Doing Physics: How Physicists Take Hold of the World

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This is a book about how physicists take hold of the world, actually about how some physicists get ahold of some of the world.
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Overview


This is a book about how physicists take hold of the world, actually about how some physicists get ahold of some of the world.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Physicist Krieger Advice and Planning calls his unusual book ``an ethnographic or cultural report on the technical practices of a subculture.'' Brief but dense, this attempt to explain to the layperson how physicists approach the world arose from a course Krieger taught for nonscientists. His warning that some of the material is ``hard going'' is an understatement. The author first details the ``division of labor'' within nature, arguing that nature is like a factory; he then goes on to explore the analytic units of physics; systems within physics; strategies of looking at problems; and the ``craft'' of science. He produces some interesting and accessible analogies, comparing kinship systems, chemistry, market economies and physics--all involve ``fair exchange''--and showing how a telephone switching system is a model of the complex system that physicists study. However, the discussion is often abstract and hampered by baffling graphs and equations. Krieger has gone only part of the way toward bringing this complex subculture to light. June
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253331236
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1992
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin H. Krieger, who was trained as a physicist at Columbia University, has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and at the National Humanities Center. He is author of Marginalism and Discontinuity: Tools for the Crafts of Knowledge and Decision (1989), Constitutions of Matter: Mathematically Modeling the Most Everyday of Physical Phenomena (1996), and Doing Mathematics: Convention, Subject, Calculation, Analogy (2003). He is on the faculty of the University of Southern California, and has taught at Berkeley, Minnesota, MIT, and Michigan.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Degrees of Freedom; A Note to the Reader; A Note for the Scholars; This Second Edition; Acknowledgments
1. The Division of Labor: The Factory
Nature as a Factory; Handles and Stories. What Everyday Walls Must Do; Walls for a Factory; Walls as Providential. Particles, Objects, and Workers; What Particles Must Be Like; Intuitions of Walls and Particles. What Fields Must Be Like.
2. Taking Apart and Putting Together: The Clockworks, The Calculus, and the Computer
The Right Degrees of Freedom; The Clockworks and The Calculus. Parts Are Strategies; Independence and Randomness; Dependence, Spreadsheets, and Differential Equations; Additivity and The Calculus; Disjoint Functionality and Interpretability: Bureaucracy, Flow Processing Plants, and Object-Oriented Programming; Sequence and Procedure. Parts Are Commitments.
3. Freedom and Necessity: Family and Kinship
Recapitulation and Prospect; Kinship, Exchange, and Plenitude; Systematics in the Field; The Problem of "Quite Rarely"; Markets and Fetishes; Taking the Rules Seriously; Structure and System.
4. The Vacuum and The Creation: Setting a Stage
So Far, an Epitome; Sweeping Up the Vacuum; Symmetry and Order. The Empty Stage; Of Nothing, Something, and the Vacuum. Setting Up the Stage; Ideologies for a Vacuum; The Dialectic of Finding a Good Vacuum; The Analogy of Substance, Once More. Fluctuations in a Vacuum. Annealing the World.
5. Handles, Probes, and Tools: A Rhetoric of Nature
A Craft of Science; Some Handles onto the World (Particles, Crystals, Gasses; Analogy; Phase Transitions; Knowledge Is Handling). Probes; Objectivity and Inelasticity; Probes and Handles. Tools and Toolkits; A Physicist's Toolkit; So Far.
6. Production Machinery: Mathematics for Analysis and Description
Philosophical Analysis and Phenomenological Description; Machinery and Production Processes; Naming and Modeling the World; Demonstrations and Proofs as Strategies of Explanation; Understanding "The Physics"; Analogy and Syzygy; The Mathematics and The Physics
7. An Epitome Notes Index

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