Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Reconstructing RealityModels, Mathematics, and Simulations$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Margaret Morrison

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199380275

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199380275.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 25 February 2021

From the Pure to the Concrete

From the Pure to the Concrete

How Mathematics Yields Physical Information

Chapter:
(p.50) 2 From the Pure to the Concrete
Source:
Reconstructing Reality
Author(s):

Margaret Morrison

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199380275.003.0003

This chapter addresses the question of whether and how mathematics, in and of itself, is capable of providing genuine physical information, where the latter is characterised as information about phenomena that could not (at the time) be furnished by physical hypotheses or models and emanates solely from a mathematical method or framework. The example considered focuses on the renormalisation group method and how, as a purely mathematical technique, it nevertheless appears able to provide us with information about the behaviour of a system at critical point—information that is simply not available using the resources of the relevant physical theory, often statistical mechanics or thermodynamics. Its explanatory role in treating critical point phenomena is highlighted, and an analysis is provided of what, exactly, is explained using these techniques, in particular the kind of ‘cooperative behaviour’ associated with phase transitions.

Keywords:   renormalisation group, quantum field theory, statistical mechanics, mathematical explanation, critical point behaviour

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .