Duhem and the Good Sense of the Physicist Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 21 August 2016

Duhem and the Good Sense of the Physicist

This paper will examine Duhem’s good sense of a physicist. We will also succinctly discuss his reason behind this claim. To explain Duhem’s good sense of a physicist, different experiments involving systematic procedures will be inspected, and J. J. Thomson’s experiment on cathode ray tube is one of these experiments. Two hypotheses about electricity that received worldwide acknowledgement will also be discussed. The explanation of these hypotheses will further question Duhem’s claim on the good sense of a physicist.

Jean Perrin’s contradictory presentation about the effectiveness of experiments in testing hypotheses contributes to the goal of this paper. The Good Sense The good sense of Physicist examined by Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem (1861-1916) can be used to determine very confusing and contradicting experimental results. He encouraged the use of this ‘good sense’ since there are discoveries that doesn’t require extensive experiments and the ‘good sense’ of the physicist will be the guide to solve a problem. Duhem argued that this is enough to accept a good and well-explained hypothesis.

He also encouraged the revision of a claim to accommodate and balance a confusing experiment. However, this method is too ambiguous and irrational especially for those tests that needed extensive experimental guidance. The use of the good sense is too risky for future purposes. One good move that we can consider to refute Duhem’s claim about the good sense of a physicist is to examine the approach used by different scientists. Sir Joseph John Thomson’s (1856-1940) experiment on the cathode rays and the cathode ray tube prompted an innovative period in the field of electricity.

This experiment led to the discovery of electrons and other subatomic particles, a breakthrough that enhanced the understanding of the composition and behavior of matters. Three different experiments were performed using these cathode ray tubes. Thomson first used magnetism to see if there is a chance that the negative charge will be separated from the cathode rays (Park). Further elaboration of this experiment led him to the conclusion that the negative charge and the cathode rays are inseparable. In his second experiment, his main objective was to know if the presence of an electric field would influence the projection and behavior of rays.

He constructed a nearly perfect cathode ray vacuum because he believed that previous experiments failed because of the presence of different gaseous element in the air. With his subsequent procedures, he was able to prove that the electric field could really influence the movement of rays because these rays were deflected, signifying the track of the negative charge. Thomson’s third experiment involves the measurement of the charge-to-mass ratio of the cathode rays. He measured the amount of cathode rays that were averted due to the presence of a magnetic field. He also measured the amount of energy they have.

His observation led him to conclude that either the particles were very light or greatly charged because the charge to mass ratio was more than a thousand times greater compared to a hydrogen ion. Thomson’s hypotheses were proven not just because of merely theorizing. He proved it because he followed a systematic procedure. His path was guided by previously known facts. He was also guided by the failures of earlier experiments. In 1913, there were two hypotheses that had gained universal acceptance. The first one states that electricity occurs in discrete fundamental units.

The second hypothesis states that the magnitude of the negative charge is three times smaller than the smallest mass associated with the fundamental unit of positive charge. The development of these hypotheses was brought about by the continuous growth of awareness in electricity. The discovery of the Avogadro’s number, mle and e of the constituents of various electrical discharges, mle and e of gaseous ions, and the total charge of a mole of monovalent ions Ne gave rise to this outcome. Duhem should give importance to the experiment conducted that supports these hypotheses.

According to Jean Perrin, hypothesis, in most cases, is both essential and productive (Soshichi). He explained it in terms of examining a machine. He said that we do not just study a machine by just considering the visible and tangible parts. We will go as far as our eyes can tell us if we only consider this. Aside from these visible parts, we also seek the properties of the hidden gears that can explain its evident motions. To explain this, we must relate the visible parts to the invisible parts. If it is outside our scope of understanding, we seek retribution by studying its components part.

There we formulate our hypothesis. Because we have the intuitive intelligence needed in solving such complex problem, Perrin added, we were able to give rise to the doctrine of Atoms. Perrin’s method is mainly based on experimental foundations. We can divide Perrin’s experimental inquisition into two. The first division is consisting of checking whether the result of an experiment follows a given algebraic distribution. The second step involves using approximation of the coefficient of diffusion, which is vital for gaining the Avogadro number.

According to Duhem, a physicist can never test an isolated hypothesis. A physicist can never leave the theory outside the door of the laboratory since a failed prediction or experimental test cannot tell a scientist where the error lies. It can only tell him to examine further the experiment and try not to commit the same mistake. In our modern times, a hypothesis is not valid unless it is tested. In this paper, we have succinctly discussed his reason behind this claim. To explain Duhem’s good sense of a physicist, different experiments involving systematic procedures was inspected, and J. J.

Thomson’s experiment on cathode ray tube is one of these experiments. Two hypotheses about electricity that received worldwide acknowledgement were discussed. Jean Perrin’s contradictory presentation about the effectiveness of experiments in testing hypotheses contributes to the goal of this paper. The good sense amounted in this case is the rational way a physicists approach a problem. They used experiments to support their claim, not just downright theory. The good sense of a physicist accounts for his sense of creativity, how he develops his own way of obtaining an answer to a hypothesis.

All of this is through experiments. Works Cited “Pierre Marie Maurice Duhem. ” March, 2001. JOC>EFR. 12 May, 2008 <http://www-groups. dcs. st-and. ac. uk/~history/Biographies/Duhem. html>. Park, John L. 1996. “J. J. Thomson’s Cathode Ray Tube”. 12 May, 2008 <http://dbhs. wvusd. k12. ca. us/webdocs/AtomicStructure/Disc-of-Electron-Images. html>. Ariew, Roger. 13 July, 2007. “Pierre Duhem”. 12 May, 2008. <http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/duhem/>. Soshichi, Uchii. 9 February, 2001. “Jean Perrin’s Book on Atoms”. 12 May, 2008. <http://www. bun. kyoto-u. ac. jp/~suchii/perrin. html>.

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