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The uses of infinity: a philosopher looks at emergent phenomena in physics

Event

Event video

November
072007

18:30 - 19:30

Location

The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG

Overview

 

Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Prize Lecture
 
Dr Jeremy Butterfield
University of Cambridge

`Emergence', and its contrary reduction, are buzz-words in both physics and philosophy. Both physicists and philosophers disagree about the extent to which we can understand large-scale or complex phenomena in terms of their microscopic parts. Examples include both everyday phenomena like the freezing and boiling of liquids, and fancy ideas like fractals. In this talk, Jeremy Butterfield will pour some oil on these troubled waters. First, he will adopt the philosopher's usual tactic of distinguishing different senses of the contentious terms. Then he will use examples such as freezing and fractals to describe how we understand emergent phenomena by appealing to various kinds of infinity.
 

This lecture was repeated at the University of Bristol at 5pm on Thursday 8 November 2007.

The uses of infinity: a philosopher looks at emergent phenomena in physics

Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Prize Lecture by Dr Jeremy Butterfield University of Cambridge

The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK
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