September 22, 2014 at 5:45 pm

What Was Einstein Thinking? Sept. 22

The Frontiers in Science Lecture Series presents Dr. Arthur Fine on”What Was Einstein Thinking?” at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 22, in Memorial Auditorium.

Dr. Arthur Fine

Dr. Arthur Fine

Fine is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington.

The name Albert Einstein is synonymous with science and scientific genius. Time Magazine made him “The Man of the 20th Century,” and most would agree that Einstein was the greatest scientific thinker since Newton. Nevertheless, insiders in physics came to see him as an outsider. And he said of himself that he was looked at as a heretic and an old fool.

This talk will examine why the scientist of genius and fame came to be an isolated figure in science. The story has to do with the rise of the quantum theory—the physics of the atom and the microworld—and a shift in the very conception of science that came with it. Although Einstein made fundamental contributions to quantum theory (and got the Nobel Prize for them), he did not like the sort of theory that emerged, and became its foremost critic. That is what caused the trouble.

The Skaky Game: Einstein, Realism and the Quantum Theory“So my topic is Einstein, the conceptual development of quantum theory and Einstein’s dissatisfaction with that,” says Fine. “To tell this story in detail would take a series of lecture-demonstrations, which we do not have. Instead I will try a small experiment. Rather than just telling about Einstein’s attitude I will try to convey it (to some extent) in the way I describe everything else. If this succeeds, then when I am done with my story you, too, will be dissatisfied with the quantum theory and in just those respects that Einstein was. So you will understand what AE was thinking because you will have been thinking the same things too—at least to some extent.”

In The Shaky Game: Einstein, Realism and the Quantum Theory (Science and Its Conceptual Foundations series), Fine looks at Einstein’s philosophy of science and develops his own views on realism.

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