Scientific Practice: Theories and Stories of Doing Physics

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Jed Z. Buchwald, Doris and Henry Dreyfuss Professor of History Jed Z Buchwald
University of Chicago Press, 1995 - 398 pages
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Most recent work on the nature of experiment in physics has focused on "big science"—the large-scale research addressed in Andrew Pickering's Constructing Quarks and Peter Galison's How Experiments End.

This book examines small-scale experiment in physics, in particular the relation between theory and practice. The contributors focus on interactions among the people, materials, and ideas involved in experiments—factors that have been relatively neglected in science studies.

The first half of the book is primarily philosophical, with contributions from Andrew Pickering, Peter Galison, Hans Radder, Brian Baigrie, and Yves Gingras. Among the issues they address are the resources deployed by theoreticians and experimenters, the boundaries that constrain theory and practice, the limits of objectivity, the reproducibility of results, and the intentions of researchers. The second half is devoted to historical case studies in the practice of physics from the early nineteenth to the early twentieth century. These chapters address failed as well as successful experimental work ranging from Victorian astronomy through Hertz's investigation of cathode rays to Trouton's attempt to harness the ether. Contributors to this section are Jed Z. Buchwald, Giora Hon, Margaret Morrison, Simon Schaffer, and Andrew Warwick.

With a lucid introduction by Ian Hacking, and original articles by noted scholars in the history and philosophy of science, this book is poised to become a significant source on the nature of small-scale experiment in physics.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Context and Constraints
13
Beyond Constraint The Temporality of Practice and the Historicity of Knowledge
42
Experimenting in the Natural Sciences A Philosophical Approach
56
Scientific Practice The View from the Tabletop
87
Following Scientists through Society? Yes but at Arms Length
123
Why Hertz Was Right about Cathode Rays
151
Is the Identification of Experimental Error Contextually Dependent? The Case of Kaufmanns Experiment and Its Varied Reception
170
Scientific Conclusions and Philosophical Arguments An Inessential Tension
224
Where Experiments End Tabletop Trials in Victorian Astronomy
257
The Sturdy Protestants of Science Larmor Trouton and the Earths Motion through the Ether
300
Conclusion
345
References
353
Contributors
385
Index
387
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About the author (1995)

Jed Z. Buchwald is Doris and Henry Dreyfuss Professor of History at California Institute of Technology. He was previously director of the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at Massachusets Institute of Technology.

Jed Z. Buchwald is Doris and Henry Dreyfuss Professor of History at California Institute of Technology. He was previously director of the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at Massachusets Institute of Technology.

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