Conceptual Developments of 20th Century Field Theories

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Cambridge University Press, May 14, 1998 - Science - 434 pages
This book gives a broad synthesis of conceptual developments of twentieth-century field theories, from the general theory of relativity to quantum field theory and gauge theory. The author gives a historico-critical exposition of the conceptual foundations of the theories revealing a pattern to the evolution of these conceptions. Theoretical physicists and students of theoretical physics will find in this book an account of the foundational problems of their discipline that will help them understand the internal logic and dynamics of their subject. In addition the book will provide professional historians and philosophers of science, and especially philosophers of physics, with a conceptual basis for further historical, cultural and sociological analysis of the theories discussed. The book also contains much material for philosophical (metaphysical, methodological and semantical) reflection. Finally, the scientifically qualified general reader will find in this book a deeper analysis of contemporary conceptions of the physical world than can be found in popular accounts of the subject.
 

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Scholarly tome, more philosophical than mathematical, on the rise of general relativity, quantum field theory, and gauge theories of the fundamental forces. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Metaphysics
5
Causality
7
Ontology
10
History and the history of science
14
An outline of the main story
15
The rise of classical field theory
24
The continuous medium
27
Interaction
177
Renormalization
185
The quantum field programme QFP
210
Failed attempts
212
Various attitudes toward renormalizability
214
The axiomatic approach
217
The Smatrix theory
220
The PCAC hypothesis and current algebra
229

The mechanical ether field theory
30
The electromagnetic field theory
40
The geometrical programme for fundamental interactions
45
Einsteins route to the gravitational field
47
Guiding ideas
48
The special theory of relativity STR
53
The geometrical interpretation of STR
58
The introduction of gravitational fields the principle of equivalence
60
The general theory of relativity GTR
65
The field and geometry
66
The field and spacetime general covariance
69
Matter versus spacetime and the field Machs principle
74
The consistency of GTR the genesis of relativistic cosmology
82
The geometrical programme GP
90
The geometrical programme strong and weak versions
99
Further developments
103
Topological investigations singularities horizons and black holes
112
The quantum field programme for fundamental interactions
123
The rise of quantum theory
125
The quantization of radiation
128
The birth of matrix mechanics
133
The duality of matter individuality and quantum statistics
136
The birth of wave mechanics
138
Uncertainty and complementarity
139
The formation of the conceptual foundations of quantum field theory
144
Interpretations of the wave function
145
Quantization
152
The quantization of fields
158
The vacuum
173
Anomalies
246
The renormalization group
255
Swings of the pendulum
261
The gauge field programme for fundamental interactions
269
The route to gauge fields
271
The gauge principle of fixing forms of interactions
273
Early attempts
275
The formation of the conceptual foundations of gauge field theories
280
Mechanisms for shortrange interactions II asymptotic freedom
290
Renormalizability
296
Global features
305
Open questions
310
The gauge field programme GFP
320
Further extensions
327
GFP as a synthesis of GP and QFP
332
Stagnation and a new direction effective field theories
339
Ontological synthesis and scientific realism
355
Frameworks opposed to the incommensurability thesis
358
Structural properties of ontologies
359
Conceptual revolutions via ontological synthesis
362
Conceptual revolutions and scientific realism
366
Conceptual revolutions and scientific rationality
368
The rise of intrinsic local and dynamic geometry
371
Homotopy classes and homotopy groups
375
Bibliography
377
Name index
420
Subject index
426
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