The Einsteins Quantum: How can Mathematics be Used to Articulate Reality?

Por • 17 nov, 2018 • Sección: Crítica

Nathan Willig Lima, Tommaso Venturini, Fernanda Ostermann, Claudio Jose de Holanda Cavalcanti

In this paper, we discuss the role of Mathematics in articulating reality in theoretical Physics. We propose a parallel between empirical and theoretical work and investigate how scientists can also speak about reality without performing any laboratory trial, a key explanation element of STS. To do so, we examine Einsteins 1905 paper on the nature of light for which he received the Nobel Prize of Physics in 1922 and which is deemed as revolutionary by contemporary textbooks. Using Bakhtins Philosophy of Language, we analyze Einsteins narrative to trace the mechanisms he has used to articulate a new entity, the quantum without performing any experiment or empirical observation. We dialogue with classical results obtained by STS in the context of empirical sciences, drawing in particular on Bruno Latours concept of chain of reference. We have also used Bakhtins metalinguistic analysis to highlight Einsteins rhetoric strategies. Our results indicate that the concept of chain of reference can be applied to theoretical physics and that it is possible to trace a parallel between laboratory trials and mathematical trials, in which mathematic operators play the role of laboratory equipment. We show that the main features of the laboratory trials are also present in the mathematical ones. Moreover, our analysis challenges the common representation of Einsteins paper as a moment of epistemological rupture and highlights, on the contrary, its translation efforts to articulate new ideas with the dominant paradigm of the time.

arXiv:1811.04509v1 [physics.hist-ph]

History and Philosophy of Physics (physics.hist-ph)

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