Constructing strangeness: Exploratory modeling and concept formation

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The notion of exploratory modeling constitutes a powerful heuristic tool for historical-epistemological analysis and especially for studying concept formation. I will show this by means of a case study from the history of particle physics: The formation of the concept of “strangeness” in the early 1950s at the interface of theory and experiment. Strangeness emerged from a broad space of possibilities opened up by exploratory modeling by authors working in communication and competition, and constructing both new questions and new answers. A systematic focus on exploratory modeling also helps compensate a bias towards the “right” developments still often present in historical investigations of theoretical work.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPerspectives on Science
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)388-408
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 20.08.2021

Bibliographical note

The research presented in this paper was funded by the Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS), Leuphana University Lüneburg (DFG grant KFOR 1927), and by the project “Exploring the ‘dark ages’ of particle physics” (DFG grant BO 4062/2-1).