Some Remarks on the Interaction between Precision Physical Measurement and Fundamental Physical Theories

  • J. L. Hall
Part of the NATO Advanced Science Institutes Series book series (NSSB, volume 94)


With our beginning students we make a big point about the scientific method — a short-leash feedback between observation, hypothesis generation and testing. New experiments lead to refinement of those hypotheses. With more advanced students we speak of physics as an empirical science, one completely based on experiment. We go to great lengths to bring students into contact with a representative sample of those contemporary experimental techniques. Still, in many ways the most important advances in physics are not made primarily with these means. Rather they arise from an inspired synthesis of a large number of smaller facts which can be unified by the adoption of the relatively simple overall principle. A few more logical (but giant!) steps in this direction bring on rare occasion a genius such as Einstein to unify and merge entire subjects, such as kinematics and electrodynamics. Basically no further experimental input is needed — only an inspired expansion of the accepted postulates and mathematical arguments to structure a new reality, i.e., a new way of looking at the natural world.


Test Theory Fundamental Physical Theory Servo Bandwidth Biphenyl Ether Cosmic Blackbody Radiation 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. L. Hall
    • 1
  1. 1.Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysical, National Bureau of StandardsUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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