Friday, October 14, 2011

Research progress

Since last summer, and after my last posting, I have been spending much of my time tracking and defining the limits from which I want to situate my research (summer is great for that, though a big portion of my time was also taken up doing other unrelated academic activities) and also my dissertation proposal, and ultimately, my dissertation itself. The route taken has been rather long and in some sense a little unwieldy (of course, some of language limitations also make the research a lot less thorough-going than I would like), though I am beginning to make up my mind about how far and wide do I really want to go. I am going to poste some preliminary ideas that I have that will be undergoing further revisions and refinement as my research continues.

Dissertation goal: Revisiting and expanding the notion of media and mediation to encompass observations and theories relating to phenomenology (in the different ways in which the term is utilized) and experiments in particle physics. The Large Hadron Collider becomes the object towards achieving the goal.

- Revisiting existing theories on reading and the philosophy of reading. Thinking about how existing theories of reading contribute to elucidating forms of materiality in reading nature’s microphysical trails, objects, and movements that have been translated into machine language via the detectors; or of data translated into statistical proofs in mathematical physics. How does the phenomenology of physics accessed these codes, channeled from nature through the detectors and processed by the computer, and therefore elicit the physics that can break through the current standard model; can physical concepts of unity and symmetry be considered the ‘media’ for ‘watching’ a new era of physics unfold, as well as material for deconstructing scientific ‘crisis’ and ‘fallibility’ in dealing with the epistemics of microphysical states.[1] 
- Reading the story of the LHC against the backdrop of the epistemological developments and turns in quantum mechanics (reading and comparing between the different interpretations related to the history of QM). I hope to trace the epistemic turns within quantum mechanics, beginning from Heisenberg’s development of matrix mechanics and Schrödinger’s wave functions up to the point of the development of predictions of going beyond the Standard Model.  It is vital to trace the foundational developments of modern quantum mechanics by briefly looking at all the available interpretations (without going into too much details) to bring us to current day theories in particle physics. A parallel story in relativity is also tangentially and briefly explored, and then relating it to its convergence with quantum mechanics, bringing us to QFT. The trace can begin from Einstein’s photoelectric theory to the main players of modern QM (Bohr, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Dirac, Born, Jordan, Bell, Von Neumann), to the developments of QED and QCD (figuring in scientists such as Feynman, Yang, Mills, George, Glashow, Veltman, ‘t Hooft) that paved the theoretical way for experimental particle physics.  Probably the point from which the narrative can take off is with the conceptualization of “quantum jumps” or quantum wave probability. I argue for how particle physics exists on the superposition between theory and practice, and the inevitable epistemic turn that physics has taken in the process of envisioning a ‘new’ physics. How and why is particle physics a pathway to anticipating new physics – then connecting that to theories of physics theories and concepts as an intrinsic part of phenomenological mediation and connection to the real. Will need to tease out the different representations of the real and how that relates to my project, as well as the entanglement between the physical and the real.
- Revisiting the regimes of reading of the Bubble Chamber (nuclear physics predecessor to the big scale accelerators and supercolliders) as the departing point of comparison. How does that compare to today’s regimes of reading mediated through virtual worlds? What are the differences in the ideologies of reading with each machinic evolution, from emulsion plates to Bubble Chambers to the earliest cyclotrons, colliders and then supercolliders ? How do the regimes of reading influence our understanding of physics and therefore of reading in different media forms?
- Reading the data sets (virtual data) of the four experiments of the Large Hadron Collider – selective reading (reading selected data for the purpose of analyses and interpretation) – mediated reading (reading after process validation and data-checks are performed). Models of ‘distant’ and ‘automated’ reading as the machine is the reader and the analyst (usually with supervision of a human) that generates the report for the scientists make their interpretations.
-How do the regimes of reading become ways of negotiating the meaning of scientificity and veracity of knowledges?  Reading is an activity performed in media res; reading of microphysical operators (such as eigenstates and gauge symmetry), and therefore, of physical observables, are important in the attempt to understand and reframe causality within the physical ‘real,’ which also helps to rethink the notion of physicality. I will attempt to connect that with reading as acts of detecting, observing, measuring, abducting and interpreting: first level of interpretation at scanning and second level at close reading; (third level of interpretation has to do with writing – to be discussed in greater detail in the section on Writing).
- Reading of theories with the experiments (this is where the performance of the phenomenological can be examined in greater detail).[2] The foci and intersection of theories and experiments becomes the site of ontological visibility and eruptions. Can further understanding in this area help problematize or valorize Bohm’s ontological interpretation of quantum mechanics?[3]  This can be connected to the section on Interpretation, where we will also begin to elucidate the qualities of different interpretations of quantum mechanics. Would this have any repercussions on other ontological matters within the physical universe of other disciplines?
- Teasing out non-realism and realism, ‘intuitive’ and ‘non-intuitive,’ ‘observable’ and ‘non-observable’ in epistemological construction. Does the answer lie in mathematics and its operators? Mathematical theorems and equations representing the macro- and microstate of nature as mathematics are used to predict and explain actions undertaken in nature that may not be ‘intuitive,’ or that illustrates continuity between the macrostate with that of the microstate. Mathematical entities as representative of the onticity (taking the Husserlian notion of the ontic) of nature but can that be used to bring out the microphysical?  This is probably where one can make connection to the interests in physics in media archaeology, departing from Michel Serres’s study, Birth of Physics and Zielinski’s Deep Time of the Media and Simondon’s theories on individuation, ontology and ontogensis.
- Mathematics become the way we envision nature, and this is made more material by the fact that we now have software that can generate visuals of equations as they are modeled
‘live’ in the human temporal location of space-time. Must the material be visible or can it also be ‘invisible’ (revisit the idea of visible and the invisible in Merleau-Ponty)
- how would this aspect of reading contribute to rethinking reading in the context of literature and book history.

Of course, I have other sections, but this the most developed and foundational work on this will help determine the direction of the other two sections I have planned.  It is also this section where I will be extracting out for a poster presentation at a conference in Nov this year.

[1]‡Works by Ingarden, Iser, Ricouer and Gadamer may be useful to revisit as starting points on the phenomenology of reading.  On issues of scientific ‘crisis,’ to visit Latour, Shapin, and Kuhn.

[2] Understanding theories of mediation by way of the phenomenological via Husserl, Simondon, Ricouer (Ricouer connects with the phenomenology of reading) and Merleau-Ponty.

[3] Will need to do analysis of papers published in the phenomenology of particle physics

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