BScA, MA (Laval), PhD (Western)
My research and teaching focus on the history of modern physics and on the evolution of ethical thinking in engineering and architecture.
My research on the history and philosophy of physics, which stems from the work I did for my MA in Philosophy (Laval) and Ph.D in Philosophy (Western Ontario) explore scientific evidence. I have written on questions such as: Why do we believe Einstein discovered Special Relativity given that Poincaré had already presented the same formula to the Académie des Sciences? Did Heisenberg understand his own Principle of Indeterminacy? Can thought experiments–that is, the experiments we only perform in the “laboratory of our mind” like Schrödinger’s Cat and Maxwell’s Demon–tell us something new about the laws of nature?
In the past years, I have also had the chance to revisit my interests in technology (I have a B Sc. A in Engineering Physics (Laval)) and my work on material culture has led me to appreciate engineering and architecture as liberal arts. I am now working on the history of engineering in Canada. I am especially interested in the evolution of ethical thinking in engineering and architecture and their social implications.
I have organized a number of international conferences and workshop and have been co-manager of the Atlantic node of the SSHRC Strategic Knowledge Cluster, Situating Science, a seven-year project that promoted new ways of bringing together leading Canadian and international scholars studying science and technology from philosophical, historical, sociological, and cultural perspectives.
Publications and Current Projects
- Frappier, Mélanie, Meynell, Letitia, and Brown, James Robert (Eds). Thought Experiments in Philosophy, Science, and the Arts. Routledge Studies in the Philosophy of Science ; 11. New York: Routledge, 2012.
- Frappier, Mélanie, Brown, Derek H., Disalle, Robert, Demopoulos, William (Eds). Analysis and Interpretation in the Exact Sciences Essays in Honour of William Demopoulos. University of Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science; V.78. Dordrecht ; New York: Springer, 2012.
Journal special issues
- (Co-edited with Letitia Meynell and James Robert Brown) Visual Reasoning. Special issue of Knowledge Engineering Review, 2013.
- (Co-authored with William Demopoulos and Jeffrey Bub) “Poincaré’s ‘Les conceptions nouvelles de la matière.’” Introduction and translation of Poincaré’s ‘Les conceptions nouvelles de la matière’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 43, 2012, pp. 221–225.
- “Quantum Theory.” Leadership in Science and Technology: A Reference Handbook. Vol. 2. William Sims Bainbridge (ed.). Sage Publications, 2011.
- (Co-authored with Katharine Anderson, Elizabeth Neswald, and Henry Trim) “Reading Instruments: Objects, Texts and Museums.” Science and Education. 2011. doi:10.1007/s11191-011-9391-y.
- “Nice is Overrated.” The Philosophers’ Magazine, Issue 43 (2008):107-112
- “Review of Isabelle Stengers’ Cosmopolitics I and II”,HOPOS The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science, in press.
- “Physics as Humanism.” Review of Neil Turok’s The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos. Literary Review of Canada, 20.10, 2012, p.20.
- “Extreme Physics.” Review of John W. Moffat’s Einstein Wrote Back: My Life in Physics. Literary Review of Canada, 19.2, 2011, p. 25.
- Review of Kristian Camilleri’s Heisenberg and the Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, ISIS 101.1, 2010, pp. 228-229
- “Tabloid Science. Does a personal approach to scientists’ lives help explain quantum physics?” Review of Sheilla Jones’ The Quantum Ten. A Story of Passion, Tragedy, Ambition and Science. Literary Review of Canada16.9, 2008, pp.14-15.
INTERESTS: Early 20th-century physics (quantum mechanics, relativity), history of technology and engineering, thought experiments, justification of scientific theories, material culture of science.