Author Archives: smeenk

Urbino Summer School in Philosophy of Physics

The XXth iteration of the Urbino Summer School will focus on spacetime and quantum physics (website), held on July 10-13, 2017.  The summer school will feature morning lectures given by Christian Wüthrich (University of Geneva) and Francesca Vidotto (Radboud University); and afternoon seminars given by Carlo Rovelli (CPT, Aix-Marseille Université, Université de Toulon, CNRS), F.A. Muller (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Tiziana Vistarini (University of Colorado Boulder). (h/t to Giovanni Macchia)

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Methodology and Epistemology in Cosmology Conference (UC Irvine: Feb. 10-12, 2017)

The twenty first century has, thus far, been a period of rapid progress in cosmology. And yet this very success has begun to expose the limits of current methods and forced cosmologists to explore new ways of learning about the universe and its history. At this conference, we will explore three related areas where methodological innovation has been called for, and where it has already begun. One theme will concern the epistemology of inflation. Does inflationary cosmology inexorably lead us to postulate a multiverse where anything that can happen does happen? And if so, what does it mean to test a theory that is compatible with anything we might observe? Or can we treat inflation as a more conventional theory, with unambiguous observational signatures? A second theme will concern dark matter and dark energy. We have inferred the existence of these entities by comparing observational evidence with models of general relativity. But one might just as well infer, from the behavior of the visible matter in the universe, that general relativity breaks down at cosmological (or even galactic) length scales. What are the prospects for alternatives to general relativity at cosmological scales? How might cosmology be used to test general relativity? The final theme will concern the role of simulation in our understanding of the history of the actual universe. Can simulations be used to test theories of the early universe? Do they provide an independent source of information about cosmology, or are they an intermediary between theory and observation?

See the conference webpage for further details.

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Summer School in Philosophy of Physics: Cesena / Urbino

The XIX International Summer School in Philosophy of Physics will be held in Urbino 5th– 8th September and  in Cesena 9th September 2016, and the organizers invite participants. (H/t to Giovanni Macchia.)

 The topic of the school is “MANY-WORLDS INTERPRETATIONS, Quantum mechanics, metaphysics and cosmology.”  It will feature morning lectures given by Wayne  Myrvold (Western University) and Guido Bacciagaluppi (Utrecht University); and afternoon seminars given by  Claudio Calosi (University of Neuchatel), Gennaro Auletta (University of Cassino), and Marica Branchesi (University of Urbino) and F.A. Muller (Erasmus University Rotterdam). Lectures and seminars will be held in English, with a mock trial on September 9th in Italian.

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Philosophy of Cosmology Postdoc (Rotman Institute)

The Rotman Institute invites applications for a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Philosophy of Cosmology. The Fellowship will provide a new scholar in foundations of physics with a unique opportunity to pursue research in collaboration with physicists and philosophers.

The Fellow will be supervised by Chris Smeenk. He or she will benefit from joining an active group of postdoctoral fellows working at the Institute, as well as interactions with faculty. Within the philosophy of physics, faculty pursue topics in the foundations of quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and history and philosophy of space-time theories, as well as in connections between physical theory and general questions in methodology, epistemology, and metaphysics.

The Postdoctoral Fellowship has a duration of two years. The initial appointment is for one year, with renewals annually conditional on satisfactory performance. The Fellow will have an office within the Rotman Institute. Fellows are required to involve themselves fully in the research life of the Institute by conducting research leading to peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations, and by participating in conferences, research groups, reading groups, and outreach activities. The Fellow will be asked to write a review of recent work in philosophy of cosmology in the first year of the fellowship.

The Fellowship is generously supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, and is conditional upon finalizing the grant agreement.  Smeenk is the PI on the grant, with Jim Weatherall and John Manchak (UC Irvine) as co-Investigators.  The postdoctoral fellow will be primarily based at the Rotman Institute, but there will be opportunities to work with Weatherall, Manchak, and other collaborators on the grant.

See the full advertisement for further details, and instructions for applying.  Scholars who applied to a postdoctoral fellowship at the Rotman Institute last month will automatically be considered for this position, and do not need to re-submit application materials.  Please direct any questions to Chris Smeenk.

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Summer School in Philosophy of Physics – Cesena/Urbino

The XVIII International Summer School in Philosophy of Physics will be held in Cesena-Urbino (Italy) on 7th-11th September 2015.

The topic of the school is “Einstein Philosopher-Scientist” and will, among other things, celebrate the centenary of the General Theory of Relativity.  It will feature morning lectures (in English) given by Prof. D. Howard (Notre Dame University) and Prof. H. Brown (Oxford University) and afternoon seminars given by  M. Dorato (University of Rome 3), F. Laudisa (University of Milano-Bicocca). A general inaugural lecture will be held by Prof. J. Renn (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin), and the final lecture will be given by Prof. Silvio Bergia (University of Bologna).

Further information is available at the website.  This is an open invitation for participants.  Attendance is free of charge, but space is limited. See the website for further details regarding applying to attend the summer school.  (H/T to Giovanni Macchia for notifying us of this event.)

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Position in Foundations of Physics at Western

Western University (aka University of Western Ontario) is searching for an outstanding junior scholar working in foundations of physics.  This is an ongoing search from last year, under the same terms:

  • This is a Tier II Canada Research Chair, limited to scholars within ten years of their PhD.  The position may be with or without tenure, depending on qualifications of the applicant.
  • The position is a joint appointment between the Departments of Philosophy and Applied Mathematics.

The official job ad is posted here, which has unfortunately not been updated yet since last year.  Two relevant changes from the previous posting:  (1)  review of applications will begin on February 1, 2014; and (2) enquiries should be directed to the following email account: crc-foundations@uwo.ca.

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Rotman Summer Institute 2013: Foundations of Statistical Mechanics (repost)

This year’s Rotman Summer Institute is aimed at fostering an understanding of conceptual issues in the foundations of statistical mechanics. The goal for students is to come away from the course prepared to engage the philosophical literature on the foundations of statistical mechanics at a professional level.

As there isn’t a consensus as to what the correct approach is to understanding statistical mechanics, we will be bringing together leading contributors to the philosophical debates to date. Lecture topics will include both introductions to basic issues, and specialized topics.

The institute will take place between Sunday, July 14 and Saturday, July 20, in a charming setting on the shores of Lake Huron.

Faculty for this year’s institute are David Z. Albert (Columbia University), Wayne Myrvold (Western University), John Norton (University of Pittsburgh), Jos Uffink (University of Minnesota), David Wallace (University of Oxford).
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