SPSP 2013 Plenary session #1: Ian Hacking

SPSP 2013 Plenary session #1: Ian Hacking

Tweeted from the 4th biennial conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on June 27, 2013

  1. Getting ready for 1st plenary session of #SPSP2013 "Some roles of mathematics in some scientific practices" by Ian Hacking
  2. Getting ready for 1st plenary session of #SPSP2013Toronto "Some roles of mathematics in some scientific practices" by Ian Hacking #BetterTag
  3. Actual title of Ian Hacking's talk: "Some roles of some mathematics in some scientific practices" (Maybe some summing?) #SPSP2013Toronto
  4. Hacking: will mostly be talking about "applied math", concept that arose ~1780 #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  5. Marc Steiner claims no applied math, just math & its applications. Hacking disagrees #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  6. App 0: Math applied to math. App 1: "Pythagorean dreams". App 2: theoretical physics of most general sort. #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  7. App 3: math modeling in "disinterested" sci research, App 4: mission oriented math modeling, App 5 everyday #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  8. App 6: unintended uses (educational screens, like req'd calculus 4 med school), App 7: bizarre applications #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  9. Representational-deductive picture: model phenomenon of interest, play w/model, draw conclusions #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  10. A C Crombie on "enigmatic matching" of nature w/ math & vice versa #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  11. David Bloor's book, _The Enigma of the Aerofoil_;"Why did the British fight WWI w/ wrong theory of aerofoil?" #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  12. British mathematicians were trying to be "practical", German ones looking for what worked (Hmm) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  13. Hacking's example: rigidity (structure that can't be deformed) - but in real life, too much rigidity is bad! #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  14. Hurricanes, earthquakes make quick work of overly rigid structures. 101 bldg in Taipei uses pendulums to cope. #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  15. Some concept of rigidity probably came into human consciousness pretty early, Hacking says #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  16. Mathematics of rigidity. Cauchy (1814) proved thm about convex polyhedra w/rigid plates and hinges at edges #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  17. James Clerk Maxwell developed geometrical results on rigidity (general thm abt # of pts & lines needed) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  18. Exceptions to thm --> anomalies end up being very interesting #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  19. Discipline of rigidity that becomes part of pure topology, but mathematicians still learned from engineers #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  20. Buckyball tents for sale! Tensegrity (tensional integrity) used in pure math and in structural engineering #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  21. Also fullerenes (smallest human-built structures using Fuller's principles). #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  22. In 1992 geologists detected natural fullerenes in surface of earth! #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  23. Late 19th C, R Bricard discovered flexible non-convex polyhedra #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  24. 1977 Robert Connelly elaborated class of flexible polyhedra; constructed some w/ cardboard & duct-tape #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  25. Examples illustrate complex intermingling between clearcut cases of pure math and hands-on engineering. #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  26. Representational-deductive picture doesn't capture variety of interactions that come from mathematical practices #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  27. Q: Is math a *special* representational strategy? (We have lots of representational strategies in science) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  28. Hacking: we owe our idea that math is a way of finding out abt deep ways of the world to Pythagorean wackiness #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  29. Maybe an anthropomorphic bent to our minds, looking at how nature does things #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  30. Q: is there a particular mathematical style of thinking, or a plurality of them? Hacking: a distinct genre ... #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  31. ... but distinct mathematical style of thinking keeps interacting w/ diff styles of thinking used in science #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  32. Diff people better at diff reasoning styles. (Hacking outs self as terrible natural historian) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  33. Most interesting mathematical problems begin w/ material problems or attempts to model material concepts #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  34. Only good arg for Platonism: show there are these possibilities out there; eliminate some, refine what's left #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  35. Mathematicians distinguish pure vs. applied by whether the problem itself is "mathematically interesting" #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  36. Mathematically interesting vs physically interesting a useful distinction? Hacking adds"organically interesting" #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  37. Does adding complexity leave everything the same or open up new possibilities that weren't there before? #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  38. Competing histories of how pure vs. applied math separation came to be (German, French, and British) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  39. Interweaving of pure & applied in aerofoil case. Cambridge mathematicians wouldn't listen to the engineers. #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  40. Engineer's sense of what would be likely to work; Mathematicians: "This is mathematically impossible!" #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  41. Concept of how air as a fluid would interact w/ a surface in motion #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  42. Q: is this really interplay of pure & applied math, or of different kinds of mathematical models? #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  43. Mathematics put out axioms, engineers come up with counterexamples to them. #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  44. This was the first philosophical talk I tweeted. For some reason, philosophy seems harder to capture in tweets than does your typical ScienceOnline session, but I'm not giving up! By the end of the conference, maybe I'll have the hang of it.

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