“Until named, the object is unknown to us”: Naming the history of science phenomena

The paper addresses one of the problems of a history of science study, i. e. that of the history-of-science phenomena and their naming. Science phenomena are understood as regularities in the historico-scientific development that are identified in the course of the study. These regularities are captured through naming or designation. The importance of a similar problem in fiction, first and foremost in poetry, have been many times emphasized by many remarkable poets and writers (M. A. Voloshin, D. S. Samoilov, A. A. Tarkovsky, etc.).
The identified regularities (phenomena) that have been given certain names (designations) are discussed in the paper, using the material from the author’s research practice. Many of these are related to the problem of formation of fundamental physical theories such as the special and general theories of relativity, quantum mechanics, and a number of other theories (“Einstein’s Arc”, “unreasonable effectiveness” of mathematics and analytical mechanics in physics, “methodological principles of physics”, etc.). Thus, the said principles and unreasonable effectiveness are the factors that determine Einstein’s Arc that symbolizes a seemingly intuitive path to fundamental theories’ basic axioms and equations. The specific features of A. Einstein’s theoretical thinking (“Einsteinian phenomena”) may also be relegated to this category. Two particular aspects of the development of fundamental theories are also mentioned: the first is presenting this development as gradual expansion of symmetry (“Erlangen approach”) while the second is the existence of a single Noetherian structure of these theories. We refer to F. Klein’s Erlangen Program in geometry and E. Noether’s theorem in the calculus of variations and theoretical physics.
The second group of phenomena is related to the social history of physics. This is the French Revolution in physics in the early 1820s, the sociocultural aspects of the nuclear revolution in science and technology such as the “nuclear ethos”, the “nuclear cult,” etc. The scientific-school and scientific-biography approaches to the history of physics, based on the concept of scientific school (school of thought) and the assumption that the development of physics may be presented as a chronologically-organized network of scientific biographies, may also be relegated to this group.

Recommended bibliographic description

, “Until named, the object is unknown to us”: Naming the history of science phenomena, Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki [Studies in History of Science and Technology], , p.  9-25

    © Studies in the History of Science and Technology: Quarterly scientific journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences (2015)
    ISSN 0205-9606. Индекс 70143