id: 06460745
dt: j
an: 2015d.00919
au: Gingras, Yves
ti: The creative power of formal analogies in physics: the case of Albert
Einstein.
so: Sci. Educ. (Dordrecht) 24, No. 5-6, 529-541 (2015).
py: 2015
pu: Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht
la: EN
cc: M50 A30
ut: formal analogies; mathematics and physics; theoretical physics; history of
physics
ci:
li: doi:10.1007/s11191-014-9739-1
ab: Summary: In order to show how formal analogies between different physical
systems play an important conceptual work in physics, this paper
analyzes the evolution of Einstein’s thoughts on the structure of
radiation from the point of view of the formal analogies he used as
“lenses" to “see" through the “black box" of Planck’s blackbody
radiation law. A comparison is also made with his 1925 paper on the
quantum gas where he used the same formal methods. Changes of formal
points of view are most of the time taken for granted or passed over in
silence in studies on the mathematization of physics as if they had no
special significance. Revisiting Einstein’s classic papers on the
nature of light and matter from the angle of the various theoretical
tools he used, namely entropy and energy fluctuation calculations,
helps explain why he was in a unique position to make visible the
particle structure of radiation and the dual (particle and wave) nature
of light and matter. Finally, this case study calls attention to the
more general question of the surprising creative power of formal
analogies and their frequent use in theoretical physics. This aspect of
intellectual creation can be useful in the teaching of physics.
rv: