Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics

Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics

by David Kaiser
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226422674

ISBN-13: 9780226422671

Pub. Date: 06/15/2005

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Winner of the 2007 Pfizer Prize from the History of Science Society.
 
Feynman diagrams have revolutionized nearly every aspect of theoretical physics since the middle of the twentieth century. Introduced by the American physicist Richard Feynman (1918-88) soon after World War II as a means of simplifying lengthy calculations in quantum electrodynamics,

Overview

Winner of the 2007 Pfizer Prize from the History of Science Society.
 
Feynman diagrams have revolutionized nearly every aspect of theoretical physics since the middle of the twentieth century. Introduced by the American physicist Richard Feynman (1918-88) soon after World War II as a means of simplifying lengthy calculations in quantum electrodynamics, they soon gained adherents in many branches of the discipline. Yet as new physicists adopted the tiny line drawings, they also adapted the diagrams and introduced their own interpretations. Drawing Theories Apart traces how generations of young theorists learned to frame their research in terms of the diagrams—and how both the diagrams and their users were molded in the process.

Drawing on rich archival materials, interviews, and more than five hundred scientific articles from the period, Drawing Theories Apart uses the Feynman diagrams as a means to explore the development of American postwar physics. By focusing on the ways young physicists learned new calculational skills, David Kaiser frames his story around the crafting and stabilizing of the basic tools in the physicist's kit—thus offering the first book to follow the diagrams once they left Feynman's hands and entered the physics vernacular.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226422671
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
06/15/2005
Edition description:
1
Pages:
376
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

Contents
Preface and Acknowledgments....................xi
Abbreviations....................xvii
Chapter 1. Introduction: Pedagogy and the Institutions of Theory....................1
Richard Feynman and His Diagrams....................1
Paper Tools and the Practice of Theory....................7
Pedagogy and Postwar Physics....................14
Overview: The Two Meanings of Dispersion....................16
PART I. DISPERSING THE DIAGRAMS, 1948-54 Chapter 2. An Introduction in the Poconos....................27
Quantum Electrodynamics and the Problem of Infinities....................28
Initial Reception and Lingering Confusion....................43
Evidence of Dispersion....................52
Chapter 3. Freeman Dyson and the Postdoc Cascade....................60
The Rise of Postdoctoral Training....................61
Dyson as Diagrammatic Ambassador....................65
Life and Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study....................83
The Postdoc Cascade....................93
A Pedagogical Field Theory....................108
Chapter 4. International Dispersion....................112
The Diagrams' Diaspora....................112
Feynman Diagrams in Great Britain....................115
Feynman Diagrams in Japan....................125
Feynman Diagrams in the Soviet Union....................149
Tacit and Explicit Knowledges....................167
PART II. DISPERSION IN FORM, USE, AND MEANING Chapter 5. Seeds of Dispersion....................173
The Feynman-Dyson Split....................175
Perturbative Methods Fail, Feynman Diagrams Flourish....................195
Chapter 6. FamilyResemblances....................208
Kroll's Perturbative Bookkeepers....................209
Marshak's Meson Markers....................220
Climbing Bethe's Ladder: Feynman Diagrams and the Many-Body Problem....................230
Training Theorists for House and Field....................244
PART III. FEYNMAN DIAGRAMS IN AND OUT OF FIELD THEORY, 1955-70 Chapter 7. Teaching the Diagrams in an Age of Textbooks....................253
The Postwar Age of Textbooks....................255
The New Diagrammatic Textbooks....................259
Pedagogy and the Pictures' Place....................270
Chapter 8. Doodling toward a New "Theory"....................280
Dispersion Relations....................282
Crossing to a New Representation....................288
From Bookkeepers to Pole Finders: Polology and the Landau Rules....................296
Chew the Program Builder: Nuclear Democracy and the Bootstrap....................306
Diagrammatic Bootstrapping and the Emergence of New Theories....................314
Chapter 9. "Democratic" Diagrams in Berkeley and Princeton....................318
Geoffrey Chew: A Scientist's Politics of Democracy in 1950s America....................322
Pedagogical Reforms: "Secret Seminars" and "Wild Merrymaking"....................332
The View from Princeton....................346
Conditions of Diagrammatic Possibilities....................352
Chapter 10. Paper Tools and the Theorists' Way of Life....................356
Why Did the Diagrams Stick? Inculcation and Reification....................359
In Search of the Vanishing Scientific Theory....................377
Appendix A. Feynman Diagrams in the Physical Review, 1949-54....................389
Appendix B. Feynman Diagrams in Proceedings of the Royal Society, 1950-54....................395
Appendix C. Feynman Diagrams in Progress of Theoretical Physics, 1949-54....................397
Appendix D. Feynman Diagrams in Soryushi-ron Kenkyu, 1949-52....................402
Appendix E. Feynman Diagrams in Zhurnal eksperimental'noi i teoreticheskoi fiziki, 1952-59....................406
Appendix F. Feynman Diagrams in Other Journals, 1950-54....................415
Interviews....................419
Bibliography....................421
Index....................461

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