The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Oct 12, 2017
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
Townsend Visitor
Tim Maudlin (NYU)
Mathematics and Ontology: Lift and Drop

Classical electro-magnetic theory is presented using vector calculus. I will discuss some ways in which that choice is highly misleading, and give a brief introduction to an alternative mathematics whose ontological commitments are more transparent and clear. Although this mathematics exists, the basic ideas are scattered through highly technical literature on, for example, differential forms. I will explain why one is taught the “right-hand rule” in physics and mathematics when learning about a concept that applies in situations in which right hands cannot exist.