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Physics meets Philosophy at the Planck scale (new book?)

  1. Jun 23, 2003 #1


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    I have found references to a book that is either "to appear" or has already been published by Cambridge University Press.
    The book is

    Physics meets Philosophy at the Planck scale
    edited by C. Callender and N. Huggett

    this is apparently a collection of essays by philosophers and physicists

    Has anyone information about this book? Has anyone seen preprints or hardcopy?

    I recently read one of the essays written for the book and available as a preprint online:

    Quantum spacetime: what do we know?


    It's by Carlo Rovelli and seemed pretty interesting. Didn't know he was interested in philosophical questions as well as quantum gravity
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  3. Jun 23, 2003 #2


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    exerpt from page 2 of Rovelli's essay

    <<...In this effort, physics is once more facing conceptual problems: What is matter? What is causality? What is the role of the observer in physics? What is time? What is the meaning of "being somewhere"? What is the meaning of "now"? What is the meaning of "moving"? Is motion to be defined with respect to objects or with respect to space? These foundational questions, or sophisticated versions of these questions, were central in the thinking and in the results of Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, Dirac and their colleagues. But these are also precisely the same questions that Descartes, Galileo, Huygens, Newton and their contemporaries debated with passion---the questions that lead them to create modern science. For the physicists of the middle of this century, these questions were irrelevant: one does not need to worry about first principles in order to apply the Schroedinger equation to the helium atom, or to understand how a neutron star stays together. But today, if we want to find a novel picture of the world, if we want to understand what is quantum spacetime, we have to return, once again, to those foundational issues.>>

    From Rovelli's essay "Quantum spacetime: what do we know?" in the book
    "Physics meets Philosophy at the Planck scale" (Cambridge U. P. to appear)

    Last edited: Jun 23, 2003
  4. Jun 24, 2003 #3

    Les Sleeth

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    Re: exerpt from page 2 of Rovelli's essay

    Hi Marcus, glad to see you here.

    I really like the idea of, ". . . These foundational questions . . ." Foundational ideas are, in my mind, the best things to think about. At the old PF I used to use a quote of Confucius in my signature. It was, "“Do you suppose that I am one who learns a great deal and remembers it? No, I have a thread that runs through it all.”

    I have an idea what he meant. The more one understands what is most basic, or foundational, the more one is able to discern general principles, or that which "runs throught it all." The more one can see general principles, the less one has to figure out every detail to acquire a sense of knowing.

    That sense of knowing does not exempt one from the rules of proof when, for instance, one has to debate or advocate. But those who really have seen general principles have the advantage of certainty (in essence) while searching for the proper facts for a proper proof.
  5. Jun 24, 2003 #4


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  6. Jun 25, 2003 #5
    I agree completely, understanding the simple is more important and without apparent limit and without limit of practical applications. Reading some of a biography on Einstein I think he was obsessed with time mostly, but not just that, he was obsessed with applying practical applications of time to his wardrobe, hair, shoelaces, and whatever to save time.
    I wouldn't pay for a bunch of conjecture, but would rather participate in it, but then there are books about how to write books on how to write books, so why not.
  7. Jun 27, 2003 #6
    Now THAT'S modern philosophy - and a good example of what I'm talking about in my latest post in the thread: "Physics and Metaphysics" started by Mentat.
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