Chapter

Introduction: Pedagogy and the Institutions of Theory

in Drawing Theories Apart

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780226422664
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226422657 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226422657.003.0001
Introduction: Pedagogy and the Institutions of Theory

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Few scientists have surpassed Richard Feynman (1918–88) as a widely recognized scientific icon. For all of Feynman's many contributions to modern physics, his diagrams have had the widest and longest lasting influence. Feynman first introduced his diagrams in the late 1940s as a bookkeeping device for simplifying lengthy calculations in one area of physics—quantum electrodynamics, physicists' quantum-mechanical description of electromagnetic forces. With the diagrams' aid, entire new calculational vistas opened for physicists. Despite the diagrams' centrality today, and despite all the attention lavished on Feynman himself, no attention has been paid to how his simple-looking diagrams actually came to be embraced by so many physicists for so many distinct applications. The diagrams reveal the fissures and politics of Feynman becoming a young theorist after World War II.

Keywords: Richard Feynman; diagrams; pedagogy; modern physics

Chapter.  9311 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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