ABOUT THIS BOOK
Winner of the 2007 Pfizer Prize from the History of Science Society.
Feynman diagrams have revolutionized nearly every aspect of theoretical physics since the middle of the twentieth century. Introduced by the American physicist Richard Feynman (1918-88) soon after World War II as a means of simplifying lengthy calculations in quantum electrodynamics, they soon gained adherents in many branches of the discipline. Yet as new physicists adopted the tiny line drawings, they also adapted the diagrams and introduced their own interpretations. Drawing Theories Apart traces how generations of young theorists learned to frame their research in terms of the diagrams—and how both the diagrams and their users were molded in the process.
Drawing on rich archival materials, interviews, and more than five hundred scientific articles from the period, Drawing Theories Apart uses the Feynman diagrams as a means to explore the development of American postwar physics. By focusing on the ways young physicists learned new calculational skills, David Kaiser frames his story around the crafting and stabilizing of the basic tools in the physicist's kit—thus offering the first book to follow the diagrams once they left Feynman's hands and entered the physics vernacular.
"This is a rich and original contribution to the expanding historical scholarship on the development of scientific tools and practices. Kaiser is one of the few historians to deal with the conceptual equipment of science as a kind of malleable paper tool, showing how Feynman diagrams were refracted through local environments and ultimately transformed. In all, a dazzling piece of work."-Daniel J. Kevles, Yale University
— Daniel J. Kevles, Yale University
“Only a few people have the talent to write the history of theoretical physics. Only one or two can conceptualize and explain the elaboration of theory as a practical activity, which, like fine art, has its own competing traditions and conventions of representation. David Kaiser accomplishes all this and backs it up with a level of detailed scholarship that makes it totally convincing.”— Harry Collins, Cardiff University
“This book is a double delight. It is the best example so far of a new way of doing the history of science, not as an account of evolving theories, experiments, and instruments, but of diagrams. It is a story of how a generation of physicists came to think for themselves and to talk to others in a new way. It takes you inside their minds and their seminars. It is also a wonderful way to learn how Feynman diagrams work and what they mean—in effect, a super do-it-yourself manual.”— Ian Hacking, Collège de France, Paris
"This is surely the definitive study of one of the great ubiquitous tools of modern quantum field theory."
— A. I. Solomon, Contemporary Physics
“Intellectual tools can have profound impacts. Feynman diagrams have greatly improved how theoretical physicists think and, consequently, our understanding of nature. Drawing Theories Apart provides an informative description of how their influence came about.”
— Gordon Kane, Science
"This is a fascinating book., if you are interested in the history, sociology and people of physics. It should be in every physics library."
— Bruce H.J. McKellar, Australian Physics
"Kaiser is prodigiously talented in telling the adventure of modern theoretical physics: the richness of the book may impress even the most demanding historians and physicists. Physicists will probably be surprised to learn of so many varieties of Feynman diagrams. Historians will be delighted with the originality of the approach. . . . Everybody will be enchanted by the style of the book: even when (very) difficult physics is presented, it is never boring; it is always luminous and exciting."
— Anouk Barberousse, International Studies in the Philsophy of Science
"A colorful and readable account of the earliest applications of the diagrammatic technique."
— Eugen Merzbacher, Physics Today
"A colorful and readable account of the earliest applications of the diagrammatic technique. . . . The book comes equipped with a formidable ancillary apparatus of footnotes and appendices and a massive bibliography that alone is worth the price."
— Eugen Merzbacher, Physics
"A rich, original and most recommendable contribution to the history of modern science. It skilfully integrates social history with conceptual history, a technical mastery of Feynman diagrams with a broad and novel perspective of the historicity of the diagrams. . . . Drawing Theories Apart will surely be studied by historians, sociologists and philosophers of physics. . . . It has much to offer also to readers with no background in physics."
— British Journal of the History of Science
"A stimulating and readable book that is also accessible to a wider audience. . . . The book is a valuable contribution to the history and philosophy of physics."
— Adrian Wuethrich, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
"Kaiserer's masterly written book provides a readable account of the role of Feynman's intuitive tools for today's physics."
— Gert Roepstorff, Zentralblatt Math
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface and Acknowledgments
Chapter 1. Introduction: Pedagogy and the Institutions of Theory
Richard Feynman and His Diagrams
Paper Tools and the Practice of Theory
Pedagogy and Postwar Physics
Overview: The Two Meanings of "Dispersion"
PART I. DISPERSING THE DIAGRAMS, 1948-54
Chapter 2. An Introduction in the Poconos
Quantum Electrodynamics and the Problem of Infinities
Initial Reception and Lingering Confusion
Evidence of Dispersion
Chapter 3. Freeman Dyson and the Postdoc Cascade
The Rise of Postdoctoral Training
Dyson as Diagrammatic Ambassador
Life and Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study
The Postdoc Cascade
A Pedagogical Field Theory
Chapter 4. International Dispersion
The Diagrams' Diaspora
Feynman Diagrams in Great Britain
Feynman Diagrams in Japan
Feynman Diagrams in the Soviet Union
Tacit and Explicit Knowledges
PART II. DISPERSION IN FORM, USE, AND MEANING
Chapter 5. Seeds of Dispersion
The Feynman-Dyson Split
Perturbative Methods Fail, Feynman Diagrams Flourish
Chapter 6. Family Resemblances
Kroll's Perturbative Bookkeepers
Marshak's Meson Markers
Climbing Bethe's Ladder: Feynman Diagrams and the Many-Body Problem
Training Theorists for House and Field
PART III. FEYNMAN DIAGRAMS IN AND OUT OF FIELD THEORY, 1955-70
Chapter 7. Teaching the Diagrams in an Age of Textbooks
The Postwar Age of Textbooks
The New Diagrammatic Textbooks
Pedagogy and the Pictures' Place
Chapter 8. Doodling toward a New "Theory"
Crossing to a New Representation
From Bookkeepers to Pole Finders: Polology and the Landau Rules
Chew the Program Builder: Nuclear Democracy and the Bootstrap
Diagrammatic Bootstrapping and the Emergence of New Theories
Chapter 9. "Democratic" Diagrams in Berkeley and Princeton
Geoffrey Chew: A Scientist's Politics of Democracy in 1950s America
Pedagogical Reforms: "Secret Seminars" and "Wild Merrymaking"
The View from Princeton
Conditions of Diagrammatic Possibilities
Chapter 10. Paper Tools and the Theorists' Way of Life
Why Did the Diagrams Stick? Inculcation and Reification
In Search of the Vanishing Scientific Theory
Appendix A. Feynman Diagrams in the Physical Review, 1949-54
Appendix B. Feynman Diagrams in Proceedings of the Royal Society, 1950-54
Appendix C. Feynman Diagrams in Progress of Theoretical Physics, 1949-54
Appendix D. Feynman Diagrams in Soryushi-ron Kenkyu, 1949-52
Appendix E. Feynman Diagrams in Zhurnal eksperimental'noi i teoreticheskoi fiziki, 1952-59
Appendix F. Feynman Diagrams in Other Journals, 1950-54
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