The Solvay Conference, founded by the Belgian industrialist Ernest Solvay in 1912, was considered a turning point in the world of physics. Located in Brussels, the conferences were devoted to outstanding preeminent open problems in both physics and chemistry. The most famous conference was the October 1927 Fifth Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons, where the worldâ€™s most notable physicists met to discuss the newly formulated quantum theory. The leading figures were Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr.
Einstein, disenchanted with Heisenbergâ€™s uncertainty principle, remarked â€œGod does not play diceâ€. Bohr replied: â€œEinstein, stop telling God what to doâ€. 17 of the 29 attendees were or became Nobel Prize winners, including Marie Curie, who alone among them, had won Nobel Prizes in two separate scientific disciplines.
This conference was also the culmination of the struggle between Einstein and the scientific realists, who wanted strict rules of scientific method as laid out by Charles Peirce and Karl Popper, versus Bohr and the instrumentalists, who wanted looser rules based on outcomes. Starting at this point, the instrumentalists won, instrumentalism having been seen as the norm ever since.
You and I were not at Caltech at the right time to hear them in person, but Richard Feynman’s famous Lectures on Physics are now available online for free.
â€˜Binary and absolute differencesâ€™ are â€˜exploitativeâ€™
A feminist academic affiliated with the University of Arizona has invented a new theory of â€œintersectional quantum physics,â€ and told the world about it in a journal published by Duke University Press.
Whitney Stark argues in support of â€œcombining intersectionality and quantum physicsâ€ to better understand â€œmarginalized peopleâ€ and to create â€œsafer spacesâ€ for them, in the latest issue of The Minnesota Review.
Because traditional quantum physics theory has influenced humanityâ€™s understanding of the world, it has also helped lend credence to the ongoing regime of racism, sexism and classism that hurts minorities, Stark writes in â€œAssembled Bodies: Reconfiguring Quantum Identities.â€
A researcher in culture and gender studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Stark also holds an appointment in womenâ€™s and gender studies at the University of Arizona through its Institute for LGBT Studies.
She is a member of the Somatechnics Research Network, hosted by UA, whose scholars â€œreflect on the mutual inextricability of embodiment and technology.â€
Stark identifies Newtonian physics as one of the main culprits behind oppression. â€œNewtonian physics,â€ she writes, has â€œseparated beingsâ€ based on their â€œbinary and absolute differences.â€
â€œThis structural thinking of individualized separatism with binary and absolute differences as the basis for how the universe works is embedded in many structures of classification,â€ according to Stark.
These structures of classification, such as male/female, or living/non-living, are â€œhierarchical and exploitativeâ€ and are thusly â€œpart of the apparatus that enables oppression.â€
Therefore, Stark argues in favor of combining intersectionality and quantum physics theory to fight against the imperative to classify people based on hierarchical categories.
Scribbled notes and sketches on a page in a notebook by Leonardo da Vinci, previously dismissed as irrelevant by an art historian, have been identified as the place where he first recorded his understanding of the laws of friction.
The research by Professor Ian Hutchings, Professor of Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St Johnâ€™s College, is the first detailed chronological study of Leonardoâ€™s work on friction, and has also shown how he continued to apply his knowledge of the subject to wider work on machines over the next two decades.
It is widely known that Leonardo conducted the first systematic study of friction, which underpins the modern science of â€œtribologyâ€, but exactly when and how he developed these ideas has been uncertain until now.
Professor Hutchings has discovered that Leonardoâ€™s first statement of the laws of friction is in a tiny notebook measuring just 92 mm x 63 mm. The book, which dates from 1493 and is now held in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, contains a statement scribbled quickly in Leonardoâ€™s characteristic â€œmirror writingâ€ from right to left.
Ironically the page had already attracted interest because it also carries a sketch of an old woman in black pencil with a line below reading â€œcosa bella mortal passa e non duraâ€, which can be translated as â€œmortal beauty passes and does not lastâ€. Amid debate surrounding the significance of the quote and speculation that the sketch could represent an aged Helen of Troy, the Director of the V & A in the 1920s referred to the jottings below as â€œirrelevant notes and diagrams in red chalkâ€.
Professor Hutchingsâ€™s study has, however, revealed that the script and diagrams in red are of great interest to the history of tribology, marking a pivotal moment in Leonardoâ€™s work on the subject.
The rough geometrical figures underneath Leonardoâ€™s red notes show rows of blocks being pulled by a weight hanging over a pulley â€“ in exactly the same kind of experiment students might do today to demonstrate the laws of friction.
Professor Hutchings said: â€œThe sketches and text show Leonardo understood the fundamentals of friction in 1493. He knew that the force of friction acting between two sliding surfaces is proportional to the load pressing the surfaces together and that friction is independent of the apparent area of contact between the two surfaces. These are the â€˜laws of frictionâ€™ that we nowadays usually credit to a French scientist, Guillaume Amontons, working two hundred years later.â€
Based on a detailed study of Leonardo da Vinci×³s notebooks, this review examines the development of his understanding of the laws of friction and their application. His work on friction originated in studies of the rotational resistance of axles and the mechanics of screw threads. He pursued the topic for more than 20 years, incorporating his empirical knowledge of friction into models for several mechanical systems. Diagrams which have been assumed to represent his experimental apparatus are misleading, but his work was undoubtedly based on experimental measurements and probably largely involved lubricated contacts. Although his work had no influence on the development of the subject over the succeeding centuries, Leonardo da Vinci holds a unique position as a pioneer in tribology.
Caltech has all three volumes available right now on the Internet for free. Very cool stuff.
Don’t let’s hear any more liberal whining about the unavailability of educational opportunity in this country.
Academia, Bizarre, Cocaine, Crime, Darwin Awards, Denise Milani, Drug Prohibition, Drugs, Peter Frampton, Physics, The Cognitive Elite, The Intelligentsia
68-year-old Particle Physicist Paul Frampton was divorced and in the market for a new wife, hopefully a woman “between the ages of 18 and 35, which Frampton understood to be the period when women are most fertile.”
And what do you know? The lucky guy had only to log onto the Internet and start playing with one dating site, and he ran into the internationally-famous-for-her-enormous-upper-endowment supermodel Denise Milani. The couple exchanged texts and photos, and fell madly in love, though the apparently-shy model kept refusing to speak to him on the phone.
Finally, Denise Milani agreed to meet the professor in person… in La Paz, Bolivia. Alas! when he got to Bolivia, the lovely lady had been unexpectedly called away to another photo shoot in Brussels, and would he do her a favor and bring her a suitcase she’d left behind in La Paz?
Peter Frampton was arrested in Buenos Aires and received a 4 year 10 month sentence for smuggling cocaine. The real Denise Milani could not be reached for comment.
Maxine Swann tells the whole sad story in the New York Times Magazine.
Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.
Denise Milani’s breasts web-site.
Her physicist boyfriend Brendan proposed by submitting this paper to her (a fellow physicist).
Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.
Albert Gore, American Physical Society, Global Warming, Physics, Politicized Science, Popular Delusions
APS Governors Questioning Physics & Society Unit
While the ineffable Albert Gore, posing in front of a row of American flags, yesterday advanced the modest proposal that Americans should “move beyond partisan divisions,” and agree to be forced by government to abandon the use of every form of fossil fuel, simply abandoning trillions of dollars of corporate and private infrastructure, and spending even more on brand new windmills and hamster wheels, an outbreak of heresy was discovered within the most prestigious circles of the scientific community itself.
The American Physical Society’s Forum on Physics & Society the same day announced its intention of conducting a debate on Anthropogenic Global Warming, and went so far as to allege the existence of substantial dissent from orthodoxy within the scientific community.
There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution. Since the correctness or fallacy of that conclusion has immense implications for public policy and for the future of the biosphere, we thought it appropriate to present a debate within the pages of P&S concerning that conclusion.
The APS governing board was clearly not happy that one of the Physical Society’s internal units has the effrontery to conduct a debate upon the factual basis of a conclusive political position adopted by the same board last November. The APS web-site is pointedly proclaiming its certainty that mankind was at fault all over again.
The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007:
“Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.”
It appears that it was Daily Tech‘s posting proclaiming that The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change, under a headline stating Myth of Consensus Explodes that provoked the APS governing board’s denial of a change of stance.