Consistency Conditions on Fundamental Physics – Rachel Rosen (Columbia University).

March 20, 2018 @ 2:10 pm – 4:00 pm
Columbia University Philosophy Dept.
116th St & Broadway
New York, NY 10027

as our understanding of the universe and its basic building blocks extends to shorter and shorter distances, experiments capable of probing these scales are becoming increasingly difficult to construct. Fundamental particle physics faces a potential crisis: an absence of data at the shortest possible scales. Yet remarkably, even in the absence of experimental data, the requirement of theoretical consistency puts stringent constraints on viable models of fundamental particles and their interactions. In this talk I’ll present some of these constraints and discuss their applications for cosmology, string theory and more.

There will be dinner after the talk. If you are interested, please send an email with “Dinner” in the heading to (please note that all are welcome, but only the speaker’s dinner will be covered). If you have any other questions, please email



Adam Becker (University of California, Berkeley).
Details: 4-6pm Tuesday April 3, NYU Philosophy department, room 101 (5 Washington Place, New York, NY).
Title: Why the Copenhagen Interpretation Doesn’t Work and Why It’s Popular Anyhow.

Abstract: conventional wisdom holds that since the advent of the first full theories of quantum mechanics in the mid-1920s, the Copenhagen interpretation has been the default interpretation of quantum mechanics, and has enjoyed the support of a majority of physicists ever since. This is not the case. While it is indeed true that a majority of physicists have long professed that they subscribe to the Copenhagen interpretation, the plain fact of the matter is that there is no single coherent position known as the Copenhagen interpretation, nor has there ever been one. Moreover, none of the positions that go by the name “Copenhagen interpretation” do a good job of solving the measurement problem, the central interpretive problem at the heart of quantum foundations. Nor do they evade the nonlocality that is dictated by Bell’s theorem. In this talk, I will give an overview of the history of the Copenhagen interpretation from 1926 to the present, explain its multiple inconsistencies and failures, and attempt an answer at a persistent puzzle: why does the Copenhagen interpretation remain popular among physicists despite its manifest flaws and the existence of multiple superior alternatives

About the speaker: Adam Becker is the author of What is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics. He has a PhD in physics from the University of Michigan and he is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Book Grant. He is currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Office for History of Science and Technology.

Elise Crull (CCNY).
4-6pm, Tuesday April 10, CUNY room 5307 (365 5th Ave, New York NY).
Title: TBD.

Abstract: TBD.

J. Brian Pitts (Cambridge).
11am-12pm, Wednesday May 16, NYU philosophy department, room 302 (5 Washington Place, New York, NY).
Title: TBD.

Abstract: TBD.

Jeremy Butterfield (Cambridge).
1:30-3:30pm, Wednesday May 16, NYU philosophy department, room 302 (5 Washington Place, New York, NY).
Title: On Dualities and Equivalences Between Physical Theories.

Abstract: My main aim is to make a remark about the relation between (i) dualities between theories, as `duality’ is understood in physics and (ii) equivalence of theories, as `equivalence’ is understood in logic and philosophy. The remark is that in physics, two theories can be dual, and accordingly get called `the same theory’, though we interpret them as disagreeing—so that they are certainly equivalent, as `equivalent’ is normally understood. So the remark is simple: but, I shall argue, worth stressing—since often neglected.

My argument for this is based on the account of duality by De Haro and myself: which is illustrated here with several examples, from both elementary physics and string theory. Thus I argue that in some examples, including in string theory, two dual theories disagree in their claims about the world.

I also spell out how this remark implies a limitation of proposals (both traditional and recent) to understand theoretical equivalence as either logical equivalence or a weakening of it.

Chip Sebens (UCSD).
4-6pm, Wednesday May 16, NYU philosophy department, room 302 (5 Washington Place, New York, NY).
Title: TBD.

Abstract: TBD.



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