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The Devil in the DetailsAsymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction, and Emergence$
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Robert W. Batterman

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195146479

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195146476.001.0001

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Intertheoretic Relations—Optics

Intertheoretic Relations—Optics

(p.77) 6 Intertheoretic Relations—Optics
The Devil in the Details

Robert W. Batterman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses limiting correspondence relations between the wave theory of light and the ray theory of light. The limit is singular and there is no reductive relation between the theories. The focus is on the particular problem of understanding certain universal features of rainbows. The fruitfulness of studying this singular limit is demonstrated. The main conclusion of this chapter is that the fundamental theory (the wave theory) turns out to be explanatorily deficient and a new (asymptotic) explanatory theory characterizes the asymptotic borderland between the two theories.

Keywords:   catastrophe theory, caustics, diffraction, rainbow, ray theory, singular limits, wave theory

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