Concepts of Mass in Contemporary Physics and Philosophy

Princeton University Press
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The concept of mass is one of the most fundamental notions in physics, comparable in importance only to those of space and time. But in contrast to the latter, which are the subject of innumerable physical and philosophical studies, the concept of mass has been but rarely investigated. Here Max Jammer, a leading philosopher and historian of physics, provides a concise but comprehensive, coherent, and self-contained study of the concept of mass as it is defined, interpreted, and applied in contemporary physics and as it is critically examined in the modern philosophy of science. With its focus on theories proposed after the mid-1950s, the book is the first of its kind, covering the most recent experimental and theoretical investigations into the nature of mass and its role in modern physics, from the realm of elementary particles to the cosmology of galaxies.

The book begins with an analysis of the persistent difficulties of defining inertial mass in a noncircular manner and discusses the related question of whether mass is an observational or a theoretical concept. It then studies the notion of mass in special relativity and the delicate problem of whether the relativistic rest mass is the only legitimate notion of mass and whether it is identical with the classical (Newtonian) mass. This is followed by a critical analysis of the different derivations of the famous mass-energy relationship E = mc2 and its conflicting interpretations. Jammer then devotes a chapter to the distinction between inertial and gravitational mass and to the various versions of the so-called equivalence principle with which Newton initiated his Principia but which also became the starting point of Einstein's general relativity, which supersedes Newtonian physics. The book concludes with a presentation of recently proposed global and local dynamical theories of the origin and nature of mass.


Destined to become a much-consulted reference for philosophers and physicists, this book is also written for the nonprofessional general reader interested in the foundations of physics.

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About the author

Max Jammer, born in Berlin, Germany, is Research Professor of Physics at Bar-Ilan University, where he was formerly President and Rector. His books, translated into many languages, include Concepts of Space (with a foreword by Albert Einstein), The Conceptual Development of Quantum Mechanics, The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, and, most recently, Einstein and Religion (Princeton). Among the awards he has received are the Israel Prize and the Monograph Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jun 8, 2009
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Pages
176
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ISBN
9781400823789
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Language
English
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Genres
Mathematics / History & Philosophy
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
Science / Physics / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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"Professor Jammer's book traces the rise of force from the primordial 'nht' in Egyptian antiquity through its zenith as the central element of physical reality in classical mechanics to its near demise under modern criticism … a veritable tour de force … To read Concepts of Force is to gain a new and profound understanding of force and dynamics." — R. T. Weidner, Physics Today
Both a historical treatment and a critical analysis, this work by a noted physicist takes a fascinating look at one of the fundamental and primordial notions in physical theory, the concept of force.
Tracing its development from ancient times to the twentieth century, the author demonstrates how Kepler initiated the scientific conceptualization of the idea of force, how Newton attempted a clear and profound definition, and how post-Newtonian physicists reinterpreted the notion — contrasting the concepts of Leibniz, Boscovich, and Kant with those of Mach, Kirchhoff, and Hertz. In conclusion, the modern trend toward eliminating the concept of force from the conceptual scheme of physical science receives an in-depth analysis.
Philosophically minded readers interested in the basic problems of science will welcome this volume, as will historians of science and physicists who wish to better understand the historical and epistemological foundations of their discipline. Saluted by Science as "an excellent presentation," and by The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science as "a highly stimulating and informative study," Concepts of Force offers an unsurpassed treatment of a vital subject. 1962 edition.
The Freakonomics of math—a math-world superstar unveils the hidden beauty and logic of the world and puts its power in our hands

The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how terribly limiting this view is: Math isn’t confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do—the whole world is shot through with it.

Math allows us to see the hidden structures underneath the messy and chaotic surface of our world. It’s a science of not being wrong, hammered out by centuries of hard work and argument. Armed with the tools of mathematics, we can see through to the true meaning of information we take for granted: How early should you get to the airport? What does “public opinion” really represent? Why do tall parents have shorter children? Who really won Florida in 2000? And how likely are you, really, to develop cancer?

How Not to Be Wrong presents the surprising revelations behind all of these questions and many more, using the mathematician’s method of analyzing life and exposing the hard-won insights of the academic community to the layman—minus the jargon. Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia’s views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can’t figure out about you, and the existence of God.

Ellenberg pulls from history as well as from the latest theoretical developments to provide those not trained in math with the knowledge they need. Math, as Ellenberg says, is “an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength.” With the tools of mathematics in hand, you can understand the world in a deeper, more meaningful way. How Not to Be Wrong will show you how.
The philosophy of religion and the quest for spiritual truth preoccupied Albert Einstein--so much that it has been said "one might suspect he was a disguised theologian." Nevertheless, the literature on the life and work of Einstein, extensive as it is, does not provide an adequate account of his religious conception and sentiments. Only fragmentarily known, Einstein's ideas about religion have been often distorted both by atheists and by religious groups eager to claim him as one of their own. But what exactly was Einstein's religious credo? In this fascinating book, the distinguished physicist and philosopher Max Jammer offers an unbiased and well-documented answer to this question.

The book begins with a discussion of Einstein's childhood religious education and the religious atmosphere--or its absence--among his family and friends. It then reconstructs, step by step, the intellectual development that led Einstein to the conceptions of a cosmic religion and an impersonal God, akin to "the God of Spinoza." Jammer explores Einstein's writings and lectures on religion and its role in society, and how far they have been accepted by the general public and by professional theologians like Paul Tillich or Frederick Ferré. He also analyzes the precise meaning of Einstein's famous dictum "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind," and why this statement can serve as an epitome of Einstein's philosophy of religion.


The last chapter deals with the controversial question of whether Einstein's scientific work, and in particular his theory of relativity, has theologically significant implications, a problem important for those who are interested in the relation between science and religion. Both thought-provoking and engaging, this book aims to introduce readers, without proselytizing, to Einstein's religion.

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