nLab
phenomenology

Context

Physics

physics, mathematical physics, philosophy of physics

Surveys, textbooks and lecture notes


theory (physics), model (physics)

experiment, measurement, computable physics

Contents

Idea

Phenomenology is a part of theoretical physics concerned with a selection of a model (in particle physics) or parameters of a physical model for some physical process on the basis of finding consistency with diverse experimental data, but not necessarily modelling the regimes far from the situation in a considered range of experiments.

Therefore the phenomenology is not concerned with being fundamental, though it may help selecting fundamental models as well; it is interdisciplinary as it selects the models on the basis of various kinds of experimental data simulatenously; it is not concerned with models which are theoretically interesting but can not be measured or there is no concrete physical system known which behaves consistently with the model; phenomenological models are sometimes just the models of averaged or approximated level of description, even when more fundamental description is in principle known but too difficult to study or compare with the experiment.

For example, while so-called standard model of particle physics has inconsistencies if extended to very high energies (failure of the unitarity of S-matrix, problems with the cosmological constant), the model is considered to agree to large extent with a low-energy limit of a true theory. Phenomenological models have to be in accordance with basic principles of physics, like thermodynamical laws, but do not need to pretend to go to the fundamental or microscopic description. For example, the Landau-Ginzburg equations for the description of superconductors do not describe the microscopic origin of supersymmetry, but are rather phenomenological, good enough desciption for certain range of mesoscopic phenomena.

Revised on June 10, 2013 15:29:32 by Urs Schreiber (89.204.137.122)