THE PHILOSOPHY AND PHYSICS OF SPACE AND TIME

READING QUESTIONS

CHAPTER 2

1.In what ways is the mythopoeic approach to nature similar to and different from that of the Greeks?

2.Briefly discuss the significance of Parmenides for early Greek philosophy.

3. Distinguish between the two atomistic interpretations of the void.

CHAPTER 3

1.Reconstruct Zeno's paradoxes of motion and state some objections to them.

2. Discuss Zeno's Paradox of Plurality and its significance.

CHAPTER 4

1.What is the fundamental difference between space and time in the Timaeus?

2. Explain Plato's metaphor: Time is the moving likeness of eternity.

3. Briefly describe the characteristics of space and time in Plato's view.

CHAPTER 5

1. What are the key features of Aristotle's cosmology?

2.What is the connection between Aristotle's doctrine of natural motion and his denial that voids exist?

3. How does Aristotle argue for the existence of places?

4.What are the general characteristics of Aristotle's concept of space (places)?

5.What is the problem with the "now," according to Aristotle? Why doesn't Aristotle think that the now is a part of time?

6. What are the general characteristics of Aristotle's concept of time?



7.How do Aristotle and Plato differ with respect to the possibility of knowledge?


8. What are the key features of Aristotle's cosmology?

9. How does Aristotle use the concepts of potency to account for change?

10.What is the connection between Aristotle's doctrine of natural motion and his denial that voids exist?

11. How does Aristotle argue for the existence of places?

12.What is the alleged circularity in Aristotle's definition (characterization) of time?


CHAPTER 6

1.What kinds of objections were raised by the medievals to Aristotle's concept of place?

2.Discuss the significance of the condemnation of 1277 for the development of the concepts of space and time.

3.What is the relevance of the attack on the metaphysical distinction between substance and accident for the development of the concepts of space and time?

4.What is the significance of the Copernican revolution for the development of the concepts of space and time?

5.Discuss Descartes' view and his place in the development of modern science.


6.Explain how the impetus view is an intermediate position between that of Aristotle and Newton.

7.What is the significance of what Koyre calls the principle of isolation for the development of the concept of inertia?

8.What is the significance of the process/state distinction for the development of the concept of inertia?

CHAPTER 7

1. What are the characteristics of space, according to Newton?

2. What are the characteristics of time, according to Newton?

3.Reconstruct Newton's bucket experiment. What is the point and what is its significance?

4.What is the significance of the concept of inertia for Newton's doctrine of space and time?

5.What is the difference between Absolute space (time) and relative space (time) for Newton?

6.In what way does Newton's Universal Law of Gravity undermine the Aristotelian view of the universe?

7.Newton's globe experiment is a "thought experiment." What is a "thought experiment?" What conclusion does Newton Draw from the globes experiment?

8.What is the Galilean principle of relativity? What is its role in Newton's theory of space and time?

9. What are the Galilean transformations and what do they do?

10.What is the difference between dynamic and kinematic considerations? How does this difference enter into Newton's considerations with respect to the existence of Absolute Space?

CHAPTER 8

1.What is the principle of sufficient reason and how does Leibniz use it in criticizing Newton's theory of space and time?

2.What is the difference between a relational and an absolute theory of space (time)?

3. Explain what Leibniz means by calling space "an order of coexistence."

4. Explain what Leibniz means by calling time "an order of successions."

5. What are the basic elements of the causal theory of time?

6.How does Leibniz respond to Newton's bucket argument? Is his answer satisfactory?

7. What are the general characteristics of Leibniz's theory of space (time)?

8.What are Berkeley's basic objections to the Newton doctrine of Absolute Space and Absolute Time?

9. What are Mach's objections of Newton's bucket experiment?

10.What is the principle of the identity of indiscernibles and how does Leibniz use it in criticizing Newton's theory of space and time?


11.What are Berkeley's basic objections to the Newton doctrine of Absolute Space and Absolute Time?

9. What are Mach's objections to Newton's bucket experiment?

10. Is Mach's relationalism superior to that of Leibniz?

CHAPTER 9

1.What is the Galilean principle of relativity? What is its role in Newton's theory of space and time?

2.Compare and contract the reconstruction of Aristotle's theory of space and time and Newton's (Galilean and absolute space) using events.

CHAPTER 10

1.What are the three important characteristics of light that make it important for our understanding of the structure of space and time?

2. What was Roemer's method for determining the speed of light?

3. What was Bradley's method for determining the speed of light?

4.What is a field? What role do fields play in the 19th century development of our ideas of space and time?

5.What is the significance of the development of Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism for Newton's theory of space and time?

6.Briefly describe the Michelson Morley experiment, its point, and the significance of its result.

CHAPTER 11

1. What is a "relativity principle"?

2. Discuss the evidence for Postulate I.

3. Discuss the evidence for Postulate II.

4.Why does the "extinction effect" present problems for the use of binary star systems as testing grounds for Postulate II?

5.Describe in qualitative terms the CERN pi-meson time-of-flight experiment. What value must the extinction distance have for the experiment to yield a meaningful result?

CHAPTER 12

1.Discuss the Einstein definition of simultaneity and compare it with pre special relativity conceptions of simultaneity.

2. Discuss the time dilation effect.

3. Discuss the length contraction effect.

CHAPTER 13

1.Discuss the role of the special properties of light in determining the preferred structuring of the set of all events.

2. Outline the rudiments of the causal structure of Minkowski spacetime.

3.How does the Galilean principle of relativity differ from the principle of relativity of Postulate I?

4.What is the object that is invariant for equivalent observers? How does it naturally capture the Euclidean geometric structure of the t = constant slices?

5. What is Minkowski spacetime?

CHAPTER 14

1.Discuss the important similarities and differences between the electrical force and the gravitational force.

2. What is the role of acceleration in gravity?

3. What is the physical content of the Principle of Equivalence?

4.How may one see that gravity and Minkowski spacetime are incompatible?

CHAPTER 15

1.Discuss Cartan's road to a geometrized Newtonian gravity. What has happened to the inverse square gravity force law?

2. Discuss Einstein's road. How does it differ from the Cartan approach?

3.In Einstein's 1915 general theory, space is curved. What does one mean by this statement?

4.What experiment(s) have been performed which are sensitive to any curvature of space that may be present?

5. What is an event horizon?

6. What is a black hole? How could one form?