Journal article

Interpreting mathematics in physics: Charting the applications of SU(2) in 20th century physics

Ronald Anderson, GC Joshi

CHAOS SOLITONS & FRACTALS | PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD | Published : 2008

Abstract

The role mathematics plays within physics has been of sustained interest for physicists as well as for philosophers and historians of science. We explore this topic by tracing the role the mathematical structure associated with SU(2) has played in three key episodes in 20th century physics - intrinsic spin, isospin, and gauge theory and electroweak unification. We also briefly consider its role in loop quantum gravity. Each episode has led to profound and new physical notions of a space other than the traditional ones of space and spacetime, and each has had associated with it a complex and in places, contested history. The episodes also reveal ways mathematical structures provide resources ..

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University of Melbourne Researchers