Annual Lecture Series (in-person)
Lunchtime Talks (in-person)
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LTT: R. Batterman
February 8, 2022 @ 12:10 pm - 1:30 pm EST
Robert Batterman, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh
Mesoscale Models and Many-Body Physics
ABSTRACT: What is the best way to study the bulk behavior of many-body systems? A natural, common sentiment among philosophers and physicists is to take a foundational perspective. Examine the theory that characterizes the interactions among the components of such many-body systems and derive the continuum scale behaviors. This approach serves also to reduce, in effect, the continuum theories (Navier-Stokes, Navier-Cauchy) to more fundamental lower scale theories. The hope would be that in so doing we would also be able to explain the relative autonomy of those continuum theories from the lower scale more fundamental details. After all, the continuum theories do not recognize any structure whatsoever below continuum scales.
I argue that this reductionist approach is not fruitful and cannot explain the relative autonomy/universality of the continuum theories—theories that continue to be used in engineering contexts. Instead, I describe an approach that appeals to order parameters and material parameters understood to be defined at mesoscales. That is, we need to treat order parameters and material parameters as natural kinds that live at mesoscales in between the continuum and the atomic scales. This approach is natural from the perspective of condensed matter physics and materials science. It is not new and has its origins in (quantum) field theoretic approaches to many-body systems developed by Schwinger, Martin, and Kadanoff, among others. It reflects a widespread methodology that has almost completely been ignored by philosophers of science. A key aspect of arguing for the naturalness of such mesoscale parameters is provided by the Fluctuation-Dissipation theorem of statistical mechanics.
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- February 8, 2022
12:10 pm - 1:30 pm EST
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- Lunchtime Talks, Lunchtime Talks 2021-22
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