Seminar of Philosophy of Science
How does laboratory astrophysics teach us astrophysics?
Speaker: Pr Nora Boyd, Sienna College
Philosopher of science Ian Hacking (1989) provocatively claimed that astrophysics is not a natural science at all. The experimental method is the heart of the scientific method, he reasoned, and no one can manipulate or intervene on astrophysical systems. In contrast, I have argued that physically intervening on a research target is not necessary to generate empirical evidence. Instead, what matters is that it derives from a causal chain with one end anchored in that target. While my view applies to much observational astrophysics, the story is a bit more subtle when it comes to terrestrial laboratory astrophysical experiments. In this talk, I explain how applying my view in a case study of National Ignition Facility research on the effect of high energy flux conditions on the structure of the Rayleigh-Taylor instability in young supernova remnants lead me to uncover a new challenge: how can experimenters reason from the laboratory to the stars, when the very conditions of their experiment undercut the arguments for physical similarity they would have liked to invoke?
Thursday the 15th of April, 15:00 CEST
Zoom: link communicated via e-mail
We are organising a cycle of seminars of philosophy of science at the APC.
During 30 min, philosophers will present their research on a topic related to the themes of research of the laboratory. The presentation will be folllowed by a 30-min discussion between the audience and the speaker.
The event is open to all APC members, external members can assist on request.
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