To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
The holy grail of theoretical physics is to find the theory of everything that combines all the forces of nature, including gravity. This book addresses the question: how far are we from such discovery? Over the last few decades, multiple roads to finding a quantum theory of gravity have been proposed but no obvious description of nature has emerged in this domain. What is to be made of this situation? This volume probes the state-of-the art in this daunting quest of theoretical physics by collecting critical interviews with nearly forty leading theorists in this field. These broad-ranging conversations give important insights and candid opinions on the various approaches to quantum gravity, including string theory, loop quantum gravity, causal set theory and asymptotic safety. This unique, readable overview provides a gateway into cutting edge research for students and others who wish to engage with the open problem of quantum gravity.
Few people have changed the world like the Nobel Prize winners. Their breakthrough discoveries have revolutionised medicine, chemistry, physics and economics. Nobel Life consists of original interviews with twenty-four Nobel Prize winners. Each of them has a unique story to tell. They recall their eureka moments and the challenges they overcame along the way, give advice to inspire future generations and discuss what remains to be discovered. Engaging and thought-provoking, Nobel Life provides an insight into life behind the Nobel Prize winners. A call from Stockholm turned a group of twenty-four academics into Nobel Prize winners. This is their call to the next generations worldwide.
Martin Harwit, author of the influential book Cosmic Discovery, asks key questions about the scope of observational astronomy. Humans have long sought to understand the world we inhabit. Recent realization of how our unruly Universe distorts information before it ever reaches us reveals distinct limits on how well we will ultimately understand the Cosmos. Even the best instruments we might conceive will inevitably be thwarted by ever more complex distortions and will never untangle the data completely. Observational astronomy, and the cost of pursuing it, will then have reached an inherent end. Only some totally different lines of approach, as yet unknown and potentially far more costly, might then need to emerge if we wish to learn more. This accessible book is written for all astronomers, astrophysicists, and those curious about how well we will ever understand the Universe and the potential costs of pushing those limits.
If the laws of nature are fine-tuned for life, can we infer other universes with different laws? How could we even test such a theory without empirical access to those distant places? Can we believe in the multiverse of the Everett interpretation of quantum theory or in the reality of other possible worlds, as advocated by philosopher David Lewis? At the intersection of physics and philosophy of science, this book outlines the philosophical challenge to theoretical physics in a measured, well-grounded manner. The origin of multiverse theories are explored within the context of the fine-tuning problem and a systematic comparison between the various different multiverse models are included. Cosmologists, high energy physicists, and philosophers including graduate students and researchers will find a systematic exploration of such questions in this important book.
The large-scale structure of the Universe is dominated by vast voids with galaxies clustered in knots, sheets, and filaments, forming a great 'cosmic web'. In this personal account of the major astronomical developments leading to this discovery, we learn from Laird A. Thompson, a key protagonist, how the first 3D maps of galaxies were created. Using non-mathematical language, he introduces the standard model of cosmology before explaining how and why ideas about cosmic voids evolved, referencing the original maps, reproduced here. His account tells of the competing teams of observers, racing to publish their results, the theorists trying to build or update their models to explain them, and the subsequent large-scale survey efforts that continue to the present day. This is a well-documented account of the birth of a major pillar of modern cosmology, and a useful case study of the trials surrounding how this scientific discovery became accepted.
Is the universe fine-tuned for complexity, life, or something else? This comprehensive overview of fine-tuning arguments in physics, with contributions from leading researchers in their fields, sheds light on this often used but seldom understood topic. Each chapter reviews a specific subject in modern physics, such as dark energy, inflation, or solar system formation, and discusses whether any parameters in our current theories appear to be fine-tuned and, if so, to what degree. Connections and differences between these fine-tuning arguments are made clear, and detailed mathematical derivations of various fine-tuned parameters are given. This accessible yet precise introduction to fine-tuning in physics will aid students and researchers across astrophysics, atomic and particle physics and cosmology, as well as all those working at the intersections of physics and philosophy.
One of the greatest challenges in fundamental physics is to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity in a theory of quantum gravity. A successful theory would have profound consequences for our understanding of space, time, and matter. This collection of essays written by eminent physicists and philosophers discusses these consequences and examines the most important conceptual questions among philosophers and physicists in their search for a quantum theory of gravity. Comprising three parts, the book explores the emergence of classical spacetime, the nature of time, and important questions of the interpretation, metaphysics, and epistemology of quantum gravity. These essays will appeal to both physicists and philosophers of science working on problems in foundational physics, specifically that of quantum gravity.
Dark matter is a fundamental component of the standard cosmological model, but in spite of four decades of increasingly sensitive searches, no-one has yet detected a single dark-matter particle in the laboratory. An alternative cosmological paradigm exists: MOND (Modified Newtonian Dynamics). Observations explained in the standard model by postulating dark matter are described in MOND by proposing a modification of Newton's laws of motion. Both MOND and the standard model have had successes and failures – but only MOND has repeatedly predicted observational facts in advance of their discovery. In this volume, David Merritt outlines why such predictions are considered by many philosophers of science to be the 'gold standard' when it comes to judging a theory's validity. In a world where the standard model receives most attention, the author applies criteria from the philosophy of science to assess, in a systematic way, the viability of this alternative cosmological paradigm.
This new edition of Conceptual Developments of 20th Century Field Theories explores the conceptual foundations and historical roots of fundamental field theories. It also uncovers the underlying issues, logic and dynamics in fundamental physics. In response to new advances in the field over the past twenty years, the sections on gauge theory and quantum field theory have been thoroughly revised and elaborated. The chapter on ontological synthesis and scientific realism has also been reconsidered, now suggesting a new approach that goes beyond structuralism and historicism. Providing an integrated picture of the physical world, it is a valuable resource for theoretical physicists and philosophers of science with an interest in the development of twentieth century mathematical physics. It also provides professional historians and sociologists of science with a basis for further historical, cultural and sociological analysis of the theories discussed.
Quantum theory underpins much of modern physics and its implications draw the attention of industry, academia and public funding agencies. However there are many unsettled conceptual and philosophical problems in the interpretation of quantum mechanics which are a matter of extensive debate. These hotly debated topics include the meaning of the wave function, the nature of the quantum objects, the role of the observer, the non-locality of the quantum world, and the emergence of classicality from the quantum domain. Containing chapters written by eminent researchers from the fields of physics and philosophy, this book provides interdisciplinary, comprehensive and up-to-date perspectives of the problems related to the interpretation of quantum theory. It is ideal for academic researchers in physics and philosophy working on the ontology of quantum mechanics.
Do we need to reconsider scientific methodology in light of modern physics? Has the traditional scientific method become outdated, does it need to be defended against dangerous incursions, or has it always been different from what the canonical view suggests? To what extent should we accept non-empirical strategies for scientific theory assessment? Many core aspects of contemporary fundamental physics are far from empirically well-confirmed. There is controversy on the epistemic status of the corresponding theories, in particular cosmic inflation, the multiverse, and string theory. This collection of essays is based on the high profile workshop 'Why Trust a Theory?' and provides interdisciplinary perspectives on empirical testing in fundamental physics from leading physicists, philosophers and historians of science. Integrating different contemporary and historical positions, it will be of interest to philosophers of science and physicists, as well as anyone interested in the foundations of contemporary science.
Martin Harwit's influential book, Cosmic Discovery, is rereleased after more than thirty-five years, with a new preface written by the author. The work chronicles the astronomical discoveries up to the late twentieth century and draws conclusions that major discoveries have often been unexpected, unrelated to prevailing astronomical theories and made by outsiders from other fields. One trend alone seems to prevail: major discoveries follow major technological innovations in observational instruments. The author also examines discovery in terms of its political, financial, and sociological contexts, including the role of industry and the military in enabling new technologies, and methods of funding. The challenges encountered by astronomy in the 1980s are remarkably similar to those astronomers face today. Difficulties persist in controlling recurrent cost overruns on planned missions, and in confronting mounting costs in developing observatories for detecting gravitational waves, high-energy cosmic rays, and particles that might explain dark matter.
Quantum mechanics impacts on many areas of physics from pure theory to applications. However it is difficult to interpret, and philosophical contradictions and counter-intuitive results are apparent at a fundamental level. This book presents current understanding of the theory, providing a historical introduction and discussing many of its interpretations. Fully revised from the first edition, this book contains state-of-the-art research including loophole-free experimental Bell test, and theorems on the reality of the wave function including the PBR theorem, and a new section on quantum simulation. More interpretations are now included, and these are described and compared, including discussion of their successes and difficulties. Other sections have been expanded, including quantum error correction codes and the reference section. It is ideal for researchers in physics and maths, and philosophers of science interested in quantum physics and its foundations.
This is the first single volume about the collapse theories of quantum mechanics, which is becoming a very active field of research in both physics and philosophy. In standard quantum mechanics, it is postulated that when the wave function of a quantum system is measured, it no longer follows the Schrödinger equation, but instantaneously and randomly collapses to one of the wave functions that correspond to definite measurement results. However, why and how a definite measurement result appears is unknown. A promising solution to this problem are collapse theories in which the collapse of the wave function is spontaneous and dynamical. Chapters written by distinguished physicists and philosophers of physics discuss the origin and implications of wave-function collapse, the controversies around collapse models and their ontologies, and new arguments for the reality of wave function collapse. This is an invaluable resource for students and researchers interested in the philosophy of physics and foundations of quantum mechanics.
The principle of least action originates in the idea that, if nature has a purpose, it should follow a minimum or critical path. This simple principle, and its variants and generalizations, applies to optics, mechanics, electromagnetism, relativity, and quantum mechanics, and provides an essential guide to understanding the beauty of physics. This unique text provides an accessible introduction to the action principle across these various fields of physics, and examines its history and fundamental role in science. It includes - with varying levels of mathematical sophistication - explanations from historical sources, discussion of classic papers, and original worked examples. The result is a story that is understandable to those with a modest mathematical background, as well as to researchers and students in physics and the history of physics.
This text presents an intuitive and robust mathematical image of fundamental particle physics based on a novel approach to quantum field theory, which is guided by four carefully motivated metaphysical postulates. In particular, the book explores a dissipative approach to quantum field theory, which is illustrated for scalar field theory and quantum electrodynamics, and proposes an attractive explanation of the Planck scale in quantum gravity. Offering a radically new perspective on this topic, the book focuses on the conceptual foundations of quantum field theory and ontological questions. It also suggests a new stochastic simulation technique in quantum field theory which is complementary to existing ones. Encouraging rigor in a field containing many mathematical subtleties and pitfalls this text is a helpful companion for students of physics and philosophers interested in quantum field theory, and it allows readers to gain an intuitive rather than a formal understanding.
Scientists have been debating the meaning of quantum mechanics for over a century. This book for graduate students and researchers gets to the root of the problem; the contextual nature of empirical truth, the laws of observation and how these impact on our understanding of quantum physics. Bridging the gap between non-relativistic quantum mechanics and quantum field theory, this novel approach to quantum mechanics extends the standard formalism to cover the observer and their apparatus. The author demystifies some of the aspects of quantum mechanics that have traditionally been regarded as extraordinary, such as wave-particle duality and quantum superposition, by emphasizing the scientific principles rather than the mathematical modelling involved. Including key experiments and worked examples throughout to encourage the reader to focus on empirically sound concepts, this book avoids metaphysical speculation and also alerts the reader to the use of computer algebra to explore quantum experiments of virtually limitless complexity.
Galaxies are known as the building blocks of the universe, but arriving at this understanding has been a thousand-year odyssey. This journey is told through the lens of the evolving use of images as investigative tools. Initial chapters explore how early insights developed in line with new methods of scientific imaging, particularly photography. The volume then explores the impact of optical, radio and x-ray imaging techniques. The final part of the story discusses the importance of atlases of galaxies; how astronomers organised images in ways that educated, promoted ideas and pushed for new knowledge. Images that created confusion as well as advanced knowledge are included to demonstrate the challenges faced by astronomers and the long road to understanding galaxies. By examining developments in imaging, this text places the study of galaxies in its broader historical context, contributing to both astronomy and the history of science.
Combining physics and philosophy, this is a uniquely interdisciplinary examination of quantum information science which provides an up-to-date examination of developments in this field. The authors provide coherent definitions and theories of information, taking clearly defined approaches to considering information in connection with quantum mechanics, probability, and correlations. Concepts addressed include entanglement of quantum states, the relation of quantum correlations to quantum information, and the meaning of the informational approach for the foundations of quantum mechanics. Furthermore, the mathematical concept of information in the communicational context, and the notion of pragmatic information are considered. Suitable as both a discussion of the conceptual and philosophical problems of this field and a comprehensive stand-alone introduction, this book will benefit both experienced and new researchers in quantum information and the philosophy of physics.
Following a long-term international collaboration between leaders in cosmology and the philosophy of science, this volume addresses foundational questions at the limit of science across these disciplines, questions raised by observational and theoretical progress in modern cosmology. Space missions have mapped the Universe up to its early instants, opening up questions on what came before the Big Bang, the nature of space and time, and the quantum origin of the Universe. As the foundational volume of an emerging academic discipline, experts from relevant fields lay out the fundamental problems of contemporary cosmology and explore the routes toward finding possible solutions. Written for graduates and researchers in physics and philosophy, particular efforts are made to inform academics from other fields, as well as the educated public, who wish to understand our modern vision of the Universe, related philosophical questions, and the significant impacts on scientific methodology.