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History and Philosophy of Physics : The backstages of experiments

Histoire et philosophie de la physique : les coulisses de l’expérience

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Published on Monday, February 04, 2013 by Élodie Faath

Summary

Since the 1980s the history and philosophy of science has produced a number of studies about experiments, their aim, styles, intellectual and material components, and multiple disciplinary embedding. Measurement and its instruments have received special attention, as befits the central role they play in any quantitative science. Yet, save for cases in which measurement is the very purpose of experiment or in which it serves to isolate phenomena otherwise lost in noise, measurement processes rarely appear in the publication or in the ulterior discussions of an experiment. The metrological aspects remain in the backstage, for they are believed to be sufficiently shared and codified to elude contestation ; and yet their epistemic, social, and technical functions seem essential. The aim of this year’s seminar is to improve our understanding of these hidden metrological aspects of experiment.

Announcement

Presentation

Since the 1980s the history and philosophy of science has produced a number of studies about experiments, their aim, styles, intellectual and material components, and multiple disciplinary embedding. Measurement and its instruments have received special attention, as befits the central role they play in any quantitative science. Yet, save for cases in which measurement is the very purpose of experiment or in which it serves to isolate phenomena otherwise lost in noise, measurement processes rarely appear in the publication or in the ulterior discussions of an experiment. The metrological aspects remain in the backstage, for they are believed to be sufficiently shared and codified to elude contestation ; and yet their epistemic, social, and technical functions seem essential : they are the machinery that moves the settings of the theater of experiment.

The aim of this year’s seminar is to improve our understanding of these hidden metrological aspects of experiment. In particular, we wish to address the following questions :

  • Definition of magnitudes.
  • Definition and redefinition of units ; evolution of standards, of their modes of dissemination ; calibration of instruments ; metrological traceability.
  • Measurement and decision (acceptance of a hypothesis, of a product) ; models of the measurement process, evaluation of uncertainties, adjustment methods, normalization of instruments, decision criteria.
  • Determination of reference values (physical constants, fundamental constants) ; key role of inter-laboratory comparisons.
  • Growing role of international institutions and study groups (BIPM, CGPM, OIML for legal metrology, JCGM for the VIM and GUM). Multiplication of the norms for measurement processes.

In conformity with the general purpose of this seminar, we wish to focus on physical quantities and on related metrological questions. However, we also wish to address the implication of physical metrology in domains other than physics (biology, medicine, techniques, industry, trade...) and examine the feedback effects on metrological practices.

Program

2012, Nov. 13 Special Conférence*

Olival FREIRE (Université fédérale de Bahia), The quantum dissidents : Rebuilding the foundations of quantum theory (1950-1990)

Nov. 20 (cancelled)

Jimena CANALES (Université Harvard), A Tenth of a Second and More

Dec. 4, 9:30 – 18:00, Workshop SI-12 (SPHERE / Archives Henri Poincaré), The taming of measurement uncertainties : theoretical, practical, and philosophical issues

Salle Mondrian, 646A

  • Walter BICH (Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica / INRIM, Italy) : Error, uncertainty, and probability
  • Luca MARI (University Cattaneo, Italy) : The (non-traditional) concept of measurement uncertainty is tied to the (traditional) concept of quantity value : analysis and consequences
  • Eran TAL (Bielefeld University, Germany) : What measurement uncertainties represent
  • Joachim Fischer* (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt /PTB, Germany) : Alternative analyses of the measurements of fundamental constants
  • Michèle DESENFANT (Laboratoire national de métrologie et d’essais / LNE) : The use of interlaboratory results in uncertainty evaluation
  • Giora HON* (University of Haïfa, Israël) : Plus-or-minus and other intervals : is there a science of uncertainty ?
  • Nadine DE COURTENAY & Fabien GREGIS (Université Paris Diderot, SPHERE) : Questions raised by the epistemic turn in the Guide to the expression of uncertainty measurement
  • General discussion

Dec. 5

Giora HON (Univ. of Haifa), Is a measurement an experiment ? The structural view

2013, Feb 5

Lena SOLER (Archives Henri Poincaré), La calibration dans les pratiques quotidiennes scientifiques : une tentative de caractérisation conceptuelle

March 5

Mieke BOON (Univ. of Twente), Measurements and experiments in the Engineering Sciences

March 19

Marc PRIEL (Laboratoire national de métrologie et d’essais, LNE), De la mesure à la métrologie − de quels concepts avons nous besoin ?

March 26

Sean JOHNSTON (Univ. of Glasgow), Photometry as problematic metrology

*A chance as Olival Freire is invited Professor at Département d’Histoire et philosophie des sciences, at the University Paris Diderot.

Places

  • Université Paris Diderot, bâtiment Condorcet, 75013 Paris
    Paris, France (75013)

Date(s)

  • Tuesday, November 13, 2012
  • Tuesday, December 04, 2012
  • Wednesday, December 05, 2012
  • Tuesday, February 05, 2013
  • Tuesday, March 05, 2013
  • Tuesday, March 19, 2013
  • Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Keywords

  • métrologie, expérience, mesure, normes, metrology, norms, experiment, measure

Contact(s)

  • nadine de Courtenay
    courriel : nadine [dot] decourtenay [at] univ-paris-diderot [dot] fr

Information source

  • Nadine Fachard
    courriel : nad [dot] fachard [at] univ-paris-diderot [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« History and Philosophy of Physics : The backstages of experiments », Seminar, Calenda, Published on Monday, February 04, 2013, https://calenda.org/237859

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