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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 57, Issue 3, 2020

Vladimir P. Vizgin
Pages 160-175

Socio-Cultural Aspects of the Standard Model in Elementary Particles Physics and the History of Its Creation

The article соnsiders the socio-cultural aspects of the standard model (SM) in elementary particle physics and history of its creation. SM is a quantum field gauge theory of electromagnetic, weak and strong interactions, which is the basis of the modern theory of elementary particles. The process of its elaboration covers a twenty-year period: from 1954 (the concept of gauge fields by C. Yang and R. Mills) to the early 1970s., when the construction of renormalized quantum chromodynamics and electroweak theory wеre completed. The socio-cultural aspects of SM are explored on the basis of a quasi-empirical approach, by studying the texts of its creators and participants in the relevant events. We note also the important role of such an “external” factor as large-scale state projects on the creation of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, which provided personnel and financial support for fundamental research in the field of nuclear physics and elementary particle physics (the implementation of thermonuclear projects took place just in the 1950s, and most of the theorists associated with the creation of SM were simultaneously the main developers of thermonuclear weapons, especially in the USSR). The formation of SM is considered as a competition between two research programs (paradigms) – gauge-field and phenomenological, associated with the rejection of the field concept. The split of the scientific community of physicists associated with this competition is going on during this period. It’s accompanied by a kind of “negotiations”, which in the early 1970s lead to the triumph of the gauge field program and the restoration of the unity of the scientific community. The norms and rules of the scientific ethos played the regulatory role in this process. The scientific-realistic position of the metaphysical attitudes of the majority of theorists and their negative attitude to the concepts of philosophical relativism and social construction of scientific knowledge are emphasized. Some features of the history of SM creation are also noted, such as the positive role of aesthetic judgments; “scientific-school” form of research (in the USSR), its pros and cons; a connection to historical-scientific “drama of ideas” with “dramas of people” who made a wrong choice and (or) “missed their opportunities”.

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