Spring 1997

1. What is the relationship between mathematical or theoretical models and experiential reality? [Zeno et al. see Q13 below]

2.Empiricism is the view that our knowledge of the physical world is based* on experience. But, "based on" has meant [1] has its

3.Does the universe have a temporal origin?

4.Are space and time [or - in relativity physics, spacetime] "realities" independent of physical objects, processes and events?

5.If so, what is their nature? Are they

6.Are there any empirical (or epistemic or metaphysical) tests relevant one way or the other? [Newton's bucket and globes]

7.Are space and time discrete or continuous? [Zeno]

8.Are spatial and temporal continua "pointlike"? If so, what is the relationship between the size of an interval and the number of points that it contains? [Zeno, Aristotle, Cantor]

9.What is the nature of infinity? What is the difference between infinite

10.Can we make sense of the notion that some infinities are "larger" than others? [Cantor]

11.Do physical space and time have an "intrinsic structure", I. e., a "natural" geometry?

12.If so, what is it? How would we go about trying to experimentally or experientially determine what it was? [Gauss, Poincare - this question presumes that there are viable alternatives to Euclid, see Q14 below]

13.What is the role of

14.In the nineteenth century, it was discovered that there were alternatives to Euclidean geometry. This led to the distinction between "pure" and "applied" geometries. How are they related? Is it a matter of fact that the geometry of the physical world is what it is or is it a matter of convention?

15.Does nature abhor a vacuum? If not, what are vacua?