Philosophy Magazine

CFP: Workshop on The Gravitational Constant, from the Local to the Universal, St Andrews, UK, 20-21 April 2023

By Wuthrich

The workshop is part of The Gravitational Constant, from the Local to the Universal, an interdisciplinary collaborative project between St Andrews and the Lichtenberg Group for History and Philosophy of Physics, University of Bonn ( ). The project brings perspectives from transnational history, philosophy, mathematics and physics to bear on the question of how the constant, G, was transformed from a controversial innovation in the 1880s to an unquestioned fundamental constant of nature by 1915. The aim of the workshop is to explore the wider context and foster collaborations around emerging research questions.  

The 2-day workshop will treat gravitation as a case study in a wider context of interpretational moves at the turn of the 19th to 20th century from the local to the universal that took place through:  

  • measurement   
  • circulation practices   
  • ideas about the role of laws   
  • translation  

Each theme will start with an invited speaker who sets the scene; followed by contributed papers; concluding with a discussion led by one of the project team on where the specific case of gravitation fits into the emerging context.  

Invited speakers are: 

  • Daniel Mitchell (Measurement)(IEEE History Center, Piscataway, NJ) 
  • Richard Staley (Circulation Practices)(Cambridge and Copenhagen) 
  • Bryan Roberts (Role of Laws)(London School of Economics)  
  • Michael Gordin (Translation)(Princeton) 

We invite contributed papers of 20 minutes that address one of the above themes from a historical or philosophical standpoint.  Proposals should include an abstract (c.250 words), state which theme they are addressing, and give a brief biography of the speaker.  

Proposals should be submitted to Isobel Falconer ([email protected]) by 15 December. Decisions will be notified at the beginning of January. 

We have funds to provide some support for early career scholars. 


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