Chapter

Physics and Mathematics

Albert E. Moyer

in A Scientist's Voice in American Culture

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 1992 | ISBN: 9780520076891
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520912137 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520076891.003.0009
Physics and Mathematics

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This chapter asks whether Newcomb ever apply his methodological strictures to fields closer to home. Did he bring his rhetoric into play in his frequent excursions into physics and mathematics, let alone in his main research area of astronomy? The answer is a qualified yes. On the one hand, Newcomb's published technical papers on astronomy, mathematics, and physics are essentially devoid of explicit commentary on method (excepting, of course, method in the sense of observatory procedures and computational techniques). In these formal research papers, he simply gets on with the job at hand, not taking time for lofty philosophical digressions on the nature of scientific inquiry. On the other hand, in various, more general analyses, especially those pertaining to physics, Newcomb draws on his methodological skills. These general commentaries are the closest that he comes to making methodological appraisals of contemporary physical science.

Keywords: Simon Newcomb; scientific method; physics; mathematics; astronomy

Chapter.  7872 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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