For millennia, natural philosophers and scientists have been actively engaged in the reductionist quest to specify the fundamental building blocks of matter and discern the dynamics of physical reality. During the last one hundred years, physicists have intensified this search, probing the deep interior of atoms, nuclei, and the entities of which these are composed. Their progress in this endeavor was highlighted by the announced discovery of the Higgs boson, a watershed moment for particle physics. All of this, however, has come at a cost: an increasingly abstract, inherently mathematical description of nature at its most basic level. This book is an assessment of this cost and critiques the modern orthodoxy that the ever-evolving models of particle physics are leading us towards a truer understanding of the real world. The authors propose that the ancient reductionist quest has been unintentionally side-lined by quasirealism, a philosophical approach to interpreting reductionist scientific models that finds reality hiding in places where it might not actually be.
1. The Reductionist Vision of Physics 2. Quasirealism 3. Space, Time, and Relativity 4. Mass 5. Mathematical Spaces 6. Quantum Physics 7. When Is an Atom? 8. Elementary Quanta 9. What Is a Photon? 10. Symmetries, Conservation Laws, and Gauge Bosons 11. Higgs Boson
Chary Rangacharyulu is professor in the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics at the University of Saskatchewan.
Christopher Polachic is assistant professor of natural sciences—physics in the Sloan Center for Science & Professional Studies at the Williams Baptist University, Arkansas, USA.
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