Exploring the Limits of Physics

the cover of the Dutch version of the book.  Topic: relativity. Author: Fedde Benedictus; foreword: Gerard 't Hooft.
This is the cover of the Dutch version of the book, which appeared in 2020. The English version is more than a translation – chapters have been edited and added, and there will be a section on ‘further reading’.

I’ve found a publisher for my book on philosophy and physics:

World Scientific.

😀 The deadline for the first draft is December 2023, so I have some busy months ahead of me.

As a ‘teaser’, here is the introduction to the first part of the book:

Physics to Philosophy and Back

– Exploring the Limits of Physics – 

With a foreword by Nobel laureate Gerard ‘t Hooft

Introduction: Benedictus, Einstein and ‘t Hooft down the rabbit hole

It is often said that the beginning of the 20th century is an era in which physics has become too complicated for ordinary mortals. We have a clear intuition for the ideas of Newton and his contemporaries (often called classical physics), in which gravity explains why stones fall and the earth moves around the sun. This intuition comes to a sudden end when relativity theory and the theory of quantum mechanics appear.

Topic: relativity. Author: Fedde Benedictus; foreword: Gerard 't Hooft; appears: 2024.

In Newton’s physics, space and time are abstract but simple concepts that can be measured with clocks and rulers. Space and time enable us to understand the world around us, because they make it possible to describe any kind of physical change. But in the 20th century we no longer know which rulers are straight and which clocks are synchronous, so it has become a challenge to understand what space and time are, which is why the transition from Newton’s to Einstein’s worldview seems very radical indeed!

In this book I will show that the transition from classical to modern physics is not as abrupt as it is often presented – the theories of Newton and Einstein are more alike than we think. The classical Newtonian worldview is not as obvious or easy-to-understand as is usually assumed, because much interpretation is needed to get from Newton’s mathematical equations to a coherent view of what ‘reality’ is like. When we try to find out what Newton’s formulas tell us about reality, we will see that the concepts that lie at the foundations of classical physics are the same as those on which early 20th century physics is built.

This book consists of two parts. In this introductory chapter I explain why philosophy should not be thought of as something that comes after physics, but rather as a component that is present in all physical knowledge. The chapters after that will explain what Newton’s theory involves, so that we can identify the philosophical elements in Newton’s theory and then try to find out what Newton tells us about reality as it exists independently of the observer.

In the second part of this book I explain how the theories of Einstein work. We will discover that the philosophical components in Newton’s theories are essential to understanding the precise relation between philosophy, physics, and the reality in which we live.

About fbenedictus

Philosopher of physics at Amsterdam University College and Utrecht University, managing editor for Foundations of Physics and international paraclimbing athlete
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