The Department of Epistemology meeting
The Department of Epistemology of the Institute of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University (Grodzka st. 52) organizes a meeting
on 22 October, 4 p.m., Room 39, at which
Michael Stoeltzner (South Carolina)
will deliver a lecture
On the Emergence of Fluctuations
I investigate the (almost) simultaneous emergence of Egon von Schweidler's concept of radioactive fluctuations (1905) and Marian von Smoluchowski's explanation of Brownian motion (1906). In both cases fluctuations (Schwankungen) became a physical quantity in its own right rather than being an expression of measurement error. I argue that the breakthroughs required a specific combination of experimental research programs, a deep knowledge of statistical mechanics, and a combination of a bottom-up empiricism with the firm conviction in the truth of the kinetic theory that were characteristic of the large thought collective centering around the Viennese experimental physicist Franz Serafin Exner in Vienna. Also of significance are the experimental techniques and the exploratory method shared by the early research works in atmospheric electricity and radioactivity, the emergence of the relative frequency interpretation of probability, and a philosophical orientation that allowed the Exnerian thought collective to accept statistical regularities as laws of nature.
Everyon interested to participate is welcome.
Published by: Anna Tomaszewska