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Spotlight on Hidden Physicists
Timothy Chambers, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, University of HartfordBy:
Timothy Chambers, West Hartford, CT, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy
I graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1993 with degrees in physics and math (B.Sc.) and philosophy (B.A.). From there, I went on to focus on philosophy and symbolic logic in my graduate studies at Tufts and Brown. Still, my enchantment with physical law—and the intriguing philosophical questions of (what Eugene Wigner called) “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences” has never waned. For the record, I suppose my own view on the matter could be called vaguely Kantian; though the older I get, the more good sense I find in Wittgenstein.
My study of physics prepared me well for my years in academic philosophy. Most notably, I've assisted with and taught summer-courses in “Science, Perception and Reality” at Brown (1999-2003, 2005). My familiarity with the mathematical models behind relativity and quantum mechanics often saved me from “going mystical” when leading discussions of philosophical aspects of modern physics—an ever-present occupational hazard in academic philosophy!
More recently, I was fortunate to help oversee a student's honors thesis on Galileo's “Starry Messenger” at the University of Hartford; again, my training in physics saved me from being seduced by Feyerabend's “anti- method” portrait of Galileo's achievements.
I will always be grateful to have been a full-time student of physics as a young man. There is, as Victor Weisskopf once said, a deep “privilege of being a physicist.” I can never forget the sensation of my first exposure to Maxwell's Equations (integral form) on the chalkboard: “entranced” is possibly the right word. So I am grateful to Sigma Pi Sigma for recognizing me as a young student; I look forward to continuing to read Radiations for years to come.