Matter and Meaning: Why we know what we know in Physics

Tanja Traxler
Arts and Society, Cross-Disciplinary Strategies
2020W, Lecture and Discussion (VD), 2.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S03564

Description

How have natural scientists and especially physicists gathered knowledge throughout the centuries? Why is reality in quantum physics not the way it seems in everyday life? And what role do the arts and a sense for the beauty play in discovering laws of nature? In this course we will investigate past and present methods of gaining knowledge in the physical sciences. The historical analysis of epistemology in science will be accompanied by philosophical and sociological considerations as well as gender reflections.

Evidently, quantity and quality of scientific knowledge has changed dramatically e. g. between Newton’s classical mechanics in the 17th century and the development of quantum mechanics or Einstein’s theory of general relativity in the 20th century. What was once established as a scientific fact has been revealed as a limited perspective. In this course, we will discuss the methods scientists use to gain knowledge that is as solid as possible.

This class is explicitly open for science & physics greenhorns as well as for quantum nerds!

Examination Modalities

Active participation in group discussions and a presentation of each participant. (50 %)

On Jan. 21st, 2021, there will be an oral exam, details will be provided during the course. (50 %)

Comments

Students from other faculties or universities will be given a place on the course subject to room capacities.

If possible, the course will be held in person, additionally/alternatively it will be possible to attend the course via Zoom. Details will be provided for all registered participants.

 

Books discussed in the class (excerpts will be provided):

Barad, Karen (2007): Meeting the Universe halfway, Durham: Duke University Press

Bohr, Niels (1958): Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge, New York: John Wiley & Sons

Einstein, Albert (1937): Physics and Reality, Journal of the Franklin Institute 221 (3), 313–347

Hossenfelder, Sabine (2018): Lost in Math, New York: Basic Books

Kuhn, Thomas (1962): The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Latour, Bruno (1979): Laboratory Life, Beverly Hills: Sage Publications

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm; Clarke, Samuel (2000 [1717]): Correspondence, edited by Roger Ariew, Cambridge: Hackett Publishing

McIntyre, Lee (2019): The Scientific Attitude, Cambridge: MIT Press

Newton, Isaac (2016 [1687]): The Principia, Berkeley: University of California Press

Popper, Karl (2002 [1959]): The Logic of Scientific Discovery, London: Routledge

Saini, Angela: Inferior (2017), New York: Harper Collins

Key Words

epistemology, scientific method, history of science, quantum physics, science & beauty

Dates

08 October 2020, 11:00–12:45 Seminar Room 7 (preliminary discussion)
15 October 2020, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described)
22 October 2020, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described)
29 October 2020, 11:00–12:45 Room Nr. 053, GF Kassenhalle Postsparkassa, Georg-Coch-Platz 2
05 November 2020, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described)
12 November 2020, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described)
19 November 2020, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described)
26 November 2020, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described)
03 December 2020, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described)
10 December 2020, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described)
17 December 2020, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described)
07 January 2021, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described)
14 January 2021, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described)
21 January 2021, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described) (examination)
28 January 2021, 11:00–12:45 Distance Learning (details as described)

Course Enrolment

From 04 September 2020, 00:00 to 31 October 2020, 23:59
Via online registration

co-registration: possible

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Bachelor): Philosophy: Foundation

Individual courses: possible