Christian Joas: Vortrag in Paris
Christian Joas hält am Dienstag, den 11. Oktober 2016 im Rahmen des Kolloquium Séminaire d'histoire et philosophie de la physique einen Vortrag über sein Habilitationsprojekt "Quantum many-body physics in the 1950s" an der Pariser Sorbonne (Universität Diderot-Paris 7).
After World War II, physics underwent momentous institutional and intellectual changes. As the discipline grew bigger and new subdisciplines emerged, research practices began to diverge: Particle, nuclear, and solid-state physicists began using different terminologies, methods, and techniques. The unity of physics as a discipline was, however, rarely questioned.
In my talk, I will study this inner tension in the history of postwar physics by examining the history of many-body physics, a field of research that, in the words of one of its protagonists, David Pines, during the 1950s turned from a “quiet corner of theoretical physics” into a “major crossroad.“ Many-body physics centered not around a shared object of study, but around a shared set of methods and new heuristics for coming to grips with systems consisting of large numbers of interacting particles. I will present selected case studies and discuss the field’s role as mediator between the emerging subdisciplines of physics at a time when physicists were facing an accelerated Balkanization of their discipline. Many-body physics enabled processes of knowledge transfer between the emerging subdisciplines of physics, which deeply affected the research practices of nuclear and solid-state physicists—and, eventually and perhaps surprisingly, also those of particle physicists.