot het inzicht dat een appel volgens hetzelfde principe op Aarde valt als de maan eromheen draait. Maar wat is nu dat principe? Twintig jaar later is ook dat tot hem doorgedrongen. En toen was het zaak om het niet bij een vermoeden te laten, maar voor de universele aantrekkingskracht en de wiskundige maat ervan een sluitend bewijs te leveren. Ook met zijn ontdekking dat zonlicht uit alle kleuren van de regenboog bestaat, rustte hij niet voordat hij die onomstotelijk had vastgenageld. Intussen hield hij zich al even intensief bezig met alchemie en met ketterse theologie.
Wat voor wetenschapper was Newton dan wel, waar bestonden zijn voornaamste prestaties uit, en hoe is hij ertoe gekomen? Wat staat er eigenlijk in zijn twee boeken, de Principia en de Opticks? Wat moeten we aan met zijn bizarre persoonlijkheid? En wat houdt bewijzen in de natuurwetenschap eigenlijk in? Daarover gaat dit boek.

Floris Cohen [2010]

Quantum Theory at the Crossroads - Reconsidering the 1927 Solvay Conference

The 1927 Solvay conference was perhaps the most important in the history of quantum theory. Contrary to popular belief, questions of interpretation were not settled at this conference. Instead, a range of sharply conflicting views were extensively discussed, including de Broglie's pilot-wave theory (which de Broglie presented for a many-body system), Born and Heisenberg's 'quantum mechanics' (which apparently lacked wave function collapse or fundamental time evolution), and Schrödinger's wave mechanics. Today, there is no longer a dominant interpretation of quantum theory, so it is important to re-evaluate the historical sources and keep the debate open. This book contains a complete translation of the original proceedings, with essays on the three main interpretations presented, and a detailed analysis of the lectures and discussions in the light of current research. This book will be of interest to graduate students and researchers in physics and in the history and philosophy of quantum theory.

Guido Bacciagaluppi & Antony Valentini [2009]

Structures for Everyone - Contemplations and Proofs in the Foundations and Philosophy of Physics and Mathematics

Theories are the epistemic fruits of the endeavour of physics and mathematics: they constitute knowledge. In his Thesis for doctorate Structures for everyone. Contemplations and proofs in the foundations and philosophy of physics and mathematics, F.A. Muller provides an answer to the question what language suffices and which assumptions suffice to erect a single edifice that harbours all extant mathematical and physical knowledge. The edifice is thoroughly structural in nature, because the author argues that all we possibly can about the world is its structure - not because our brains are imprisoned for life in some Kantian grid but because of the extensional nature of the founding language.

This Thesis is self-contained, multidisciplinary and contains novel contributions to the philosophy and foundations of mathematics and science, to the history of science (the internal history of quantum mechanics) and to logic - some of which have been published in specialised journals.

F. A. Muller [1998]

G.J. Rheticus' Treatise on Holy Scripture and the Motion of the Earth

With translation, annotations, commentary and additional chapters on Ramus-Rheticus and the development of the problem before 1650

Reijer Hooykaas [1984]

The 'Conflict Thesis' and Cosmology

Colin Archibald Russell, Reijer Hooykaas, David C. Goodman [1974]

Geschiedenis der Natuurwetenschappen: Van Babel tot Bohr

Reijer Hooykaas [1971]

Collected Volumes

The Oxford Handbook of the History of Quantum Interpretations

Crucial to most research in physics, as well as leading to the development of inventions such as the transistor and the laser, quantum mechanics approaches its centenary with an impressive record. However, the field has also long been the subject of ongoing debates about the foundations and interpretation of the theory, referred to as the quantum controversy.

This Oxford Handbook offers a historical overview of the contrasts which have been at the heart of quantum physics for the last 100 years. Drawing on the wide-ranging expertise of several contributors working across physics, history, and philosophy, the handbook outlines the main theories and interpretations of quantum physics. It goes on to tackle the key controversies surrounding the field, touching on issues such as determinism, realism, locality, classicality, information, measurements, mathematical foundations, and the links between quantum theory and gravity.

This engaging introduction is an essential guide for all those interested in the history of scientific controversies and history of quantum physics. It also provides a fascinating examination of the potential of quantum physics to influence new discoveries and advances in fields such quantum information and computing.

Edited by Olival Freire JrGuido BacciagaluppiOlivier DarrigolThiago HartzChristian JoasAlexei Kojevnikov, and Osvaldo Pessoa Jr [2022]

Grete Hermann - Between Physics and Philosophy

Grete Hermann (1901-1984) was a pupil of mathematical physicist Emmy Noether, follower and co-worker of neo-Kantian philosopher Leonard Nelson, and an important intellectual figure in post-war German social democracy. She is best known for her work on the philosophy of modern physics in the 1930s, some of which emerged from intense discussions with Heisenberg and Weizsäcker in Leipzig. Hermann’s aim was to counter the threat to the Kantian notion of causality coming from quantum mechanics. She also discussed in depth the question of ‘hidden variables’ (including the first critique of von Neumann’s alleged impossibility proof) and provided an extensive analysis of Bohr’s notion of complementarity. This volume includes translations of Hermann’s two most important essays on this topic: one hitherto unpublished and one translated here into English for the first time. It also brings together recent scholarly contributions by historians and philosophers of science, physicists, and philosophers and educators following in Hermann’s steps. Hermann's work places her in the first rank among philosophers who wrote about modern physics in the first half of the last century. Those interested in the many fields to which she contributed will find here a comprehensive discussion of her philosophy of physics that places it in the context of her wider work.

Edited by Elise Crull, Guido Bacciagaluppi [2017]

The Ontology of Spacetime II

The sixteen papers collected in this volume are expanded and revised versions of talks delivered at the Second International Conference on the Ontology of Spacetime, organized by the International Society for the Advanced Study of Spacetime (John Earman, President) at Concordia University (Montreal) from 9 to 11 June 2006.

Most chapters are devoted to subjects directly relating to the ontology of spacetime.

The book starts with four papers that discuss the ontological status of spacetime and the processes occurring in it from a point of view that is first of all conceptual and philosophical. The focus then slightly shifts in the five papers that follow, to considerations more directly involving technical considerations from relativity theory. After this, Time, Becoming and Change take centre stage in the next five papers. The book ends with two excursions into relatively uncharted territory: a consideration of the status of Kaluza-Klein theory, and an investigation of possible relations between the nature of spacetime and condensed matter physics, respectively.

Edited by Dennis Dieks [2008]

The Ontology of Spacetime

This book contains selected papers from the First International Conference on the Ontology of Spacetime. Its fourteen chapters address two main questions: first, what is the current status of the substantivalism/relationalism debate, and second, what about the prospects of presentism and becoming within present-day physics and its philosophy? The overall tenor of the four chapters of the book’s first part is that the prospects of spacetime substantivalism are bleak, although different possible positions remain with respect to the ontological status of spacetime. Part II and Part III of the book are devoted to presentism, eternalism, and becoming, from two different perspectives. In the six chapters of Part II it is argued, in different ways, that relativity theory does not have essential consequences for these issues. It certainly is true that the structure of time is different, according to relativity theory, from the one in classical theory. But that does not mean that a decision is forced between presentism and eternalism, or that becoming has proved to be an impossible concept. It may even be asked whether presentism and eternalism really offer different ontological perspectives at all. The writers of the last four chapters, in Part III, disagree. They argue that relativity theory is incompatible with becoming and presentism. Several of them come up with proposals to go beyond relativity, in order to restore the prospects of presentism.

· Space and time in present-day physics and philosophy
· Introduction from scratch of the debates surrounding time
· Broad spectrum of approaches, coherently represented

Edited by Dennis Dieks [2006]

The Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

According to the modal interpretation, the standard mathematical framework of quantum mechanics specifies the physical magnitudes of a system, which have definite values. Probabilities are assigned to the possible values that these magnitudes may adopt. The interpretation is thus concerned with physical properties rather than with measurement results: it is a realistic interpretation (in the sense of scientific realism). One of the notable achievements of this interpretation is that it dissolves the notorious measurement problem.

The papers collected here, together with the introduction and concluding critical appraisal, explain the various forms of the modal interpretation, survey its achievements, and discuss those problems that have yet to be solved.

Edited by Dennis Dieks & Pieter E. Vermaas [1998]

Special Journal Issues