BHI Colloquium, December 5 | "Black Holes and Thermodynamics: What Does it Take for a Mere Analogy to Become Something Close to an Identity?," Jos Uffink | "Geo-epistemology During LIGO Site Selection," Tiffany Nichols


Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 1:30pm to 2:30pm


BHI Conference Room (211) 20 Garden Street, Cambridge

"Black Holes and Thermodynamics: What Does it Take for a Mere Analogy to Become Something Close to an Identity?
Jos Uffink
University of Minnesota"

Ever since Bekenstein proposed that black holes have an entropy, and the subsequent proposal of four equations embodying the laws of Black Hole Thermodynamics that allegedly mimic four equations expressing the laws of thermodynamics, it has become a pressing issue whether this proposal is just an analogy, (like many others) or rather demonstrates an identity between black holes and thermodynamic systems. I will argue that this latter question should not be judged on the basis of formal similarities between equations, but on the basis of more fundamental conceptions like thermal equilibration.


"Variations in the Geo-epistemological Understanding of Space During the History of Site Selection of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)"
Tiffany Nichols
Harvard University

Maps were used as a primary tool throughout the LIGO site selection process because of their initial inclusion in the proof of concept document and their required use in the LIGO solicitation for candidate sites. In focusing on the role of the maps, this talk will explore the variations in the geo-epistemology resulting from activities which increased the power of the maps and activities which sought to fill in the detail about the landscape simplified by the maps in attempt to gain a Borges-style understanding of the represented landscapes. This concept of geo-epistemology, as William Rankin explains, is concerned not only with the knowledge gained through a map but also how one’s existence within the space impacts one's knowledge of the space. Therefore, the power of maps “lies in their ability to act as a stand-in for the original landscape” resulting in a state where the map and the territory become one.


See also: Philosophy