About

Jim_by_LeonI am a former railway telecommunications engineer, currently working at University College London, where I do lab demonstrating in the Physics & Astronomy Department. I recently (2013) completed an MSc in History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the London Centre for HSTM, and am currently working as an “independent scholar” in the history and philosophy of science, with a lot of help from those wonderful people in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) at Cambridge.

Research Interests:
Philosophy of Science:
I recently submitted a paper entitled Fundamental Constants, Unit-Invariance, and Objectivity to Studies in the History & Philosophy of Science. It is under review.

I am also interested in the philosophy of measurement in general, and in particular the question of how traditional philosophical methods and language, developed for a largely discrete universe in which statements could be either “true” or “false”, can be reconciled with how physical science is actually done, and with the inherent uncertainties. See my MSc dissertation for more on this.

Beyond the philosophy of measurement, I am fascinated by the sometimes self-contradictory interpretations of special relativity that exist in the literature. See, for instance, this blog piece for more information on this topic.

History of Science:
My article on bubble chamber scanners at UCL in the 1960s was published in the October 2015 edition of Viewpoint (magazine of the British Society for the History of Science).

I am a committee member of the History of Physics Group. My article A Brief History of Dimensions was published in the Group’s 2016 newsletter. I am currently co-editing, with Malcolm Cooper, an e-book on the history of units, which arose out of a meeting I organised for the HoP Group in March 2016.

This Blog:
A word is necessary to explain the title of this blog. It is inspired by these lines from Philip Larkin’s poem Send No Money:

Sit here and watch the hail
Of occurrence clobber life out
To a shape no one sees …

It sums up Larkin’s self-image as an observer of the world, as opposed to a practitioner. I think my life has been a bit like that too – lately finding expression in the world of science and the philosophy of science, rather than in poetry, as it was for Larkin. (Although I have a “poetry” thread on this blog, the reader will be relieved to find that it consists entirely of poems by others, not by me.)

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