Vera Daniel

photo neededIn human thermodynamics, Vera V. Daniel (c.1917-c.1993) (CR=8) was an English physicist and electrical researcher noted for his 1952 article “Physical Principles in Human Cooperation”, in which he used analogy as a starting point to apply physical principles to human affairs, e.g. force fields around humans, and follow-up article “The Uses and Abuses of Analogy”, wherein he attempts to show that while most analogy abstractions to human modeling are unsound, that his is justified because his approach uses the scientific method and that his “excursion into sociology constitutes a use and not an abuse of analogy”.

Physical principles | Cooperation
In 1952, Daniel, in his “Physical Principles in Human Cooperation”, dates social physics to the 17th century, opens to a citation of Pitirim Sorokin and his criticisms of mechanistic social theories, commenting that using physical analogies to explain social phenomena are suspect and that:

“Common sense recoils from comparing people to atoms or molecules.”

On this platform, he goes on state physics can help elucidate social phenomena, and that where others have failed his attempt will work, the focal point of which seems to be to introduce an Ising model of social behavior (see: Ising model of human behavior). [1] Daniel diagram, shown adjacent, of magnetic needles aligned on a board, among which a increasing number of beetles could be added, thus increasingly bumping into the needles, deflecting their alignment position:
Daniel beetle plot
Daniel's 1952 magnetic needle field, with moving beetles (disorganizing activity), model of social behavior: once disorganizing activity count gets to a certain threshold, say of past the 10-20 beetle range, the behavioral ordering of the field of needles may suddenly drop off into complete disorder (above right), after which a phase transition to a new alignment may be reached (see also: Aristotle-Mpemba effect) [1]

A few beetles bumps would not disrupt the alignment of the entire board of needles, but at a critical point of beetles, the needle bumps might be so disorganized that a critical phase shift of the whole board of needles might go from north aligned to south aligned. Daniel points out that his beetle-needle model of social order-disorder transition is a very simplistic description, and refers the reader to a more robust physics description by German-born British physicist Herbert Frohlich (1905-1991), supposedly, on a theory of an order-disorder transition in a long-chain ketone. (Ѻ)

Daniel, in footnote, states that his “Physical Principles in Human Cooperation”, was written independently of Czechoslovakian-born English physicist Reinhold Furth’s 1951 “Physics of Social Equilibrium”, which is indicative, to him, that the subject of applying physics to human affairs is “in the air”, as he says. [4]

Analogies | Social
In 1954, Daniel, in his “The Uses and Abuses of Analogy”, cites American economist Henry Carey who, in the nineteenth century, stated among others an analogy between gravitation and the concentration of people in a town: all particles of matter attract on another in direct ratio to their mass, and in inverse ratio to their distance. Analogously people attract on another also in direct ratio to their mass, and inverse ratio to their distance, and so they condense in towns. [2]

He then cites German physical chemist Wilhelm Ostwald who in circa 1910 argues that from the energetic point of view ‘culture’ is nothing but a transformation of crude energy into useful energy. The greater the coefficient of useful energy obtained in such a transformation, the greater is the progress of culture.

On Polish physical economist Leon Winiarski, Daniel states that at the end of the nineteenth century, he tried to base a theory of society on thermodynamics, postulating that a social aggregate is nothing but a system of points, i.e. individuals, who are in a perpetual movement of approaching and withdrawing from one another. The primary cause of these movements is attraction and repulsion. These forces tend towards a maximum of pleasure, and Winiarski tried do define some kind of thermodynamic laws whereby these changes can be described. Winiarski concluded, according to Daniel, by postulating that in the future society tends towards a state of maximum entropy, manifested by an equalization of social classes, races, etc.

He then mentions English natural philosopher Herbert Spencer who, in his social organism theory, compared society to a living organism, and in his The Decline of the West, used the analogy between the aging of an organism and the ageing of civilization, to reason that Western society is growing old.

On these four examples, Daniel concludes:

“Some the analogies quoted are simply absurd, while others make one feel that there may be something in them. However, none of them can be verified in the scientific sense.”

On Spencer’s analogy, he states that it is plausible. On Carey’s analogy, he states that “it seems to be demonstrably untrue.” On the combination of Ostwald's social energetics and Winiarski’s social thermodynamics examples, Daniel concludes:

“The thermodynamic case would involve the author into calculations of fantastic difficulty, if he were to take it seriously, and it is also a comparison of the complicated with the complicated.”

This last quote, to note, captures the essence of human thermodynamics fairly well.

In the reminder of the article, Daniel goes on to discuss human physics, on subjects germane to his own field, such as how the Curie point, a temperature below which the atoms of materials are aligned, and above which atomic disorder results culminating in a loss of magnetic properties, may apply as an analogy to human affairs, particularly the breakdown of moral in a field of working humans and a Curie catastrophe. This, to note, seems to be similar to the human physics of Mark Buchanan as well as, possibly, Philip Ball.

In 1943, Daniel had studied spinodal decomposition in the solid state in detail at the Cavendish Laboratory, along with Henry Lipson, who had examined a copper-nickel-iron ternary alloy. [3]

Daniel completed his PhD with a dissertation on “Intermediate States of Precipitation of Allows” in 1944 at the University of Cambridge. [5]

In 1952, Daniel was a physicist on the senior staff of a research association. [1] In 1963, Daniel was associated with The Electrical Research Association in Leatherhead, Surrey. Daniel’s most widely held publication is the 1967 book Dielectric Relaxation.

1. Daniel, Vera V. (1952). “Physical Principles in Human Cooperation” (abs), Sociological Review, 44(1):107-34.
2. Daniel, Vera V. (1955). “The Uses and Abuses of Analogy” (abs), Operational Research Society, 6(1): 32-46; Paper given to the Operational Research Society, 19 Nov 1954.
3. Cahn, Robert. (1995). “Physics of Materials”, in: Twentieth Century Physics (editors: Laurie Brown, Brian Pippard, and Abraham Pais), Volume 1 (§19:1505-; esp. pg. 1548). CRC Press.
4. Furth, Reinhold. (1951). “Physics of Social Equilibrium” (abs), before the British Association, Edinburgh, Aug 15; in Nature, 168: 1048-49.
5. Daniel, Vera V. (1944). “Intermediate States of Precipitation of Allows” (Ѻ), PhD dissertation, University of Cambridge.

External links
Daniel, Vera V. – WorldCat Identities.

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