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Are the Laws of Physics Inevitable?

Franklin, Allan (2008) Are the Laws of Physics Inevitable? In: [2008] 24th Regional Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science (Boulder, Oct. 10-12, 2008).

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    Social constructionists believe that experimental evidence plays a minimal role in the production of scientific knowledge, while rationalists such as myself believe that experimental evidence is crucial in it. As one historical example in support of the rationalist position, I trace in some detail the theoretical and experimental research that led to our understanding of beta decay, from Enrico Fermi’s pioneering theory of 1934 to George Sudarshan and Robert Marshak’s and Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann’s suggestion in 1957 and 1958, respectively, of the V–A theory of weak interactions. This is not a history of an unbroken string of successes, but one that includes incorrect experimental results, incorrect experiment-theory comparisons, and faulty theoretical analyses. Nevertheless, we shall see that the constraints that Nature imposed made the V–A theory an almost inevitable outcome of this theoretical and experimental research.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Keywords: Enrico Fermi; Richard P. Feynman; Markus Fierz; Murray Gell-Mann; Emil J.Konopinski; Tsung-Dao Lee; Robert E. Marshak; Louis Michel;Wolfgang Pauli; E.C. George Sudarshan; George E. Uhlenbeck; Chien-Shiung Wu; Chen Ning Yang; Hideki Yukawa; beta decay; radioactivity; neutrinos; pions; muons; nuclear physics; particle physics; Sargent curves; Konopinski-Uhlenbeck theory; Gamow-Teller selection rules; angular-correlation experiments; nonconservation of parity; V–A theory of weak interactions; Universal Fermi Interaction; philosophy of physics; philosophy of experiment.
    Subjects: General Issues > Theory Change
    General Issues > Experimentation
    General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
    Conferences and Volumes: [2008] 24th Regional Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science (Boulder, Oct. 10-12, 2008)
    Depositing User: Allan Franklin
    Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2008
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:17
    Item ID: 4220

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