St Cross Centre for the History and Philosophy of Physics

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Over the centuries Britain’s contribution to the international study of physics has been enormous with the University of Oxford playing a key role in many areas of its advancement. Oxford continues to be a centre of excellence for research both on the historical development of the discipline and the philosophy which shapes its inquiry.
 

HAPP does not simply focus on chronicling the history of the discipline as a retrospective exercise but also critically engages with the philosophy and the methodologies which inform how current research in physics is undertaken. Being based at St Cross College, the Centre is well positioned to investigate those milestones in the field in which the University of Oxford has played a leading role. Such scientific contributions extend from the emergence of the study of physics during the Middle Ages to the establishment of the Royal Society and the development of the modern discipline in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Topics covered to date include Wittgenstein and PhysicsVoltaire and the Newtonian RevolutionPhysics and the Great WarA History of the Sun - Our Closest StarMedieval Physics in OxfordThe Nature of TimeA History of the MoonThe Émigrés in Oxford PhysicsThe Nature of Quantum RealityAstronomy Across the Medieval WorldPhysics Controversies Past and PresentFrom Space to SpacetimePhysics and the Dark SideA History of the Small, and Paradigm Shifts Across the Ages.

People
Advisory Board

 

Dr Jo Ashbourn, Senior Tutor, St Cross College, University of Oxford (DIRECTOR)

Professor Rob Iliffe, University of Oxford

Professor Harvey Brown, University of Oxford

Dr Allan Chapman, Wadham College, University of Oxford

Dr James Dodd, St Cross College, University of Oxford

Dr Graham Farmelo, Churchill College, University of Cambridge

Professor Simon Schaffer, University of Cambridge

Funding and Prizes
Scholarships, Visiting Fellowships and Prizes
HAPP MPhil Scholarship in the History of Science
 

St Cross College invites applications for a MPhil Scholarship in the History of Science from students who will begin studying at the University of Oxford in the academic year 2018-2019 for an MPhil in History of Science, Medicine and Technology. Applicants must list St Cross College as their first choice college on their Graduate Admissions application in order to be eligible to apply for this Scholarship - preference will be given to candidates with an interest in the history of physics for their MPhil dissertation topic.

HAPP Visiting Fellowships at St Cross College

The Centre is able to offer one Visiting Fellowship per term, which is based at St Cross College and has a tenure of one term, to established academics/scholars coming to Oxford. Visiting Fellowships carry full membership of the College with use of all its facilities and Visiting Fellows are required to be based in Oxford for the term in which they hold the position.

When considering whether to apply, applicants are advised to assess the financial implications carefully. Each Visiting Fellowship carries no stipend or accommodation, but Visiting Fellows are entitled to free lunch daily in College as well as one Hall Dinner on Tuesdays weekly in term-time. You will need to budget an amount from your own income to cover all other meals, drinks and entertainment as well as research expenses, travel and other miscellaneous expenses.

Before applying, applicants must already have a personal invitation to hold visitor status at the University of Oxford in either the Faculty of History, the Faculty of Philosophy, the Department of Physics or the Museum for the History of Science to carry out research on a topic in the history and philosophy of physics during the term in which they are applying as a HAPP Visiting Fellow.

Applicants should submit a CV, personal statement and research proposal in PDF format, and should ask their proposed Faculty or Department at Oxford to write in support of their application to the Director of HAPP by email to happ-centre@stx.ox.ac.uk.

The Michaelmas Term 2017 HAPP Visiting Fellow, Dr Filip Buyse gave a seminar entitled "Galileo's Microscopic and Telescopic Observations: Their Impact on How Bodies are Conceived" at 5 pm on Thursday 2nd November 2017. Please see details here.

HAPP Essay Prize in the History/Philosophy of Physics

The HAPP Essay Prize in the History/Philosophy of Physics is awarded for an outstanding essay produced by an undergraduate or Master's student in History, Philosophy or Physics at the University of Oxford on any topic in the history or philosophy of physics, and is an award of £250.

The prize is intended for an essay which is based around a short piece of formal work submitted for academic study at Oxford with a maximum of 3,000 words, although this should be rewritten to make the submitted essay accessible to non-specialist readers.

Submissions for the prize (one entry per applicant) with the word count givenand details of the current undergraduate/Master's course included should be sent to the Director of HAPP by email to happ-centre@stx.ox.ac.uk by Friday 29th May 2020.

The 2019 Prize was awarded to Julian Waddell for his essay entitled "Microscopy and Leibniz's Argument Against the Void".

The 2018 Prize was awarded to Manveer Sahota for his essay entitled "Painting the Correct Picture of Probability in Everettian Quantum Mechanics: Why Branch Counting is Untenable".

The 2017 Prize was awarded to Rebecca Charbonneau for her essay entitled "Intelligent Life in the Universe: The Influence of Cosmism in Mid-20th Century Astrophysics".

Useful Online Resources

 

IoP History of Physics weblinks
http://www.iop.org/activity/groups/subject/hp/links/page_62229.html

AIP History of Physics weblinks
http://www.aip.org/history/links.html

British Society for the History of Science
http://www.bshs.org.uk/

British Society for the Philosophy of Science
http://www.thebsps.org/

Archive for Preprints in Philosophy of Science
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/

Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
http://plato.stanford.edu/

Contact

 

For any queries about the Centre, please contact the Director, Dr Jo Ashbourn by email at joanna.ashbourn@stx.ox.ac.uk .

If you'd like to join the HAPP mailing list for details of future events, please send your request to happ-centre@stx.ox.ac.uk .

 

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