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Is Physics the foundation of science?

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It has been a dream of many physicists over the centuries to discover the universal laws of nature, which would not only unify physics itself but make all other sciences redundant. Even for those who do not share this grand dream, “micro-reductionism” is a common idea: physics provides the foundation for all other sciences, because physics tells us about the basic entities that ultimately make up everything else in the universe. In this lecture we will examine carefully whether these reductionist ideas are cogent and in line with actual scientific practices, with a focus on two questions. First, what do the findings of modern physics imply about the old Lego-block atomistic picture of things being made up of unalterable building-blocks? Second, is quantum chemistry really a case of the reduction of chemistry to physics?

This talk is part of the History & Philosophy of Science @ the Cavendish series.

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