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This title in other editions

Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics

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Publisher Comments:


Feynman diagrams have revolutionized nearly every aspect of theoretical physics since the middle of the twentieth century. Introduced by the American physicist Richard Feynman (1918-88) soon after World War II as a means of simplifying lengthy calculations in quantum electrodynamics, they soon gained adherents in many branches of the discipline. Yet as new physicists adopted the tiny line drawings, they also adapted the diagrams and introduced their own interpretations. Drawing Theories Apart traces how generations of young theorists learned to frame their research in terms of the diagrams; and how both the diagrams and their users were molded in the process.

Drawing on rich archival materials, interviews, and more than five hundred scientific articles from the period, Drawing Theories Apart uses the Feynman diagrams as a means to explore the development of American postwar physics. By focusing on the ways young physicists learned new calculational skills, David Kaiser frames his story around the crafting and stabilizing of the basic tools in the physicist's kit, thus offering the first book to follow the diagrams once they left Feynman's hands and entered the physics vernacular.

About the Author

David Kaiser is the Germeshausen Professor in and department head of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

Abbreviations

Chapter 1. Introduction: Pedagogy and the Institutions of Theory

Richard Feynman and His Diagrams

Paper Tools and the Practice of Theory

Pedagogy and Postwar Physics

Overview: The Two Meanings of "Dispersion"

PART I. DISPERSING THE DIAGRAMS, 1948-54

Chapter 2. An Introduction in the Poconos

Quantum Electrodynamics and the Problem of Infinities

Initial Reception and Lingering Confusion

Evidence of Dispersion

Chapter 3. Freeman Dyson and the Postdoc Cascade

The Rise of Postdoctoral Training

Dyson as Diagrammatic Ambassador

Life and Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study

The Postdoc Cascade

A Pedagogical Field Theory

Chapter 4. International Dispersion

The Diagrams' Diaspora

Feynman Diagrams in Great Britain

Feynman Diagrams in Japan

Feynman Diagrams in the Soviet Union

Tacit and Explicit Knowledges

PART II. DISPERSION IN FORM, USE, AND MEANING

Chapter 5. Seeds of Dispersion

The Feynman-Dyson Split

Perturbative Methods Fail, Feynman Diagrams Flourish

Chapter 6. Family Resemblances

Kroll's Perturbative Bookkeepers

Marshak's Meson Markers

Climbing Bethe's Ladder: Feynman Diagrams and the Many-Body Problem

Training Theorists for House and Field

PART III. FEYNMAN DIAGRAMS IN AND OUT OF FIELD THEORY, 1955-70

Chapter 7. Teaching the Diagrams in an Age of Textbooks

The Postwar Age of Textbooks

The New Diagrammatic Textbooks

Pedagogy and the Pictures' Place

Chapter 8. Doodling toward a New "Theory"

Dispersion Relations

Crossing to a New Representation

From Bookkeepers to Pole Finders: Polology and the Landau Rules

Chew the Program Builder: Nuclear Democracy and the Bootstrap

Diagrammatic Bootstrapping and the Emergence of New Theories

Chapter 9. "Democratic" Diagrams in Berkeley and Princeton

Geoffrey Chew: A Scientist's Politics of Democracy in 1950s America

Pedagogical Reforms: "Secret Seminars" and "Wild Merrymaking"

The View from Princeton

Conditions of Diagrammatic Possibilities

Chapter 10. Paper Tools and the Theorists' Way of Life

Why Did the Diagrams Stick? Inculcation and Reification

In Search of the Vanishing Scientific Theory

Appendix A. Feynman Diagrams in the Physical Review, 1949-54

Appendix B. Feynman Diagrams in Proceedings of the Royal Society, 1950-54

Appendix C. Feynman Diagrams in Progress of Theoretical Physics, 1949-54

Appendix D. Feynman Diagrams in Soryushi-ron Kenkyu, 1949-52

Appendix E. Feynman Diagrams in Zhurnal eksperimental'noi i teoreticheskoi fiziki, 1952-59

Appendix F. Feynman Diagrams in Other Journals, 1950-54

Interviews

Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226422671
Author:
Kaiser, David
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Subject:
Physics
Subject:
History
Subject:
Americas (North Central South West Indies)
Subject:
Feynman diagrams
Subject:
Physics -- History -- 20th century.
Subject:
Physics-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
1
Publication Date:
July 2005
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Illustrations:
15 halftones, 73 line drawings, 2 tables
Pages:
376
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » World History » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » General

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