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Vienna in the Age of UncertaintyScience, Liberalism, and Private Life$
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Deborah R. Coen

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226111728

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226111780.001.0001

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Into the Open

Into the Open

Measuring Uncertainty, 1900–1918

(p.255) Chapter Eight Into the Open
Vienna in the Age of Uncertainty
University of Chicago Press

This chapter traces the way the history of a probabilistic turn in Austrian physics. Fluctuations were merely imperfections of the laboratory's insulation. The training of Vienna physicists in the Alps had taught them to treat fluctuations in their measurements as signal rather than noise. The Viennese had been trained through field research to treat fluctuations as phenomena in their own right and to hunt for their source. Trained in alpine physics and imbued with the moral ideals of their mentor, Exner's students went on to shape the probabilistic turn in Austrian physics. Foremost among these pioneers were Felix Exner and Erwin Schrödinger. Exner and Schrödinger followed parallel paths to probabilism. Alpine physics shaped the study of fluctuations and the probabilistic turn in Austrian physics. As Serafin Exner made clear, it was necessary to leave civilization behind in order to see the phenomena in this way.

Keywords:   probabilistic turn, Austrian physics, alpine physics, Felix Exner, Erwin Schrödinger, probabilism, fluctuations, Serafin Exner

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