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Modelling high temperature superconductivity: A philosophical inquiry in theory, experiment and dissent.

Di Bucchianico, Maria Elena (2009) Modelling high temperature superconductivity: A philosophical inquiry in theory, experiment and dissent. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis tells the story of the Balkanization of the theory community in High Temperature Superconductivity (HTS) and of the many roles experimental evidence has been playing in the battles there. In the twenty-five years that followed the discovery of HTS, the Condensed Matter Physics (CMP) community has experienced extreme difficulty in trying to reach a consensus on a 'final' theory. I will explore some of the reasons for such dissent, starting from testimonies that I collected through personal interviews with HTS physicists. I will focus on the way experiments actively contribute to the formulation of theories. I claim that there is a tension between the different methods and aims of two scientific traditions as they implement the contribution from experiments. This tension will be illustrated through the discussion of several episodes from the history of Superconductivity and CMP research. In particular the paradigmatic quarrels between two of the major players in the history of superconductivity, physicists PW Anderson and B Matthias, will be presented to explore the meeting of theoretical and experimental driving forces and their impact on the evaluation of theories and research programmes. I will also argue that the ambiguity in the theories of evidence employed by the warring camps in HTS allows each of them to claim empirical adequacy for itself and deny it to the opponents, and I shall raise questions about whether the standards of evidence employed there are consistently applied and grounded.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy of Science
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2755

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