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Our Speaker:

Dr Kerry Hinton

Sunday 28th August 2022

Date:     Sunday 28th August 2022 

Time:     4.15 - 5.45 pm  

Venue:   CWA Hall, 11 Horton Street, Port Macquarie

Entry:    General admission including seniors $10.  Pensioners and students: $5

              Pay on the day – please bring the correct change!  First come, first in.

Our speaker: 

Dr Kerry Hinton received an Honours Bachelor of Engineering in 1978, an Honours Bachelor of Science in 1980 and Master of Science Degree in Mathematical Sciences in 1982, all from the University of Adelaide. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, U.K., in 1984. Dr. Hinton’s PhD thesis researched the concept of Quantum Field particles in space-times where General Relativistic effects are significant. 

In 1984 he joined Telstra Research Laboratories (TRL), Victoria, Australia, where he used quantum physics to analyse study the behaviour of lasers used in communications systems. He also developed mathematical models for optical communications systems and networks.

In 2006, Dr. Hinton joined the Centre for Ultra Broadband Information Networks (Cubin), located at the University of Melbourne, Australia. In 2011 he joined the Centre for Energy Efficient Telecommunications (also at the University of Melbourne) researching the energy efficiency of the Internet, communications technologies and networks. 

In 2013 Dr. Hinton took on the role of Director of the CEET and continued in that role until July 2016 when CEET closed. Dr. Hinton has authored over 130 papers all in peer reviewed journals and conferences. Dr. Hinton is now an Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne and continues to undertake research in that capacity.

Over the years Dr. Hinton has maintained an interest in the philosophical foundations of quantum physics, quantum field theory and the use of mathematics to model the physical world.

He and his wife Annette have been living at Harrington on the Mid North Coast since Nov 2016.


Topic: The fall and return of metaphysics: A current controversy in the philosophy of theoretical physics

"In short, metaphysics can be described as a philosophy of "reality" based on a priori knowledge, that is, knowledge not derived from experiment. In the times of Plato and Aristotle, metaphysics was the main approach used to understand the Universe and Reality.

Many years later, Kepler's laws of planetary motion, which were based on extensive measurements, and Newton's derivation of these laws using mathematics gave birth to classical physics. The extensive successes of classical physics and its "realist" philosophy (in which mathematical terms used in physics are considered to represent aspects of reality) pushed metaphysics to a backwater of philosophy. By the 1930's metaphysics was widely considered to be "meaningless" because it made statements not able to be confirmed by experiment or logical derivation.

Despite this, metaphysics continued to play a role, although different from its original form, in physics and theoretical physics. In particular, many aspects of quantum physics were clarified using metaphysical argument and reasoning. 

Over recent times, the mathematical models formulated in theoretical physics to describe such things as black hole evaporation, the inflationary universe, superstring theory and more, involve statements that can never be subject to experimental confirmation. Are we heading back to metaphysics? This is currently a major debate in the philosophy of theoretical physics with the research community split. Some researchers consider topics such as these as "not physics". Others claim there are non-experimental methods to validate theories such as these.

In this talk I will give a very brief history of the relationship between metaphysics, physics and theoretical physics. This will be followed by some examples of how metaphysics has continued to be of use in theoretical physics over the years. I will then give several examples of modern theoretical physics theories that can never be experimentally confirmed. The talk with finish with a consideration of some of the related philosophical issues."

For all inquiries please contact philosophyforumpmq@outlook.com