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Computer simulation was first pioneered as a scientific tool in meteorology and nuclear physics in the period following World War II, but it has grown rapidly to become indispensible in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including astrophysics, high-energy physics, climate science, engineering, ecology, and economics. Digital computer simulation helps study phenomena of great complexity, but how much do we know about the limits and possibilities of this new scientific practice? How do simulations compare to traditional experiments? And are they reliable? Eric Winsberg seeks to answer these questions in Science in the Age of Computer Simulation. Scrutinizing these issue with a philosophical lens, Winsberg explores the impact of simulation on such issues as the nature of scientific evidence; the role of values in science; the nature and role of fictions in science; and the relationship between simulation and experiment, theories and data, and theories at different levels of description. Science in the Age of Computer Simulation will transform many of the core issues in philosophy of science, as well as our basic understanding of the role of the digital computer in the sciences.
This book is an account of modeling and idealization in modern scientific practice, focusing on concrete, mathematical, and computational models. The main topics of this book are the nature of models, the practice of modeling, and the nature of the relationship between models and real-world phenomena. In order to elucidate the model/world relationship, Weisberg develops a novel account of similarity called weighted feature matching.
Computer simulations help advance climatology, astrophysics, and other scientific disciplines. They are also at the crux of several high-profile cases of science in the news. How do simulation scientists, with little or no direct observations, make decisions about what to represent? What is the nature of simulated evidence, and how do we evaluate its strength? Aimee Kendall Roundtree suggests answers in Computer Simulation, Rhetoric, and the Scientific Imagination. She interprets simulations in the sciences by uncovering the argumentative strategies that underpin the production and dissemination of simulated findings. She also explains how subjective and social influences do not diminish simulations’ virtue or power to represent the real thing. Along the way, Roundtree situates computer simulations within the scientific imagination alongside paradoxes, thought experiments, and metaphors. A cogent rhetorical analysis, Computer Simulation, Rhetoric, and the Scientific Imagination engages scholars of the rhetoric of science, technology, and new and digital media, but it is also accessible to the general public interested in debates over hurricane preparedness and climate change.
Today, a scientific explanation is not meant to ascribe agency to natural phenomena: we would not say a rock falls because it seeks the center of the earth. Even for living things, in the natural sciences and often in the social sciences, the same is true. A modern botanist would not say that plants pursue sunlight. This has not always been the case, nor, perhaps, was it inevitable. Since the seventeenth century, many thinkers have made agency, in various forms, central to science. The Restless Clock examines the history of this principle, banning agency, in the life sciences. It also tells the story of dissenters embracing the opposite idea: that agency is essential to nature. The story begins with the automata of early modern Europe, as models for the new science of living things, and traces questions of science and agency through Descartes, Leibniz, Lamarck, and Darwin, among many others. Mechanist science, Jessica Riskin shows, had an associated theology: the argument from design, which found evidence for a designer in the mechanisms of nature. Rejecting such appeals to a supernatural God, the dissenters sought to naturalize agency rather than outsourcing it to a “divine engineer.” Their model cast living things not as passive but as active, self-making machines. The conflict between passive- and active-mechanist approaches maintains a subterranean life in current science, shaping debates in fields such as evolutionary biology, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. This history promises not only to inform such debates, but also our sense of the possibilities for what it means to engage in science—and even what it means to be alive.
This volume collects the contributions! to the NATO Advanced Study Institute (ASI) held in Aussois (France) by March 25 - April 5, 1991. This NATO ASI was intended to present and illustrate recent advances in computer simulation techniques applied to the study of materials science problems. Introductory lectures have been devoted to classical simulations with special reference to recent technical improvements, in view of their application to complex systems (glasses, molecular systems . . . ). Several other lectures and seminars focused on the methods of elaboration of interatomic potentials and to a critical presentation of quantum simulation techniques. On the other hand, seminars and poster sessions offered the opportunity to discuss the results of a great variety of simulation studies dealing with materials and complex systems. We hope that these proceedings will be of some help for those interested in simulations of material properties. The scientific committee advises have been of crucial importance in determining the conference program. The directors of the ASI express their gratitude to the colleagues who have participated to the committee: Y. Adda, A. Bellemans, G. BIeris, J. Castaing, C. R. A. Catlow, G. Ciccotti, J. Friedel, M. Gillan, J. P. Hansen, M. L. Klein, G. Martin, S. Nose, L. Rull-Fernandez, J. Valleau, J. Villain. The main financial support has been provided by the NATO Scientific Affairs Division and the Commission of European Communities (plan Science).
An invaluable guide to creating successful simulations for teaching and scholarly research

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