History of the foundations of physics in the 20th century

A.A. 2021/2022
9
Crediti massimi
60
Ore totali
SSD
M-STO/05
Lingua
Inglese
Obiettivi formativi
The course aims to provide students with a comprehension of the development of physics in the twentieth century through a study of some historically significant cases. The course may be useful for the conception, organization and coordination of cultural activities and projects concerning the history of physics and its relationships with philosophy.
Risultati apprendimento attesi
Knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course, the student
- knows the fundamental elements of the development of physics during the twentieth century
- knows the details, including some mathematical demonstrations and experimental results, of some important discoveries in physics achieved during the twentieth century
- understands the relationships between the history of contemporary scientific thought and the history of philosophy and the philosophy of science

Ability to apply knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course the student
- can apply the knowledge acquired in situating authors and texts historically
- can apply the scientific lexicon of the twentieth century to the analysis and discussion of texts and problems
- can apply the understanding of the historical relationships between science and philosophical doctrines to the analysis and discussion of texts and problems.
Programma e organizzazione didattica

Edizione unica

Periodo
Primo semestre
During the ongoing covid emergency, the course syllabus will be maintained with the following changes made to enhance the effectiveness of the online version of the course, which was originally designed for face-to-face teaching.

The lessons will be held in dual mode. The face-to-face lessons will allow the participation of students connected with MSTeams as well as students in the classroom.

The recordings of the lessons will remain available until the end of the lessons

Online environments used: Teams (keycode in Ariel)

Students wishing to participate in face-to-face lessons must refer to the following University provisions: https://www.unimi.it/en/study/bachelor-and-master-study/following-your-…

Students wishing to participate in MSTeams lessons must refer to the following technical guides: https://www.unimi.it/en/study/student-services/technology-and-online-se…

To participate in the exam sessions, students must refer to the following provisions:
https://www.unimi.it/en/study/bachelor-and-master-study/following-your-…
Programma
Quantum mechanics, which describes the behavior of subatomic particles, seems to challenge common sense. Waves behave like particles; particles behave like waves. You can tell where a particle is, but not how fast it is moving — or vice versa. An electron faced with two tiny holes will travel through both at the same time, rather than one or the other (really so?). And then there is the enigma of creation ex nihilo, in which small particles appear with their so-called antiparticles, only to disappear the next instant in a tiny puff of energy. Since its inception, physicists and philosophers have struggled to work out the meaning of quantum mechanics. Some, like Niels Bohr, have responded to quantum mechanics' mysteries by replacing notions of position and velocity with probabilities. Others, like Einstein and Penrose, have disagreed and think that the entire puzzle reflects not a fundamental principle of nature but our own ignorance of basic scientific processes. The book by Ghirardi that we will comment offers a deep and real understanding of the problems inherent to the interpretation of quantum mechanics. The course will present a balanced overview of the development of the philosophy of quantum mechanics from the times of Planck and Einstein up to the seminal papers published in 1935 by Einstein, Podolsky, Rosen and Schrödinger and will explore how the theory of quantum mechanics was interpreted in conflicting ways by Einstein and Bohr.
Prerequisiti
A high-school (final year) background in physics (esp. Newtonian mechanics and electromagnetism)
Metodi didattici
Lectures delivered by the instructor. Useful information and slides will be uploaded to the Ariel platform.
Materiale di riferimento
Assignments for both 6 and 9 CFU exams:

Giancarlo Ghirardi, Sneaking a Look at God's Cards: Unraveling the Mysteries of Quantum Mechanics, Revised Edition, Princeton UP, 2007 ISBN: 9780691130378 [Edizione italiana: Un'occhiata alle carte di Dio: gli interrogativi che la scienza moderna pone all'uomo, Il Saggiatore, 2015, ISBN: 978-8842821359], chapters 1-7 (pp. 1- 164, we skip Sections 3.4 and 3.5, pp. 51-59, and Section 4.6, pp. 97-102). Pages are referred to the English edition.

Additional assignments for 9 CFU exam:

Giancarlo Ghirardi, Sneaking a Look at God's Cards: Unraveling the Mysteries of Quantum Mechanics, Revised Edition, Princeton UP, 2007 ISBN: 9780691130378 [Edizione italiana: Un'occhiata alle carte di Dio: gli interrogativi che la scienza moderna pone all'uomo, Il Saggiatore, 2015, ISBN: 978-8842821359], chapter 8 (pp. 165-194) and chapter 15 (pp. 344-372, we skip the Appendix 15A on pp. 373-376). Pages are referred to the English edition.

Albert Einstein, "Physics and Reality." English translation by Jean Piccard, Journal of the Franklin Institute, 221 issue 3 (March 1936), pp. 349-354 and 371-379. (downloadable from the Ariel page of this course).

Niels, Bohr, 1949, "Discussions with Einstein on epistemological problems in atomic physics" in Schilpp, P.A., (ed.), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1949, pp. 199-241. Reprinted in Bohr, Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge, 1959, pp. 32-66. (downloadable from https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/dk/bohr.htm
and from the Ariel page of this course)

D. R. Murdoch, Niels Bohr's Philosophy of Physics (Cambridge University Press, 1987), ISBN: 9780521379274, pp. 168-178 and pp. 195-235. (downloadable from the Ariel page of this course)

Howard, Don A. and Marco Giovanelli, "Einstein's Philosophy of Science," The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/einstein-philscience/ (downloadable from the Ariel page of this course)

Bokulich, Alisa and Peter Bokulich, "Bohr's Correspondence Principle," The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2020 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2020/entries/bohr-correspondence
(downloadable from the Ariel page of this course)

Faye, Jan, "Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics," The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2019/entries/qm-copenhagen
(downloadable from the Ariel page of this course)
Modalità di verifica dell’apprendimento e criteri di valutazione
Assessment methods

Both for students who have attended the course and for those who haven't the final examination consists in an oral exam.

The purpose of the oral exam is to test the knowledge and the critical comprehension, of the topics covered in the works indicated in this programme in the field "materiale di riferimento", and the fact that the student has acquired the correct linguistic skills to express and discuss these topics.

Evaluation criteria:

The oral exam is divided into two parts. In the first part the instructor will propose a topic to the student. In case the answer of the student is considered sufficient (18/30), the exam will continue with a discussion on a topic chosen by the student. All topics must be part of the programme taught during the course and included in the reference material ("materiale di riferimento"). A mark will be obtained on the basis on the following criteria (1 to 10 points: factual information + 1 to 10 points language skills, + 1 to 10 points understanding of technical/ scientific content).
Moduli o unità didattiche
Unita' didattica A
M-STO/05 - STORIA DELLE SCIENZE E DELLE TECNICHE - CFU: 3
Lezioni: 20 ore

Unita' didattica B
M-STO/05 - STORIA DELLE SCIENZE E DELLE TECNICHE - CFU: 3
Lezioni: 20 ore

Unita' didattica C
M-STO/05 - STORIA DELLE SCIENZE E DELLE TECNICHE - CFU: 3
Lezioni: 20 ore

Docente/i
Ricevimento:
mercoledì, 10:30-13:30
Gli studenti possono contattarmi per mail e fissare colloqui Skype anche in orario diverso.