Welcome to the philosophical corner of your Part III course. We meet in DAMTP room MR5 for 90 minutes each Tuesday at 14:00 (UK time). Weekly readings and handouts will be linked below. Induction slides with a description of past Part III essays for this course available here. Contact the lecturers if you would like to join the email list: Jeremy Butterfield (jb56@cam.ac.uk) and Bryan W. Roberts (b.w.roberts@lse.ac.uk).

This course is non-examinable, but does offer two Part iii Essays. You can see them introduced on Tuesday, 1 February from 1-2pm in MR5:

  • Essay 72. The hole argument and gauge equivalence in general relativity (MR5, 1 Feb, 1-1:30pm)
  • Essay 71. The Hadamard Condition in Quantum Field Theory on Curved Spacetime (MR5, 1 Feb, 1:30-2pm)

  Jeremy Butterfield Zoom Room Office Hours Normal office hours for this part iii course took place during term time were Thurdays from 15:30-16:30 British Time via Zoom. Please email (jb56@cam.ac.uk) to attend. (The old Zoom room link is here.)

Past Recordings Past videos will be identified where relevant in the schedule below. Each week's lecture recording will be available via this link as well.

Try this philosophy of physics reading list (docx) to get started. Some further helpful introductory readings for this include:

And some further resources in the philosophy of physics:

  • John Earman Bibliography - A bibliography of one of the most influential philosophers of physics in the field, up to date as of about 10 years ago.
  • PhilSci-Archive — or, the "Pittsburgh" Archive — The main preprint archive for philosophy of science in general.

Lent Term 2022 (Syllabus)

Philosophical aspects of QFT on curved spacetimes

Wk Date Topic Handout
1 25 Jan 2022 Gathering Threads: From finite to infinite systems Jeremy's Handout and highlighted version. Ancillary: Handout from last term on quantisation of finite linear systems
2 01 Feb 2022 Algebras, representations and GNS Jeremy's Handout: GNS and all that: a rough guide to algebras and states (and highlighted version)
3 08 Feb 2022 Conceptual foundations of the Unruh effect Bryan's handout. Ancillary: Bryan's notes on unitary equivalence.
4 15 Feb 2022 Spacelike correlations, including Reeh Schlieder Jeremy's Handout (and with highlights). Ancillary readings: Clifton and Halvorson (2001), Landsman (2006), Landsman (1996).
5 22 Feb 2022 The Unruh Effect for Philosophers Jeremy's Handout. Ancillary readings: Clifton and Halvorson (2001), Earman (2011), Unruh (2001), Unruh and Wald (2017)
6 01 Mar 2022 The Hawking Effect: Part 1 Handout. Ancillary reading: Bekenstein (1973), Wald 1975, Kay and Wald (1991)
7 08 Mar 2022 The Hawking Effect: Part 2 Jeremy's Handout (Coming Soon)
8 15 Mar 2022 Acoustic Black Holes: The logic of analogue experimentation Bryan's Handout Optional further reading: Unruh (1981) Experimental black hole evaporation?

Michaelmas Term 2021 (Syllabus)

Wk Date Topic Handout
1 12 Oct 2021 Hilbert space review Jeremy's Handout / Highlighted Version + Past Part iii Essays
2 19 Oct 2021 Operator algebras, states, and complex structures Jeremy's Handout / Highlighted Version
3 26 Oct 2021 Time reversal symmetry violation Reversing Time's Arrow, Chapter 7 only. (Slide presentation.) Optional ancillary reading: Roberts (2015) and Ashtekar (2015)
4 02 Nov 2021 Background for quantisation Jeremy's Handout (and highlighted version). Ancillary reading: Landsman (2005) 'Between Classical and Quantum'
5 09 Nov 2021 Feynman's view of antimatter Reversing Time's Arrow, Chapter 8 through Section 8.2 only. Optional ancillary reading: Greaves (2010), Wallace (2009), and Kay and Wald (1991) (Appendix A).
6 Mon, 15 Nov 2021 One particle structures and Segal quantisation Jeremy's Handout. Note Schedule Change: This week we meet on MONDAY not Tuesday, at 14:05 in MR5.
7 Tue, 23 Nov 2021 Matter, Antimatter and the Lorentz group Reversing Time's Arrow, Chapter 8, Sections 8.3 to end only. Optional ancillary reading: Swanson (2019).
8 Mon, 29 Nov 2021 Quantum Objects Jeremy's handout. Note Schedule Change: This week we meet on MONDAY not Tuesday, at 14:05 in MR5.