John Q. Stewart

John Q. Stewart nsIn existographies, John Quincy Stewart (1894-1972) (SN:11) (CR:128), oft-cited as "John Q. Stewart", not to be confused with John Stewart (1749-1822), was an American astrophysicist, engineer, and social physics pioneer noted his circa 1945 to 1955 work on the development of social physics, or social mechanics (as he later came to call it), applied, via physics-based equations and diagrams, e.g. the construction of population potential maps, work which culminated in the once-active Rockefeller-funded Princeton Department of Social Physics or "social physics project at Princeton", as Stewart called it, the apex of the multi-century sporadically developed Princeton school of social physics, and later 1960s-developed geology-focused "social physics school"; coiner of: doctrinaire departmentalism.

Overview
The following is an over-typical Stewart view:

“Statesmen of this and other nations … have embarked upon grandiose undertakings where on physical grounds failure was predictable, and … failure meant that … people perished in vain.”

Stewart formed a social physics group at the University of Princeton, funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, which germinated from a 1925 view that there should exist some order in the social sciences comparable to that of the physical sciences. [2] Stewart's project is summarized well by Princeton Alumni Weekly, in their 1955 “Social Physics” article on Stewart, as follows: [5]

“In the early phase of their efforts, Professor Stewart and his colleagues in this enterprise confined their efforts to mass human relationships. They treated large aggregates of individuals as though they were composed of social molecules, without attempting to analyze the behavior of each molecule. They then attempted to describe demographic, economic, political, and sociological situations in terms of such physical factors as time, distance, mass, and numbers of people.”

Stewart, to give one example of his approach, treated mass of good per capita as "molecular weight".

Working bodies | Relationships
Stewart speculated, in the thermodynamic sense, that there are "working bodies" (thermodynamic system), i.e. ones wherein different kinds of energy: thermal, kinetic, electrical, gravitation, chemical, etc., are converted one to another, receiving, storing, and emitting energy, in human relations, according to which persons in organizations are like atoms in a molecule, that can be treated like a working body, with an input, stored energy (internal energy), and output. [5]

Princeton university (social physics)
From circa 1945 to 1955, at the Princeton University physics department, Stewart ran a Rockefeller Foundation grant-funded social physics/social mechanics applied research group. [25]
Princeton research team | Social physics
See main: Princeton University Department of Social Physics
Stewart, in spite of what has been referred to as the “gravest skepticism” on the part of some of his contemporaries, worked to assemble the following group of social and physical scientists: Stuart Dodd (sociologist), Raymond Bassett (sociologist), Percy Bridgman (physicist and thermodynamicist), and John Trimmer (physicist) all centered around him and his social physics research project. [5]

Stewart credits a number of Princeton alumni as having been prototype social physicists. The early history of social mechanics or social physics, depending on classification scheme, according to Stewart, dates as far back as 1769 when American political theorist James Madison (1751-1836), the so-called “father of the constitution” and America’s fourth president, was said to be studying a primitive form of social physics a Princeton. [2] Madison, as Stewart points out, was a student of Scottish-born American John Witherspoon (1723-1794) a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and 6th president of Princeton University, who in turn was a noted interpreter of the political philosophy of French theorist Charles Montesquieu, notable for his “hot climates” / “cold climates” theory of human behavior, who in turn had been deeply influenced by the celestial mechanics work of Isaac Newton. Stewart comments on this: [5]

“There can be no question of the fact that, in early Princeton, physics cooperated with politics in a sort of analogical double play, Newton to Witherspoon to Madison.”

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Social energies
Stewart’s investigations identified at least three kinds of social energy: thinking (thermal), feeling (electromagnetic), and doing (mechanical), a triad which he hypothesized represented a triad of a health society, but speculated that in unhealthy societies, e.g. in the United States he reasoned there is too much emphasis on doing, the triad is out of balance. [5]

Overview
In 1947, Stewart, in his article “Suggested Principles of ‘Social Physics’”, attempted to outline, formulaically, what he called a “human gas” model of population demographics, in which he viewed each person as a “molecule” (or human molecule, in the modern sense of the term) and used the following shorthand version of ideal gas law:

 pa = NT \,

where p is "demographic pressure", a is an area of land occupied by N individuals (human molecules), and T is the "demographic temperature", combined with population census data, to derive concepts such as “demographic energy”, "demographic force", and “demographic gravitation”, among others. [1]

In 1948, Stewart, in his “Concerning ‘Social Physics’”, opened to the following: [9]

“Concerning ‘Social Physics’. The quotation marks indicate that it is NOT an accepted science, although it may well become one. Its principal concept: the behavior of people in large numbers may be predicted by mathematical rules. A GIANT observer [see: advanced perspective] who himself was as big as the earth could easily consider a man as being no more than a molecule. From such a vantage point. an observer equipped with appropriate devices for measuring population densities and movements might discover that, like molecules in a gas, groups of men obey certain simple physical laws. The point of view would be favorable for formulating an exact social science (see: exact science) — a ‘social physics’.

Molecules are unable to study themselves with such detachment. Nevertheless, man is strongly tempted to try to find some mathematical order in human relations. More than one investigator has sought to apply the analogies and precision of physics to the study of societies. The term "social physics" is at least as old as the nineteenth century French philosopher Auguste Comte, although he contributed nothing to the subject but its name. Today social physics is still only a science in the making. It still has far to go before it is ready for uncritical acceptance. But already its barrier-breaking results unite demography (the study of populations) with phases of economics, and both of course with physics.

But what has physics to do with people? Men, after all, are more than molecules. Can we advance the study of human relations by forgetting that they are human? Or, to put it another way, can we roughly approximate satisfactory overall solutions of mass sociological problems by an analysis that averages the conflicting desires and the varied characteristics of individuals into a uniform mathematics?

I am confident that we can. People can be counted. They exist in space and time. Their distances apart can be measured. Their activities are subject to mechanical limitations which can be described. True, an individual human being is a complex, often unpredictable organism. But the physics of atoms is subject to similar uncertainties. The famous indeterminacy principle, stalest by the German physicist Werner Heisenberg, means that the motions of individual corpuscles cannot be described with indefinitely great precision. The behavior of an individual particle is exceedingly hard to predict. Nonetheless the physicist makes progress because the averaged motions of a group of corpuscles conform to mathematical formulas or ‘laws’. In the same way, human behavior can be averaged.

When the physicist attempts to study people in their societies by comparing them to molecules in fluids, his difficulty is not that there are too many people but too few. If reduced to the size and density of molecules in normal air, the entire world's population would comprise a cube only a thousandth of an inch on a side. To reduce the planet to this size, our physicist must be a coarse-grained giant of astronomical dimensions. Little wonder that professors of history, politics and economics …”

Stewart continued to develop this line of social physics research into at least the late 1950s.

In 1948, Stewart penned the textbook Demographic Gravitation: Evidence and Application, wherein he incorporated his view that the laws of physics should have applicability to the social sciences, in which he introduced the concept of “potentials of population”. [4]

In c.1953, Stewart presented a paper before the American Physical Society, wherein he discussed how three of the first three of the main six main forms of physical energy (kinetic, elastic, gravitational, thermal, electromagnetic, and chemical), namely: kinetic, elastic, and gravitational have been showing up in the form of a subject classified as “social mechanics”, which is said to deal with time, space, and mass of material as social controls, albeit classified as a “rather neglected” branch of general social study. [13]

Social | Characteristic function
In 1953, John Q. Stewart, in his “Remarks on the Current State of Social Physics”, in commentary on his growing Princeton social physics group, gave the following variables table, which he says are intensive and extensive social variables: [10]

Stewart variables table (193)

Then gives the following so-called “characteristic function” for the social “working body” as he defines things:

Stewart characteristic equation (1953)

Which, as we see, is his attmept at making a social Pfaffian form of cherry picked social conjugate variables, as he sees things.

Social gravitation
See main: Social gravitation
In 1948, Stewart, in his “Demographic Gravitation: Evidence and Applications”, according to a review by Daniel Rigney, had some success in predicting the economic and social flow of traffic among cities by using physical mathematics equations used to measure gravitational force between objects, finding that the larger and closer together two cities are, the greater is the strength of their interaction. [7]

Education
Stewart completed his BS in 1915 and and PhD in 1919 both at Princeton University, followed by wartime service with the 29th Engineers in France. In 1919, he was employed as an engineer in the department of research and development at the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, New York, where he developed the first electronically synthesized “voice”. From 1921 to 1963, Stewart was associated with Princeton University’s astronomy department, obtaining the rank of associate professor in 1927. He co-authored, with Henry Norris Russel and Raymond Dungan, the widely-used two-volume textbook Astronomy.

In 1963, he retired from Princeton, moved to Sedona, Arizona, and three years later was appointed professor of metaphysics of science at Prescott College, Arizona, a post he held until his reaction end (death).

Quotes | On
The following are quotes on Stewart:

“With the help of a small grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, a handful of scholars at Princeton University have been working for some time past in what most people would call a new science: social physics. As the name implies, this science is based on the proposition that physical laws governing the behavior of atoms and planets are applicable as well to social relationships among humans. Distance and time spate one mass of people (a city, say, or a nation) from another and affect interactions accordingly: the number of people and their psychological temper and desire also help to decide what turns are taken in world’s affairs. Stewart, associate professor of astronomical physics at Princeton, equates these half dozen social quantities with six fundamental categories of physical science—distance, time, mass, number of molecules, temperature, and electric charge. And he says that it is most unfortunate that the parallels are ignored by politicians and statesmen, for the laws of science have a way of making themselves felt even when the existence is disputed. “Statesmen of this and other nations … have embarked upon grandiose undertakings where on physical grounds failure was predictable,” Stewart observes, “and … failure meant that … people perished in vain.”
— John Lear (1957), “The Laws of Social Relations” [2]

Quotes | By
The following are quotes by Stewart:

“The way of progress—in social physics—is obstructed by the opinion, common among authorities on economics, politics, and sociology, that human relationships never will be described in mathematical terms. There may be some truth in this as regards the doings of individual persons, but the time to emphasize individual deviations is after the general averages have been established, not before.”
— John Q. Stewart (1947), “Empirical Mathematical Rules Concerning Distribution and Equilibrium of Population” (pg. 461)

“There is no longer excuse for anyone to ignore the fact that human beings, on average and at least in certain circumstances, obey mathematical rules resembling in a general way some of the primitive ‘laws’ of physics. ‘Social physics’ lies within the grasp of scholarship that is unprejudiced and truly modern. When we have found it, people will wonder at the blind opposition its first proponents encountered.”
— John Q. Stewart (1947), “Empirical Mathematical Rules Concerning Distribution and Equilibrium of Population” (pg. 485)

“One has to find for himself that in the country of the blindmeaning university faculties and their learned societies—the one-eyed man meets with lifted eyebrows.”
— John Q. Stewart (1950) on early 1920s attempts to initiate social physics [6]

“Our immediate quest is for uniformities in social behavior which can be expressed in mathematical forms more or less corresponding to the known patterns of physical science. Social physics so defined analyzes … sociological situations in terms of purely physical factors: time, distance, mass of material, and number of people, which recourse also to social factors which can be shown to operate in a similar way to two other physical agents, namely, temperature and electrical charge. Social physics describes mass human aggregations of individuals as though there were composed of ‘social molecules’ without attempting to analyze the behavior of each molecule.”
— John Q. Stewart. (1952), “A Basis for Social Physics” [8]

“Immaturity, lack of imagination, ‘doctrinaire departmentalism’, and [in particular] overspecialization is choking modern scholarship and limiting man’s communication with his fellows.”
John Q. Stewart (1955), commentary on efforts to initiate an interdisciplinary social physics department at Princeton [5]

“For thirty years, I have harbored a deep-seated desire to find some order in the social sciences comparable to that in the physical sciences.”
— John Q. Stewart (1955), “Social Physics” [5]
Stewart publications
A 1999 listing (Ѻ) of a some Stewart publications, as pertains geostatistical analysis.

References
1. Stewart, John Q. (1947). “Suggested Principles of ‘Social Physics’”, Science, 106(2748):179-80, Aug 29.
2. Lear, John. (1957). “American Newsletter: The Laws of Social Relationship”, New Scientist, Jan 31.
3. Mumford, George S. (2007). “John Quincy Stewart”, in: Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (editors: Hockey, Thomas, et. al.) (pg. 1088). Springer.
4. (a) Stewart, John Q. (1948). Demographic Gravitation: Evidence and Application. Beacon House.
(b) Mumford, George S. (2007). “John Quincy Stewart”, in: Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (editors: Hockey, Thomas, et. al.) (pg. 1088). Springer.
5. Staff. (1955). “Research in Progress: Social Physics”, Princeton Alumni Weekly, 55:17.
6. Stewart, John Q. (1950). “The Development of Social Physics” (abs), Invited paper before The American Association of Physics Teachers, Brinckerhoff Theater, Columbia University, Feb 3; in: American Journal of Physics, May 1950, 18: 239-53.
7. (a) Stewart, John Q. (1948). “Demographic Gravitation: Evidence and Applications” (abs), Sociometry, 11(1/2): 31-58. February – May.
(b) Rigney, Daniel. (2001). The Metaphorical Society: an Invitation to Social Theory (pg. 50). Rowman & Littlefield.
8. (a) Stewart, John Q. (c.1951). “A Basis for Social Physics”, in: Science Marches On (editor: James Stokley). Washburn, 1951.
(b) Stewart, John Q. (1952). “A Basis for Social Physics”, Impact of Science on Society, 3:110-133.
(c) Brown, Richard H. (1977). A Poetic for Sociology: Toward a Logic of Discovery for the Human Sciences (pg. 142). University of Chicago Press, 1989.
9. Stewart, John Q. (1948). “Concerning ‘Social Physics’” (abs), Scientific American, 178(5):20-23, May.
10. Stewart, John Q. (1953). “Remarks on the Current State of Social Physics” (pdf), Paper presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference, Boston, Dec 30; in: Box 58, Miscellaneous Writing, John Q. Stewart Papers, Rare Books Special Collections, Princeton University.

Further reading
● Stewart, John Q. (1947). “Empirical Mathematical Rules Concerning Distribution and Equilibrium of Population” (abs) (pdf), Geographical Review, 37(3):461-85.
● Stewart, John Q. (1950). “Social Physics” (abs), Physics Today, 3(6):35, Jun.
● Stewart, John Q. and Warntz, William. (1958). “Physics of Population Distribution” (abs), Journal of Regional Science, 1(1): 99-121.
● Niedercorn, J.H. and Bechdolt, B.V. (1969). “A Economic Derivation of the ‘Gravity Law’ of Spatial Interaction” (abs), Journal of Regional Science, 9(2): 273-.
● Barnes, Trevor J. and Wilson, Matthew W. (2014). “Big Data, Social Physics, and Spatial Analysis: the Early Years” (pre, pdf) (abs) (pdf), Big Data & Society, Apr-Jun:1-14.

External links
John Quincy Stewart – Wikipedia.
Demographic gravitation – Wikipedia.
John Q. Stewart (photo) – Photos.AIP.org.

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