HPS Student Research Initiative

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As part of Sacramento State's History and Philosophy of Science Initiative, CPNS Undergraduate Student Research Fellows develop and implement interdisciplinary research projects bridging empirical inquiry within the fields of the natural sciences and mathematics (NSM) into cross-connection with the field of history and philosophy of science (HPS). These faculty supervised student research projects give undergraduates crucial experience in the synthesis of new ideas and their proper investigation via both empirical study and analysis of scholarly literature in the natural sciences, philosophy of science, and history of science. Beyond these goals, the CPNS Student Research Initiative provides students with the unique opportunity to network and collaborate with both CPNS Graduate Research Fellows and CPNS Faculty Research Fellows across multiple institutions, both nationally and internationally. Student Research Coordinators earn 3 units as a College of Arts and Letters Internship (ALS 195).

 

 
CPNS Student Research Fellows
   
Michelle Spremich CPNS Undergraduate Research Fellow
HPS Student Research Initiative
History Major
California State University, Sacramento
   
Elizabeth Keys

CPNS Undergraduate Research Fellow
Student Coordinator - HPS Student Research Initiative
Physics Major
California State University, Sacramento

CPNS Graduate Research Fellow
Ph.D. Program - Electrical and Computer Engineering
Duke University

   
Christopher Keys

CPNS Undergraduate Research Fellow
Student Coordinator - HPS Student Research Initiative
Physics Major
California State University, Sacramento

CPNS Graduate Research Fellow
Ph.D. Program - Electrical and Computer Engineering
Duke University

   
Michael Fitzpatrick CPNS Graduate Research Fellow
Department of Philosophy, Stanford University
   
Miles Andrews CPNS Graduate Research Fellow
Department of Philosophy, San Francisco State University
   
Alina Hagar CPNS Undergraduate Research Fellow
Student Coordinator - Ultimate Questions Discussion Group
Philosophy Major
California State University, Sacramento
   
   
     

Student: Michelle Spremich, History Major
Topic: History of Modern Quantum Theory and Its Mathematical Foundations
(HIST 199, 3 UNITS)

   

Students: Christopher Keys, Elizabeth Keys, Physics Majors
(ALS 195, 3 units)

 

Background:

The influence of modern science upon popular culture, from the early modern period to the present day, has demonstrated a persistent grounding in an underlying tension: Despite science’s emblematic emphasis of formal and rigorous methodology—and the precise manner in which its successful theories are exemplified by viable technology—the popular cultural embrace of scientific knowledge seems driven more by the most exotic implications of this knowledge than by the merely practical applications. One need look no further than the typical science programming that has proliferated on cable television in recent years for a crude metric exhibiting this thesis. It is arguably no coincidence that during this same period of proliferation of science 'educational entertainment,' popular fascination with Nikola Tesla has soared, even to the heights of cult status for many. While Tesla’s significance within the history of modern science is unquestionable—particularly within the field of electrical engineering—his recent resurgent popularity clearly has less to do with his technologically validated (and industry-changing) theories than with his more exotic ideas. Today’s Tesla enthusiasts often argue that because of his notorious eccentricity, his most revolutionary and potentially earth-shattering ideas have been improperly summarily dismissed by the scientific community.

 

 

Project Description:

The goal of this project is the building and testing of a natural frequency electro-mechanical oscillator, commonly called “Tesla's Oscillator.” Tesla claimed that by matching the “natural frequency” of buildings he had the capability to cause earthquake like tremors with just a few pounds of force. Shrouded in myth and speculation in popular culture, the claim has not been scientifically tested. It is the goal of this project to build and analyze the capabilities of such a device with respect to period and modern construction and to explore the specific claims made about Tesla's Oscillator.

 
   
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